Home to Nelson Mandela and a Travel Destination Not To Be Missed

Apr 11

Home to the late and beloved freedom fighter, President Nelson Mandela, South Africa is a country once identified largely by its strict division of black and white through the Apartheid system. Now a democracy for almost 20 years, this incredible country’s people proudly lay claim to their diversity of ethnicity, culture and 11 official languages. Dubbed “the Rainbow Nation” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa has also been declared one of the 17 mega-diverse destinations in the world.

Having embraced its eclectic mix of Africans and immigrants, South Africa offers visitors a unique mix of culture, wildlife, beautiful landscape and experiences never to be forgotten. It is one of the most developed countries in Africa, yet it passionately retains a traditional African flavor in its food, music and vibrant culture alongside the modern and Western influences. This, coupled with the wild African bush, and an abundance of untamed wildlife; makes South Africa and its people truly special.Cape Town, affectionately known by locals as “the Mother City”, is South Africa’s oldest city with an eclectic history spanning more than 360 years. A visit to this cosmopolitan destination must include a trip up the famous Table Mountain by revolving cable car, the main feature of which is a level plateau some 2 miles wide. The view from the top of the mountain is said to be unmatched as one looks out over Table Bay and up the west coast of the African continent. From Table Mountain, you can see Robben Island, to which you can take a boat trip to visit the very cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during the fight against the apartheid government.

Don’t be surprised by the baboons sitting on the side of the road as you drive to the Cape Point nature reserve, a narrow piece of land jutting out into the currents where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. On the way up the coast of False Bay, you can stop and see a colony of African Jackass Penguins in their natural environment on Boulders Beach.While in False Bay, you should not miss the opportunity to do an early morning boat ride out to Seal Island where you can see the Great White Sharks breaching. This is one of the few places in the world where breaching is a common occurrence for these incredible creatures, who can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour on their ascent and sometimes launch themselves up to 10 feet in the air as they chase after cape fur seals – their natural prey. Whales, dolphins and other wildlife can also be seen in the bay on this marine safari.Cape Town also produces some of the best wines in the world.  There are colonial-style vineyards aplenty, and the wine regions themselves are both beautiful and rich with the history of early modern South Africa.  There are many opportunities for wine tasting on a visit to the Mother City.

The Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the best places in the world for viewing African wildlife. It is one of the biggest in Africa at 7,523 sq miles (about the size of New Jersey) and has an astonishing variety of species including 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 520 birds and 147 mammals, including the famous ‘African big 5’ – the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. Heed this warning – watching wildlife is highly addictive and once you start, you will likely never tire of watching a herd of elephants grazing, or hippos wallowing, or feeling the excitement of witnessing a lioness or a leopard stalking its prey, right to the moment of its capture.

Good food is high on the list of priorities in South Africa, and a very important part of the social culture. Bobotie is often named as the national dish, which demonstrates how integrated the cultures have become given that this is in fact a Malay dish (more than a traditional African one). There are many delicious, exotic and interesting foods to try while you are there, but make sure that Bobotie, Biltong, Amarula Cream, Pap en Sous, and Koeksisters are also on your personal list.South Africa has a fantastic climate, most especially in Spring and Fall when the weather is temperate. There is no language barrier for American visitors, as most everyone speaks English. The US Dollar is very strong against the South Africa Rand, which gives you more spending power while you are there.

There are many reasons to visit this amazing region and I invite you to join me on a personally escorted tour to experience it for yourself.

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