South Africa Travel: Inspiring, Enchanting and Indulgent
When you try to imagine a South Africa vacation, the wild images of roaring lions and other predators on a humid, adrenaline-rushing African safari probably come to mind first. If the African safari trip is not right for you, consider painting a new mental picture that goes far beyond the wide-open fields of the well-known gaming reserves.
South Africa travel means something different for everyone.
Featuring attractions that are topping the hottest destination lists — such as Patricia Schultz's popular book, "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" — South Africa is one of the world's most inspiring destinations.
Your own South Africa travel adventure could veer off in any set of directions that you choose, whether you're a foodie or spa dweller, novice or master trekker. Perhaps you feel more like yourself as you observe new cultures and surroundings from a distance, or when you take part in the experience up close. The changing landscapes beneath your feet will take you by surprise. Your time could be spent walking on golden sandy beaches; watching the vast desert turn into the richest floral kingdom in early spring; or skiing the continent's only snow slopes all in one South African vacation.
Untamed South Africa at Its Best
Ease your way into South Africa through Limpopo, the northernmost province containing ancient lands and prehistoric relics from the Stone and Iron Ages. Drive through the dense rainforests of the Magoebaskloof Mountains, where you'll take in the sounds of mountain streams and roaring waterfalls. Retreat to the Soutpansberg Mountains, or "Mountain of Salt," which is brimming with yellowwood trees, giant cabbage trees, ancient tree ferns and 500 plant species. Hikers and bird watchers are drawn to the many unspoiled plateaus, ravines, valleys and gorges of Blouberg Mountain and Nature Reserve.
Spend the day surrounded by the upside-down trees of Mussina or exploring the Iron Age kingdom of Mapungubwe. The Panorama Route will take you through nearly 12 million acres of untamed surroundings including the Drakensberg Mountains and Kruger National Park. Nearby is the Crocodile River Ramble, where you'll find the "Cradle of Humankind," and an array of galleries, craft shops, health and beauty spas, tea gardens, intimate bed and breakfasts and restaurants. Indulge in Sun City, the internationally renowned holiday town filled with breathtaking architecture, health resorts and luxurious hotels and conveniently located next to many natural attractions including Johannesburg, South Africa.
Johannesburg, known to the world for its rich mineral veins of gold, also contains an abundance of "green" — the densely populated, verdant forest concealing the burgeoning capital city. You can find a taste of the African safari at the province's top-rated gaming reserve, Pilanesberg National Park. Encounter a variety of wildlife along this rocky, volcanic terrain through a walking, self-drive or balloon safari. However, if a safari makes you skittish, the Johannesburg Zoo offers an alternative way to get up close with more than 3,000 species of animals. In Lesedi, delight your taste buds to an array of traditional cuisine and experience the area's extraordinary melting pot of cultures.
An Unexpected Exotic Beach Paradise
You'll find all kinds of hidden treasures on the upper east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, which is known as the "Elephant Coast." Recently emerging as a tourist hub, St. Lucia keeps on blooming with new restaurants, hotels and shops. Also, around January or February, watch dozens of gigantic turtles make their way from the warm Indian Ocean to nest and hatch their young. At Sodwana Bay, you might also catch the turtles gliding their way up to shore. Scuba divers will find great delight in exploring hundreds of colorful coral reef and fish varieties found here.
Any South Africa travel excursion in KwaZulu-Natal isn't complete without seeing Cape Vidal, a firm favorite for many beach goers and fishing enthusiasts. Head out to sea and spend the afternoon deep sea fishing or humpback whale watching. At Kosi Bay, you'll be able to retreat even further into tranquility. Here, you can stay in a guesthouse right on the water and become a part of the locals' slow-paced life on the sea. There are a number of activities to enjoy such as hiking, bird watching, turtle tours and whale watching.
Experience the traditions of the Zulu culture — have a beer at the nearest "shebeen" or find the cure for any ailment at a witchdoctor's hut. Sip South African tea and eat "vetkoek" (sweet, deep-fried bread) at a bed and breakfast inn made of tin walls and plastic roofing.
