Discovering South Africa
Nature has worked a special magic on the South African landscape. Although culture and history are an integral part of the South African experience, it is nature which is the true jewel in the crown.
Wind, sun and rain have sculpted vistas of unsurpassed beauty in which some of the earth’s most diverse plant population thrive. With some of the biggest and most diverse game sanctuaries in the world and kilometres of countryside and coastline where visitors can enjoy the sun, the country stands apart as an African masterpiece.
Our journey through South Africa starts in the Western Cape. Sir Francis Drake wrote in his journal after reaching the Cape of Good Hope in 1580:
This Cape is the most stately thing and the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.
Although Drake didn’t properly explore the Cape, he was right. The Cape offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and is South Africa’s primary tourist destination.
Offering a rich vista of incredibly varied scenery, the Western Cape is a perfect area to begin the exploration of Southern Africa. Cape Town is the area’s capital, with Table Mountain its most famous landmark. Hiking up Table Mountain, or taking the cable car, is a great introduction to the area and gives on an amazing view of Cape Town City and its surrounds. After Table Mountain, the Wine Route, so-called because it runs through the Western Cape’s most important wine-producing regions, is next on the list. Take the opportunity to sample locals wines and cheeses and relax in a region that at times can feel more like Europe than Africa.
Travelling up the East Coast to the Eastern Cape and through the coastal towns of Port Elizabeth and East London, each offering their own unique mix of nature and culture, one comes to the KwaZulu Natal region. The region is the homeland of the Zulu people and a cultural hotspot for exploring their heritage. Durban is notoriously hot and humid and the Kwazulu coast offers the warmest waters in South Africa thanks to the Mozambique current which flows down the coastline. Lined with forests, beaches and lagoons and housing some of the best game reserves in the country, KwaZulu Natal is a must-see.
The Free State is historically a farming community and traditionally has done little to attract much in the way of tourism. It is, however, starting to emerge as a new tourist destination with towns like Clarens leading the way. This small town, located near the Malta Mountains in the East of the province, is beginning to position itself as a trendy destination and a haven for creative types wanting to escape the cosmopolitan confines of urban centres like Cape Town and Johannesburg. This, together with its small town charm, friendly locals and magnificent scenery has made it into a prime artistic destination.
Johannesburg was the site of South Africa’s original gold rush, beginning in 1886 when gold was found in a reef in the Witwatersand. The gold rush which ensued was the greatest the world has ever seen and saw the city grow from almost nothing into a vibrant metropolis. Today Johannesburg is South Africa’s true urban destination, rivalling the world’s busiest cities. Restaurants and parties are how leisure time is spent here and it offers a worthwhile counterpoint to the more laidback parts of the country.
For further information, please refer to the following pages:
- South Africa’s Provinces and Regions
- South Africa’s Attractions
- Accommodation South Africa
- Hotels South Africa
- Game Reserves & National Parks
- World Heritage Sites
- Things To Do in South Africa
These are just some of the highlights which South Africa has to offer. The natural beauty combined with a complex range of cultures and lifestyles makes South Africa a dynamic and interesting destination.