South Africa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa, as it offers truly magnificent views and has an abundance of activities to enjoy. This Southern African country is rich with culture and traditions; with every citizen having a unique heritage, culture and story to tell. The combination of the beauty of the landscape and friendly nature of locals makes South Africa a truly inspiring and exciting country to explore. Since the 17th century and the arrival of its very first settlers, South Africa has been claimed to be one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Undoubtedly, South Africa’s main attractions are its beautiful mountain and coastal views and resplendent national parks.
Our Dive Safari Adventure Tour itinerary in South Africa links some of the best African highlights with some of the best diving Southern Africa has to offer. Aimed at the more adventurous and budget conscious traveller, these tours are an off-the-beaten track adventure that provide a more inclusive experience with cultural interactions, wildlife game viewing, social interaction and, of course, scuba diving.
South Africa is alive and waiting for you to discover her magic. It’s breathtaking, it’s captivating, it’s bustling, it’s endless. Come and discover South Africa on an awe-inspiring Dive Safari.
The country comprises 8 world heritage sites and has more than 290 conservation parks. Physical features range from bushveld, grasslands, forests, deserts and majestic mountain peaks, to wide unspoilt beaches and coastal wetlands. South Africa is home to almost 300 mammal species, about 860 bird species and 8,000 plant species. The annual sardine run is the biggest migration on the planet.
The warm Mozambique-Agulhas Current skirts the east and south coasts as far as Cape Agulhas, while the cold Benguela Current flows northwards along the west coast as far as southern Angola. The contrast in temperature between these two currents partly accounts for significant differences in climate and vegetation, as well as differences in marine life.
Kruger National Park
Stretching over more than two million hectares, the Kruger National Park is one of the world’s largest game reserves and a truly remarkable destination. Owing to its exceptional size, visitors are able to experience fantastic diversity – from changing scenery and ecosystems to an impressive array of animals, plant life and birdlife. The park is home to over 130 mammals and over 500 bird species. Visitors can look forward to learning about the area’s prehistoric past, enjoying a host of accommodation options, and viewing abundant wildlife including the famed Big 5. The diversity and sheer density of wildlife makes Kruger National Park an unforgettable and potentially life-changing experience.
Hlane Royal National Park
Situated in Swaziland’s Lubombo Region, Hlane Royal National Park is the country’s largest protected area covering 30,000 hectares of Swazi bushveld. The landscape is characterised by ancient hardwood vegetation, shallow pans, and lowveld grasslands. The park is home to native African mammals, including lions, elephants, white rhinos and leopards. You will also be see an array of beautiful and diverse bird life, including the highest density of nesting white-backed vultures in Africa. Visitors can enjoy guided bush walks, excellent game viewing, bird watching, lion and rhino tours, guided mountain bike trails as well as fascinating cultural tours.
Encircled by the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, St Lucia is South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. St Lucia lies on the magnificent St Lucia Estuary which is one of the largest in Africa stretching over 85 kilometres. St Lucia features abundant wildlife, pristine natural beauty, and a wide range of wonderful activities. This haven of tranquillity offers a variety of activities including excellent mountain biking, hiking, bird watching and deep-sea fishing. Visitors can also look forward to thrilling night drive safaris, hippo and crocodile cruises, and many comfortable accommodation options.
KwaZulu Natal South Coast
The KwaZulu Natal South Coast is all about beaches, fishing and golf. Stretching from Amanzimtoti to Port Edward, well-developed resort towns dot this lush coastline catering to every need from diving to dining, with top-notch golf courses often forming the basis of holidays to the area. This popular coastal strip offers visitors an endless summer with a variety of activities including excellent swimming, snorkelling, hiking, bird watching, dolphin spotting and viewing the annual sardine run.
South Africa has typical weather for the Southern Hemisphere with the coldest days in June – August. On the central plateau, which includes Johannesburg and Kruger National park, the altitude keeps the average temperatures below 40°C. In winter temperatures can drop below freezing, also due to altitude. During winter it is warmest in the coastal regions, especially on the eastern Indian Ocean side from Durban, north to the Mozambican border.
South Africa is a sunny country, averaging 8-10 daily sunshine hours in most regions. The average annual rainfall for South Africa is 464mm but large and unpredictable variations are common. For most of the country, rain falls mainly in the summer months with brief afternoon thunderstorms. Each season has its benefits, and as such, there is no bad time to visit South Africa. The optimum time to visit depends on where you're going and what you want to do while you're there. Generally speaking, game-viewing at parks like the Kruger is best during the dry season (May - September), when animals are forced to congregate around water sources.
Diving is conducted year round, with seasons offering different highlights:
SUMMER: warmer waters (between 23-27°C on shark tours and 12-18°C in Cape Town), hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, bright sunny days
WINTER: cooler waters (between 18-23°C on shark tours and Sardine Run and 7-12°C in Cape Town), Great White predation and breaching, Southern Right and Humpback whale migration and Sardine Run
Water conditions in South Africa can vary day by day. Diving is conducted on semi-rigid ribs with launches taking place either straight from beaches of via river mouths. These launches involve breaking through the incoming waves and can get bumpy. All divers joining a dive tour must hold an Advanced Open Water (or equivalent) certification as a minimum and be confident and comfortable in the water. If you are unsure whether your experience level is sufficient please contact us.
