South Africa is an exhilarating, spectacular and complex country. With its post-apartheid identity still in the process of definition, there is undoubtedly an abundance of energy and sense of progress about the place. Travellers too are returning to a remarkable land that has been off the trail for way too long.
The infrastructure is constantly improving, the climate is kind and there are few better places to see Africa's wildlife. But if you want to understand the country, you'll have to deal with the full spectrum. Poverty, the AIDS pandemic and violence remain a problem.
The influx of foreign visitors in recent years has brought about an explosion of tours and activities: everything from abseiling off Table Mountain to sipping cocktails while watching lions. As a backdrop to all this, South Africa continues to go through huge upheavals as it comes to terms with democracy, and in these terms it is a young country. Democracy has precipitated change both good and bad - the dissolution of physical and psychological barriers around skin colour at one end of the scale, the well-publicised crime problem at the other. It is both an invigorating and challenging time for South Africa, and a great time to visit and observe this metamorphosis first hand.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track