The ‘Rainbow Nation’ is all things to all people – and even that description doesn’t come close to the reality of what is one of the most amazing countries in Africa. Whatever you’re looking for in a destination, you’ll find it in South Africa.

Whatever kind of holiday you want, and whatever kind of person you are – foodie, safari aficionado, wine buff, photographer, surfer or road tripper – you’ll find that South Africa is the most surprising and delightful country. It’s also one that you’ll want to return to time and again.

Since the first democratic elections, exactly 25 years ago, South Africa has largely shaken off the divisive legacy of apartheid and has become a forward-looking, optimistic and vibrant destination.

In the same holiday, you can spend time with meerkats in the desert or go shark-cage diving. You can track the Big Five or relax with a superb glass of wine as the sun sets over the vineyards where it was made. The only limit to what you can experience here is your imagination.

South Africa offers exceptional value as a destination, and its people invariably extend a warm welcome to visitors. This is a country with a long and complex history – even today, it has eleven official languages but has gained unity in diversity.

South Africans are immensely proud of what they have achieved, and various cultural traditions bring them together – from watching the ‘Springboks’, the national rugby team, to relaxing around a braai (or bar-b-q).

South Africa can match Kenya or Tanzania for wildlife viewing – the famed Kruger alone is the size of Switzerland. It is blessed with two oceans (Atlantic and Indian) and endless beaches, including some of the world’s most epic surfing hot spots.

Few other places can match South Africa’s wealth of experiences and contrasts. Parts of the Cape, especially, may remind you of Europe. The Kalahari, in contrast, is at times reminiscent of Namibia, while the Karoo has something of the vastness of the American Midwest.

There is no set itinerary for exploring South Africa – rather be guided by your interests. And as if this wonderful country wasn’t enough on its own, it is also the best possible starting point for onward travel to neighboring countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe, which can be easily combined with South Africa on a single itinerary. That said, there is more than enough within South Africa’s borders to keep you entertained and absorbed for months, never mind two weeks!

Gateway cities: Johannesburg, Cape Town

Best time to travel: Year-round

Highlights: Cape Town, Cape Winelands, Kruger National Park including Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, Garden Route, Johannesburg, Kwazulu Natal (Phinda/Hluhluwe)

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