Kempton Park
Gateway to South Africa

www.kemptalk.com
"the definitive website of Kempton Park"

 SOUTH AFRICA

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2010 Fifa World Cup

Birdlife of South Africa

Gauteng - Place of Gold

Government Departments

History of South Africa


Languages of South Africa


Mountains & Rivers of SA

Namaqualand

National Animal (Springbok) 

National Anthem

National Bird (Blue crane) 

National Flag

National Flower (Protea) 

National Library of SA

National Parks

National Tree (Yellowwood) 

Political Parties

Public Holidays

Robben Island

School Calendar

South African History Online 

South African Reserve Bank


West Coast
 

 

INTRODUCTION

South Africa lies at the southernmost part of the African continent. It is bordered to the north by Botswana and Zimbabwe, to the northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland and to the northwest by Namibia. On the east coastline lies the Indian Ocean, the Southern coastline the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and Atlantic Ocean on the western side. South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho.

Most of South Africa has elevations of over 914m (3,000 ft) and at least 40% of the surface is at an elevation of over 1,220m (4,000 ft). Parts of Johannesburg are 1,829m (6,000 ft) above sea level. Resembling an inverted saucer, the land rises steadily from west to east to the Drakensberg Mountains, the tallest of which is Mont-aux-Sources at 3,300m (10,823 ft).

The coastal belt in the west and south varies from 3 to 30 miles in width, is between 152m (500ft) to 182m (600ft) above sea level, and is very fertile, producing citrus fruits and grapes, particularly in the Western Cape. North of the coastal belt stretch, the Little and the Great Karoo, which are bounded by mountains, lie higher than the coastal belt, and are semi-arid to arid, merging into sandy wastes that ultimately join the Kalahari Desert.

The high grass prairie, or veld, of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal is famous for its mineral deposits. From the Drakensberg, the land falls towards the Indian Ocean in the rolling hills and valleys of Natal, which are covered with rich vegetation and, near the coast, subtropical plants, including sugarcane.

CLIMATE

South Africa lies almost wholly within the southern temperate zone, and its climate is more equable than that of corresponding northern latitudes because of its surrounding waters. Cape Town and the southernmost part of Western Cape has a Mediterranean-type climate and is warmer than some areas further north that are affected by the cold Benguela Current on the west coast of Southern Africa. The winter months are mild and changeable, this is also the time when most the rainfall occurs. The Durban and Kwa-Zulu-Natal coastline is affected by the warm Mozambique current and enjoys a sub-tropical climate, with plenty of sunshine throughout the year, but the summer months can become very hot and humid. Throughout the country, however, the mean annual temperature is just below 15.6°C (60°F). On the high veld there are sharp differences of temperature between day and night; but there is less daily fluctuation nearer the coast. Rainfall is unpredictable in large parts of the country, and prolonged droughts are a serious restriction on farming in such areas. While the mean annual rainfall is 18.6 inches, nearly 30% of the country receives less than 10 inches and 65% receives less than 20 inches. Much of South Africa gets its rain in the summer months, but the western coastal belt is a winter rain area. Along the Cape south coast, rain falls during both seasons. Generally the winter months are between April and August with summer being from September to March.

The climate is perfect for motorhome and camping travel, with plenty of sunshine and warm balmy evenings. Seasons are the opposite of those in Europe and North America. Generally it is sunny and pleasant even in the mild winters. Average daily temperatures are evenly spread throughout the country at between 21° C and 30° C - though it can soar above this in some areas. Summer is beach time; autumn and spring are best for walking; winter is best for white water rafting and canoeing in Zimbabwe (when the rivers are high) and for game watching in the bushveld when the cover is sparse.

VISAS AND IMMIGRATION

Entry permits are issued on arrival to holiday visitors from most British Commonwealth countries and to holders of Japanese, Irish, Swiss and German passports. Currently holders of Scandinavian and Finnish passports do not require visa but this situation could change and it is advisable to check with your nearest South African Embassy/Consular. South Africa has at least consular representation in most countries. It is possible that, on entry into South Africa, you will be asked to show sufficient funds to support your stay or have an onward ticket. Visa extensions are expensive and can be difficult to obtain because of the recent influx of illegal immigrants.

