"One world in one country" accurately describes the South African geographical mosaic. We cross the bush of Kruger Park in Limpopo, the rocky torments of Waterberg, the sugar cane fields of Natal, the dizzying peaks of Drakensberg, the dunes of Kalahari, the stony steppe of the great Karoo, the tranquility of the Wild Coast, the flowery meadows of Namaqualand, the Mediterranean vineyard of Boland in the hinterland of the Cape. For more than a century, local authorities have organized the area into protected areas, natural parks and reserves. African wildlife is more preserved, pampered and magnified here than anywhere else on the continent. Too much, some would say! Kruger Park is the country's main attraction, but other parks, such as Kgalagadi, Mapungubwe or Richtersveld, offer a much more rugged experience. The flora of southern Africa is protected by the National Botanical Institute, which manages about ten botanical gardens, including the extraordinary Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town.
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A mild thermometer :
South Africa has reversed seasons compared to Europe. The summer holidays fall on Christmas. Easter bells ring in the fall. In June, the first snowfall is announced on the Western Cape and Lesotho massifs. September carries the promise of spring confirmed by the colourful explosion of Pretoria's jacarandas in October. Which season to recommend? Most of the tourist flow is concentrated between November and March, when visitors flee the cold of the Northern Hemisphere. The southern summer (from 15°C to 35°C) is the ideal time to explore the Cape Town area, the West Coast, the Garden Route. In northern regions, storms sometimes extremely violent are triggered at the end of the hot days. Stays in photo safaris on the Kruger side can thus turn into a big shower. From April onwards, KwaZulu-Natal becomes very pleasant, less humid, less stuffy than in summer. This fall period is also recommended for visiting Gauteng, Kalahari, Eastern Cape, Karoo and Mpumalanga bush. The full winter (-5°C to 20°C), from late June to late August, is ideal for discovering Limpopo, Kalahari parks, Venda, Maputaland and also for photo safaris in the Kruger. We then ski on the heights of the Maluti while the Namaqualand is covered with flowers.
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette