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Five Reasons to Visit South Africa This Year

Updated on June 20, 2017

South Africa is not just the country that gave birth to Nelson Mandela (as most outsiders know it); it is a breathtakingly beautiful land of high plateaus, snowcapped mountains, deserts, forests and miles and miles of coastlines. One of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, it has 11 national languages (the highest in the world), of which English is one. The country's world famous national parks, such as The Kruger National Park, are home to African elephants, lions and other wildlife.

Besides the wildlife, beaches and sightseeing, here are 5 reasons you should visit South Africa this year:

1. Kaapse Klopse (January 2)

If you want to celebrate New Year in with dance, music, costumes and lots of food, then you should be in Cape Town in the first week of January. On January 2, the streets of the second largest city in South Africa come alive with people wearing colorful costumes, sporting umbrellas and singing traditional songs. The Kaapse Klopse, also known as Cape Carnival, was started by the city's slaves as a day of festivity when they were given a rare holiday just after New Year. While slavery has faded into the pages of history, the carnival has become a symbol and celebration of the city.

2. Comrades Marathon (May 31)

Anyone who enjoys a marathon should be in Durban on May 31, 2015 for the 90th edition of the Comrades Marathon. Known as "the greatest race on earth", it takes place between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, covering a distance of 87 kilometers. The race alternates between up and down runs, from the coast to inland and vice versa. The 2015 marathon will start from the Durban City Hall at 5:30 AM and end 12 hours later at the Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.

3. Grahamstown National Arts Festival (July 2 - 12)

Art lovers should be in students city of Grahamstown from July 2 to 12 when the students and tourists come in out in their hordes to celebrate the biggest party of the year - the annual National Arts Festival. For two whole weeks, the galleries, museums, pubs, restaurants and the beautiful tree-lined streets of the city come alive with vibrant and colorful arts, songs and dance performances as students, artists and tourists from all over the world arrive to join in the fun.

4. The Sardine Run (May - July)

If you are nature lover, then you should be in the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal in June, because that's when the spectacular and mysterious natural phenomenon called the Sardine Run takes place. Starting May, millions of silvery sardines (fish) make their way to the coast, coloring the shoreline silver, followed closely by hundreds of sharks, dolphins and penguins. The shoals are 15 kilometers long, 4 kilometers wide and 40 meters deep. As fishermen join the hunt, wide-eyed tourists follow them to watch the spectacle unfolding right before their eyes. The sardine run ends in July as mysteriously as it begins in May.

5. Dusi Canoe Marathon (February 19 - 21)

Known as the toughest and most prestigious canoe race in the word, the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place between the cities Pietermaritzburg and Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, covering a distance of 120 kilometers. Every year, the race attracts between 1,600 and 2,000 paddlers from all over the world, making it the biggest canoeing event in all of Africa. The 2015 marathon is going to take place from February 19 to 21.

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