Visa enquiries can be made to:

Department of Home Affairs
Subdirectorate: Visas
Private Bag X114
Pretoria 0001
South Africa
Telephone: +27(0)12 314 8911
Fax: +27(0)12 328 3908

MONEY

Currency - 1 South African Rand = 100 cents
Current Exchange Rate : Today's Exchange Rate 

Credit and charge cards are widely accepted, including American Express, Bank of America, Diners, MasterCard, Standard Bank Card and Visa. Some ATM's give cash advances. Travellers cheques are also widely accepted and exchanged. Different commission charges are incurred depending on which bank you use and which travellers cheques you have.

Most banks are open Mon-Fri 0900-1530 and Sat 0900-1100. Autobanks are found in most towns and operate on a 24-hour basis.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

Air Travel - Domestic Flights

You can get to all the major cities by air but may need to book in advance, especially during school holidays.
South African Express Airways 
kulula.com 

Train 

The railway system in South Africa is well established and mostly privately run. All the major towns are connected. There is a Metro service in and around several cities.

The Blue Train, which runs between Pretoria and Cape Town, is famous for its sheer luxury, people come to South Africa just for the experience. If the whole trip is out of your budget you can take just a section of it. The train is very popular and bookings will need to be made in advance. The train recently started a new service "Zimbabwe Spectacular" where two nights are spent on board.

You can also experience a steam train tour, including "Apple Express" from Port Elizabeth, the "Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe between Knysna and George the "Banana Express" along KwaZulu Natal South Coast and "Magaliesberg Express" from Johannesburg to Magaliesberg.

Bus

A number of coach operators operate an inter city service. Translux Express offers very flexible passes, enabling visitors to make up their own itineraries to explore the country. It is advisable to book in advance.
Greyhound Coach Lines 

Self Drive / Vehicle Hire

South Africa is an excellent country to drive in. Road conditions are good, there are plenty of petrol stations often open 24 hours and fuel is relatively cheap. Driving is on the left hand side and a valid national licence is accepted provided it carries your photograph otherwise an International Driving Licence is recommended.

Leaded and unleaded petrol and diesel is available. In areas where this is not available, leaded fuel may be used.

The Automobile Association of South Africa 
AVIS Rent a Car 
Britz 4x4 Rentals 
Maui Motorhome Rentals 

Electricity

Electric Power is 220/230V running at 50Hz.
The "South African" Three point plug 

Travel Insurance

If you need medical care whilst in South Africa, it is best to be aware that medical providers may not accept payment through your insurance company. In these circumstances you will have to pay in full after your treatment and file a claim with your insurance company for reimbursement. Therefore you should have access to cash, either from a credit card or by wire transfer. If you need assistance contact the country's local embassy or representative.

To be compensated you must be treated by licensed medical personnel and provide your insurance company with proper documentation and receipts.

Comprehensive Tourist Information

For comprehensive tourist information visit the website of AFRICA GUIDE.COM 

ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA

Land of Diversity

South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world. Exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture offer a larger-than-life experience for the traveller in search of a truly unique and inspiring experience.

South Africa’s vast landscape includes savannahs, snow-covered mountains, forests, tropical swamps, endless beaches, tranquil rivers and… bustling urban epicentres.
 
South Africa is known for its abundant wildlife (and of course the famous "big five") as well as its fantastic birding and eco-tourism possibilities.

However, the real heart of this vibrant country is the diversity of people and cultures. South Africa’s family tree goes way back to the start of time. The country has been touted as the Cradle of Humankind, because it was here that archaeologists discovered 2,5 million year old fossils as well as the 100 000 year old remains of modern humankind.

Many of South Africa’s cultures have their roots in an ancient world, whilst some of the cultures are relatively new – and others, well, are a fascinating mix of both.

A People of Diversity

According to a statistics census taken in 2001 (Census ’01), South Africa’s population was recorded as 44,8 million people.

The results across the racial groups were as follows:
African:      79,0%
White:         9,6%
Coloured:      8,9% 
Indian/Asian:  2,5%

The South African population consists of the following groups:

• The Nguni people (including the Zulu, Xhosa and Swazi), who account for two-thirds of the population.
• The Sotho-Tswana people, who include the Southern, Northern and Western Sotho (Tswana)
• The Tsonga
• The Venda
• Afrikaners (of Dutch origin)
• English
• Coloureds
• Indians
• Khoi and San people
• Other: the remainder consist of people who have immigrated to South Africa from the rest of Africa, Europe and Asia and who maintain a strong cultural identity.

There are 11 official languages spoken in South Africa, namely: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.

However, English is largely spoken in most urban areas of the country.

