It's no wonder that South Africa draws more visitors than anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa. World-class wildlife-watching, cosmopolitan cities like the great big beating heart of Johannesburg, stunning natural panoramas from Table Mountain National Park and vibrant cultures make the country appealing to almost every taste and budget.
Geographically, its extremes include the arid semidesert of the Karoo, the snowcapped peaks of the Drakensberg Range, the lush subtropical coast of KwaZulu-Natal and the fertile temperate valleys of Western Cape. Within the space of a day, you can journey from vineyard-clad hillsides in the Western Cape to the vast open spaces of the Kalahari; from waterfront chic in Cape Town to isolated Zulu villages; from elephant-spotting in Kruger National Park
to the sublime seascapes of the coast.
South Africa has been favoured by nature with one of the most temperate climates on the African continent, and can be visited comfortably any time. Winter (June to September) is cooler and drier, and ideal for hiking and outdoor pursuits. Because vegetation is less dense, and thirsty animals congregate around water sources, winter is also the best time for wildlife-watching.
Summer (late November to March) brings rain, mists and - in the lowveld - some uncomfortably hot days. Along the Indian Ocean coast, conditions are sultry and tropical, with high humidity.
Spring (mid-September to November) and autumn (April and May) are ideal almost everywhere. Spring is also the best time to see vast expanses of Northern Cape carpeted with wildflowers.