South Africa is home to Modiba (Mandela), longest wine route in the world, greatest variety of wildlife species in the world in the Kruger National Park, deepest goldmines in the world, oldest mountain in the world – Table Mountain and the only country to voluntarily abandon nuclear weapons. Lying at the very southern tip of Africa borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. Its is the only other country in the world, apart from Italy that has a country within a country – Lesotho.
South Africa is the world’s leader in mining and minerals. It has nearly 90% of the platinum metals on earth, 80% of the manganese, 73% of the chrome, 45% of the vanadium and 41% of the gold. South Africa has deserts, mountains, escarpments, plateaus, grasslands, bush, wetlands and subtropical forests a very diverse landscape that in turn produces indigenous and rare species. A National conservation area the size of Belgium is soon to be opened up. South Africa is around the size of Columbia and houses an estimated 52 million people with one of the most diverse cultures and ethnic groups in all of Africa. Poverty and inequality are widespread and can be seen face to face in major towns where the rich live within high fenced compounds right next to shanty towns.
It’s history dates back to early life on earth with some algae found in Eastern South Africa dating back to 3.5 million years ago and the oldest remains of modern hum as were found in the Eastern Cape dating back over 100,000 years old. Like most countries in Africa, South Africa has had a troubled past starting with European Colonisation in the 1650’s. Colonised first but he Dutch and then the British, South Africa has been fought over for its natural resources for many years but gained its independence in 1961. From then on it steered towards Apartheid and segregated the population further. Since these darks days, South Africa has had its share of ups and downs, but slowly is turning the tide.
Traveling in South Africa is easy but there are a few things to look out for. Public transport is good and each city well connected, however try to avoid travelling at night, on your own (esp women) and keep your belongings safe. Train, buses, minibuses and planes all connect cities throughout the country. All major roads are well kept and the inter star motorways provide a cheap and fast access across the country. Hiring a car is easy and allows you to cross into other countries if needed. We hired out a 4×4 with foldable tents on top, so we could safari and go off the beaten track. It worked out around £40 per day and a cheaper, easier and more reliable way to see the country and there are many many campsites around SA. I never had any problems whilst there, but we were reminded daily of the horrors of car jackings, muggins and rapes.
Climate is temperate all year round, colder and wetter months are May – August.