South Africa is marked by several distinct ecosystems : Desmond Tutu used to describe it as "the world in one country". Let's Discover South Africa !
Come & Go has a new incredible destination and the team absolutely wanted to present it through a blog post. South Africa never ceases to amaze travellers who dare to approach it to discover great natural spaces and explore a country with many facets. South Africa is an amazing country because of the energy it exudes, the melting pot and the history of its big cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg and all the experiences to be had once you get there. Feel this sense of freedom as you go on an internship in a colourful country in the heart of regions that are as beautiful as each other.
General informations about the country
What is the best time of the year to go to South Africa ? Generally speaking, the most pleasant months are May-June (autumn) and October-November (spring). In Cape Town it is advisable to leave between September-December and March-April. The weather is dry, sunny, the nights are cool, and the sea temperature reaches its maximum – never above 20°C on this coast. Nevertheless, the wind remains violent.
When should I go to see animals ? The Kruger National Park is especially worth a visit between May and October, during the dry season. Animals show up when the weather becomes clement.
What language is spoken there ? There are 11 official languages in South Africa, but each province can make its own language choices, adopting at least 2 official languages. English, used as the language of communication, is spoken everywhere, but it is the first language for only 10% of the population. You can still go to South Africa speaking only English without any problem.
What is the time-lag with France, for example ? South Africa is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 1 hour ahead of European Winter Time. In winter, when it is 10am in France, it is 11am in South Africa. In summer, the time is the same as in France.
What’s the local currency ? The currency is the rand (R or ZAR), divided into 100 cents. At the beginning of 2019, 1 € was worth about 15 R (so 10 R for 0.70 €).
What’s the flight time from Paris ? 11:30 from Paris to Cape Town.
The biggest cities of South Africa
Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape, a province in the southwestern part of South Africa. Cape Town, founded in 1652, is considered the mother city of South Africa. The city is fortunate to have a more than pleasant geographical situation, an exceptional natural setting, mountains and ocean. The atmosphere is very pleasant, very festive, which makes you feel really good. Not to mention that the old Cape Town has managed to keep its old-fashioned architecture.
The town is surrounded by beautiful white sandy beaches such as Clifton or Camps Bay. The famous and beautiful beach of Camps Bay is a large white sand beach facing the “12 Apostles” (the 12 mountains). It is also a very nice place because you have many bars and restaurants, ideal to have a good time… It is a festive place: Camps Bay attracts the Jet Set, the golden youth and many tourists during the high season. The Cape of Good Hope is a windswept place because of the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. You can attempt a journey by bike or drive there.
Cape Town can be visited in a cabriolet bus, which will allow you to admire the colonial buildings as well as the countryside that surrounds the city and the seaside. You can also visit the city centre on foot, in the middle of the buildings. Cape Town is a big city similar as European cities. The most pleasant places are around the harbour, Victoria and Waterfront. You will find many restaurants to relax in. The setting is very nice because it is a fishing port, therefore very lively (dancers and singers are always present to attract tourists…). There are also many museums, Nelson Mandela Island, markets, cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, and the possibility to see whales by boat!
Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and the capital of Gauteng province (the richest of the country). It developed after the discovery of gold on the site in the 19th century. The former home of Nelson Mandela has now become the Nelson Mandela Museum and you can find many museums on Apartheid among others.
This city is not on the seafront like Cape Town: it is located at an altitude of 1,800 metres and is growing at great speed, resembling Manhattan with its skyscrapers. Johannesburg also remains very marked by Apartheid and one can still notice strong scars between a very dense city centre and residential suburbs bordering huge townships such as Soweto further south. However, Joburg (the city’s nickname for lovers of Johannesburg) is appealing: like Los Angeles, it is possible to drive around all the time, there are almost no pedestrian crossings. A very large city where you have to take your time to browse because there seems to be a thousand things to discover.
You will be impressed by the Newton district, the cultural district of the city. This is where the famous Museum Africa is located. The fashion district is unique in the world: it is THE place to go to buy fabric, to hunt for recycled clothes, to have a drink away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Soweto is also one of the must-see places. Sadly famous for being one of the townships in South Africa that experienced clashes against Apartheid, this place remains extremely lively, bustling and constantly changing.
Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga
The Kruger National Park is one of the largest in Africa, and lends itself willingly to the organization of a photo safari in order to hope to see the “Big Five”: lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. This magnificent protected area will amaze you with its incredible beauty. It is the largest wildlife reserve in Africa: more than 500 species of birds, more than a hundred species of reptiles, nearly 150 species of mammals, several archaeological sites and an amazing variety of flowers and trees.
Hermanus, Western Cape
Hermanus is a spot where tourists from all over the world come to see multiple species of whales. In this small seaside village, many companies will make you discover these majestic but also fragile animals in speedboats. Hermanus is also a beautiful seaside town. A first visit to the Old Harbour Museum will allow you to get acquainted with the rich fishing history of the area. You will surely be amazed by the enormous whale skeleton on display in the museum. With dozens of vineyards, Hermanus is a great starting point for a wine tasting tour.
Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga
Nothing less than… the third largest canyon in the world! It can be explored by following the hiking trails but the best is to use a local guide, who will allow the lucky ones who come to visit South Africa the unique view of the Three Rondavels or Pilgrim’s Rest, a former mining town.
Drakensberg , Kwazulu-Natal
These mountains are considered to be the African Alps: these green meadows dotted with gigantic white mountains are indeed reminiscent of Savoy, in the middle of Southern Africa! The place lends itself to hiking, ideal when you come to visit South Africa!
There is so much more to do in this incredible country, that goes way beyond the usual clichés. An article of several pages could have been devoted to the culture and gastronomy of the country… In the meantime, you can find all our internship and apprenticeship offers here.