South African Tourism Board in the USA
500 Fifth Avenue, 20th Floor, Suite 2040, New York City, NY 10110, United States
Tel: (212) 730 2929.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700.
South African Tourism Board in the UK
6 Alt Grove, Wimbledon, London, SW19 4DZ, United Kingdom
Tel: (020) 8971 9350.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700.
South Africa High Comission Nigeria
Things to see and do
If you’ve come to South Africa you have to go all the way. Stand on the continent’s tip at Cape Point, a World Heritage Site with buck, baboons and zebra, ending in sheer cliffs towering 200m (660ft) above the sea. The Flying Dutchman funicular takes you up to the old lighthouse to enjoy panoramic views, and the restaurant has splendid ocean views.
Drive the Garden Route
The Garden Route (www.gardenroute.co.za) winds along the scenic south east coast, stretching from Mossel Bay to the Storms River. It passes numerous lakes and lagoons and pretty towns including Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and George.
A short ferry trip from Cape Town takes you to Robben Island (www.robben-island.org.za), where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists were jailed. Tours are conducted by former political prisoners themselves for an accurate account of a life in chains.
Addo Elephant National Park
Elephants are easy to spot in this park in the Eastern Cape (www.addoelephant.com), which is also home to black rhino, buffalo and antelope. The elephant section was proclaimed in 1931, when only 11 elephants remained; today there are more than 450. Enjoy guided game drives, and horse, hiking and 4×4 trails.
Anglo-Boer War Battlefields
Wars between the Afrikaans, British and Zulus erupted in bloody skirmishes in KwaZulu-Natal, a beautiful area of rolling grassland and rocky hills dotted with graves and monuments. The Anglo-Boer War began in 1899 in a fight over gold- and diamond-rich land. Knowledgeable guides lead you around the battlefields, telling tales that send shivers down your spine. Talana Museum near Dundee was the site of the first of the Anglo-Boer battle and is a heritage park with a war cemetery.
Johannesburg’s excellent and moving Apartheid Museum (www.apartheidmuseum.org) tells the story of racially segregated South Africa. Your entrance ticket comes in “white” and “non-white” versions, determining which entrance you’re allowed to use. The story is told through photographs, artefacts, newspaper clippings and film footage.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
Breathtaking Blyde River Canyon is the third largest gorge in the world, best seen from the viewing point called God’s Window. Other attractions include numerous waterfalls, the astonishing Bourke’s Luck Potholes ground out by the gushing rapids and Pilgrim’s Rest, a former gold-mining town dating from 1873. At the heart of the nature reserve is Blyde Dam, home to hippos and crocodiles.
Boulders Beach penguins
A large colony of endearing African penguins make their home on a protected part of Boulders Beach in Simonstown, near Cape Town, and a small entrance fee lets you get up close and personal. Do take care when driving there – sometimes they waddle across the roads.
Climb Table Mountain
Cape Town’s famous flat-topped mountain is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. It looks brilliant from down below and gives equally brilliant views from the top. Hiking up is a popular option but it isn’t a walk in the park, so the lazy but equally rewarding way is to take the cable car (www.tablemountain.net).
Explore the Winelands
More than a dozen wine routes tempt you with wine tastings and excellent cuisine in the wine estate restaurants. The views are splendid, with rolling hills and gorgeous old Cape-Dutch mansions. Tourists love the prices too when they stock up on supplies. Organised trips from Cape Town let you avoid drunk-driving.
South Africa’s greatest attraction is the big five in their natural environment: elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino and leopard. They’re elusive beasts but you can almost guarantee great sightings on a game drive with a ranger. Kruger National Park (www.krugerpark.co.za) is extremely popular. Tracking white or black rhino on foot is also a thrilling experience.
Hike the Drakensburg mountain trails
South Africa has excellent hiking, with trails in the Drakensberg (www.drakensberg.kzn.org.za) passing ancient yellowwood trees and Bushmen cave art. A tougher option is The Otter Trail, a 5-day coastal hike through Tsitsikamma National Park. Several companies offer porters.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
This beautiful landscaped garden (www.sanbi.org), created by Cecil Rhodes in 1895 at the foot of Table Mountain, is dedicated to indigenous plants and flowers, particularly those unique to the Cape. Sunday evening concerts in the summer are the perfect venue for sundowners.
Play a round of Golf
Got golf clubs? Got a lot of money? South African is brilliant for golfing and swanky Fancourt Estate (www.fancourt.co.za) on the south coast at George has three courses designed by Gary Player, South Africa’s most famous golfer, including The Links, described as his greatest design feat. There are hundreds of golf resorts and courses across the country, many in scenic locations.
Scuba diving at Sodwana Bay
The KwaZulu-Natal coast offers superb conditions for underwater exploration. Sodwana Bay near Durban is a popular base for reef dives among turtles and tropical fish, while Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks further south are superb for sharks and wrecks. Courses are available if you’re a newbie.
Adrenalin junkies can have a close encounter of the scary kind with shark diving operators. Don your breathing equipment and get lowered in steel cage into great white shark territory. Dyer Island in the Western Cape is their favourite hunting ground with a plethora of penguins, seals and game fish.
Spring flowers in Namaqualand
The arid Namaqualand region (www.namaqualand.com) explodes with colour between mid-August and mid-September, when wild flowers blanket the landscape. The West Coast National Park is one of the best places to see the phenomenon.
You can take to the waves at Jeffrey’s Bay near Port Elizabeth, which is home to Supertubes – considered by some surfers as the world’s best right hand point break. (www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za).
Join a guided tour of a township, the areas where blacks were forcibly relocated to during apartheid, and experience the vibrancy and sense of community. Tours run from most major cities and a trip usually includes a traditional meal and drinks in a ‘shebeen’, the popular bars or restaurants. Soweto in Johannesburg and Cape Town’s Cape Flats are most popular.
Whale-watching in Hermanus
One of the world’s greatest whale watching spots is Hermanus, which hosts an annual Whale Festival (www.whalefestival.co.za). Southern Right Whales migrate along the south coast from around June until September and at Hermanus they come so close to the shore you can view them from your hotel window.