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Best of South Africa

Best of South Africa

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Published by sven
“Best of South Africa” is a celebration of the crème that our country
has to offer, a tangible reminder and visual celebration of what
makes South Africa great, a country people truly fall in love with -
locals and international visitors alike.
“Best of South Africa” is a celebration of the crème that our country
has to offer, a tangible reminder and visual celebration of what
makes South Africa great, a country people truly fall in love with -
locals and international visitors alike.

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Published by: sven on Nov 05, 2009
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09/03/2014

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Travel & Tourism

Best of South Africa

45

Best of South Africa

46

Travel & Tourism

Travel & Tourism

South Africa is a place of remarkable contrasts, offering lush subtropical forests, vast and
arid desert plains, high-energy cities, hopelessly hippie beaches, abundant wildlife, a rich
and fascinating history, friendly people and, pretty much everywhere you go, spectacular
natural beauty of all kinds.

Best of South Africa

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Legacy projects

Monuments, museums, plaques, outdoor
art, heritage trails and other symbolic
representations create visible reminders of,
and commemorate, the many aspects of
South Africa’s past.
Government has initiated several national
legacy projects to establish commemorative
symbols of South Africa’s history and to
celebrate its heritage.

The legacy projects include the:

• Women’s Monument: On 9 August 2000,

former President Thabo Mbeki unveiled a
monument at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
to commemorate the contribution of the
women of South Africa in the struggle for
freedom.

• Chief Albert Luthuli’s house in KwaDukuza,

KwaZulu-Natal: This house has been
restored by the Department of Arts and
Culture as a museum with a visitors’
interpretative centre.

• Battle of Blood River/Ncome Project:

Following the unveiling of the Ncome
Monument and Wall of Remembrance on 16
December 1998, the Ncome Museum was
opened in 1999. The structures honour the
role played by the Zulu nation in the battle.

• Samora Machel Project: The Samora

Machel Monument in Mbuzini,
Mpumalanga, was unveiled on 19 October
1998. The second phase was completed in
2005.

• Nelson Mandela Museum: This museum in

the Eastern Cape was opened 1n 2000. It
is being developed as a single component
comprising three elements, namely a
museum in Mthatha, a youth centre at
Qunu, and a visitors’ centre in Mvezo,
where former President Mandela was born.

• Constitution Hill Project: The Old Fort

Prison in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, was
developed into a multidimensional and
multipurpose precinct that houses the
Constitutional Court and accommodates
various constitutional commissions. The
Constitution Hill Project involved the
development of the Constitutional Hill
precinct to accommodate the CC, the
Constitution Museum, the Women’s Jail,
the Old Fort and a commercial precinct.

• The Sarah Baartman National Heritage

Site in Hankey in the Eastern Cape
and the Sarah Baartman Human Rights
Memorial in the Western Cape.

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• Freedom Park Project: Construction of

the Freedom Park Project, a memorial to
the anti-apartheid struggle at Salvokop
in Pretoria, began in 2002. The frst
phase of the R560-million memorial
site was handed over to government in
2004. This phase, costing R45 million,
involved the design and construction of
the Garden of Remembrance in honour
of the country’s departed freedom
fghters.

• The Khoisan Heritage and Culture

Institution in Hankey, Kouga
Municipality, as part of the Khoisan
Legacy Project. An estimated R5 million
was allocated for the frst phase.

Other projects underway are the 1981
Matola Raid Memorial in Maputo,
Mozambique; the rehabilitation and
development of the Lock Street
women’s prison in East London into a
museum; development of the former
apartheid state security Vlakplaas farm
into a heritage memorial site; and the
OR Tambo Memorial Project in Bizana in
the Eastern Cape.

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• the Mapoch Ndebele Village in

Winterveld, north-west of Pretoria

• the Gaabo Motho Cultural Village in

Mabopane

• the Rainbow Cultural Village, west of the

Hartbeespoort Dam, North West

• Botshabelo in Middelburg, Mpumalanga
• Shangana in Hazyview, Mpumalanga.