Almost 80% of South Africa's population adheres to the Christian faith. Other major religious groups are the Hindus, Muslims and Jews. A minority of South Africa's population does not belong to any of the major religions, but regard themselves as traditionalists or of no specific religious affiliation.

Freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Constitution, and official policy is one of non-interference in religious practices.

The South African Seas

South Africa is surrounded by the ocean on three sides - to the west, south and east - and has a long coastline of about 3 000 km.

This coastline is swept by two major ocean currents  - the warm south-flowing Mozambique-Agulhas Current and the cold Benguela. The former skirts the east and south coasts as far as Cape Agulhas, while the Benguela Current flows northwards along the west coast as far as southern Angola.

The contrast in temperatures between these two currents partly accounts for important differences in climate and vegetation between the east and west coasts of South Africa. These differing temperatures also cause big differences in marine life. The cold waters of the west coast are much richer in oxygen, nitrates, phosphates and plankton than those of the east coast. As a result, the South African fishing industry is centred on the west coast.

The coastline of South Africa is relatively even with few bays naturally suitable for harbours. The only ideal natural harbour along the coastline is Saldanha Bay, on the West Coast. However, the area lacks fresh water and offers no natural lines of penetration to the interior.

SOUTH AFRICAN CUISINE

Before your visit to South Africa, why not try one of the local recipes?

Here is the recipe for one of the most exquisite unique South African dishes:

Bobotie

1 kg minced topside
25 ml oil
12,5 ml butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
10 ml green ginger, chopped
12,5 ml curry powder
10 ml turmeric
25, ml apricot jam (smooth)
3 slices white bread
3 eggs
375 ml milk
juice and rind of 1 lemon
3 bay leaves
salt and black pepper
flaked almonds (optional)

Sauté onions in oil and butter, add the chopped garlic and chopped green ginger, and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric, add the minced meat to the pot and brown.

Soak the bread in cold water. Beat eggs with milk and add the lemon juice and rind. Squeeze all the water from the bread and crumble. Add the bread and milk and egg mixture to the meat, as well as the apricot jam. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. If you find the curry flavour too mild stir in 5ml curry paste. Spoon into a well-buttered oven dish, and push the bay leaves into the bobotie. Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.

For the custard, beat another 2 eggs with 180 ml milk and pour over the top of the bobotie. If you want to be extravagant, sprinkle some flaked almonds over the custard. Bake for 30 minutes or until the custard is golden brown. Serve with rice, some sliced banana, toasted coconut and tomato and onion sambal.

Rooibos Tea & Rusks

If you spend any time in South Africa, chances are that you'll develop an addiction to Rooibos tea. It's becoming easier to find in the US as well, so if you're an American, you'll be able to support your habit. The name comes from "Red Bush". It's a completely natural herb tea prepared from the indigenous plant aspalathus Linearis which only grows near Cape Town at the Southern tip of South Africa in the Cederberg area.

The tea is also supposed to have numerous health benefits. It is full of polyphenols and flavonoids which help protect the body from free-radicals that weaken natural defenses and eventually lead to aging and the onset of disease. "Studies show drinking red tea daily can reward you with powerful anti-oxidants that help create a healthier and longer life." It also has all the benefits of green tea but it's completely caffeine-free.

It has a great taste and smell and it's one of the tea's that can be drank with milk or creamer added. You can usually order a cup or pot even at more "fast-food" type places like Wimpy. Another good side item for a morning cup of tea are Rusks. They're similar to biscotti except they're more like buttermilk biscuits baked within an inch of their lives . Once you dunk them, they soften up to an edible texture.

ARICAN ART

What you see here is a typical example of African bead work. This specific picture is a bead work broach for the arm, the leg, or even the neck. Although this example comes from the Ndebele tribe, all African art is characterised by the use of amazingly bright and beautiful colors.

The Ndebele tribe lives in the northern regions of South Africa. One of the smallest and most colourful tribes, the Ndebele people enjoy dressing up; sometimes to impress the opposite sex; mostly to distinguish various status levels within the tribe. Much emphasis is placed on dress code in their everyday lives.

When touring South Africa one of the great remaining impressions is that it seems that all African people have the gift of creating art. This is obvious from the way they decorate their homes, the way they dress, and then of course, the carvings, sculptures, paintings, bead work, pottery and many, many other expressions of their artistic abilities.

These works of art may be bought at a premium at any of the upper class curio shops, but if one just waits a while and tour the country side, one can buy exactly the same quality of art work directly from the artists themselves. As one travels the highways and byways there are stalls everywhere where one may barter with these friendly and gifted people.

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