• Bitten by the whale watching bug Bitten by the whale watching bug We don’t realise how lucky we are in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, to have the mightiest of the marine mammals visit our coastline between every year ...
  • The Whale Trail The Whale Trail The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with ...
  • 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa Combine your trip to South Africa with a relaxing, revitalising visit to a health spa and experience Africa at it's finest. Our favourite 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa are ...
  • Locals share their favourite getaways Locals share their favourite getaways We ask 30 local South Africans to share their favourite holiday destinations and getaways with us. From the more popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger Park to ...
  • The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip walk shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno ...
  • 10 Amazing Game Lodges 10 Amazing Game Lodges South Africa is world renowned for her game reserves and wildlife. The lodges which allow us to experience these in luxury are no less awe inspiring. Our favourites are ...
  • 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town As much as your kids will tell you they can’t wait for the school holidays, the words "I’m bored" inevitably cross their lips. Our "101 things to do with kids in Cape Town" will ...
  • "World's most beautiful Cities" "World's most beautiful Cities" Open space makes Cape Town special. Renowned English sea navigator Sir Francis Drake once referred to Cape Town as the fairest cape in the world. The city houses the ...

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Attractions

This category includes posts about featured and new attractions throughout South Africa as well as editors’ reviews of popular towns and holiday resorts. Need more info? Visit SA-Venues.com for comprehensive information about all our towns and South Africa’s Attractions.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Mossel Bay – 5 things to do in SA’s most mistakenly maligned town

Calling Mossel Bay a ‘harbour town’ is a misnomer. It does have a harbour, but ‘town’ suggests small, when in reality some 60 000 people live there. Mossel Bay is big enough to give the impression of a city. What adds to this impression is that it sprawls, merging seamlessly with the beach side villages of Klein Brak River, Reebok, Tergniet, Groot Brakrivier and Glentana so that the entire bay is a twinkle at night (provided Eskom isn’t load shedding).

Travel brochures tend to gloss over Mossel Bay’s domination by oil refineries; from the N2 they are all you can see between the highway and the harbour. Mossgas’ gas-to-liquids refinery meets 7% of the country’s liquid fuel needs, initiated 22 years ago when gas was discovered offshore.

As a result, light industry monopolises Mossel Bay to such a degree that one’s initial sentiment is to give the town a wide berth. How wrong this impression, and how much more Mossel Bay has to offer than one thinks… Continued

Thursday, 11 December 2014

9 other (really) popular wine routes of the Cape – the bouquet beckons

Wines in South Africa do not start and end with the Cape Winelands (Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch), although one is hard pushed to find a comparable abundance of excellence in so small an area

The Overberg, Orange Free State, Northern Cape, and even the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, produce outstanding wines. And the country’s capacity to grow vines extends as far north as Bronkhorstspruit, 50 km east of Pretoria. You will even find vines in Mpumalanga.

But you would be right in assuming that vines grow particularly well in the Cape. The breezes off the Atlantic Ocean, the cold winters and hot summers, the winter rainfall – all combine to create the perfect scenario for wine production.

There are so many different wine routes in the Cape that we didn’t mention half of them in our first article Continued

Monday, 8 December 2014

10 best places to see wild dogs in South Africa

Probably the most distinctive feature of the African wild dog is its big, round ears. They’re nothing like a domestic dog’s.

They’re nothing like a wolf’s either, yet this beautiful Cape hunting dog, or painted dog as it’s also known, is given the Latin name Lycaon pictus, meaning ‘painted wolf-like animal’, because it is closest in nature to a wolf.

Their hide is different from a dog’s too – covered with irregular patches of black, brown, red, white and yellow fur. Wild dogs have a black, furrow-like vertical line on the forehead between the eyes that is rather endearing. And they have only four toes per foot, unlike the five toes of domestic dogs.

Catching a glimpse of one is difficult. The wild dog is southern Africa’s most endangered large carnivore, and has all but disappeared from most of its original range… Continued

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The wine lover’s guide to South Africa – 10 wine routes to tempt your taste buds

Whether you enjoy your wine big, buttery, smooth, opulent, complex, creamy or crisp, the wines made in South Africa will more than meet your needs, as we produce some of the best wines in the new world.

South African wine, a quick overview:

  • our wine history dates back 350 years, to 1659
  • today we export over 450 million litres of wine
  • a little over 10 years ago, most of our wine was distilled into brandy
  • SA wines are of the best valued red and white wines
  • there are 100 000 hectares under vine across the country
  • 56% of this is white wine, 44% is red
  • the oldest fruit bearing vine in the southern hemisphere is a Crouchen Blanc variety, planted around 1771 at the Cape Heritage Hotel in Cape Town
  • we are the 9th largest wine producer in the world
  • our most popular grape variety is Chenin Blanc
  • followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Colombard
  • a white label with a red key and Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) logo, indicates the wine is of the best (it was sold at a CWG annual auction and you’ll find it in top restaurants and cellars in SA)
  • if you’re new to South African wines, pick up a copy of John Platter’s South African Wine Guide…

Continued

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Mandela’s South Africa – Mandela-infused sites to visit

posted to: Attractions

Mandela was branded a communist terrorist by the apartheid government and spent 27 years in prison as a result. Despite this, he was instrumental in bringing about a peaceful reconciliation in a country torn apart by racism, was loved and revered throughout the world for his magnanimity, and became Madiba, the father of the people.

He received over 1 000 awards, more than 125 streets, boulevards, avenues, bridges and highways have been named after him, and his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, has been read by millions.