Provinces

South Africa is divided into nine provinces.
The provinces, with their own distinctive
landscapes, vegetation and climate each rich
in history, culture and diversity that makes
South Africa the rewarding destination for the
tourist and business traveller alike. It is a land
of opportunity and promise! Today, different
cultures and races live in harmony, weaving
a colourful tapestry in the busy urban streets
and the quite rural landscapes.

Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape is a study in contrasts: the
political womb of the country, the birthplace
of the country’s frst two democratic
presidents, Nelson Mandela and Thabo

Cultural villages

Most tourists visiting South Africa are eager
to explore the country’s cultural diversity.
At the same time, an increasing number of
local tourists want to learn more about the
people they were separated from under
apartheid.

Various projects around the country offer
insight into South Africa’s cultural wealth,
ranging from traditional dances and rituals in
rural areas, to excursions into the urban and
township milieux that give South Africa its
defning features.

These include:

• Khaya Lendaba near Port Elizabeth
• the Basotho Cultural Village situated

in the QwaQwa Nature Reserve near
Harrismith, Free State

• the Makhosini Cultural Village and

Tourism Initiative in the Valley of Kings at
Umgungundlovu in KwaZulu-Natal

• the Lesedi Cultural Village near

Johannesburg

• Tlholego in Magaliesburg
• the KoMjekejeke Cultural Village, north of

Pretoria

Mbeki, and a place of both extreme poverty,
and extreme beauty.
Like the rest of South Africa, the Eastern
Cape has wildlife-rich national parks and
other conservation areas - but with a unique
advantage. In the Eastern Cape, there is
no risk, as there is in other natural areas, of
malaria. The province’s attractions include the
Addo Elephant Park, which contains fve of
South Africa’s seven major vegetation zones,
and a unique combination of the Big Seven -
elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, whales
and great white sharks, plus a rich heritage
of archaeological and historical sites. The
reserve also has the largest coastal dune feld
in the southern hemisphere.
Jeffrey’s Bay is said to be one of the top
three surfng spots in the world. The town’s
other attractions are scuba diving, rock
fshing, dolphin and whale spotting, and the
dazzling Gamtoos River valley, noted for its
bird life.

Grahamstown, originally a military outpost,
with its Georgian and Victorian buildings, is
where the 1820 British settlers came ashore
as part of the British colonial government’s
efforts to populate the interior with white
people from England. These days is it best

Best of South Africa

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Health and Beauty

known for the annual National Arts Festival,
the largest of its kind in Africa. Grahamstown
is also a vibrant university town, home to
Rhodes University.
In the interior of the province is Cradock,
a Karoo town known for resistance politics. It
is also the place where Olive Schreiner lived,
best known for her novel The Story of an
African Farm. She is buried in the hills outside
the town.

Also near the town is the Mountain Zebra
National Park, a conservation success story,
saving the mountain zebra species from
extinction.

The historic town of Graaff-Reinet, with
a town centre preserved largely intact from
1786, was the birthplace of Robert Sobukwe,
founder of the Pan Africanist Congress.
Graaff-Reinet is in the centre of the 14 500ha
Camdeboo National Park, in the Great Karoo.
Nieu Bethesda is a little dorp north
of Graaff-Reinet, a place that may have
disappeared from the map if it weren’t for
Helen Martins, a reclusive and obsessive
artist generally disliked in the village during
her lifetime. For many decades of the early
20th century, Martins worked tirelessly on
cramming her small home, today known as
the Owl House, with visionary sculpture made
from the prosaic materials of cement and
parts of glass bottles.
King William’s Town marks a signifcant
element of Xhosa history. A mass grave in
the cemetery is where hundreds of Xhosa

are buried, the result of the disastrous 1857
Nongqawuse prophesy to slaughter their
entire stock of cattle and destroy their crops,
and in return the ancestors would ensure that
white settlers would be blown into the sea.
Some 25 000 Xhosas subsequently died of
starvation.

Some 60km west of King William’s Town
is Fort Hare, originally a multiracial college
set up by missionaries, and the place where
Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Zimbabwe’s
Robert Mugabe and Nelson Mandela were
educated.

