South Africa 's climate is moderate and the land ranges from desert to grassland to subtropical swamp, all helping to create a county which contains some of the worlds most diverse animals and plant life. South Africa has the world's richest floral kingdom, which produces brief but bright and colourful flowering season. You can enjoy the flowering season in the spring months of August and September, when specialist flower viewing trips are run and almost every small town has a flower show.
As well as a vast variety of endemic and migratory birds, South Africa is also home to one-sixth of the world's marine species along its 2954 km of coast, with the Indian Ocean on the East coast and the Atlantic on the West coast.
South Africa has more species of wild animals than Europe and Asia put together - here are a few facts about South Africa:
- The world's largest land mammal - the African elephant
- The world's smallest mammal - a shrew the size of a human fingertip
- The world's tallest mammal - the giraffe
- The world's fastest mammal - the cheetah
- The world's heaviest reptile - the leatherback turtle
- The world's largest antelope - the eland
- The world's largest bird - the ostrich
- The world's heaviest flying bird - the Kori Bustard
- 900 species of birds -10% of the world's variety on 1% of its land area
- 6000 different spiders
- 175 varieties of scorpion
- 100 different snakes
Most visitors to South Africa go in hope of seeing the infamous Big 5 - which consists of Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant and Rhino - in their natural habitat, you can consider yourself very lucky if you see 3 or 4 of these and it is very rare to see all 5 in one stay at one of the many game reserves, but it is possible at the Kruger National Park. Also, if you are staying by the coast you are not left out, you can go out to spot the Marine Big 5 - Whale, Shark, Dolphin, Tuna and Marlin - either from a boat, by one of the many tour operators available round the coast - or in one of South Africa 's splendid aquariums.
Recreational activities are rugulated within Table Mountain National Park in order to minimise environmental damage and it is illegal to:
- Remove or cause harm to any plants, rocks or animals or to feed any animals.
- Fish without a valid permit.
- Light a fire unless in a designated area.