South Africa: South Africa South Africa: South Africa Why South Africa?: Why South Africa? 'I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased, but when you combine the natural beauty of South Africa with the friendliness and cultural diversity of our people, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa's most splendid wildlife, then I think even the most scrupulous critic would agree that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land. I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to come and see for yourself the splendour of South Africa. I know that my people will be delighted to welcome you and I think you will be enchanted by their warmth and hospitality. I am equally sure that you will enjoy our culture, our cuisine and the warmth of our people'.
Humanitarian AIDS campaigner and previous President of South Africa (1994-1999) Why South Africa: Why South Africa South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world. Exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture offer the traveler a unique and inspiring experience. Here are the quick facts to get you started. Places of Interest: Places of Interest TABLE MOUNTAIN
No visit to Cape Town is complete without a trip up Table Mountain, from where you will see some of South Africa's most breathtaking views. Take a guided walk on one of the many routes or simply ride the cable car to the top - it will be one of your lasting memories of SA.
A short cruise from Cape Town's Vandamp;A Waterfront by ferry, this legendary island is a standard must-see on any newcomer's itinerary. This is where Nelson Mandela and his comrades were imprisoned for decades during the Apartheid era. Former inmates take you on an insightful tour of the prison grounds. This historical island is now a world heritage site and also a proclaimed nature conservation area.
THE GARDEN ROUTE
From Cape Town along the coast to the Tsitsikamma Forest, this 600-kilometre stretch of small towns, wineries, farms and sea villages has been a traveller's joy for more than a century. Take your time, soak in the scenery, stay over in a guest-house, enjoy the cuisine and let South African hospitality take over.
From KwaZulu-Natal to the Wild Coast, from the Eastern Cape to the West Coast, South Africa boasts more than 3 000km of coastline. Pristine beaches, fishing communities, golf estates, luxury hotels and guest houses dot the landscape as you explore the marine side of South Africa. Slide6: NAMAQUALAND DAISIES
Every Spring (August to September), the Northern Cape comes alive with vast fields of daisies in a natural splash of vivid colour. Fed by winter rains, the flower grounds of Namaqualand are a photographer's delight. When Summer takes hold, the land becomes a desert once again - as if the flower fantasia was just a brief dream…
In the late 19th Century, gold was discovered at various places in the northern reaches of South Africa, leading to a gold rush from all points of the globe. A tussle for the goldfields was one of the contributing factors leading to the Anglo Boer War and the industry - which claims the deepest underground mines in the world - is still one of the pillars of the South African economy.
CRADLE OF HUMANKIND
Declared a World Heritage Site, the Cradle of Humankind west of Johannesburg includes, among its numerous sites, the Sterkfontein Caves, where anthropologist Dr Robert Broom discovered the skull of Mrs Ples, a three-million year-old hominid, in 1936. At the time she was thought to be the closest evidence the 'missing link' to be found. Places of Interest Slide7: KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
About the size of Israel, the Kruger Park is the greatest of South Africa's many national parks which attract a great number of visitors intent on drinking in the wilderness. On guided walks, drives or self-drive, visitors have the best chance of spotting the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo) in this park.
THE DRAKENSBERG MOUNTAINS
A thousand kilometres of mountain majesty, the Drakensberg (Dragon Mountains) range is the adventure tourist's playground. It is also perfect for nature photography, easy walking and simple relaxation. Full of game sanctuaries, Bushman rock art sites, challenging peaks and cascading waterfalls, the views in the Drakensberg will compete with anything the rest of the world has to offer.
Just south of Johannesburg lies Soweto - the largest of South Africa's 'townships' (designated residential areas for blacks during the Apartheid years). This vibrant city is home to some 2 million people and a number of historical sights. A typical visit to Soweto includes a stop at a traditional shebeen (drinking hall), where you can savour local beer, food and hospitality, as well as a visit to the homes where Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu once lived. Places of Interest The Rainbow Nation: The Rainbow Nation On the very southern tip of Africa lies a large land whose generous endowment on the natural beauty front provides plenty of ticks on most travellers' desirable destination wish-lists.
