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SOUTH AFRICA

POPULAR DESTINATIONS

A selection of the more popular tourist destinations follows. These represent just a few of the many highlights each region has to offer.

LIMPOPO

The breathtaking Magoebaskloof and Duiwelskloof Mountains: Indigenous forests, tropical vegetation, ancient and gigantic specimens of the Baobab Tree, whose strange appearance has led to the legend that God planted it upside down in anger, the Modjadji Nature Reserve where 50 million year old cycads are protected. The arts, crafts and culture of the fascinating local people can be appreciated throughout the many villages and workshops of the area.

The Hans Merensky Golf Club and Nature Reserve. Bordering the Kruger National Park, one can often share the golf course with some of the local wildlife.

The Kapama Endangered Species Breeding and Research Centre and the Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wild Animals
Located in Hoedspruit, where one can also do a short elephant back safari.

Mapangubwe National Park. One of the richest archaeological sites in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage site, excavations have yielded a royal cementery with a great number of gold objects including a gold rhinoceros.

Nylsvlei is a wetland bird sanctuary without equal, where 400 species have been recorded.

MPUMALANGA : "Land of the Rising Sun", also known as the Lowveld.

Botshabelo Mission and the South Ndebele Cultural Village
A fascinating introduction to the traditional life of the Ndebele tribe, their colourful clothes, metal rings and indigenous houses decorated with bright motifs and geometric designs.

The Panorama Route: Offers breathtaking scenery of the Drakensberg mountain range and sites of historic, cultural and ecological importance such as:
Pilgrim’s Rest, where gold was discovered in 1873, is full of anecdotes about the days of the fortune seekers. Today, the entire picturesque village is a living museum.
God’s Window-Provides spectacular views over the lowveld to Kruger National Park and beyond.
The Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world and the only “green” canyon. Extraordinary rock formations and vegetation caracterized by tree ferns, aloes, cycads and proteas are found here.
Bourkes Luck Potholes – Huge potholes in the riverbed scoured by the passage of water over millions of years.

Shangana Cultural Village offers an introduction to the culture, history and traditions of the Shangaan people.

Elephant back tours and interaction

Many adventure activities such as abseiling, rock climbing, tubing, rafting, canoeing, hiking, mountain biking etc

LIMPOPO AND MPUMALANGA
Kruger National Park. With a surface area of 2 million hectares, the Kruger National Park is one of the largest parks in the world. Established in 1898 it is also one of the oldest. It protects 147 mammal species including the “Big Five”, elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros and buffalo, about 500 bird species, 114 reptile species and 33 species of amphibian.

The Kruger National Park can be visited year round and each season has its own attraction. In spring/summer, the trees and bushes are in flower and a great number of animals drop their young. In autumn and winter, the climate is moderate and dry, the grass is shorter and allows for easier game viewing. Many rivers are dry, leading the animals to gather in the areas around permanent dams. 16 rest camps provide a wide variety of accommodation within the park in thatched chalets, bungalows or rondawels (round huts) as well as safari tents. They also offer restaurants and cafeterias


A large number of private reserves offer accommodation, usually in luxury lodges. Some of these reserves border on the Kruger National Park. The main difference between the private reserves and the national parks is that in the private reserves, the 4x4 safari vehicles can leave the roads to follow the animals through the bush which allows for closer viewing.

KWA ZULU NATAL
The Drakensberg Mountain Range. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these mountains are renowned for the many San rock paintings, found on the rocks, cliffs and caves. Incredible geological formations such as the Amphitheatre, a wide variety of fauna and flora and plentiful bird species including the lammergeyer vulture, one of the world's rarest birds of prey, inhabit the region. The area is a hiker’s paradise, criss-crossed with numerous trails ranging from several hours to several days. These pass through some of the most dramatic scenery in the world, leading to waterfalls, caves with rock paintings etc. Accommodation options are endless, hotels, guest houses, thatched bungalows, all offer great comfort and service.

The Natal Midlands, was witness to bloody battles between the English, Boers and Zulus in the 19 century. Near to the town of Dundee are many battlefields such as Blood River, Isandhlwana, Rorke´s Drift and Talana where the first battle of the Anglo Boer War took place over 100 years ago.

Shakaland
This cultural village offers an introduction to the life of the Zulu people, their history, legends, tribal dances, traditions and the significance of their beadwork and clothing. The hotel was the original film set of the film “Shakazulu”

The Game Reserves of Zululand
Hluhluwe and Umfolozi are famous for saving the black and white rhinoceros from extinction.

The St Lucia Wetland Park, one of the most important areas for the conservation of wetland habitats was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its lush tropical vegetation, this 60km lake is actually an estuary and home to many species including hippopotamus, antilopes, crocodiles, iguanas and of course birds.

Beaches
Kwa Zulu Natal has many beach resorts bathed by the warm Indian Ocean, a paradise for surfers and scuba divers, (See Special Interest Travel)

GAUTENG
Johanesburg : The economic centre of South Africa. The Rosebank Rooftop Market offers the best selection of African crafts from South Africa and the entire continent.

Soweto, a vast, formerly black township, known for its active resistance to apartheid. Places of interest include the house of Nelson Mandela before he went to prison, the Regina Mundi church, several museums and residential suburbs from shanty towns to luxurious mansions.