For those who come to our shores to experience a little of this great man’s life, here is a list of places to visit… Continued

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

10 attractions that will have you packing your bags for the Upper Karoo

For many the Karoo is a great expanse of (dry) land somewhere in the middle of South Africa. Just where this place of great heat and frosts, with an annual rainfall of next to nothing, starts and ends is a mystery, expounded by the impression that its extent is unknown (although we estimate it as nearly 400 000 square kilometres).

We have rather a romantic notion about its limitless skies, Marino sheep, succulents, windmills and little hillocks. Rightly so, as it is unusually beautiful. Some of us speak with longing of retiring to a town in said expanse of land, to fritter away our days running fish ‘n chips shops, or little coffee cum bookshops. Others actually do this… Continued

Thursday, 6 November 2014

8 most underrated Destinations in South Africa

posted to: Attractions

Every visitor to South Africa does Table Mountain, the Kruger National Park, Cape Point, the V&A Waterfront, the Drakensberg, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Reserve, the Garden Route, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the Cradle of Humankind, and Sun City.

But cast your eye down this list and you’ll find 8 equally stunning and hugely underrated destinations in South Africa, all worthy of a visit… Continued

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Cape Dutch architecture – 8 best spots to Gawp at Gables

Think Cape Dutch architecture and one immediately calls to mind the style’s most distinctive feature: the central gable. But gables are not anything new, you might argue, what’s the big deal? – European architecture is full of examples. But at the Cape, gables are different.

Rather than lying at the end of a house, as they do in Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe, they are set right in the middle of the façade over the front door. They’re even given an appealing name for this reason – the central dormer gable. Over time this gable, the work of skilled Malay craftsment, was to become something of a status symbol – the larger and more ornate, the wealthier the settler. Continued

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Spring Into The Stihl Open Gardens

Every spring marks the return of the Stihl Open Gardens which take place in the town of Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas. Gardeners are kind enough to open their beautiful gardens to the public and are delighted to share their gardening tips and secrets!

Although some of the gardens were only open for a few weekends in October and have already closed, there are still a number that are open during weekends in November and December. Continued

Friday, 17 October 2014

4 sun-drenched day trips along the Sunshine Coast

If there was a place that guaranteed more sunshine hours than anywhere else in the country, wouldn’t you head there?

Stretching between Tsitsikamma and East London is just such a place; its coastline gives you over six hours of driving pleasure along the N2. And whilst I know you’re itching to know what it is (no, it isn’t the Garden Route), you’ll be tempted to slap me when you hear it’s (ta da): the Sunshine Coast.

Obvious, yes… Continued

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Eastern Cape Beaches Go Blue

The Eastern Cape and Garden Route boast some of the prettiest and most extensive beaches in South Africa, with warm waters from the Indian Ocean making them excellent choices for water sports. In recognition of their beauty, excellent swimming conditions and commitment to the preservation of the local fauna and flora, 20 Eastern Cape beaches were given Blue Flag status in 2014Continued

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

4 day trips that will have you packing a bag for the Magaliesberg

The Magaliesberg is on the back stoeps of both Pretoria and Johannesburg.  The mountain range, once known as the Kashan Mountains, is said to be 100 times older even than Everest. It extends from Rustenburg in the west, to the Bronkhorstspruit Dam just east of Pretoria – a montage of deep gullies, impressive kloofs, clear mountain streams, pools and waterfalls, well wooded slopes, rocky outcrops and a series of sheer quartzite cliffs.

A weekend’s break in the Magaliesberg takes little more than a phone call and a bag on the back seat. But we’ve made it easier for you by designing 4 day trips in the Magaliesberg that include a little of this and a little of that (something for everyone, in other words). You can either choose one day trip and do it as is (we’ve tried to keep each day in a particular geographical area), or you can mix and match attractions until you have the perfect day for your friends and family… Continued

Monday, 6 October 2014

4 jam-packed day trips to the Cederberg

The Cederberg is the place of rooibos and buchu tea, blue and cloudless skies, intensely hot summers, little towns and fertile valleys that summon holiday makers all year round.

For Capetonians, it is a playground and long weekend hiking paradise, whilst hikers, rock-climbers, cyclists and nature lovers treat it as a refuge.

Dominated by burnt orange mountains and jagged sandstone rock formations, like the Wolfberg Arch and Maltese Cross, and ancient !Xam rock art, it is a 70 000 hectare mountainous wilderness ripe for outdoor adventure.

It gets its name from the Clanwilliam Cedar, an endemic and protected tree in this undeveloped, and largely isolated part of the Western Cape.

Choosing a list of things to do from the myriad attractions of the area is a task, but we rose to the occasion and selected a line-up for 4 day trips to the Cederberg, jam-packed with things to doContinued

Friday, 3 October 2014

Lighthousing South Africa – visit these 10 lighthouses (and stay at 4 of them)

posted to: Attractions

Lighthouses pepper the country’s coastline all the way from Port Nolloth in the west to Cape Vidal in the east. Why? Well, sailing the 3 000 km stretch that is the country’s shoreline is obviously nothing short of hazardous.

Many of these lighthouses went up in direct response to a major shipwreck.

But for most of them we need to thank a man called Harry Claude Lee Cooper, a lighthouse engineer sent from England to sort out our coast’s navigation.

Under his instruction a paltry 17 lighthouses grew to 45 in number, most of which have withstood the worst of weather and continue to guide ships to safety.

Whilst most of our lighthouses are now automatically operated, South Africa is one of a handful of countries that still manually mans the odd lighthouse.

This blog recognises those invincible light-keepers, their wives and children, who lived in isolation close to the blast of a foghorn, or the relentless beams of light, to keep our shores safe… Continued

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

20 most beautiful natural places in South Africa

posted to: Attractions

South Africa: a world in one country.

20 most beautiful natural places in South Africa … Continued