South Africa's pristine beaches, majestic mountains, great quantity and variety of animal and plant life make it an obvious and compelling travel destination. Though visitors undoubtedly find themselves uniquely enchanted by the country's dramatically varied landscape, abundant wildlife, pulsing cities and innumerable eco-tourist and outdoor adventure possibilities, it is the people of South Africa that constitute this country's singular charm. The Rainbow Nation: The Rainbow Nation The people who occupy the land from which it is believed all humankind sprang are as dramatically diverse and fascinating as the country's geography. Those who 'Go South' discover, alongside a myriad of natural attractions and inviting pursuits, a colourful cornucopia of cultures and a proud people whose warmth, resilience and refreshing mindset make for the most memorable of holidays. The Places: The Places Eastern Cape Where else can you surf the world’s biggest waves, ski down the only snow slopes in Africa, go on a `big seven’ safari, visit the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and bungee the highest bridge in the southern hemisphere? The Eastern Cape, of course!
The second largest of South Africa’s nine provinces, the diverse Eastern Cape landscape ranges from the dry desolate Great Karoo to the steamy forests of the Wild Coast and the Keiskamma Valley. The area also embraces the fertile Langkloof, renowned for its rich apple harvests, and is cradled by the mountainous southern Drakensberg.
Here, widespread hills are juxtaposed with sandy beaches; here small-town South Africa comes to greet you – gently offering hospitality and friendship and asking for nothing in return. This is where the `big seven’ roam, and where the tropical forests share their space with abundant birdlife and nature at its most generous. Gauteng: Gauteng Although it is the smallest of the country’s nine provinces, Gauteng (a Sotho word for the Place of Gold), is the commercial and industrial powerhouse of southern Africa.
Gauteng is where the creative spirit of a nation converges in a dense, cultural heartland. It is the intersection of African and global trade – incorporating Johannesburg, Pretoria and Soweto. Gauteng is a cosmopolitan, multicultural mix of people from all walks of life, from all corners of the world.
Gauteng's primary attraction is big business, but there is so much more to this province. There is a wealth of culture to be mined in the museums, galleries, art routes and historical battlefields. Gauteng is also an entertainment playground, offering a plethora of world-class restaurants, local taverns, shopping malls and music venues. Limpopo: Limpopo Named after the great Limpopo River that flows along its northern border, this province is rich in wildlife, spectacular scenery and a wealth of historical and cultural treasures.
Known as the Great North, Limpopo province is home to ancient lands and pre-historic secrets. This is home to Modjadji, the fabled Rain Queen; The Stone Age and Iron age relics of Makapansgat Valley and the treasures of Mapungubwe that date back to time immemorial.
Straddling the northern Kruger Park, Limpopo province boasts wildlife safaris, nature trails –untamed Africa at its finest. This is the land of wide-open bushveld, big-sky country, the ever-present thorn tree and the mystical baobab tree.
The Limpopo province also offers up Africa’s wild Edens – from highveld grassland savannahs to subtropical forests to formidable mountain ranges. North West: North West Known as the 'Heritage Province', the North West is a rewarding holiday destination that offers exciting wildlife and adventure encounters as well as the opportunity to participate in a rich cultural and historical heritage.
Home to the fantastic Pilanesberg and Madikwe game reserves, North West has the big five, fantastic bird-life and wide-open African skies. The area boasts archaeological discoveries that go back to the beginnings of humankind, as well as the world-famous Sun City hotel complex, creatively dedicated to ancient lost civilizations and modern-day pleasures.
