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Places of Interest in South Africa

Southern Sky Adventures: Places of Interest in South Africa

Capitol is Pretoria


It is nearly impossible to document all the places of interest in South Africa. Each region has its own history, attractions, landscapes, wildlife, people and culture offering a unique and fascinating experience for the traveler to South Africa. South Africa has 9 provinces and each of these has sub- regions, with 8 World Heritage sites!


Gauteng / Johannesburg

This is the smallest province and frequently the arrival point for many travelers. Gauteng means “place of gold” and is the economic heartland of the country. This is big business, big city buzz and a multicultural kaleidoscope of African sights, smells and colours. Gauteng has museums, art galleries, historical battlefields, restaurants, shebeens, shopping malls and music venues. The main cities are Johannesbug, Pretoria and Soweto. Gauteng is home to the Magaliesberg mountain range and the Cradle of Humankind (World Heritage Site) Gauteng is the ideal departure point for the game reserves in the Eastern part of the country.


Limpopo

Limpopo borders South Africa’s neighbouring countries Moçambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana and is the northernmost province. Limpopo is often symbolized by the giant baobab trees which can be up to 500 years old! Limpopo contrasts the mountain splendours of the Waterberg, Soutpansberg and Magoebaskloof with the wildlife of the Lowveld which border on the Northern reaches of the Kruger National Park.


Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga means “place of the rising sun” and is home to the Kruger National Park – one of the world’s largest game reserves with 7,580 square miles of free-ranging animals, including the “Big 5” (lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, cape buffalo) and a multitude of other species. The park is about the same size as the state of Massachusetts! Mpumalanga has rolling highlands, the soaring escarpment of the Panorama Route and lush wetlands in the south. Here you can visit Blyde River Canyon (with God’s window), the historical mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest.


KwaZulu Natal / Durban

KwaZulu Natal is a melting pot of Zulu, European and Indian cultures. KZN is home to two World Heritage Sites (uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park), some of the best game reserves in Africa, sub- tropical beaches of endless golden sand, excellent diving (Sodwana bay) and fishing, the majestic Drakensberg mountain range, superb golf courses and some of the great battles of South African history. Durban is South Africa’s 3rd largest city with coastal resorts to the north and south.


Eastern Cape / Port Elizabeth

Warm waters, unspoiled beaches, excellent surfing, malaria-free game reserves and a fascinating history make the Eastern Cape an interesting place to visit. The northern border has the Orange River and southern Drakensberg mountains. The Wild Coast has spectacular untamed wilderness along the dramatic coastline. Jeffrey’s Bay is world renowned for it’s “perfect wave” and a visit to the Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth is more than just elephants – mountains, dunes and forest form part of this massive reserve. Inland there is the semi-desert of the Karoo and the settler towns of Graaff Reinet and Grahamstown.


Western Cape / Cape Town

Diverse, beautiful and packed with attractions, the Western Cape has distinct regions – snippets of which will be included here.

Cape Town

Tthe jewel of Africa, and very possibly the world is the star attraction of the province with Table Mountain as its backdrop. Architecture, lifestyle, music, food, wine, nightlife, theatre, museums and people coupled with dramatic scenery make the Mother City a sought after destination. From Cape Point and the penguin colony at Boulders Beach to Chapman’s Peak Drive, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated), the Constantia Wine valley, the craggy coastline, shopping at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and a host of relaxing and adventurous activities, Cape Town could easily fill an entire vacation on it’s own.

Cape Winelands

Lush fertile valleys, majestic mountain ranges and historic buildings make up the Cape Winelands scenery. South African wines and countless wine estates are becoming well known world wide but the wine industry can be confusing for a visitor. The winelands are divided into various different regions, each offering their own ”wine route”. The most popular and well know are Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Constantia, Paarl and Wellington. Whether you have visited Napa or Tuscany, and regardless whether you are a wine lover or not – the wine area of South Africa is sure to astound your sense of natural beauty.

Southern Cape/ Overberg Region

This is the most southerly region in Africa with Cape Agulhas claiming a meeting point of two oceans and the southern tip of Africa. The holiday- friendly area is surrounded by mountains and oceans. The town of Hermanus boasts excellent land based whale watching in season and Gansbaai is famous for cage diving with the Great White Sharks. Other remote and lesser known villages, rolling mountains, orchards, grain fields and lighthouses make up the this jewel called the Overberg

Garden Route

The Garden Route, so named as a reference to the mild climate and lush, green countryside is a 200 mile driving route. Indigeneous forests, lakes, lagoon, waterways and rivers, bordered by a rugged coastline with magnificent beaches washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Stops along the way include the Tsitsikamma National Park, the Bloukrans Bridge and the longest bungi jump in the world at 735 feet, Plettenburg Bay, the Knysna Heads, the Knysna Elephant Park, Pezula Golf Club, the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, Kaaiman’s Grotto, the Oudtshoorn Cango Caves, the Klein Karoo Wine Route, Wilderness, George, the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate and Mossel Bay, to name but a few.

West Coast and Olifants River Valley

Heading north from Cape Town one passes through the lesser known South African towns of Darling, Langebaan, Saldanha, St Helena Bay and Yzerfontein – fishing villages turned seaside resorts. The semi desert region opens into a tapestry of flowers during spring and the indescribably beautiful Cederberg Wilderness area is a rugged mountain range, with ancient rock art sites and nearby vineyards.

Karoo

The Klein (little) Karoo is a long valley bordered by the Swartberg and Langeberg Mountains and the Groot (Big) Karoo lies north of these. At first glance the Karoo appears arid and flat with hot days and cold nights and ostriches dotting the skyline. The Cango Caves near Oudsthoorn has 1.5 miles of subterranean caves and Route 62 to or from Cape Town takes you through the wine towns of Robertson, & Barrydale to Ladismith and Calitzdorp. Futher inland are the hamlets of Prince Albert and Matjiesfontein.


Northern Cape / Kimberley

South Africa’s largest & least populated province, the Northern Cape is famed for the annual spring flower display in Namaqualand, canoeing on the Orange River, the clear skies and open space of the Kalahari Desert and the Upper Karoo as well as the Diamond Fields and the origins of the Diamond Industry. The Northern Cape is home to the Richtersveld National Park (another World Heritage Site); the spectacular Augrabies Fallls on the Orange River and the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland.


Free State / Bloemfontein

Situated between the Vaal and the Orange Rivers and sharing a border with the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, the Free State is located on a large central plateau, characterized with windmills and farmland. Bloemfontein is the stately capital. The Free State boasts the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world (Vredefort Dome). The Golden Gate Highlands National Park has a golden hue from the sun on the sandstone and the quaint town of Clarens is a popular retreat.


North West Province

Nestled to the west of Gauteng, the North West Province is most known for Sun City Resort – a golfing, gambling, leisure and entertainment resort. Nearby is Pilanesberg National Park offering excellent game viewing and ancient rock art sites. The vast plains of the African bushveld and Madikwe game reserve and the Lesedi Cultural Village in the Magaliesberg mountain range are amongst the top attractions of the North West Province.

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