South Africa has recently gained a reputation for shark
cage diving (with great white sharks) and whale
watching on the Cape. Sharks migrate through the Cape’s
False Bay from June to August and travel into the Durban area (KwaZulu-Natal)
from October to January. The Western Cape Tourism Board has established
a Cape Whale Route to observe southern right whales, which generally
swim very close to the shore, perfect for whale watching fans. The
best time to spot them is from June to September, particularly in
Walker Bay, where a Whale Festival is held each year during the
last week of September.
South Africa’s diving infrastructure and
services are well developed. Reef diving is famous in Sodwana Bay
(on the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal), while wreck diving is
common around the Cape. Popular inland diving sites include Badgat,
Wondergat and Miracle Water. The Tsitsikamma Coastal Park offers
brilliant opportunities for underwater photography. Diving certificates
are required in South Africa, PADI and NAUI courses are available.
Surfing is a popular activity
in South Africa, 1 of the most well known locations is Jeffrey's
Bay (J-Bay) near Cape Town. Windsurfing and kite windsurfing can
be done at Big Bay, which is near Cape Town.
1 of South Africa's most popular sports, fishing can be practiced
along the coast or on the lakes and rivers in the game and nature
reserves. 1 of the world’s richest fishing grounds lies around
the Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic and Indian
Ocean currents meet and huge shoals of tuna and swordfish draw numerous
game fishing enthusiasts.
The major trout fishing areas are the southern
mountain ranges of the Western Cape and the foothills of the Drakensberg
Mountains (which is in KwaZulu-Natal). Fly fishing
is finest in the mountain streams and along the coastline of the
Eastern Cape. 1 highlight on South Africa’s fishing calendar
is the Sardine Run, in June, along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, where
masses of feeding game fish and sharks gather.
South Africa’s wildlife sanctuaries usually fall into 3 categories,
nature parks, private game reserves and national game reserves.
Nature parks are noted more for their scenic splendor
and hiking trails than for wildlife. Private game reserves
present a personalised game viewing programme, while national
game reserves are usually explored by tourists in their
own vehicles. Besides game viewing from vehicles, horseback, walking,
camel and canoeing safaris are becoming increasingly popular.
Safaris on foot follow a network of wilderness
trails in the (essential) company of an armed ranger. A maximum
of 8 people between the ages of 12 and 60 may participate per trail
(which usually lasts for 3 nights and 2 days, with accommodation
in designated camps). For reservations and further information,
The South African National Parks Board
Telephone: (21) 428 9111
Website address: www.sanparks.org
The Wildlife and Environment Society of Southern Africa
Telephone: (33) 330 3931
Website address: www.wildlifesociety.org.za
South Africa has roughly 500 golf courses, often
situated in spectacular locations. The best time to play is in the
cooler months, which are from May to September. Green fees average
£10 to £20 and a caddie costs around £7. Visitors
are welcome during weekdays.
Nature parks present marked self guided trails
(with sleeping huts en route) or guided off the
beaten track trails (with an armed and experienced ranger providing
information about plants, animals and ecology). Some operators also
offer themed walks with a focus on, for instance,
flowers (of which South Africa has almost 24,000 species). Magnificent
flower displays can be seen during August / September in the semi
desert area of Namaqualand.
The country’s 13 major wine producing regions have signposted
wine routes, of which the best include the Stellenbosch
Wine Route (South Africa’s 1st, with all wineries
situated within a 12 kilometre / 7.5 mile radius of Stellenbosch),
the Olifants Wine Route (200 kilometre / 125 miles
long, passing through the Cederberg Mountains, the unspoilt West
Coast and Knersvlakte), the Klein Karoo Wine Trust
(a 300 kilometre / 188 mile route through the eastern Cape Winelands),
the Swartland Wine Route (a 40-minute drive away
from Cape Town), the Orange River Wine Trust (comprising
the northern wine making regions, irrigated by the Orange, Vaal
and Riet rivers) and the Robertson Valley (a 2
hour drive from Cape Town, known particularly for Chardonnay). Regional
wine maps and further details are accessible from the South African
South Africans are passionate sports enthusiasts and the success
of national teams has been a source of pride and reconciliation
for all sections of the community. The South African rugby
team are world class, the football team is 1 of
the best in Africa, and the cricket team has proved
it is the equal of any in the world. Visitors are appreciated at
all these fixtures.
A changing range of adventure sports is available, the most well
known of which probably remains bungee jumping,
for which South Africa has 1 of the world’s highest drops,
the bridge over the Blaukrans River, Western Cape. At 216 metres
(709 feet), this jump is more than twice as high as the jump of
the bridge linking Zimbabwe and Zambia across the Zambezi River
near Victoria Falls.
South Africa is 1 of the few remaining countries where steam locomotives
are still largely used. They range from the magnificent Pride
of Africa to small engines on narrow gauge railways similar
to the Midmar Steam Railway near Pietermaritzburg.
For those looking for a scenic ride, the well known Outeniqua
Choo-Tjoe runs along the Garden Route on a day trip from
George and Knysna and the Union Limited crosses
the famous Kaaimans River Bridge, 1 of the most photographed railway
bridges in the world.