Set off south to the stunning seaboard of the Dolphin Coast. Blessed with copious beaches, green bush and wondrous wildlife, the coastline also contains a richness of culture with its indigenous Zulu community and historic European, Indian and French-Mauritian influences. Thompson's Bay is one of the best-kept local secrets, where you'll find Charlie's Pool, an Olympic-sized tidal pool built by one of the early settlers. For a little bit of luxury and style, go to Ballito, the pearl of the Dolphin Coast that is home to several modern shops and chic restaurants.
A Kaleidoscope of Sceneries
You won't regret seeing the beautiful blooms of spring and autumn at South Africa's ninth national botanical garden in Nieuwoudtville, which opened up to the public in early 2008. The Northern Cape also contains wide-ranging blankets of desert in the Kalahari and Namaqualand, stretching all the way east to the Mpumalanga province. Although it's mostly dry with waves of red sand dunes, the Kalahari is a birding heaven of different colored birds, owls, hawks and falcons. You also won't want to miss South Africa's most vibrant and beautiful floral displays in the Namaqualand. With grand views of bright oranges and yellows spread over the desert once every year, this place will steal your breath away.
For a change in scenery, the Eastern Cape is full of lively rivers and rugged cliffs along the Wild Coast. There are numbers of timeless sights you'll find along the drive, unobstructed and undisturbed by the masses of visitors. Surrounded by deep gorges, tumbling waterfalls, dense forests and rolling grasslands, the Wild Coast is home to hundreds of fascinating creatures as well as the Xhosa tribes. As you gaze out to the left and right, your eyes will be met with a variety of world-class beaches, thatched huts and quiet villages. Learn about the culture of the tribes by observing the local craftsmen produce beadwork and wooden carvings.
At Tsitsikamma, plunge into the comforting ocean waters and follow a unique underwater trail to a coral reef filled with fish of all sizes and personalities. Next, make your ascent up the famous Table Mountain by cable car. Find sweeping views of the mountain and the silent city resting 3,300 feet below before spending the next several hours hiking the large network of trails. In the nearby Cape Floral Region, witness the richest floral display on the coast and travel around the spectacular valleys, bays and beaches next to the
Atlantic. You won't go far before reaching the Wine Region of South Africa, which offers the ever changing colors of the mountains, scenic passes and rivers. This route includes the finest vineyards, where you'll be able to enjoy your choice of guided wine tours in South Africa.
Are you ready to take on the "1,000 Places to See before You Die" and discover the world's greatest lifetime destinations? With surprises around every corner, a South Africa travel experience has everything to match any traveler's pace — from relaxation to "Grade A" action! Dare to do more than just dream by contacting an ASTA travel agent. You won't have to lift a finger to get the perfect accommodations, South African tours, activities and all of the other vacation extras that'll make this trip the most memorable of all.
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By: Anonymous At: 12/12/2008 00:00:00: AM
By: Anonymous At: 12/12/2008 00:00:00: AM
I think this is a great guide and really helped me plan my upcoming trip!
By: Beth Mason At: 02/11/2009 12:00:00: PM
Truly, South Africa comes across as an awe-inspiring destination...worth a visit for every nature lover to explore the African diversity of wildlife, landscapes and culture, an amazing place to vacation....
By: Beth Mason email@example.com At: 04/17/2009 00:00:00: AM
By: Misrak At: 06/24/2010 00:00:00: AM
By: Joe Tyler At: 06/24/2010 12:00:00: PM
Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this topic so thoroughly. Many of us dream of taking a wild adventure through an location for a holiday, vacation or trip of self exploration, not many of us actually treat ourselves to such an exciting and wonderful experience. There has never been a better time to fulfill this worthy dream, and traveling through beautiful and enchanting Africa is something everyone should do in their lifetime.
By: Joe Tyler At: 06/24/2010 12:00:00: PM
South Africa's immense amenities and activities compares to no other country.
By: Annette Green At: 12/05/2010 12:00:00: PM
I always wanted to visit South Africa but i never had enough funds. This year I found some very cheap tickets at British Airways South Africa and I think I'm also gonna take my brother with me.
By: Andrew Donalds At: 06/14/2012 00:00:00: AM
South Africa is wonderful. I recently visited this great country and I was impressed. I can hardly wait the next summer to go again. The only thing I didn't like was traveling by plane I even wrote an article about 21 Things You Never Want to Hear Your Flight Captain Say.
By: jimmy andrews At: 08/31/2012 00:00:00: AM