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  • Amy Waters snow biking Our Team

    Steppes Travel is made by the people who work here. Incredible holidays are made possible because of their vast travel experience and the great enthusiasm they bring to their work.

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    We carefully select our experts based on their knowledge, companionship and influence, ensuring that you can travel with the most knowledgeable leaders in the field.

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    The people who lead the way when it comes to those things which matter to us: exploration, the environment, women’s empowerment and education.

Hout bay view from Chapmans Peak Drive,Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa Holidays

Reborn as the ‘Rainbow Nation’, this enthralling country offers culture, wildlife, landscapes and history – all as varied as the country itself.

Few places offer as much diversity as South Africa. Vibrant Cape Town and the magnificent Kruger attract the most attention, but South Africa is dotted with private reserves, boutique properties and activities for all ages. History and culture sit side-by-side with dramatic landscapes and prolific wildlife, making for a destination that requires more than one visit for many.

Male Lion, South Africa
South Africa
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

Some ideas for your South Africa holiday

  • Explore chic and cosmopolitan Cape Town, a buzzing city dominated by Table Mountain. Then set out on a self-drive trip through the Cape, staying at boutique properties
  • Take a horse riding holiday through the Waterberg, on well-schooled horses through diverse terrain. This dramatic landscape can easily be combined with the islands of Madagascar
  • Spend three days at Fugitives Drift and learn about the bloody battles at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Listen to gripping accounts of the battles, against the backdrop of the Drakensburg Mountains
  • Have an adventure with the whole family. Track cheetahs on foot in the semi-desert of the Great Karoo and meet the meerkats of the Kalahari
  • Experience some of the best whale watching in the world off the Hermanus coast. Spot whales from your room at Birkenhead House.
Chameleon, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

Some ideas for a South Africa self-drive

  • Drive the picturesque Garden Route, along the ocean-dashed Cape
  • Combine vibrant Cape Town with the quiet vineyards of the Winelands
  • Revel in the springtime flowers of Namaqualand and the desert of the Karoo
Walking, Pafuri, South Africa
South Africa
game drive with leopard, South Africa
South Africa
Kalahari Reserve, South Africa
Kalahari Reserve, South Africa
Kalahari Reserve, South Africa
Kalahari Reserve, South Africa

Some ideas for a South African safari

  • Experience a Big Five safari in the incomparably vast Kruger
  • Explore the dramatic landscapes of the malaria free northern reserves
  • Meet the meerkats of the Kalahari on a family-friendly safari

Explore South Africa

  • Cape Town
  • Kruger National Park
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • Cape Winelands
  • Madikwe & The Waterberg
  • Eastern Cape Game Reserves
  • West & Northern Cape

Experiences

Make the most of every moment in South Africa. Create an itinerary brimming with these truly unforgettable moments.

Aardvark Safari

Head out on an on-foot aardvark safari at Samara Game Reserve, searching for these fascinating and unusual creatures.

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Malaria-Free Safari

Explore the dramatic landscapes of these northern reserves, which are considered to be free from malaria.

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Horse Riding

Take advantage of some of the best horse riding in South Africa, in The Waterberg.

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Madikwe Safari

Once barren farming land, this area now teems with species. Set out on game drives, in search of lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, buffaloes and more.

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Kids’ Activities

Take advantage of the countless kids’ activities on offer at Madikwe’s lodges. These include treasure hunts, t-shirt painting, clay building, survival skills and bush memory games.

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Cycle Namaqualand

Cycle through colourful Namaqualand daisies, exploring the landscape of the Cederberg.

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Junior Rangers

Join the Junior Rangers programme at Tswalu Kalahari, perfect for young children.

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Cape Town Adventures

Explore the city and its surrounds, with options to hike, paddle board, kayak, cycle and more.

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Snorkels with Seals

Snorkel with playful seals off the waters of the Cape, in Hout Bay.

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uThando Community Projects

Visit one of uThando’s many community projects and meet local South African children, supported by a donation included in every booking.

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Need Inspiration?
Browse our South Africa holiday ideas.

Our South Africa experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Jackie Devereux

I was born in Zimbabwe. With a dad who was in the police force, we moved from place to place. I have always been passionate about travel. My grandparents mentioned that our ancestors set off from the Horn of Africa – Ethiopia – looking for better cattle pastures. They ended up settling in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe, in the Great Zimbabwe area.

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Illona Cross

Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management. My desire to see more led me to work as a guide for AndBeyond, first in South Africa, then in Tanzania as the company expanded. Here, I lived and worked in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro, guiding and running safari camps.

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Bridget Cohen

Aged five and with my Curious George toy safely tucked under my arm, I set off with my family to travel around Europe in an orange VW minibus. Looking back on the adventures we had along the way, I now know that this was where my love for travel and exploring began.

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Frequently asked questions about South Africa

Do I need to collect my luggage in Johannesburg, even though I'm flying on to another destination?

If you are flying internally in South Africa, you will need to collect your luggage in Johannesburg and check it in again. You will also need to clear customs, which may have a long queue. Usually, Steppes will arrange a meet-and-greet person to navigate this part of your journey – they can help speed the process up significantly.

