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South Africa, a young democracy with a unique history, is a sculpted landscape of many colours and a nature-lovers’ Eden.
Capetonians are fiercely proud of their land, which is backed by the mesmerising Table Mountain, so often dressed in a lace tablecloth of white cloud. This monolith alone is carpeted in as many species of flora as Europe and North America combined. As well as the gleaming skyscrapers, marvel at the city’s Cape Malay architecture and endless boutique guesthouses. Find yourself foot-tapping at jazz clubs and dance theatres, always followed by a Cape Malay curry. A trip over to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent many years imprisoned, will imprint the indelible history of apartheid into your memory.
Mountains plunge straight down into the sea, which licks at blindingly white beaches that stretch along the coastline, where you can even swim with jackass penguins at Boulders Beach. The province is also home to world-class wineries (notable for their whites) and superb Southern Right and humpback whale-spotting. Take the time to head down the southern-most tip at Cape Point, where hundreds of walks and picnic spots await, though you won’t be alone; baboon, zebra and ostrich like it here also - don’t feed!
Heading east from Cape Town towards the Indian Ocean, drive the stunning 130-mile long Garden Route to reach lush national parks, underground caves and see ostrich farms and oyster lagoons. The Eastern Cape is home to the sensational Addo Elephant National Park, home to buffalo, lion and the spotted hyena. The cape is also noted for its fossil-infused mountainscapes and the popular holiday resort of Port Elizabeth.
Durban, the city on the water, boasts spectacular beaches and a delicious fusion of spice-rich cuisine and culture. For excellent walking trails and a taste of true country life, head inland to the Drakensberg. Over 500 species of birds can be spotted further north within the reefs and marshes at the World Heritage site of Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.
For authentic natural history and culture, head to Johannesburg. Nearby at Gauteng, you can tour with a palaeontologist through the Cradle of Humankind; an area now believed to be the birthplace of mankind due to the fossils that have been excavated. Known as the Gold City, Jo’burg is a favourite for cafes, boutiques and Sunday markets. It is also home to the evocative Museum of Apartheid where visitors receive an audio-visual narrative presentation and carry a replica pass that black South Africans were obliged to carry during the period.
Across South Africa, surfers ride the wild waves like scattered diamonds, though beneath, so do the great white sharks! And keep a look out for the long-snouted Aardvark.
High season in South Africa is from November to March, but April and October are best to miss the crowds and extreme heat. For wildlife-spotting at the national parks, come after March when the watering holes are at there best.
Car hire from the airport
EveryCarHire.com offers car rental from all airports major cities within the South Africa.
Cities in South Africa
- Aliwal north
- Cape town
- East london
- Eastgate sandton
- King williams town
- Melrose arch
- Paarden island
- Piet retief
- Plettenberg bay
- Port alfred
- Port elizabeth
- Richards bay
- St. francis bay
- Sun city