ABOUT South Africa is one of the world's top destinations for intrepid travellers to discover everything they're looking for... and more. With over 21 National Parks, eight World Heritage Sites, 3,500 kilometres of pristine coastline, a phenomenal climate and awesome adventures ranging from shark-diving to surfing, historic trails to wine tasting, South Africa is guaranteed to provide you with the unforgettable journey of a lifetime. In one day alone, you could come face-to-face with some of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world, experience a unique wildlife encounter, indulge into the fine foods on offer or simply kick back and enjoy the tranquillity of a country that thrives on the warmth of its people, culture and diversity. The Garden Route, from Cape Town to Knysna, is gorgeous, passing through many a quirky town, complete with welcoming locals and fresh produce stalls. Stop in at Swellendam, a town where the jailer once doubled as the postmaster, to experience Cape Dutch architecture at its best. KwaZulu-Natal holds many wonders. Mountain scenery, rolling midlands, bush and beaches come together to offer a compelling and intriguing KwaZulu-Natal tourism experience. All this is underpinned by the legacy of the Zulus and the wars which played out here, completing the picture of KwaZulu-Natal's alluring tourist attractions. KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is regarded as the Zulu kingdom, for it is home to this mighty African tribe. The nation is highly regarded for its military tactics, introduced by King Shaka and successfully employed in wars against the Boers (Dutch-speaking farmers) and British. Just outside Stellenbosch, lying in the beautiful Jonkershoek Valley, is Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve. It is a particularly scenic nature reserve set on the Eerste River with the Stellenbosch Mountain in the background and SAFCOL plantations and vineyards Several hours south of Cape Town is the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. The journey to Cape Agulhas will take you through the scenic Overberg, along what is known as the Whale Coast. You could take a detour to Hermanus, a town famous for its whale watching. A trip up the West Coast will take you through many a small town, mainly quiet fishing villages such as Langebaan and Paternoster. Be sure to take the time to enjoy the flora along the way - and stop in at Yzerfontein to experience a South African beach braai. For serious peace and quiet, head north to the Karoo, one of the most arid regions in the country. This sparsely populated, semi-desert area offers open space, fresh air and historical architecture. Outdoor enthusiasts are by no means left out when it comes to things to do in the Western Cape.

CLIMATE Summer is mid-October to mid-February is characterised by hot, sunny weather – often with afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly, leaving a warm, earthy, uniquely African smell in the air. The Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, is the exception, getting its rain in winter. Autumn is mid-February to April and offers in some ways the best weather. Very little rain falls over the whole country, and it is warm but not too hot, getting colder as the season progresses. In Cape Town, autumn is fantastic, with hot sunny days and warm, balmy nights which many people spend at outdoor cafés. Winter is May to July and is characterised in the higher-lying areas of the interior plateau by dry, sunny, crisp days and cold nights. So it's a good idea to bring warm clothes. The hot, humid KwaZulu-Natal coast, as well as the Lowveld lower-lying areas of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, offer fantastic winter weather with sunny, warmish days and virtually no wind or rain. The Western Cape gets most of its rain in winter, with quite a few days of cloudy, rainy weather. However, these are always interspersed with wonderful days to rival the best of a British summer. The high mountains of the Cape and the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal usually get snow in winter. Spring August to mid-October more spectacular than in the Cape provinces. Here the grey winter is forgotten as thousands of small, otherwise insignificant plants cover the plains in an iridescent carpet of flowers.

BEWARE South Africa has a very high level of crime, including rape and murder. Most cases of violent crime occur in the townships. Consult a reliable tour guide if you visit a township. The risk of violent crime to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations is generally low. The South African authorities give high priority to protecting tourists. Tourism police are deployed in several large towns. Incidents of vehicle hi-jacking and robbery are common. In all areas of South Africa, you should be cautious when out after dark. Streets, even in urban areas, are not brightly lit at night. Be vigilant at all times in Durban's city centre and beach front area. Be vigilant on the approach roads to and from Kruger Park where there have been cases of car hijacking. The local authorities have increased police patrols in this area. Avoid isolated beaches and picnic spots across South Africa. Walking alone anywhere, especially in remote areas, is not advised and hikers should stick to popular trails.