Geographically speaking, ‘Southern Africa’ generally refers to ten countries – Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and of, course, South Africa – but this region of Africa is far more than the sum of its parts. From the world-famous Kruger Park and the vibrant city of Cape Town in South Africa, to the beautiful beaches and scuba diving of Mozambique, or the thundering waters of Victoria Falls on the shared border between Zimbabwe and Zambia – Southern Africa offers tourist attractions as diverse as the people who live here. The best places to visit in Southern Africa while you visit the region.
Let’s take a look at just some of the reasons you should consider one (or more!) of these countries for your next holiday!
Best Places to visit in Southern Africa
One of the most intriguing aspects for overseas tourists who visit Africa is getting the chance to meet the local and indigenous people. We all come with our preconceived notions of what the native residents of Africa might be like, but few are prepared for just how welcoming, friendly and resilient the people who call Africa home are. Here are some of the interesting native groups you might be lucky enough to encounter in Southern Africa:
The Zulu people of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa:
The Zulu people are descendants of the world-renowned African warrior, Shaka Zulu, whose military prowess and talent for innovation in wartime are still admired to this day. He is widely credited for turning what was really just a small tribe into one of the greatest African nations the continent had ever seen, making it one of the best places to visit in Southern Africa.
And while most of the modern Zulus of South Africa have adopted a more urbanized way of life, there are still places where their legacy and traditional ways of life are preserved through empowerment by tourism. This makes South Africa a great choice to visit if you’d like to experience the true way of life of an indigenous people, while enjoying the creature comforts of a luxury private game reserve at the same time! South Africa is also home to other tribes, including the Xhosa, Basotho, Bapedi, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi and Ndebele people.
The Bayei, Banoka and Hambukushu of the Okavango Delta, Botswana:
One of the biggest legacies of the native people of Botswana is the way that many travelers still prefer to tour the Okavango Delta – via the traditional Mokoro canoe! Botswana tours and safaris aren’t generally considered as complete until you’ve experienced this unique and incredibly peaceful way of observing wildlife, silently gliding through the reeds as different scenes pass you by, and it’s an absolute paradise for bird watchers.
The Kalahari San, Botswana:
The more well-known, yet also far more elusive, San or Bushmen people also call Botswana home, although they live in more scattered groups of hunter-gatherers in the arid Kalahari – a stark contrast to the lush Okavango Delta! Though they may be slightly harder to find, these people find great joy in sharing their intimate knowledge of bush survival, and many camps in Botswana offer authentic walks with real San trackers who are happy to impart some of their wisdom.
Conservation and Wildlife experiences:
From heart stopping encounters with the Big Five to the wonder of observing whales up close in Hermanus, the natural beauty of Africa and the sheer diversity of wildlife that live here is something that never ceases to amaze visitors.
There’s also just something about being on African soil that gets into your blood – whether it’s the first time you hear lions roaring up close at night, or seeing with our own eyes just how massive and intimidating a bull elephant is – a trip to Africa creates memories that keep most visitors coming back again and again. It must also be said that if you’re looking for an overseas holiday that doesn’t break the bank, you really won’t find much better value than Southern African venues that cater for local tourists as well as international visitors!
If you’re after the classic safari experience with game drives and sundowners, then the best time to visit is actually during the winter months, when the vegetation is less abundant, and your chances of spotting elusive game are better.
Every Southern African country has safari experiences on offer, so it can be difficult to choose which place to visit! It might help you narrow your search if you think of a particular animal you’d like to see, or an activity that you’d like to embark on at the same time. Hot air balloon safaris, walking and camping safaris, and even horseback safaris are all on offer – as are resorts with golf courses, spa and gym facilities, fine dining and much more. If you can dream it, the chances are excellent there’s a Southern African destination that can deliver it!