An exemplar of eco-tourism, land of rare flora and fauna, home of no less than nine UNESCO world heritage sites, a region of incredible natural beauty and exotic beaches, world-famous safari parks and wildlife sanctuaries: epithets run out while describing South Africa. Part of the Dark Continent, this land transcends the darkness by the sheer efflorescence of its culture.
Tourism is a thriving industry for South Africa. At times misunderstood as a hotbed of civil and racial conflicts or a mix of impenetrable jungle and inhospitable desert, South Africa now welcomes tourists in droves. It belongs among an exclusive list of 17 of the world's megadiverse countries.
Culturally, South Africa is a delectable hybrid of the indigenous African and European colonial cultures. The country was also a witness recently to a host of tumultuous and historic political reforms. South Africa's political culture has been enriched by everything from the legacy of Nelson Mandela to the choral music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The past is a living presence in South Africa. Dotted with wildlife parks, heritage cities and world-class tourist spots, South Africa is a feast for the connoisseur's eyes.
We begin our South African odyssey in Cape Town.
Cape Town attracts you with its vast coastline, rugged mountains, plains hugging the coast, valleys in the interior, and semi-desert border areas. An elegant and culturally dazzling city, its centre is the City Bowl. It is an amphitheatre-shaped area bordered by Table Bay. The Table Mountain, which overlooks the plateau of the same name, was declared in 2012 as one of the seven new wonders of the world. Cape Town even boasts of a chocolate in the shape of the Table Mountain.
The Table Mountain National Park is home to a diverse array of rare flora and fauna found nowhere else on the globe. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. Table Mountain can be viewed in its breath-taking beauty from cable cars offering 360-degree views.
The famous wine farms of South Africa are all situated in the heart of the city of Cape Town. Among them is Groot Constantia, the oldest in the country. Cape Town offers a tourist package to visit three of the finest vineyards in South Africa. This allows the visitors to observe the working of the farms as well as flavour the best wines and local cuisine.
Next in your must-see list in Cape Town should be the region of Bo-Kaap, famous for its brightly painted houses that are a direct shoo-in for your Instagram. Formerly known as the Malay Quarters, it is an old neighbourhood with a rich history. Nineteen sites in the Bo-Kaap area have been declared as national heritage sites by the South African government in May 2019.
If museums are your thing, head straight to the Company Garden, which was the handiwork of the first European settlers in the 1650s. Iziko South African Museum, Delville Wood Memorial, and Iziko National Gallery are among the other interesting spots in the garden.
Enter Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city. It is the capital of Gauteng, the country's richest province. One of the world's 40 largest metropolitan centres and though not among the three national capitals, Joburg is also the seat of the highest court of justice in South Africa.
Nothing beats a helicopter ride out of Cape Town. Depending on the number of places covered, the heli trip can go in duration from 15 minutes to 8 hours. Stellenbosch, Delta, Atlantis, and the Robben Island are the popular stops for the helicopter. Flying over the steep mountains and valleys offers unforgettable views. No less fascinating is the aerial views of picturesque beaches, the camera can hardly stop clicking. The chopper ride leaves you with an intimate portrait of South Africa.
A visit to the peninsula is yet another unforgettable experience. Cape Point is not to be missed at any cost. So too Hout Bay. As a historically significant and still functioning fishing village, Hout Bay's regional flavour and natural scenery attract visitors. The local market here is noted for craft products and the regional cuisine.
Of penguins & whales
Boulders Beach, situated a few kilometres from Simon's Town, is renowned for the colonies of African Penguins that have been frequenting the site since 1985. Penguins, in their characteristic black and white, walking on the beach is an endearing sight.
If penguins don't whet your visual appetite, how about beholding the majestic whales? The islands between Algoa Bay and Cape Fria beckon you. Southern right whales, humpback whales, and residential dolphin pods can be sighted here. June to November is the whale-sighting season. As per the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998, approaching within 300 metres of a whale without a valid permit is an offence. Therefore, while booking a cruise to go watching whales, ensure that the cruise company has proper permits.
The Robben Island on Table Bay attracts tourists all year round. The island was once a prison. The most famous prisoner here was none other than Nelson Mandela, who was lodged in the island prison for 18 long years. So far, three former prisoners of Robben Island have gone on to become the Presidents of South Africa. Their testimonies remind us of the immeasurable value of freedom. The half-day guided tour of Robben Island leaves you in awe of the brave resistance and strength of the South African people.
Stellenbosch is South Africa's second oldest city after Cape Town. The country's wine industry produces one billion litres of wine annually. Stellenbosch is the chief centre for research in viticulture.
South Africa, with its inexhaustible riches, invites you – come, explore!
Which all places to visit in Africa
* Cape town
* Kruger National Park
* Garden route
* Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Call to plan your African trip: 9249464738 / 9249464740
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