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7 Great areas to visit in South Africa
Best seven places in South Africa
The recent tourism news that we saw indicated that South Africa was one of the few countries in the world that showed an increase in tourist figures for 2011. The Soccer/Football World cup in 2010 was obviously a huge success and has had a positive spin off in promoting this country as a popular destination. What makes it so popular? It has some really great attractions and as I thought about it I decided to list the top seven places that I would recommend to people coming here from other countries. Some would be well known and obvious and some less so.
1. Kruger National Park. A really great game reserve with a long history and a special atmosphere. Here you can drive in your own vehicle, stay in luxury accommodation, or camp, and look for the big five in an area of diverse habitat and great vistas. A big park with excellent infrastructure and facilities. Night and day drives are available in most camps.
2. Cape Town. Described a long time ago by Francis Drake ‘as the fairest cape in all the world’ and is today still a place of breathtaking beauty. Be your interest in nature, history or viniculture this is the place to visit. From the views from the top of Table Mountain to the Kirstenboch Botanical Gardens, to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were held), to the Wine Route and the wonderful beaches, it has it all.
3. The Drakensberg Mountains and Kwa-Zulu Natal Game Parks. Durban on the East Coast is the place to start a trip that would include some really good game reserves such as Hluluwe and iSimango along the coast and then the Natal Midlands with some beautiful Nature reserves in the Drakensberg Mountains. It would include a bit of travelling but would give visitors a valuable look into urban and rural South Africa.
4. The West Coast and Kgalagadi Game Reserve in flower season.(August/Sept) This is the land of the Koi People, desert and semi-desert, with great game viewing in the Kgalagadi Game Reserve and in a good rainfall year a spectacular flower display in Springbok and the rest of Namaqualand that has no equal anywhere. The West Coast fishing villages and resorts are picturesque and the beaches endless.
5. The Garden Route. From East London to Cape Town the N3 winds its way along the coast with one amazing beach and coastal resort after another. Plettenberg Bay, the Tsitzikama National Park, Jeffreys Bay, Knysna and Hermanus are just a few, but each one has its own magic and appeal and just when you think you have seen it all the next place pops up. Travel over the Outeniqua Pass to Oudshoorn for a visit to the Cango Caves and an Ostrich Farm as a break from the beautiful beaches.
6. Gold Reef City in Johannesburg and nearby Sun City (here you could see the big 5 in the Pilansberg Game Reserve).This would give you another look into history as you can go down a mine shaft at Gold Reef City and then perhaps play golf at Sun City, the venue of the annual Million Dollar Golf Tournament (Africa’s Major). See the Mine Dumps, the bright lights and the financial capital of South Africa. A visit to nearby Pretoria for a historic tour of the Voortrekker Monument and the Union Buildings is a must.
7. The Wild Coast. The area between Port Edward in Kwa-Zulu Natal and East London in the Eastern Cape is well described as the ‘Wild Coast’. This is Pondaland and the old Transkei, largely un spoilt by development, in most places still tribal and rural, with some of the most amazing coastline in the world. A place to linger, fish and hike or just relax, at one of the laid back small resorts to be found along the many kilometers of otherwise lonely coastline. Several hiking trails follow the coast, either back packing or slack packing (where someone else transports you luggage)
Each of these areas would be a great destination in itself, but with South Africa being a relatively small country, in comparison to the USA or Australia, in would be quite possible to plan a trip that could take in two or more of these areas in a couple of weeks. No wonder tourist figures are up!
In fact South Africa is the ideal place to do a three month road trip that could take in all of these places.
Buy a second hand car on arrival, equip yourself with a trailer and tent and hit the road. Camping in National Parks and private camping grounds is reasonable and safe. Food can be purchased at shops in the nearby towns or at shops in the camp grounds themselves. Often restaurants are available and are reasonably priced.Cooking facilities are usually provided in the form of a braai place or even a basic kitchen. Ablution blocks are good with hot water showers and baths. With a little planning you could see most of the country on a relatively small budget. Camping costs about $12 p.p. a night. So rent out your house or simply close it up and hit the road.You are certain to receive a warm welcome and the weather is usually quite moderate as the country lies within the sub-tropics.
When you have finished the trip sell the car and trailer and take with you memories that you will never forget.