On the other hand, if you are flying on to another country, you do not usually need to collect your bags. However, the only way to be 100% certain is to ask when you check-in your bags at your departure airport (e.g. Heathrow). The check-in staff will be able to tell you if your baggage will need collecting.

Are there malaria-free safari options in South Africa? How do they compare to the Kruger?

Generally, only the east (including the Kruger) of South Africa is considered a high-risk area for malaria; however, the guidance does change. But this does mean that are a range of safari options across the rest of the country that are usually regarded as malaria-free. This makes South Africa the perfect destination for those who cannot or do not want to take antimalarial medication. Please check with your doctor for the most up-to-date advice regarding malarial risk areas.

These options include safaris in Madikwe and The Waterberg in the north, as well as game reserves in the west. Generally, safaris in these areas focus on rehabilitated land, as opposed to the virgin bushveld of the Kruger. However, this is not to the detriment of the experience. You still have a good chance of seeing iconic species, the standard of guiding is comparable with the Kruger and many of the reserves are arguably more beautiful.

What is the difference between a safari in South Africa and a safari in East Africa?

All the game reserves in South Africa are fenced and dominated by bushveld – an ecosystem primarily of grassland and low-thorn tree scrub. South Africa lacks the open plains and vast herds of East Africa, but, in turn, it offers a great diversity of wildlife species. The animals are often better habituated to the presence of vehicles and hence ideal for photography.

Kruger National Park is one to the best places in the world to view leopards and the reserves of KwaZulu-Natal are home to a prolific number of rhinos. The lodges are generally of a high standard of accommodation, cuisine and guiding, with 24-hour electricity and plumbed water. All these factors combine to make South Africa ideal for the first time safari-goer.

What is the sea like around South Africa?

The cape and the west coast are surrounded by the deep, cold Atlantic Ocean, so are not really suitable for swimming off. However, penguins, dolphins, seals and whales are frequently seen along the coastline. Paddleboarding, surfing, diving (with wetsuits), canoeing and boat cruises are popular in the hope of getting closer to the wildlife.

Further east, after Cape Agulhas, the Indian Ocean begins and sweeps up the east coast towards Mozambique. The Indian Ocean is warmer than the Atlantic and is characterised by golden beaches that are great for swimming from, although large waves are common. The beaches along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline famously play host to international surfing competitions and become wilder the closer you get to the marine parks of Saint Lucia, where leatherback and hawksbill turtles nest.

Humpback whales migrate along the east coast from June to September and Hermanus offers a popular vantage point for this migration.

When is the best time to go on safari in South Africa?

The best time to spot wildlife in South Africa is during the cool, dry season, when water is scarcer and vegetation less thick – making animals more predictable in their behaviour and easier to spot.

Thanks to its contrasting climatic zones, South Africa can claim to truly be a year-round safari destination. Between May and September, the east of the country experiences its dry season, meaning that this the best time to go on safari in the Kruger, Madikwe and the Waterberg.

In contrast, the Cape experiences its dry season between August and May, making this the best time to visit the private reserves found in this region.

What's the best way to travel around South Africa?

There are plenty of options when it comes to travel in South Africa. If you want to link a safari in the Kruger or Sabi Sands with elsewhere, then a good network of internal flights make this simple. Or, if you prefer to travel more traditionally, then there are several luxury train options to chose from, with options to continue into the rest of Southern Africa. Alternatively, if you like more flexibility,  you can drive yourself – this is perfect if exploring the Garden Route or the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal.

When is the best time to see whales?

Southern right whales migrate past South Africa’s southern coast between June and November, calving between July and August. Some of the best land-based whale watching in the world can be found in Hermanus and the surrounding area, where whales often pass within a few hundred metres of the shore.

What should I wear on holiday in South Africa?

For travel along the Garden Route, you can wear what you would on a European beach holiday. You may need to dress up in a hotel/restaurant or if you choose to go out into town. South Africans like to look smart, so take something suitable to wear to fit in. If your holiday is more adventurous, then pack cotton layers such as T-shirts, a light fleece, shorts and a pair of long or zip-off trousers in muted colours. These will be important, as cold nights swiftly change into sweltering days. Socks are good with closed shoes at night to keep bugs at bay.

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An excellent holiday well organised with personal help from Illona. Always available to answer my questions. Everything worked like clockwork whilst in South Africa.

South Africa

I know from previous experience that Illona knows the country very well, and that is why I let her make the judgements about where best to stay, and I even change my mind about places, based on her advice. I get the photographs I want, because of this expertise and so it really adds value to my holiday. The advice was more than vindicated on this latest trip.

South Africa

Uthando south africa
South Africa

Uthando

We support projects right across the planet. Explore below to see where and how we’re making a difference – in some cases, we can even arrange a visit as part of your tailor-made itinerary.

A contribution from The Steppes Fund for Change is being used to champion the Masizakhe Youth Art Project (MYAP) in the township of Gugulethu in Cape Town by providing educational support and youth development through dance, drama, poetry and singing. Masizakhe is run on a daily basis by a group of six facilitators to more than 30 children.

Read more about The Steppes Fund For Change

Why Choose Steppes?

These may be uncertain times but they are, without a doubt, still full of opportunity to discover the extraordinary safely. Through knowledge and expertise, we can connect you to those destinations embracing travellers with the added confidence of flexible booking and decades of insight.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?


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