There is much about South Africa that is mythical and, much that is worth closer inspection than that given to it in the newspapers. Archbishop Desmond Tutu allegedly coined the phrase ‘rainbow nation’ in 1994 as way of describing the many races and peoples that make up the South African population, it is said in a bid to inspire unity post-apartheid. Interestingly, the flag too is pretty colourful, with 6 different colours in it.
So why go there on holiday? Quite simply because the traveller can enjoy almost every experience here, including skiing and snowboarding on peak Ben McDhui in the Southern Drakensberg at Tiffindell Resort. Who would have guessed it? Mind you, most go to enjoy the excellent year round weather, marvel at the stunning natural beauty and of course, wonder at the wildlife.
Accommodation includes bush camping from do it yourself to the ultimate in luxury, such as Garonga Safari Camp, which looks like the tented equivalent of Buckingham Palace, with unmissable African quirks. Glamping at Glastonbury cannot compare. Hotels and spas are world class, the Cape Grace Hotel a fine example, and the country has stylish guesthouses and villas or apartments to rent as well. From unlimited pampering and gourmet cuisine to campfires and unadorned canvas, the choice is yours! And it could be that a combination of these is what you’re looking for.
The Drakensberg Mountains are a wonder, with waterfalls, gorges and cliffs. Blade River Canyon is magnificent, with the aptly named God’s Window being a viewing point, looking 900 metres down to the awe-inspiring Lowveld, where the wildlife is just waiting to be spotted. And so to a camping safari in the Kruger National Park, for a real bush adventure and the chance to get up close and personal with the Big Five. This is South Africa as nature intended!
In this eastern part of the country, KwaZulu Natal is famous for the Zulu war battle sites, particularly Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Here myth meets reality in the African sun. Moving out towards the coast of Maputuland and Lake Sibaya, with its extraordinary fish and bird species, the idyllic beaches and warm Indian Ocean are home to turtles and have perfect conditions for snorkelling and water sports.
It comes as a surprise to many to realise that South Africa has three capital cities, Pretoria for administration of the country, Bloemfontein for judicial matters and Cape Town for legislative issues. This latter city is rightly famed as the start of the Garden Route and is a superb place to visit in its own right, being urbane and cultured, set on the waterfront. The beaches of Cape Town are stunning, and if a swim with penguins are on your must do list, head for Boulders Beach! Another great attraction here is the cable car that will take you up to Table Mountain to enjoy a view unlike any other. The historic area of the city has much to offer, as do the markets for genuine African handmade crafts.
Leaving the capital behind, the wine lands of the ecologically diverse Garden Route are verdant and give an opportunity to visit vineyards and indulge in a little tasting! The restaurants here are plenty and worth exploring, great local produce has created a tradition of excellent cuisine. Of course, the sea is just a short drive away, with dramatic waves, cliffs and pristine sand. At the right time of year (spring) whales and dolphins can be seen fairly reliably, adding to the experience. Ending in Port Elizabeth, the friendly and windy city, The Garden Route has many and varied points of interest along its 460 miles and could easily be just part of a beach and safari holiday too.
South Africa is a rainbow nation in so many ways: its people, its geography, its cities and certainly, its flora and fauna!
A holiday to South Africa can be the trip of a lifetime, and it’s always worth getting personal advice from experts who really know about all aspects of the destination before booking your trip.