The famous Sterkfontein Caves, a World Heritage Site, house one of the most ancient and plentiful concentrations of hominoid fossils in the world, thus acquiring the title of “Cradle of Humanity”

The seat of government (Union Buildings), in Pretoria was designed by Sir Herbert Baker, and have one of the most stunning locations in the world.

The Cullinan Diamond Mine, where the biggest diamond in the world was discovered makes for an interesting visit

NORTH WEST
Madikwe Game Reserve in a malaria free area, offers a great variety of fauna and birdlife.

Sun City : A full service resort “city” with casinos, hotels, entertainment, recreational activities and two golf courses where the famous Million Dollar Classic is played. The impressive hotel “The Palace of the Lost City” is found here. Close by is the Pilanesberg National Park which is in a malaria free area.

The De Wildt Cheetah Research Centre is a conservation haven for the endangered cheetah species.

NORTHERN CAPE
One of the premier star gazing destinations.

The Richtersveld National Park, a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast, this is the only mountainous zone located in the desert. The extraordinary beauty of the desolate scenery is unique enhanced by its strange flora of mostly succulent plants.

Namaqualand: In spring (August/September) after the first rains, a botanical miracle occurs. A sea of flowers covers the arid desert plains like a multicoloured magic carpet. More than 3000 floral species have been identified in the region.

Augrabies National Park: The waters of the Orange River tumble in a series of spectacular waterfalls down an 18 kilometre canyon. The lush vegetation on the banks of the river creates a sharp contrast with the starkness of the desert just a few metres away. It is the habitat for a variety of birds, baboons and small antelopes.

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park: There is something unreal about the sight of a gemsbok antelope on the red dunes of the Kalahari National Park. The Park covers an area of 953 000 ha in the remotest corner of South Africa and borders with the Gemsbok National Park, forming the Kgalakgadi Transfrontier Park.

Apart from the Gemsbok and the Springbok antelope, the park protects a wide variety of wildlife including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and birds of prey such as owls and eagles.

EASTERN CAPE
Tsitsikamma National Park, situated on the Garden Route and stretching 80 km along the coast, is the premier marine reserve of the country and also includes forests. It is home to monkeys, antelope and birds whilst the waters shelter otters, whales, seals and dolphins. Numerous hiking trails, including the famous Otter Trail are a great way to explore the area. A suspension bridge crosses the spectacular Storms River mouth.

The Addo Elephant National Park is home to the Addo elephants which belong to an isolated genetic group and for several decades were in danger of extinction. The park also protects many other species including lion, leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo, a great variety of antelopes, meerkats, mongoose, tortoise and the fascinating flightless dung beetle.

WESTERN CAPE
Cape Town, with the spectacular Table Mountain as its backdrop, this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are numerous historical buildings, museum and the picturesque Malay Quarter or Bokaap.

Table Mountain: The view from the top of the Mountain is magnificent. The visitor can choose to take the cable car or hike up. This however is only for the fit.

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront: The old port of the city has been renovated and converted into an entertainment centre, with markets, a shopping mall, restaurants, shows and an excellent aquarium.

Robben Island: Out to sea, opposite Cape Town, lies Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for nearly two decades. A tour of the prison is a moving experience.

The Cape Peninsula: This route takes in the following sights:
• Chapman’s Peak Drive – a spectacular coastal road, hugging the cliff edges provides breathtaking views of the ocean below.
• The fishing village of Hout Bay, the picturesque harbour is the departure point for the boats that visit Seal Island.
• Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve covering an area of 7700 hectares and harbouring 1036 floral species. The Western Cape Fynbos forms one of the 6 Floral Kingdoms of the world and in relation to its size is the most prolific with 8.600 species including the protea family. Whilst the primary attraction of the Reserve is not its fauna, it protects numerous species including the rare Bontebok antelope. But perhaps the principal attraction of the park is the dramatic panorama from Cape Point, steep cliffs plunging into the sometimes calm, sometimes stormy ocean below.
• Boulders Beach shelters a colony of African Jackass penguins.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: The Gardens are ranked amongst the top eight in the world for variety, beauty of specimens and its magnificent setting. The property covers an area of 525 hectares and protects Fynbos and natural vegetation. The cultivated gardens only exhibit indigenous South African plants.

The Whale Route: Stretching all along the Cape Coast, this is the best place in the world for land based whale watching. Between July and December every year, one can frequently observe the courtship, mating and birth of whales.

The Cape Wine Routes offer the opportunity to taste fine wines, explore gracious Cape Dutch homesteads and enjoy excellent cuisine. The historic towns and vineyards of the Western Cape are surrounded by spectacular mountains, unique in the world.

The Cape Dutch architectural style is characterised by towns such as:
Stellenbosch - The second oldest city in the country with various museums and national monuments.
Paarl : The KWV cellars and monument to the Afrikáans language.
Franschhoek : The French Huguenot Monument

Other routes with an historic interest include Wellington, Tulbagh and Montagu.

Oudtshoorn: Visit one of the ostrich farms and learn about the breeding and raising of the largest bird in the world.

Cango Caves: Only 28 km from Oudtshoorn, these magnificent caves stretch 5.3 km deep into the Swartberg Mountains, offering an unforgettable sight of glittering stalactites and stalagmites in various shapes.

Knysna: The picturesque city of Knysna is known for its two famous heads at the mouth of the lagoon as well as the creative sculptures made from indigenous wood.

 

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