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Overview of Southern and East Africa

Southern and Eastern Africa comprises a vast and varied geographical area, full of breathtaking scenery, exquisite wildlife, wonderful surprises, ancient and modern cities existing site by side, unspoilt rural habitats, and a confusing array of peoples, cultures and well as a history that goes back to the very cradle of mankind.

The countries that make up the Southern and East African Region are: (In the South) - South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (In the East) - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

In this vast region discerning travellers can be pick and choose from wildlife offerings that range from whalewatching in the southern oceans around South Africa, to the desert elephants of Namibia, the iconic Big Five of the Kruger National Park in north-eastern South Africa, the crocodiles and birdlife of the Okavango Delta, the gorillas and chimps od Uganda, to the awesome annual migration of thousands of wildebeest in Tanzania.

Natural wonders of the region include the majestic Table Mountain in the south; the massive sand dunes of the world's oldest desert in Namibia; the swamps wonderland of the Okavango Delta; the thundering, misty Victoria Falls separating Zambia and Zimbabwe; the tropical Indian Ocean island paradises of Mozambique; the Great Lakes and the Rift Valley of East Africa; the Nile River and Lake Tanganyika to the north; the great plains of Kenia; and Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. An amazing sub-continent where amazing people nourish their souls.



  • English is predominantly spoken in all of the countries in this region, with the exception of Portuguese speaking Mozambique. In Namibia German is also widely spoken.
  • A great variety of indigenous African languages are also spoken in these countries.
  • Various European and Asian languages are also widey spoken in a number of countries in the region.


  • Countries in the region boast thriving capital cities that often blend the old and the new in an explosion of sound, colour, activities and people.
  • The various capital cities are: Pretoria/Tshwane (South Africa); Gaborone (Botswana); Maputo (Mozambique); Windhoek (Namibia); Mbabane (Swaziland); Harare (Zimbabwe); Nairobi (Kenya); Dodoma (Tanzania); Kampala (Uganda): and Lusaka (Zambia)


  • The climate for this region varies greatly, from the moderate Mediterranean climate of South Africa's Western Cape; to the coastal desert areas of Namibia that are cooled off by the icy Atlantic; the hot and humid conditions of Zambia; the hot desert climate of Botswana; the tropical heat  of Mozambique and Tanzania; the fresh mountain air Swaziland; the cold and wet of parts of Uganda; to the cool  air of Kenian highlands.
  • Due to the combination of the region's generally high altitude and the rain shadow caused by high mountian ranges, the East African interior is quite cool and dry.
  • Rainy season in some parts is all year round, in others, mostly to the East, it is in summer (December/January) while in the southwest it is winter (June/July).


  • The countires of the region fall into a time zone range of UTC/GMT +2 hours to UTC/GMT +3 hours going east.


  • While all of the countries have their own currencies, the most widely used currency in the region is the South African Rand which is accepted all over Southern Africa.


  • Most countries in the region have good to excellent fixed line telephone services and rapidly growing cellphone networks. Internet and email services are also available, although restricted in some countries to the urban areas.
  • Good internet services with Internet connection in most hotels and lodges, while private networks offer Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)


  • The power supply in all countries of the region fall within the 220/230/240 volts AC 50 HZ range.
  • Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins.


  • Most major international airlines fly to South Africa, with many flying to other capitals in the region.
  • Various domestic airlines and many private air charter companies and helicopter services operate throughout the region.


  • All capital cities in the region have international airports


  • A number of countries in the region charge VAT on goods and services sold.
  • Most countries in the region allow the importation of some duty-free goods for personal use.


  • These vary from country to coutry - check the individual Country Overviews in this directory for details.


  • Medical facilities and health services range from world class in South Africa to very poor in some countries.
  • Various types of vaccinations are required in the different countries.
  • Malaria, TB, HIV/Aids are high risks in most parts of the region.
  • Tap water is safe to drink in South Africa, except in a few rural areas, while it is less safe in some of the other countries.


  • Roads and driving conditions vary greatly across the region - check the individual Country Overviews in this directory.


  • With the exception of Zimbabwe and Uganda, countries in the region are stable democracies free of conflict Kenya has experienced terrorist attacks in recent years.
  • All of the countries are quite safe for tourist who follow normal personal safety rules
  • Crime ranges from high in some countries to relatively low in others.