South Africa has been the center of trials and tribulations over the centuries, but today travelers book flights to South Africa on far more personal journeys.
Traditional black cultures still reign through much of South Africa, making this country the must-see spot for anyone booking flights to South Africa in search of their history and heritage. However, a flight to South Africa means dealing with more than just rejoicing a post-apartheid way of life. After centuries of struggle, South Africa finally shed its oppressive policies and continues to rebuild its reputation, post-apartheid and social exclusiveness. Still, most of its people still live in poverty and are plagued by disease. In vast contrast, the country is blessed with natural beauty, landscape, wildlife and endless opportunity. This is also the reason many travelers book South Africa flights. As the country continues to grow, flights to South Africa and tourist travel help build the economy.
Whether you travel to South Africa on a safari or a spiritual mission, your South Africa flight will be the first part of a true exploration.
South Africa climate
South Africa is generally sunny and hot in the summer, which lasts from December to April. The winter is mild. The country is large and has many different climates. The Cape is cold and wet in the winter, with snow falling in the mountains. Northern areas get regular thunderstorms on summer evenings, while winters are warm by day and cold at night.
Best Time to Fly to South Africa
South Africa is a year-round destination so cheap flights to South Africa can always be found. The best times to visit depend on the activity you have in mind. Southern-hemisphere rules apply when it comes to seasons. South Africa’s summer lasts from November to February – warm with heavy rains in the afternoons.
Average winter temperatures range between 52 degrees (F) in Johannesburg and 63 degrees in Durban; while summer temperatures hover between 66 (in Johannesburg) and 75 (in Durban).
The best time to watch game is spring (August to October). Whale watchers should visit between mid-June and the end of October for Southern Right Whales and between August and December for Humpback Whales.
For diving and surfing – April to September; hiking – spring and autumn as summer temperatures can be very high.
Getting around South Africa
There are eight domestic airlines operating South Africa flights. British Airways flies from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, and between Cape Town and Durban. South African Airways, the national carrier, flies to several destinations including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, George, Upington, Kimberley, East London, Mthatha, Margate, and Sun City. South African Express flies between Johannesburg, Cape Town, East London and George and several other cities.
Intercape, Greyhound and Translux offer services around the country.
Rail: Spoornet connects the major cities; Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, Cape Town or Durban for example. The Blue Train is a luxury service (scheduled and charter) that runs Pretoria – Cape Town – Pretoria. There are special packaged routes too. Rovos Rail is another luxury service and the Steam Train Company offers scenic tours old-style.
Roads are good and car rental companies with branches at the airports and around the country include Avis, Budget and Europcar. It’s also possible to rent a motorbike or campervan/motorhome. Drive on the left.
The following chart gives approximate journey times fromCape Town
(in hours and minutes) to other major cities and towns in South Africa.
South Africa Travel Information
- South Africa has 20 national parks, of which Kruger is the largest and best-known. It was established in 1898 and is 217 miles long, 40 miles wide and about 7722 square miles. It is home to 147 mammals, 114 types of reptiles, and 507 species of birds. Among them are hippos, crocodiles, Impala antelopes (most numerous animal), zebras, buffaloes, giraffes and elephants. The big cats call Kruger home too - there are 1,500 lions, 900 leopards and 300 cheetahs. There are several rest camps throughout the park ranging from huts and family cottages to luxury guest houses.
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is composed of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (of South Africa) and Gemsbok National Park (of Botswana). It lies on almost 9 million acres. In such a large space, vegetation is sparse and most of the animals concentrate around the Auob and Nossob riverbeds. Ground squirrel and suricate (meerkat) are the most numerous animals; badger, pangolin (anteater) and fox are also in residence. There are raptors (eagles, vultures, falcons and kestrels) as well as predators (cheetah, leopard, hyena and lion).
- Whales, turtles and penguins: view breaching whales at Hermanus, south of Cape Town. The town has its own whale crier, which can be heard from some Hermanus hotels, who blows his horn in a “Morse” code, signaling the location of whales. There are African Jackass Penguins on Boulder’s Beach in Simonstown (Simon’s Town). To spot Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles nesting, head to St Lucia in KwaZulu Natal. The turtles nest between November and January and hatch between January and March.
- Johannesburg has the Apartheid Museum and MuseuMAfricA, a history and cultural museum. Far from Austria, the South African Lipizzaners, are in action each Sunday morning in Kyalami. During Easter, the horses will dance to the music of the 1970s. Ask your Johannesburg hotel for museum information when you arrive.
- Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town. The cable car whooshes up the mountain (3,560 feet) in less than 10 minutes and has a rotating floor offering 360-degree views of the city. If heights aren't your thing, keep your feet on the ground and enjoy the sights from your Cape Town hotel.