When it comes to South Africa luxury tours, there is something to appeal to just about every person. For lovers of vino, it might be the Cape winelands, which produce some of the world’s boldest and more stirring vintages. Others might be interested in coastal cities like Cape Town, which combine beautiful views with fresh and delicious seafood. Adventure seekers will be drawn to the diving and snorkeling that is available in pristine waters, including the opportunity to get up close and personal with great white sharks. As one of the most vibrant countries in the world, South Africa tours have a wide range of dynamic experiences to offer.
Sip Your Way Through Franschhoek
In the Afrikaans language, the name Franschhoek literally translates to “French Corner,” a nod to the original group of French Huguenots that settled the area all the way back in 1688. The farms that they founded were strongly tied to their heritage, and as such had names like La Motte and La Terra de Luc. Over the centuries, these farms began to produce wine, and today Franschhoek is known as the winery capital of South Africa, producing a range of full-bodied reds and rich, fruit-driven whites.
As the region is just 46 miles from Cape Town, it makes a wonderful day trip for those looking to learn about and sample different wines. A private railway, known as the “wine tram,” transports visitors to and from each vineyard in the area, winding its way through pristine natural and architectural beauty that is by itself worth a visit. Franschhoek is also celebrated for its food - it is home to some of the country’s top restaurants, offering local produce, freshly-caught seafood, and of course, since there is wine, an array of delicious cheeses.
Hike Up Table Mountain
Overlooking the city of Cape Town is the Table Mountain, a 3,558-foot-high natural marvel. So synonymous is the mountain with the region that it is featured on the city’s flag, as well as a number of other local government seals. It is well-renowned for its hiking trails, which are varied enough in difficulty that visitors of all sorts can find one that suits them. One of the most popular routes for the Table Mountain hike, Platteklip Gorge, goes right up the main table, and can be done in about 2.5 hours.
The mountain has an unusually rich biodiversity, and visitors can observe a number of interesting animals, such as snakes, booted eagles and mongooses. In fact, there is one amphibian that is so rare that it is only found there, known as the Table Mountain ghost frog.
For an aerial view of the entire region, take a ride along the mountain cableway. The cars fully rotate during the ascent, giving riders a full panoramic vista. At the top, there are number of shops and walking trails, along with a restaurant for those that are peckish.
Visit Boulders Beach and see African Penguins
There are a number of reasons to visit Boulders Beach. The sands are warm, the waters are clear and the view is absolutely impeccable. Formed by inlets between granite boulders - whence it gets its name - it is a relaxing spot to swim or just soak in some sun. Since 1982, though, it has been home to an even bigger attraction than simply tranquility: In that year, a colony of African penguins settled on the beach.
Starting from just two mating pairs, the population of South African penguins has blossomed to about 3,000 birds today. Boulders Beach is one of the only places on the globe where these vulnerable animals can be observed from close up, living their lives freely in a protected natural environment. A reduction in commercial fishing in the area has boosted the supply of pilchards and anchovies, meaning the birds have more to eat and have begun to thrive. It is truly a unique tourist experience.
Safari Game Drives at Sabi Sands
No trip to South Africa would be complete without spending some time at an African safari. The continent is home to powerful animals, beautiful flora and pristine wilderness, and going on a safari tour affords visitors a rare opportunity to see it all up close and personal. At Sabi Sands Game Reserve, people can immerse themselves in the natural world, coming face to face with the big five game animals: lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant. That is in addition to more than 140 other mammal species, more than 110 reptile species, more than 30 amphibian species and, astonishingly, more than 500 different species of birds.
Directly adjacent to Sabi Sands is Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in all of Africa. It was South Africa’s first-ever national park, and parts of the grounds have been under government protection since 1898. Like its neighboring safari, it is home to a veritable bounty of wildlife, including giraffes, zebras and the increasingly endangered black rhinoceros.
Cage Dive with Great White Sharks
Growing up to 20 feet in length and with a weight of more than 4,300 pounds, the great white shark is a sight to behold. To put that in perspective, that is heavier - and almost twice as long - as the average car. One of the biggest thrills available on a luxury tour to South Africa is the chance to dive right in the water with these marine brutes, protected by specially-built cages that allow visitors to safely get an up-close look. While it is not for the faint of heart, thrill-seekers will be delighted at the opportunity to see such wonderful creatures.
American and Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended return date in order to enter and depart the country. Your passport must have at least two blank pages for the entry stamp. This cannot include the ‘endorsement’ page at the back. Please make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and keep it separate from the original. It’s also a good idea to leave a digital copy with someone at home. This may speed up the replacement process should you lose your passport. Please ensure that the name on your passport matches all travel documents we have issued. If this is not the case, please contact us immediately.
To comply with regulation 2(1) (a) of the Immigration Regulations 2014; only Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs) will be accepted to enter South Africa. Please note that extended passports will no longer be accepted. Travellers are advised to check their travel documents.
A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days for business and tourist purposes. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you check with the Embassy of South Africa for the most up-to-date visa information.