On the northern edge of the Eastern
Cape is Rhodes. San rock paintings can be
explored in the vicinity of the town, while
winter skiers make their way through Rhodes
to Tiffndell, the country’s only ski resort,
set up against the southern Drakensberg
mountains bordering Lesotho.
The remote and undeveloped Wild
Coast, stretching from East London to the
beautiful Mkambati Nature Reserve, consists
of unspoilt beaches, lush forest, green,
undulating hills, complimented by hospitality
from the local Xhosa community.
The town of Mthatha (previously Umtata)
is in the middle of the Wild Coast region, and
is home to the Nelson Mandela Museum. The
museum offers guided tours to the nearby
village of Qunu, where Mandela grew up.
The remains of his primary school, the rock
he used to play on and the graveyard where
family members are buried are highlights.

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Free State

Bloemfontein, the capital of the province, is
the home of the Supreme Court of Appeal,
but also the birthplace of JR Tolkien, author
of The Lord of the Rings.
The city is on the route between
Johannesburg and Cape Town, and has
a number of interesting museums and art
galleries, including the Oliewenhuis Art
Gallery, the National Afrikaans Literary
Museum, and the National Women’s
Monument and War Museum.
Two interesting personalities have
associations with the province. Emily
Hobhouse, who campaigned on behalf of
Boer concentration camp internees during
the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer (South African)
War, is buried at the foot of the National
Women’s Monument.
Laurens van der Post, explorer, writer
and soldier, grew up in Philippolis, a town
160km south of Bloemfontein. Seventy-fve
of the town’s houses have been declared
national heritage sites, consisting of a mix
of fat-roofed Karoo and Cape Dutch gabled
houses, and Victorian broekie-lace gems.
The Highlands Route, a road along the
Lesotho border for some 280 kilometres,
runs around the northern tip of Lesotho, from
Phuthadijhaba (Witsieshoek) to Wepener,
taking in impressive rock formations. The
route passes through Clarens and the
Golden Gate Highlands National Park, with

its stunning mountain views and gorgeous
ravines. Black wildebeest, eland, blesbok,
oribi, springbok and Burchell’s zebra can be
seen in the park, as well as the rare bearded
vulture (lammergeier) and the bald ibis.
Clarens is well known as an arts and crafts
mecca, popular for its cafes and galleries.
The Witsieshoek Mountain Resort
gives access into the high Drakensberg
escarpment, with a hike to the top of the
grand Amphitheatre and the Mont aux
Sources, at 3 278m, the source of the Tugela.
The Basotho Cultural Village is nearby,
showcasing Basotho traditions.
The Free State also has a World Heritage
Site - the Vredefort Dome, the result of the
two billion-year-old meteorite of 10km in
diameter that hit the earth about 100km
southwest of Johannesburg, creating an
enormous impact crater.
The world has about 130 crater
indentations of possible impact origin. The
Vredefort Dome is among the top three,
and is the oldest and largest clearly visible
meteorite impact site in the world.

Gauteng

Although South Africa’s smallest province,
Gauteng is the most industrialised and
densely populated. The name of the province
means “place of gold”, and the metal
accounts for its concentration of wealth and
its 40% contribution to the country’s GDP.

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Gold is the reason for Johannesburg’s
establishment, and the city is defned by its
exploitation - although fast disappearing,
the southern section of the city is littered
with large mine dumps and scattered
headgear. An earlier mine, shaft 14, now
incorporated into the theme park, Gold
Reef City, offers trips 226m below ground.
On the same site is the Apartheid Museum,
a powerful place commemorating and
recording the country’s appalling history of
racial discrimination.
Further south is the iconic township
Soweto. Here the unravelling of apartheid
began in 1976, with schoolchildren rebelling
against apartheid education, and losing
their lives along the way. June 16, 1976 has
been memorialised in the Hector Pieterson
Museum and Memorial, remembering the
death of Hector Pieterson, who was the
frst child to die on the day, becoming the
symbol of repression and police brutality.
The township was home to Nelson
and Winnie Mandela; their home is now
a museum. Nobel laureate Archbishop
Desmond Tutu has a home in the same
street. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela still lives
in the township.
Tours of the township take in the
Kliptown Square, where the Freedom
Charter was ratifed in 1955, shebeens
and indigenous restaurants, and the Chris
Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the biggest in
southern Africa.
The Constitutional Court has found a
home in the city, on the site of a set of jails,
the place of incarceration of two of the
20th century’s icons, Mahatma Gandhi and
Nelson Mandela, and many thousands of
apartheid petty offenders.
Johannesburg is a cosmopolitan city,
attracting immigrants from the day gold

