South Africa is a stunning landscape of expansive plains, rugged mountains, arid deserts and gorgeous golden sand beaches. The region is perhaps most popular for this scenery along with rich opportunities for wildlife and game viewing. Animals ranging from penguins to elephants can be experienced up-close in South Africa, and luxurious safari lodges beckon visitors from all around the world. Kruger National Park is acclaimed worldwide for its unique African scenery and activities.
The cities of South Africa vary widely. Bustling Johannesburg is the country’s heart, and many travelers enjoy the sophisticated, cosmopolitan atmosphere of Cape Town along the Atlantic Ocean. Between the major cities, quaint small towns and safari lands break up the vast wilderness. The southern Garden Route is a tourist favorite, with fun seaside towns like Durban and plenty of laid-back coastal resorts.
This country is situated at the southern point of the continent, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean on either side. The west coast area is notoriously arid, while the south coast is more tropical and offers lush vegetation, sandy beaches, and rocky outcroppings. The northeast region is a subtropical climate with coastal forests and lush wetlands. South Africa is bordered by Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia, and surrounds Lesotho, an independent African kingdom. The country’s interior is composed mainly of a vast plateau, with rugged escarpments rising toward the mountain regions of Magaliesberg and Drakensberg.
The western Cape is a geographical area of incredible natural beauty. Situated in the country’s southwestern corner, the Cape stretches from Lambert’s Bay to the southern peninsula’s towering mountains. This area is well-known for its local wines, and was the first area of the country to be inhabited by Europeans.
South Africa's capital, Cape Town, is nestled at the base of Table Mountain. This mountain plateau is one of the most scenic in the country, offering views across the vast peninsula to the sea. A cable car transports visitors effortlessly to the top. The city is centered at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. This gorgeously preserved Victorian harbor provides a host of entertainment options, unique shops, and interesting museums. Restaurants and pubs of all classes abound in this area. Boat tours can be arranged for harbor tours or an excursion to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held in prison. Government Avenue is the perfect place to explore the colonial architecture, specifically the outstanding Parliament Buildings, the Cultural History Museum, the National Gallery, and Groote Kerk.
Leaving the Cape region and heading west, the incredibly rugged West Coast comes into view. This coastal area boasts incredible shellfish and fishing opportunities, and numerous fishing villages make for an interesting day trip. Lambert’s Bay in this area is a popular surfing beach. The coast is separated from the Great Karoo Desert by the elegant Cederberg Mountains.
East of Cape Town, the Overberg coastal area is home to a number of enchanting resort towns including Hermanus and Somerset West. This is a world-famous whale watching spot. Other interesting Overberg attractions include the Arniston cliffs area, the Mission village of Elim, and the unforgettable Dutch style village of Swellendam. At this point the south coast becomes the popular coastal Garden Route.
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