This is also the land of the author Herman Charles Bosman and his tales of Oom Schalk and the Groot Marico where mampoer (a very potent home-distilled peach brandy) and local legend were born and where time stands still. This is where the Bakgatla tribe believe in totem animals and that their wellbeing is dictated by the stars... Western Cape: Western Cape The Western Cape is one of South Africa’s premier tourist attractions, and for good reason. It is home to the famous Table Mountain, vast winelands, magnificent beaches, world-class restaurants and cosmopolitan entertainment haunts. The Cape boasts exquisite scenery and a myriad of cultures and tourist treasures that are just waiting to be discovered, so get going to the fairest Cape…
Situated on the south-western tip of Africa, the Western Cape is the meeting point of the cold Atlantic and the warm Indian Oceans. Its capital city Cape Town, is dominated by the flat-topped bulk of Table Mountain. The province has South Africa’s fifth largest population, numbering in the region of 4.5 million inhabitants. The story of the Republic of South Africa began in the Western Cape, some 350 years ago, when it was inhabited by the Khoi, San and other Bantu-speaking groups. In the late 15th century European seafarers arrived here in search of a halfway stop on trade routes to the East and thereby changed the face of South African history forever. Free State: Free State The plains of South Africa's interior plateau between the Vaal and Orange Rivers form the Free State Province.
This tranquil land of the ever-present windmill is the geographic and agricultural centre of South Africa. Of all the provinces, this one presents the classic scene of the sunny veld, the high-lying, spacious grass-covered prairie land with deep-blue African skies, majestic cloud formations in summer and a skyline broken by the occasional flat-topped koppie (hill-like mountain).
The Free State is fast becoming a tourist destination in its own right. Famous for its warm South African hospitality, `boerekos’ (traditional Afrikaner farm-style cuisine) and decidedly slower-paced lifestyle, this province has become a mecca for holiday-makers intent on exploring small-town South Africa.
Known, locally, as South Africa's 'bread basket', the Free State is cultivated by more than 30 000 farms to produce over 70% of South Africa's grain consumption. It is also home to the most productive gold and diamond mines in the world. Kwa-Zulu Natal: Kwa-Zulu Natal Washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) with its subtropical coastline, sweeping savannah in the east and magnificent Drakensberg mountain range in the west, generously caters for just about every taste imaginable.
Known as the Kingdom of the Zulu, KwaZulu-Natal is a melting pot of African, European and Indian cultures. This province boasts two World Heritage Sites – the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park. KZN offers fantastic beaches, sunny weather, game parks, rolling green hills, numerous sugar cane plantations and relics of the great battles in South African history.
Traditionally, a popular holiday destination for holiday-makers from other provinces flocking to its sandy shores and wonderful surf, KwaZulu-Natal is South Africa’s busiest local holiday destination. Mpumalanga: Mpumalanga If you’d like to visit the world’s most famous game reserve, climb the world’s third-highest canyon, explore the world’s oldest cave and spend the night in the world’s best private game lodges, Mpumalanga’s the place to come to!
Mpumalanga, which means 'place where the sun rises’ in the local languages of Siswati and Zulu is one of South Africa’s tourism hotspots, loved by both local and international visitors for its beauty and diversity.
This province is home to The Kruger National Park (big five country), exquisite panoramic views, mountains, rivers, caves, trout fishing and birding opportunities, eco-tourism, adventure holidays and the rich offerings of the local Ndebele and Swazi cultures. Northern Cape: Northern Cape Home to the ancient San people, the Northern Cape is about wide-open spaces, an utterly beautiful coastline and a number of unique national parks offering the tourist a very different experience of the South African landscape. This province boasts a colourful history and a variety of cultural tourist attractions and is particularly well known for its incredible annual floral display that takes place in Namaqualand.
The Northern Cape lies to the south of the mighty Orange River and comprises mostly desert and semi-desert. The landscape is characterised by vast arid plains with outcroppings of haphazard rock piles. The cold Atlantic Ocean forms the western boundary. This region covers the largest area of all the provinces yet has the smallest population. The last remaining true San (Bushman) people live in the Kalahari area of the Northern Cape. The whole area, especially along the Orange and Vaal rivers, is rich in San rock engravings. The province is also rich in fossils. Information supplied courtesy of SA Tourism