The country of South Africa occupies a total area of some 1.2m square kilometres on the Southern tip of Africa. It’s main feature is a long coastline that stretches south from its border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast down to Capepoint where the the cold Atlantic currents meet with the warm currents of the Indian Ocean, and then up north to the border with Mozambique. Apart from Namibia and Mozambique, South Africa also borders Botswana and Zimbabwe on its interior north and completely surrounds the small Kingdom of Lesotho.
The nine provinces that make up South Africa are: Eastern Cape, Free State, Guateng, Kwa Zulu- Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape , North West and Western Cape. The provinces range in size from the tiny Guateng covering only some 16500 square kilometres to the vast Northern Cape covering an area of over 372,000 sq kilometres.
Cape Town is the legislative capital and the country’s Parliament in located here. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa. The city of Pretoria boasts the famous Union Buildings and all the embassies are located here, while the Supreme Court is of Appeal is in Bloemfontein, the judicial capital of South Africa. Johannesburg is the most well known city and the economical capital of South Africa. Other important cities are Durban and Port Elizabeth located in Kwa Zulu, Natal and Eastern Cape respectively, East London and Bloemfentein in the Eastern Cape, Kimberley and Nelspruit in the Nothern Cape and Mpumalanga
From a tourism point of view South Africa boasts some of the most scenic holiday spots to be found anywhere in the world. One of the most sought after experiences by visitors is the wine tasting tours along the appropriately named Cape Wine Route . Visitors can spend days or even weeks tasting the many different wine varieties ( almost 2000 in all) to be found on the different wine routes, while those with limited time can take a days guided excursion to the selected vineyards from Capetown. One of the most celebrated wine routes is to Stellenbosch, reputed as the Wine Capital of South Africa. Stellenbosch opened the first Wine Route of the Cape in 1971. The vineyards are easily accessible by road, only some 30 minutes or so from Capetown.
Other famous routes include Franschhoek Wine Route,located about 1 hour drive from Capetown and boasting about 20 wineries, the Paarl Wine Route with about 40 wineries which hosts the internationally acclaimed annual wine festival- the Nederburg Auction, the ConstantiaWine Route, the Worcestor Wine Route , the Tulbagh Wine Route and the Wellington Wine Route and the Somerset Wine Route.
A very important aspect of South African Tourism is its wildlife parks. Famous for its wildlife conservation efforts visitors have a choice of about 20 Parks to choose from out of which the most famous are Kruger National Park, Karoo National Park, Bontebok National Park, Wilderness National Park, West Coast National Park, Table Mountain National Park, to mention just a few. Other important parks include Mapubugwe National Park, scene of South Africa’s world famous legendary Lost City (Sun City), Namaqua National Park with its spectacular tapestry of thousands of spring flowers in bloom among which glide myriads of butterflies and other colourful insects, the lake lagoon beauty of Knysna National Park., not to mention a chance to frolic with the dolphins at the Tsitsikamma National Park.
The Garden Route
South Africa’s Garden Route, famous as much for its variety as for its scenic wonders and breathtaking beauty, takes you through a number of the above national parks . Strange sounding names rolling on the tongue-Wilderness, Knysna, Tsitsikamma- all add up to build the excitement and great expectation with which thousands of visitors begin their holiday on South Africa’s Garden Route. A visit to South Africa is indeed incomplete without the exhilarating experience of the Garden Route.