was discovered in 1886. It still attracts
immigrants, and the result is a lively mix
of cultures, languages and cuisines. It can
be a dangerous city, but has an energetic,
vibrant pace that soon becomes addictive.
The city is home to the country’s super
rich, and the desperately poor. Upmarket
shopping malls abound, together with 70%
of South Africa’s corporate headquarters,
the stock exchange, a signifcant Art Deco
collection, casinos, theatres, museums, art
galleries, fea markets, splashes of water
and some 10 million trees.
Residents jive to the sounds of a host of
musicians, from Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse,
Hugh Masekela and Johnny Clegg to
Sibongile Khumalo and Yvonne Chaka
Chaka. Several orchestras, numerous
kwaito, rap, jazz, maskanda and mbaqanga
artists keep Joburgers’ feet tapping. The
city has several major dance companies,
from ballet to Afro-fusion. Several annual
music and dance festivals - the joy of jazz,
arts alive, dance umbrella - keep residents
on their toes. Internationally recognised
artists living in the city include William
Kentridge, Sam Nthemhetha, Edoardo
Villa, Penny Siopis, David Koloane, Cecil
Skotnes, Robert Hodgins, Willem Boshoff,
and Pat Matlua.
Joburg has several large soccer
stadiums, and is to host the opening and
fnal matches of the 2010 Fifa Football
World Cup.

To the north-west of the city is the
Cradle of Humankind, consisting of the
Sterkfontein caves and Maropeng, the
former the source of some of the world’s
most signifcant hominid fossils, the latter
visitors’ centre and museum set in a huge
structure signifying the historical importance
of the area in the beginnings of humankind.

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The Sterkfontein Caves are where Mrs
Ples, dating back 2.5-million years, and
Little Foot, an almost complete ape-man
skeleton just over 4 million years old,
have been found. The 47 000-hectare
Sterkfontein valley consists of around 40
different fossil sites, 13 of which have been
excavated.

Just beyond the Cradle is the
Magaliesberg mountain range, with the
Crocodile River running towards this
moderately high range on its way to the
Hartebeespoort Dam , to become the
Limpopo River.
Gauteng’s other major city is Pretoria,
founded around a Boer farming community
in 1855, and the country’s administrative
capital since 1910. The home of president
Paul Kruger, its reputation as the bastion
of apartheid was exploded when President
Nelson Mandela was inaugurated in 1994 at
the iconic Union Buildings. The city’s Church
Square consists of elegant, colonial-style
buildings, a meeting place for Afrikaners for
over 100 years. The Palace of Justice and
the Raadsaal are the oldest buildings on the
square, built in grand, neo-classical style
with Joburg’s early gold revenues.
South of the city is the University
of South Africa, the country’s largest
correspondence university. Further south
is the Voortrekker Monument, perhaps
the most symbolic statement of Afrikaner
nationalism in the country.
North of the city is the Tswaing Crater,
one of best-preserved meteorite craters
in the world. Some 220 000 years ago a
meteorite hit the earth, creating a crater of
just over one kilometre in diameter. It is one
of around 170 impact craters in the world
and one of four known impact craters in
South Africa.

KwaZulu-Natal

This province has a bit of everything:
beaches washed by the warm Indian
Ocean, plentiful wildlife in well-organised
game parks, signifcant battlefelds, and
two World Heritage Sites: the (Greater St
Lucia) Wetland Park and the iSimangaliso
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.
Durban, the country’s largest harbour,
offers the visitor a mix of cultures: Zulu,
Indian and English, with temples, Victorian
architecture and Zulu crafts, particularly
clay pots and beautiful woven baskets,
abundant in the city. The weather is
subtropical and can be very humid but its
beaches offer swimming all year round.
Not to be missed is the uShaka Marine
World, a new entertainment park near the
Durban harbour. It offers a spectacular
aquarium, thrilling water rides, tubing on
a canal that winds through the park and
under the shark tank, and dolphin and
seal shows, where the animals display
their remarkable intelligence. There are
also a number of restaurants, bars and
shops.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Tugela, Umgeni and
Umkomaas are three of the country’s
great rivers.
Some 80km north of Durban is
Pietermaritzburg, a well-preserved
Victorian city, with a lively multicultural
community. This city is the one where

Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out
of a frst-class train, on his way to
Johannesburg.
Another personality linked to the city is
Alan Paton, author of the acclaimed novel
Cry the Beloved Country. Paton was born in
the city in 1903, and his study, documents
and personal memorabilia are preserved in
the Alan Paton Centre on the University of
KwaZulu-Natal campus.
The city’s best museum is the Tatham Art
Gallery, with works by Pablo Picasso, Edgar
Degas, Henri Matisse alongside works by
South Africans.
Heading north from Pietermaritzburg is
the Midlands Meander, a route that takes in
a number of crafts stalls, tea shops, pubs,
trout-fshing farms, country hotels and
B&Bs.

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The N3 road through the midlands roughly
traces the last journey of Nelson Mandela
before he was arrested in 1962, and
sentenced to jail for 27 years in the Rivonia
Trial.

Most visitors head inland, up the north
coast to Zululand and Maputaland, home
of the great Zulu kings Shaka and Dingaan.
There are several of the country’s great
game parks in the area - Ithala, Mkuze and
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi - well stocked with rhino,
as well as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a 2
700km patchwork of fve distinct ecosystems.
This World Heritage Site protects a lake,
dunes, a marine zone, papyrus and reeds,
and dry savannah and thornveld.
The famous Zululand battlefelds provide
a graphic reminder of the battles between
Boers and Zulus, British and Zulus, and
Boers and British, either as do-it-yourself
or organised tours. Places such as Rorke’s
Drift, Isandlwana, Gingindlovu, Blood River
and Spioenkop are where many men’s blood
fowed, and where the history of the province
was written.

Alternatively, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg
Park, 243 000 hectares in size, stretching
150 kilometres down the western spine of
the province, offers great hiking, camping,
horse-riding, San rock art, luxury hotels, and
majestic views. Its remarkable geology and
unmatched wealth of San rock art, makes it
a mixed cultural and natural World Heritage
Site. For more than 4 000 years the San lived
in these spectacular mountains and created
a vast body of rock art - the largest and most
concentrated collection in Africa. There are
some 600 sites and 35 000 individual images.

Limpopo

Limpopo province abuts South Africa’s
northern border with Botswana and
Zimbabwe, and was the entry point of the
original Bantu people into the country around
300AD. The province consists of thornbush-
scattered lowveld, lush mountain areas,
clusters of baobabs, wetlands and a lake
district, and a profusion of game farms.
The Limpopo river divides South Africa
from its neighbours; its origins can be traced
to a spring in Johannesburg.
The Drakensberg mountain range rises
in Limpopo, and sweeps down through
Letaba, an area of lush forests, lakes and
waterfalls, into Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-
Natal. But there are two mini mountain
ranges in Limpopo - the Waterberg and the
Soutpansberg. The Waterberg mountains,
in the west of the province, are a Unesco-
proclaimed savannah biosphere with
malaria-free big fve game viewing, while the
Soutpansberg mountains in the north are
sub-tropical, and home of the legendary Rain
Queen.

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The northern section of the province has
signifcant history - the Mapungubwe site
is now a World Heritage Site. The recently
formed Mapungubwe National Park is rich
in biodiversity, great scenic beauty and the
cultural importance of the archaeological
treasures of Mapungubwe.
The park is the site where an African
civilisation prospered between 1000 and
1290 AD. The area was already inhabited by
a growing Iron Age community from 900 AD
and became rich through trade with Egypt,
India and China. This is the place where
archaeologists excavated the famous golden
rhino and other evidence of a wealthy African
kingdom.

Sandstone formations, mopane
woodlands and unique riverine forest and
baobab trees can be seen in the park, while
impressive Khoi/San rock art shelters have
also been uncovered.
The province has several other game
parks and nature reserves offering good
game viewing opportunities. Bela-Bela in the
south offers tourists a chance to relax in hot
springs, pumping 20 000 litres at 50°C every
hour.