For all vaccinations and health requirements for your travels, please speak to your doctor, your local travel clinic, or refer to the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov
Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended. You may also want to take special precautions against tetanus, diphtheria, Hepatitis A, rabies and typhoid after consulting with your doctor or travel health clinic.
Yellow Fever: A vaccination certificate for yellow fever is only required from travelers over one year of age who are arriving from infected areas. Yellow fever shots are NOT required for visitors from US/Canada/UK/EU traveling nonstop to South Africa but are required if you will be traveling from a Yellow Fever infected country. A yellow fever vaccination must be obtained at least 10 days prior to arrival in South Africa. Yellow fever certificate is not required for transit between South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe or Botswana.
Malaria: Risks do exist though it is extremely rare. The risk is less at higher elevations or in cooler locations (below 68°F or 20°C). Remember that the best precaution is the preventative kind. Wearing long sleeves is a good idea. Avoid mosquitoes to reduce the risk of contracting yellow fever, dengue fever and malaria by applying mosquito repellent that contains DEET to your skin and clothes and wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks especially during the evening. We recommend Malaria pills if you're in a malaria zone.
If there are any medical items essential to your health, such as prescription drugs or corrective eye wear, bring duplicates and divide them between your checked bags and hand luggage. While non-prescription drugs such as aspirin are generally available, it is difficult to replace prescription items.
South Africa’s climate is seasonal.
Spring (mid-Aug to Nov) is spectacular in the Cape provinces. The inland and Kruger areas still have chilly mornings, but days are glorious and warm to hot. Animals are more active during the cooler times of the day. Generally, animal activity subsides towards October as temperatures rise.
Summer (mid-Oct to Feb) is characterized by hot, sunny weather with frequent tropical rainstorms or afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly and cool down the temperatures. KwaZulu-Natal and Kruger National Park can be humid. Along the east coast (Port Elizabeth to Mozambique), particularly in Oct/Nov, strong winds can cause choppy seas.
Autumn (mid-Feb to May) in southern Africa often offers the best weather. Very little rain falls over the whole country. It is warm but not too hot. Summer winds have died down and the east coast experiences sea conditions that are flat and clear, great for diving and beach stays. In Cape Town, autumn is fantastic, with hot sunny days and warm, balmy nights.
Winter (mid-May to Aug) in the higher-lying areas of the interior plateau is generally dry and sunny, with crisp days, cold nights and early mornings. It’s a good idea to bring warm clothes.
For up-to-date details, visit: www.weather.com
Electricity: Electricity in South Africa is 220/230 volts except for Pretoria (230 V) and Port Elizabeth (200/250V) and 50HZ. Round two-pin plugs are used.
Phone: If you have a “Smart Phone,” your cell phone will work in most areas while on safari. However, roaming charges can be quite expensive so we do strongly recommend that you pre-purchase a data and roaming plan with your carrier before travel. Or simply opt to use phones on-site at your accommodations, purchase minutes or ask to use your driver’s phone for any immediately required phone calls.
Internet: Local connections are exceptionally slow and can be costly (as much as $10 per half hour). Smartphones such as a BlackBerry or iPhone will actually download data much faster than computers. Again, roaming and data charges can be exceptionally high, so please talk to your phone provider to pre-purchase a data plan for when you are on safari. Please note that wi-fi and internet service provided in properties is at the discretion of each establishment and Kensington Tours has no control over this. Please feel free to check with your Sales Consultant before travel if you’d like to know internet set up at each of your properties or contact the properties directly so you are aware of their internet policy if this is important to you. You may like to speak to your internet provider prior to travel to arrange a roaming package.
Generally speaking, we advise bringing R320-480 Rand per day, per person, for spending money. Be sure to bring lots of small bills for porters, wait staff and housekeeping (not obligatory and based on your satisfaction). Make sure to check as rates fluctuate.
Exchange Rates are published daily in the newspapers and online at xe.com.
Credit Cards and Travelers Checks: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are generally accepted throughout Southern Africa. American Express and Diners Club are also widely accepted. ATMs are available in all towns, cities and shopping malls. It is recommended that you contact your credit card company and your bank to advise them when and where you will be traveling in order to avoid what may be picked up as suspicious activity, and thereby cancellation of the card by your credit card provider. Travelers Checks can be changed at banks and post offices.
Capital: South Africa has three capitals. Cape Town, the seat of Parliament; Pretoria, the seat of the President and Cabinet; and Bloemfontein, capital of the Free State and site of the Supreme Court
Language: English and Afrikaans are official languages. Eleven other languages such as IsiZulu are spoken. English is the official language of business.
Currency: South African Rand (R). One rand is made up of 100 cents.
Religion: About 79 percent of the population is Christian although Judaism, Hinduism and Islam are also practised
Time Zone: GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) +2 hours, Central Africa Time
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 HZ
Telephone: Country code for calling South Africa is 27
Mobile Telephone: To call North America, call 011 + area code and 7-digit phone telephone number
Emergency Numbers: Police emergency assistance is 10111 from land line; Ambulance: 082 911; Fire: 10177