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South Africa - Regions

 

South Africa: Regions and Provinces Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West Province The Free State KwaZulu-Natal The Eastern Cape The Western Cape The Garden Route The Southern Cape The Northern Cape

The Western Cape

Western Cape
© South African Tourism

The Western Cape province is situated on the south-western tip of the African continent. This is a region of majestic mountains, well-watered valleys, wide sandy beaches and breathtaking scenery.

Cape Town, the Mother City, established in 1652, lies cradled at the foot of one of the world's most famous landmarks, Table Mountain. Along with Table Mountain, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and Cape Point are some of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.

A wonderland for botanists worldwide, the Western Cape is home to the world's smallest floral kingdom, boasting a greater diversity of plant species than any other place on earth.

For many, the Winelands, located within driving distance of Cape Town, are considered the heart of the Cape. The region consists of historical homesteads and vineyards nestled below rugged mountain ranges.

Some say you haven't lived until you've experienced the Cape West Coast. This stretch is home to the Swartland, with its dramatic coastline, 5 million year old fossils, rolling wheat lands, dairy farms, orange groves and vineyards, historical mission stations and endless mountain ranges.

Whatever you're looking for, you're bound to find it here at the Cape, one of the most magical places on the planet! Just view our South Africa map above for specific regions.

The Northern Cape

Follow the West Coast road north from Cape Town and enter a region unlike any other in South Africa. The Northern Cape is not for the faint hearted, with vast arid plains and extreme climatic conditions.

The largest of all the provinces, the Northern Cape has the smallest population, and boasts the coldest town in the country, Sutherland, where temperatures plummet to minus 10 or lower in winter.

Famed world wide for its spectacular display of spring flowers, the Northern Cape (see our Northern Cape map above) is also home to several national parks and conservation areas. These include Africa's first Trans-frontier Park, the Kgalagadi, which provides unfenced access to a variety of wildlife between South Africa and Botswana. The Kgalagadi is one of the world's largest remaining protected natural ecosystems with an area of over 2 million hectares.

Northern Cape

The Kalahari Desert area of the Northern Cape is also home to the last remaining true San people (Bushmen), and is rich in San rock engravings.

Visit the world's most famous diamond mines, paddle the mighty Orange River, drive awesome 4x4 trails and be amazed by the cathedral in the desert.

Whatever you choose, you will not regret your decision to go off the tourist track.

The Southern Cape

Southern Cape
© South African Tourism

More commonly known as the Overberg - "over the mountain" - this is the most southerly region of Africa, the Cape's most jealously guarded secret.

Many visitors to our shores miss out on this hidden beauty because nobody told them it was there. Make sure you don't!

Here you'll find Cape Agulhas, the very southern-most tip of the continent, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.

On the way you'll discover a garden of delight, with rare wild flowers, orchards of fruit, wine estates and breweries, endless fields of wheat, oats and barley, the nursery of the Southern Right whales with the best land based whale watching in the world, close encounters with the Great White Shark, country hospitality, history and culture going back to the very first hunter-gatherers who once inhabited these lands, architectural gems, conservation projects… the list goes on.

Spend time here, explore on foot or horseback and you'll be well rewarded.

The Garden Route

When you've seen the 250 kilometres of empty, unspoiled sandy beaches washed by the warm Indian Ocean, the many charming seaside resorts caressed by balmy breezes, the deep river gorges, the lagoons, the strings of lovely lakes and forested mountains, you'll understand why this part of Africa is so often called a taste of Eden.

Garden Route
© South African Tourism

Stretching from Mossel Bay, where Bartholomew Dias first made landfall in 1488, up the east coast to the Tsitsikamma Mountains, the Paradise Coast has so much to offer, it's not a case of what to do, but how to do it all.

Apart from an enormous range of activities, from relaxing in the sun to the adrenalin rush of the highest bungee bridge jump in the world, visiting the world-renowned Cango Caves and ostrich farms of Oudtshoorn or swinging through the forest along Tarzan's tree top trail, there's a wealth of local artists producing anything and everything, from making paper out of dung to carving the superb woods from the indigenous forests.

Accommodation options likewise range from the simplest self-catering forest cottage to the heights of absolute luxury, where your every whim will be indulged.

The Eastern Cape

Eastern Cape

This is where the Garden Route leads you, the province offering more than a million hectares of malaria free game reserves, hundreds of kilometres of shining beaches and the highest number of sunshine hours on South Africa's coast.

Add to this the dramatic, rugged mountains and arid, open plains of the Karoo heartland, lush indigenous forests, a wealth of fascinating multi-ethnic history and the almost untouched paradise of the Wild Coast, Nelson Mandela's birthplace and today an eco-tourism hotspot, and you have everything you need for a true African experience.

KwaZulu-Natal

Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the east, and on the north and west by the majestic Drakensberg, South Africa's highest mountains, called "the barrier of spears" by the Zulus, KwaZulu-Natal does not disappoint.

KwaZulu-Natal

Durban, South Africa's largest port and third largest city offers superb hotels, a vibrant beachfront, art and culture and many shopping centres.

A short journey up the coast brings you to wetland and marine reserves, mangrove swamps and tropical coral reefs (see Dive Safari).

Further inland, experience traditional life in a Zulu cultural village, visit the battlefields and relive the history of the mighty Zulu nation - all while hearing the spine chilling tales of rivers running with blood.

And let's not forget KwaZulu-Natal's famed National Parks and reserve areas, among them Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, fourth largest in the country and world-renowned for its rhino conservation programme.

The Free State

Free State
© South African Tourism

The heart of South Africa, this is truly 'big sky' country. From the scenic Eastern Highlands and Golden Gate National Park, to its golden maize fields, this is the ideal place to linger on a stopover between the Cape and Johannesburg or KwaZulu-Natal.

One of the Free State's lesser known secrets is that Bloemfontein, the provincial capital, was the birthplace of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings.

Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West Province

From the City of Gold to natural wonders and wildlife, there is something for everyone in this region. Enjoy the extremes of Johannesburg's exclusive upmarket suburbs and the throbbing life of the sprawling townships of Soweto and Alexandra.

Descend into the depths of the deepest gold mines in the world, or be blown away by the spectacular Palace of the Lost City at the opulent Sun City casino complex.

Go east to the hot Lowveld plains, and spend time with the Big Five in the world-ranking Kruger National Park, not only South Africa's largest reserve but also now part of Africa's newest Trans-frontier Park, jointly managed by South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

North West Province

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