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Places to Visit in South Africa

Updated on June 26, 2015
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Natasha Pelati has published three books of poetry and writes on real-life experiences with the help of psychology.

South African Flag
South African Flag
Protea - National flower
Protea - National flower
Blue Crane - National bird
Blue Crane - National bird
Galjoen - National fish
Galjoen - National fish
Springbok - National animal
Springbok - National animal

South Africa "Rainbow Nation"

Divided into nine provinces in the Southern hemishpere are; Eastern Cape, Freestate, Kwazulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape and Western Cape.

Each province is governed by a unicameral legislature and are elected every five years at the National Assembly Election.

There are six official languages; English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana and Swati but most South African's can speak English.

South Africa has two oceans; Atlantic and Indian.

The Republic of South Africa has thirteen different mountain ranges and nineteen different game parks.

The national flower is the Protea, the fish is Galjoen, the Blue Crane is the national bird and the Springbok is the national animal.

Food items that are traditional to the country is biltong, boerewors, pap and bobotie.

The local beer is Castle lager and the South African's favourite past time is to "braai."


Transport

South Africa does not have a very good transport system. There are buses and taxi's but you have to be very careful as a tourist with which one you use.

Buses and shuttle services are available from the airports and in Johannesburg the "Gautrain" is in use on a daily basis but it doesn't go everywhere.

It leaves every 12 minutes during peak times and off peak times the train is available every 20 minutes as well as the buses to and from the station. On the weekend and public holidays the train leaves every 30 minutes but there is no available bus service.

Taxi's are available in every province but getting into the safest one is important. Should you wish to catch a taxi try to avoid the mini bus as they drive really fast and overload their passenger intake, causing many accidents on the roads. Take a taxi that has four doors and the rate advertised on the side of the car.

Shuttle buses from the airports leave almost every hour and it doesn't cost much.

Hiring a car is also an option as you get to see most of the province this way and a suggestion would be to hire one once you get to the country to get a good rate.

Safety

Every country has it's fair share of petty crime and South Africa is no different. Be alert and don't leave your luggage or handbags unattended. When driving be sure to keep your doors locked at all times.

When going into the city centre of any Province, ensure that you do not have your jewellery, wallets or cellphone's on display as you will be a target for theft. Don't keep big amounts of cash with you and just be alert.

Avoiding areas of danger is also a must and you should ask the locals or the hotel where they are.


Umhlanga sands
Umhlanga sands | Source
Table Bay
Table Bay | Source
The Grace "54 on Bath"
The Grace "54 on Bath"

Where to Stay

Natal: Durban is the sunny side of South Africa and the weather all year round is fantastic! It only gets cold in August.

There are many swimming beaches in Durban, Umhlanga, Ballito and on the South Coast.

Umhlanga Sands is a good family hotel and the prices are reasonable as they are semi self catering units that sleeps six people. It is in the heart of the village, an airport shuttle can take you directly to the hotel and you can walk through to the village to eat, hire a car and it is on the beach.

The best place to stay is in Umhlanga or Ballito and the cheapest hotels would be the Road Lodges but they are small and definately not luxurious.

If it is a luxury holiday you are looking for than staying at Fairmont Zimbali or the Oyster Box is a definite must.

Cape Town: The windy city. They have four seasons and when it's winter it's cold. Winter here is in June through to September and I would suggest taking warm clothes.

There are a number of beaches butthe water is cold as Cape Town has two oceans; Atlantic and the Indian. Great white sharks love the cold water so don't go swimming just anywhere!

They do have Road lodges in Cape Town but most hotels in the city centre are expensive if you want to stay on the waterfront.

Cheaper accomodation can be found on the outskirts of Cape Town and the Holiday Inn, Garden Court is the cheapest and it is a block behind the waterfront.

If you are looking for a luxurious hotel than The Table Bay, Sun International is the best hotel to try. They have an amazing breakfast that is out of this world with everything from cereal to sushi! The hotel is attached to the shopping centre and the Cape Town Waterfront is a step away.

Johannesburg: The city of Gold also has four seasons and winter is from June to September.

Sandton City has a number of hotels to stay in but it is a city centre and I would suggest you try Monte Casino.

For luxury stay in Johannesburg The Grace of Rosebank is beautiful and central.

There are no beaches here and Johannesburg is "traffic central." I would skip the city and head off to Sun City Resort as it is absolutely breathtaking!

Mpumalanga: The Kruger Park is the main attraction here and I wouldn't suggest staying anywhere but near the park for the greatest experience. Reasonably priced places to stay are at Sabi River Sun which does have a gate to the park. It is a family hotel and central to the game park.

