The locals have long known it, and now visitors agree: South Africa is the most beautiful country on earth. In the 2006 Reader's Travel Awards by magazine Condé Nast Traveller, South Africa's scenery scored 97.8% - the highest in the world - with the country being voted the world's fifth-best tourist destination.
South Africa has more than 2 500 kilometres of coastline, stretching from the arid Kalahari in the north west all the way to the lush St Lucia estuary in the east. Take a photographic trip along SA's varied seashores, from the cold Atlantic of the Northern Cape to the scuba diver's paradise of Sodwana Bay.
South Africa is big sky country, with its vast mountain ranges and their ragged peaks falling into lush green river valleys. Take a tour of our more dramatic scenery...
Step out of the urban centres and tourist areas and you'll find a different South Africa. The countryside is an unexplored place of contrasts, from elegant wine estates and vast monoculture grain farms to subsistence farmers who coax a living from near-desert conditions and nomadic shepherds who herd their goats across the country's remote and beautiful rural landscape.
From the stark desert and spectacular sunsets of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to the dense green coastal forests of Tsitsikamma, the rich wildlife heritage of the Kruger National Park (a territory larger than Israel) and ancient cultural heritage of Mapungubwe.
South Africa lies at the southern tip of Africa. The country's borders are the Indian Ocean on the East, the Atlantic Ocean on the West, giving it a coastline of approximately 3000 kilometres. Several neighbouring countries bordering the North includes Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Two independent states are located within the borders of South Africa namely Swaziland and Lesotho.
Situated in the Southern Hemisphere summers occur during November, December and January. Winters occur during May, June and July. Rainfall ranges summer rainfall in the North to winter rainfall (Mediterranean) in the South. The average number of sunshine is 8,5 hours per day, making it amongst the highest in the world and ideal to visit South Africa all year round.
South Africa has an excellent infrastructure of tarred roads. Automobiles are driven on the left-hand side of the road. Taxis and rental cars are located at all major airports and stations. Several air, rail and road services link major centres.
The star gradings of accommodation establishments, which are members of SATOUR's National Grading and Classification Scheme, are indicated as follows:
*** Very Good
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