The World Famous Aliwal Shoal was formed thousands of years ago from fossilised sand dunes during the times when sea levels were much lower than they are today. The Aghulas Current that runs south along the east coast of Africa brings with it warm water and a huge diversity of tropical sea life. Raggies Cave, is one of the most popular dive sites on Aliwal Shoal. As its name suggests this is the best place to view the Ragged Tooth Sharks resting in the shoal during their annual migration between July to November. Other shark sightings could include great whites, tigers, white tips and whale sharks. The shoal is home to over 1200 species of fish, as well as turtles, rays, mantas, angelfish and butterfly fish. Dolphins are also frequently seen at the shoal.
Protea Banks has been rated by many divers from around the world as the best shark dive. It is here that we hope to see some of the world’s largest marine predators. South Africa is one of only three countries in the world offering baited shark dives. The dives take place in open water, hanging in the blue whilst possible Tiger, Bull, Hammerhead and Oceanic Black-Tip sharks come in to investigate the scent trail around you. A full safety briefing and training session is included. This is a breathtaking experience.
From October to May, some very large specimens can be encountered at Protea Banks. Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks are also seen shoaling at this time - they can come past in groups of up to several hundred.
The annual Great Sardine Run takes place between June and July and is a diver’s bucket list event. Massive schools of sardines migrate from the colder waters around the Cape to the warmer waters of Kwa-Zulu Natal to give birth to their offspring. Once they’ve laid their eggs, they return to the Cape. Bait balls swirl through the water attracting predators from miles away. Sharks, whales, dolphins, marlin and others attack from below, whilst Cape Gannets and Gulls attack from above…and in the middle…is you. The ocean awakens and the thrill is simply indescribable.
Great White Cage Dive
The town of Gansbaai is the gateway to Great White diving in South Africa. Experience the awe-inspiring Great White Shark, up close and personal, as each person gets the opportunity to spend some time in the cage. When not in the cage you can view these incredible animals from the viewing deck on the top of the boat.
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southern-most country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland (Eswatini); and it surrounds the kingdom of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa. South Africa boasts three capital cities. Pretoria is the administrative capital, Cape Town is the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa.
The international country code for South Africa is 27. South Africa is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
(subject to change)
Most nationalities, including Australian, UK, USA and Canadian passport holders, do not require a visa to visit South Africa for up to 90 days. Please check for most up-to-date visa requirements.
Malaria prophylactics are required. Please note that Larium may not be taken when planning to scuba dive. Please inform your doctor that you will be diving so that he/she can prescribe a suitable anti-malarial. Check with your physician for the best precautions to be taken.
A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for all passengers, arriving in or transiting through South Africa from a yellow fever endemic country or region, as listed by the World Health Organization (WHO). www.sahc.org.au/yellow-fever.htm
For further details contact Travel Vax on 1300 360 164.
The currency of South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR).
1 AUD = approximately 10 ZAR (September 2018)
South African Airways- 1 piece maximum 23kg + 1 additional piece of sports equipment maximum 23kg with a maximum dimension of 200cm (conditions apply)
(Subject to change without notice)
200 cigarettes and 50 cigars, 250g of cigarette or pipe tobacco, 50ml perfume, 250ml eau de toilette.
2 litres of wine.
South Africa has a generally temperate, subtropical climate, moderated by ocean on three sides of the country and the altitude of the interior plateau. Due to this varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. The climatic zones range from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean. Winters in South Africa occur between June and August.
South Africa is a relatively dry country, with an average annual rainfall of about 464 mm. While the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, the rest of the country is generally a summer-rainfall region.
We suggest that you pack a variety of clothing layers to suit different temperatures. As we travel through the country temperatures will often change and it is best to be prepared. Evenings can become cool and wind and rain are common.
230 volts, The Type M plug has three round pins in a triangular pattern.
(For further details refer to http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/).
Most of the major South African cities do have credit card facilities available, however they may charge you a surcharge to use the facility. ATM / Debit cards are a good way to withdraw local currency on arrival in a new country. This may not always be possible but it is an option in most cases. Cards should have a chip and pin.
South Africa has 11 official languages. Zulu is the most widely spoken, followed by Xhosa, Afrikaans, and English.
Christianity is the most widely practiced religion with nearly 80% of the population identifying as Christian. Islam, Hinduism, and indigenous beliefs contribute to the remaining 20%.
Water used for drinking and brushing teeth should first be boiled or sterilised. Bottled water is recommended.
Bargaining is commonplace throughout Africa, especially for souvenirs and curios sold in markets, medinas, bazaars, and souks. There's a fine line between paying too much and getting ripped off and paying too little and insulting or short-changing the seller. Finding that line is half the fun, but a good place to start is to halve the first asking price and start haggling from there.
Tipping is standard practice in South Africa, be prepared to tip 10% - 15% in restaurants, cafés and bars. If you are travelling as part of a group tour, we recommend anything from R25 to R30 per person, per day, per guide as a fair tip.
Diving in South Africa is thrilling and exciting with the prospect of seeing many sharks, dolphins, rays and shoaling fish. It does however come with its challenges. Divers should be Advanced Open Water certified and above and be comfortable diving in all conditions such as currents, swells and blue water diving with negative entries.
There is currently no locally paid departure taxes for South Africa.