Southern Africa is a region that includes several non-tropical countries in Africa.
A number of other countries are sometimes considered part of Southern Africa due to their accessibility from the countries listed above, such as Angola and some Islands of the Indian Ocean such as the Seychelles and Mauritius. In some instances all of the countries south of the equator are viewed as Southern Africa. For the purpose of this guide, these countries are described in other regions.
The Drakensberg (mountains of the dragon) range stretches some 1000km through Southern Africa, from the Eastern Cape through Lesotho (most of this country is on a plateau of the mountain range) , central KwaZulu-Natal (where one can find the Tugela Falls, the second highest waterfall in the world), divides Mpumalanga in half creating the Escarpment and the Blyde River Canyon (the third largest canyon in the world) from where it reaches up into the southern parts of Limpopo.
English is an official language in all countries in the region, and most urban dwellers speak it fairly well. Afrikaans is widely spoken in South Africa and Namibia, and German is also spoken by some in Namibia. You may encounter Portuguese in the region as well.
South Africa's OR Tambo Internatonal Airport in Johannesburg and Cape Town International Airport are two of the easiest entry points into the region, with many direct international flight landing there from Amsterdam, Bangkok,Lisbon, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Athens, Dubai, Doha, New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Sydney, Perth and others.
Connections to the rest of the Southern African region is easily made from here with flights to Blantyre, Cairo, Gaborone, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Luanda, Lusaka, Kinshasa, Maputo, Manzini, Maun, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls, Windhoek and more.
Trip starts in Zambia, near world-famous Victoria Falls and provides a glimpse into the best of Botswana with plenty of options for game drives before heading down through the wild Limpopo province of South Africa.
Livingstone, Botswana, Waterberg National Park, Johannesburg.
One of the most popular holiday activities in Southern Africa is wildlife safaris in search of spotting the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino). There are game reserves within South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe. They all have lodges ranging from basic camping to five-star luxury.
South Africa has beautiful beaches stretching all the way from Cape Town around the coast up to Durban, which is a surfing mecca. Further north Mozambique - known for its excellent diving and warm, clear waters - takes over.
Southern Africa is an adventure haven. The region has some of the highest bungee jumping spots in the world; fantastic hiking and biking trails, great rivers for white-water river rafting and canoeing and excellent surf for surfing and kite-boarding.
The area at the tip of Southern Africa around Cape Town is known as the Wine Route and produces award-winning wines. Most wine farms are open for public tastings. Some of the towns to visit on the Wine Route include Stellenbosch, Franschoek, Paarl and Robertson.
Southern Africa is a big place spanning multiple countries, urban and rural areas. Like anywhere, safety varies from place to place and time of day. Use common sense and defer to advice from trusted locals wherever you go, before you venture to new areas, engage with strangers or use public transport, and you're extremely likely to have a safe visit.
Depending on the country you are visiting, tap water might not always be safe to drink. Consult the page for the relevant country and check with locals when in doubt.
Many activities in Southern Africa will be outdoors, see the sunburn and sun protection travel topic for tips on how to protect yourself.
HIV and AIDS
Southern Africa has a very high HIV infection rate.