South Africa, home to the Football World Cup Finals 2010 has put its past troubles behind it to emerge as a popular and good-value travel destination. Whether you are travelling to South Africa for footballing reasons or fancy some winter sun and less crowds here is our guide to South Africa.
South Africa is in many ways a perfect holiday destination. It features lively, cosmopolitan cities, lovely beaches, reliable weather, unique native culture and endless savannah teeming with wildlife.
Table Mountain is the most famous icon in the ever-popular Cape Town, and good views are to be had from the top. The city centre is a harmonious blend of old and new architectural styles dating back 300 years. The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is an exciting tourist draw card and gateway to Robben Island, infamously once home to the incarcerated Nelson Mandela.
Camps Bay is chic, but good beaches are also found in Muizenburg and Blouberg. Chapman’s Peak Drive, which takes you out to the apex of the Cape Point Reserve, is one of the world’s most famous, while good day trips can be taken to the vineyards of Stellenbosch.
The Garden Route runs parallel to the coastline, 200kms east of Cape Town and features picturesque lakes, mountains, tall indigenous forests, lazy rivers and golden beaches. The lagoon area of Knysna and glitz of Plettenburg Bay are popular among vacationing locals.
Further north, Durban is the entertainment hub of the east coast, boasting the Golden Mile of luxury hotels and apartments, with marvellous beaches and good surf in the many pleasant seaside towns along this coast. Kwazulu Natal province also includes the St Lucia lagoon wetlands (a World Heritage site), the dramatic Drakensburg Mountains and the legacy of the colourful and proud history of Shaka’s great Zulu nation.
Johannesburg is the commercial hub of the country. Tours to the township of Soweto are now popular, as well as a look in on the gold mining industry at the restored turn-of-the-century village of Gold Reef City. The sister city of Pretoria is the country’s capital, featuring the grand Union Buildings and Voortrekker Monument.
Kimberley is interesting purely because of its diamond industry on display at the remarkable big hole and turn of the century colonial village.
To see elephant, buffalo, zebra, lion, leopard, giraffe and more you’ll almost certainly need a car. The Kruger National Park, in the east of the country, is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
Most overseas visitors arrive at Johannesburg International Airport – a busy regional hub with flights from all world regions. Connections from here to other centres are numerous and the airport caters well for visitors.