For the ultimate experience I would suggest staying at Sabi, Sabi but this is luxury accomodation. It is also a good experience to stay at the Kruger National Park itself for the ultimate wild life experience.




Source
Prawn Curry
Prawn Curry | Source
Kalk Bay - Crayfish
Kalk Bay - Crayfish
Potjiekos (medley of vegetables and meat cooked for 3 hours in an iron pot)
Potjiekos (medley of vegetables and meat cooked for 3 hours in an iron pot)
Braai
Braai

Where to Eat

Tantalise your taste buds with the food in South Africa as everything is so full of flavour.

A traditional braai consists of boerewors, steak, pap and sauce, assortment of salads and complimenting this is a good glass of South African Nederberg wine. I highly recommend that you have a braai and find locals that will invite you to have one at their home. Most family resorts do have braai's.

If you get to Durban than trying a "Bunny Chow" or a Durban curry is a must. The best place to have a curry would be the "Seabell restaurant" in La Mercy on the North Coast.

A bunny chow is not what it sounds like but it is a local curry served in a half loaf of bread. The best place to get one of these is in Florida Road, Durban.

For a fantastic 360 degree view of the city Roma revolving is very nice and the best dish to eat here is the veal. The also serve crocodile if you feel adventurous.

Cape Town is the place for fish and you need to drive to Kalk Bay to get it. It is very tasty and the view of the ocean is incredible if you want a real holiday feel. Avoid eating on the Waterfront as it is very commercialised.

Johannesburg - "Carnivore" is the place to go and this is in the East Rand. It is definately an experience of note and must be done. The food is delicious and the experience is something to talk about.

Wimpy is our local breakfast spot, Spur Steakhouse, Steers and Nando's are our biggest franchise restaurants.

Fruit is in abundance in South Africa and very tasty. Wine is Nederberg made in Cape Town and if you are daring enough than head to Soweto (with a guide) to try the African food but you can also get this at Mojo's and your hotel will guide you to where it is safe.





Drakensberg Mountain
Drakensberg Mountain
Stellenbosch Wine Route
Stellenbosch Wine Route
Dolphins in Durban
Dolphins in Durban
Hermanus
Hermanus
Valley of Thousand Hills
Valley of Thousand Hills
Gold Reef City
Gold Reef City
The Big Hole of Kimberley
The Big Hole of Kimberley

Attractions

There are so many places to go in South Africa, so many things to experience and you need a lot of time to get through it all.

The main attractions are:

Drakensberg Mountains in Natal but only when there is snow is it nice to go as you get to stay in a cabin with an old coal stove and trout fishing is the must do for the guys.

Stellenbosch Wine Estate in the Cape Province is really interesting if you love wine.

Table Mountain is also breathtaking and if you are afraid of heights than this is not for you as you take a cable car to get up to the mountain where the view is spectacular but scary for those who can't live on the edge!

Hermanus is a great place for whale watching and a peaceful escape from the world. I would also suggest driving to Cape Province by car to do the Garden Route for the scenery.

Kruger National Park for the ultimate game experience where you can get to see the "Big 5."

Long Tom Pass Mpumalanga has a great number of things to do; Pilgrims rest is an old mining town and the experience whilst staying there takes you back to the time of the Pilgrim's. Along the road there are many places to stop and see for a small fee and God's Window is also great to see.

Umhlanga - you can go for a boat ride to see the dolphins and if you like marine life than Ushaka marine world Durban has a dolphin show and an amazing aquarium. For the adventurous you can get into a cage for a shark dive.

Wilson's Wharf is on the Victoria Embankment where you can catch a ride on a boat out to sea, where you can have lunch and watch the ships come into the busiest port in the country and if you are a fishing enthusiast then a boat will take you out to try your luck in catching a big fish!

Gateway shopping centre is the biggest in the Southern hemisphere and you can find almost anything you need there.

Valley of One Thousand Hills is a good place to go for the Zulu experience where you can watch a traditional Zulu dance.

Johannesburg Gold Reef City is a good place to go and see how they make the gold and you can do a tour where you are able to go down a mine shaft.

Kimberley The Big Hole of Kimberley is a diamond mine and is also worth a visit.

Once you get to South Africa there are many museums and attractions to go through but these are the ones that I would suggest first.

Other attractions would be Zululand, Pretoria zoo, Sun City, Robben Island and remember that South Africa is very picturesque, colourful and the outdoor adventure is amazing.




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