The "rainbow country" deserves its name, because each visitor has his or her own South Africa. The country has long been the focus of attention, but since the football World Cup in 2010 it has been given a new lease of life. South Africa is undoubtedly fascinating
National parks not to be missed
Travellers arriving in South Africa usually treat themselves to a safari in one of the beautiful national parks. The most beautiful alone justifies a trip. Located in the north of the country, this 20,000 km2 park is, in the eyes of South Africans, one of the most beautiful reserves in the world. In the Kruger, one becomes very small, like all those spectators fascinated by wildlife. Accommodation, adapted to all budgets and desires, has been developed in the very heart of the bush. The public camps offered by the reserve are clean and inexpensive. The luckiest will be able to stay in one of the sumptuous private lodges nestled in the park.
The south-west of the park is the ideal place to come face to face with rhinos. Giraffes and zebras have their habits near the river Olifants. Towards Pafuri, you can admire baobabs and all kinds of animals. To see a herd of elephants passing by is the privilege of this unique place in the world.
But the Kruger Park does not have a monopoly on wildlife, as the Cape Town region, a small corner of paradise, also has magnificent nature reserves. In Cape Town, you can wander through Table Mountain National Park, visit the penguin colony of Simon's Town, then finish with a sunset on Chapman's Peak or dinner at one of the trendy restaurants in Camps Bay
To the north lies the wine region. South Africa is the 8th largest wine producer in the world. These wines are attractive from a price-quality point of view, and the best products compete with the good vintages of the world's wine regions.
Johannesburg, an intriguing metropolis
Johannesburg is unique, with its history and its museums that retrace the troubled history of this country. However, few tourists stay in "Jozi" even though its region, Gauteng, has been inhabited since the dawn of time. From 1886 onwards, Johannesburg was of interest to the whole world: a gold mine was discovered there.
Totally abandoned from 1980 to 2000, the city is now regaining a new lease of life. Many of New Town's trendy clubs and shops have opened their doors, and the golden youth of Jo'burg visit every weekend. Beware, the Central Business District remains dangerous. Opt for a minibus tour and you'll be amazed by the beauty of the buildings and palaces built during the Gold Rush. The Sandton district is the most popular. Restaurants, shopping malls and luxury boutiques, it is the economic centre of the country.
A healthy mind in a healthy body
Sport is essential in the lives of South Africans. Rugby is the national sport, but it is not the only one: football, cricket, fishing, golf and surfing are also played. There are many sporting activities available to tourists. The Drakensberg mountains are ideal for family walks, with zip lines offering a more muscular course. Then it's off to the Kwazulu with its popular surfing beaches
After the effort, comfort! And for that, to each his own cuisine: the Englishman prefers braai, a barbecue with friends; the Afrikaners will agree on the bobotie, a kind of curry hashish. The Indians, for their part, cook bunny chow, bread stuffed with curry. The blacks will not pass a meal without their pap and chakalaka (corn flour with tomato sauce). A whole life would not be enough to go through all the dishes on offer!
South Africa offers quality meat. The steakhouses present everywhere will not disappoint you.
South Africans have their hands on their hearts. Making friends is very easy. South Africans are used to meeting over a beer before the weekly braai. Many will invite you to their table for a drink, share good addresses... Because South Africans love their country. The nature is beautiful and rich and its cultural richness is out of the ordinary. With eleven official languages, European traditions, an African culture, descendants of Muslim slaves and Hindu Indians, the rainbow nation, so dear to Nelson Mandela, has managed to remain, despite the political and economic instability, tightly knit and united.
When: All year round. Prefer summer for the beaches of Kwazulu Natal, spring to visit the Kruger Park and the Kalahari Desert.
Getting there: Average price of a flight from Paris to Cape Town: from 725 to 1,080 €. Paris-Johannesburg: from 550 to 1,000 €. Remember to book your tickets well in advance. Prices are rising fast!
Vaccinations: No vaccinations are required for a stay in the reserve. The following vaccines are recommended: hepatitis A and B, rabies and typhoid.
Useful: South African Tourist Office, 61 rue La Boétie, 75008 Paris. Telephone: 0 810 203 403. More information
1/ As soon as they spot their prey, cheetahs sprint at around 100 km/h!
2/ Colourful huts on stilts brighten up African beaches.