Kruger, Zulus and the Drakensberg
South Africa occupies the southern tip of Africa, its long coastline stretching more than 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast southwards around the tip of Africa and then north to the border with subtropical Mozambique on the Indian Ocean. It is conveniently divided into 3 separate geographical areas, which are; the Kalahari Basin, the central highland plateau and the eastern coastal lowland area. One of the provinces which makes up the eastern coastal region is KwaZulu-Natal, the "Kingdom of the Zulu." This is a fascinating and diverse province which includes pleasant coastal resorts, numerous game-filled reserves and a rich Zulu history. On the western edge of KwaZulu-Natal, the rugged 200 kilometre escarpment of the Drakensberg rises up to form an effective barrier between the lowlands and the land-locked territory of Lesotho. The Drakensberg is a remarkable mountainous region, which boasts several 3000 metre-high summits and an unusual landscape of steep cliffs, towering waterfalls and dramatic rock formations.
The time in South Africa is GMT + 2 hours.
South Africa is known as the 'Rainbow Nation' on account of its cultural diversity. There are 11 principal languages recognised by the country's constitution. The Zulu language is the mother tongue of around 23% of South Africans, as against Afrikaans with 13% and English with 8%. English is generally understood across the country, being the language of business, politics and the media. We do recommend that you take a pocket phrase book and learn some basics such as common greetings.
Generally, the climate is mild throughout South Africa, throughout the year. The range of daytime maximum temperatures in Johannesburg, for instance (at an altitude of 1665 metres (5462ft.) is from approximately 17º C (63º F) in June and July to 27º C (80º F) in December and January. Most of South Africa's rain falls during the southern hemisphere summer months, from November to February. The mountainous region of the Drakensberg usually enjoys long spells of mild, dry weather in the period from May to August and this is the best time of the year for climbing and trekking. However, cold fronts moving in from the southwest can bring rain and snow-fall to highest areas and even to the valleys of the eastern foothills, a region known as the Little Berg. Midday temperatures at the foot of the Drakensberg scarp during this southern hemisphere winter season will average 20º C (68º F). At the highest camps on the crest of the range, at altitudes of around 3000 metres (10000ft.) we can expect temperatures at night to fall below freezing.
The unit of currency in South Africa is the rand. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
You can choose to take your money in pounds Sterling or in South African rands. There will be the opportunity to change your money into local currency on arrival at Johannesburg. Additionally, you will be able to get currency from bank ATM's at many of the places we visit. Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and services and it is a good idea to carry one in case of emergencies.
A valid passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity), is required. British and most European and Commonwealth passport holders will be issued with a visa on arrival in South Africa at no charge. Please note that all travellers to South Africa are required to have a minimum of 2 blank consecutive pages in their passport i.e. a left hand page and a right hand page to enable an entry visa to be issued. More detailed information will be provided at the time of booking.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis ‘A'. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for this trip.
A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Africa the South. Lonely Planet Guide.
South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Lonely Planet Guide.
The Rough Guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mammals of Southern Africa. Charles and Tilde Stuart.
Barrier of spears: drama of the Drakensberg. R.O. Pearse.
Drakensberg walks: 120 graded hikes and trails in the Drakensberg. David Bristow.
A Guide to the Drakensberg. August Sycholt.
AA Guide to KwaZulu Natal. Discover the Magic.
Globetrotter Travel Map of South Africa. 1:2,400,000.