Wetlands can be found at Nylsvlei, a
160km² nature reserve which attracts some
150 bird species, among them some of the
country rarest indigenous water birds.
Although now deceased, the Rain Queen
Modjadji, the hereditary female monarch of
the Lobedu people with the power to make
rain, lived in the misty mountains of the
Modjadji Cycad Reserve. The province is
scattered with baobab trees, one of which
contains a pub, close to this reserve.

The Soutpansberg mountains, named by the
Voortrekker pioneers, previously salt pans
but now enjoying a sub-tropical climate,
produces exotic crops like macadamia nuts,
avocados, mangoes and bananas. Other
parts of the range offer unspoilt mountain
retreats with around 250 different tree
species.

The Waterberg, once an area of lakes and
swamps, now hosts a diversity of vegetation,
supporting cattle farming, hunting, and
various conservation projects. It is now a
Unesco Savannah Biosphere Reserve and is
malaria-free.
The Marakele National Park lies within the
Waterberg mountains, and contains an
impressive variety of wildlife, yellowwood
and cedar trees, fve-metre high cycads and
tree ferns. Probably the largest colony of
endangered Cape vultures (more than 800
breeding pairs) in the world, can be found
here.

The Lapalala Wilderness Area has the
world’s only rhino museum. Lapalala also has
rhino orphans, in particular Bwana, who lives
in the owners’ back garden.
The VhaVenda people, a culturally and
linguistically distinct African group, are
known for their mystical legends and their
arts and crafts. They have traditionally lived
in the abundant north-eastern corner of the
province, a place of lakes, lush forests and
waterfalls. Not surprisingly their legends are
linked to water and water creatures.
Venda chiefs are buried near Lake
Fundudzi and the Sacred Forest, an area
of dense indigenous forest north of the
Soutpansberg mountains. The nearby

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Dzata ruins contain the remains of the royal
kraal of the kings of VhaVenda, dating from
1400.

Venda arts and crafts are well known,
particularly clay pots with distinctive
angular designs in graphite silver and
ochre. Woodcarver Jackson Thugwane is
famous for his wood sculptures while Noria
Mabasa does clay and wood sculptures.
The north-eastern corner of the province
offers entry to the Kruger National Park,
which borders Limpopo for 70 kilometres.
Punda Maria and Pafuri are the most
northernly gates to the famous park.

Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga, on the far eastern edge of
the country, is the home of the southern
section of the Kruger National Park,
arguably the best game park in South
Africa. Kruger covers over 20 000 square

kilometres, over 400km from north to
south, with up to 150 species of mammals
and over 500 bird species, and 14 well-
run rest camps from which to observe this
wildlife. A number of private parks abutting
the western border of Kruger provide a
more exclusive game-watching experience.
Summer temperatures (between
December and February) can hover around
30ºC to 40ºC, with winter temperatures
at a more tolerable mid-20ºC. In winter
there are virtually no mosquitoes, and the
vegetation is thinner, making game easier
to spot.
The park is divided into three sections: the
southern, with the greatest concentration
of game, the central section offers good
game viewing, while the northern section
offers less game but more of a sense of
wilderness.

Mpumalanga has spectacular scenery
around the escarpment, a section of

the Drakensberg that falls down into the
lowveld, a tropical fruit growing area. Along
the tip of the escarpment are three famous
viewpoints - God’s Window, Bourke’s
Luck Potholes and Three Rondavels.
Nearby is the Blyde River Canyon, with
stunning views and great hiking and river
rafting. A fve-day hiking trail through the
Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve starts at
God’s Window, and takes in the views and
the fora and fauna of the reserve.
Further north is Pilgrim’s Rest, a
restored gold-mining town. The town is
the site of South Africa’s frst gold rush,
in 1873, and although on a small scale, it
lasted for around 100 years. Gold is still
mined in the hills south west of the town.
Further south is Barberton, another
gold-mining town. In the 1880s gold was
discovered and is still mined in the town,
where mining tours, including trying some
gold panning, can be taken.

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Northern Cape

The vast Northern Cape is the largest
province of South Africa, stretching from the
Atlantic Ocean in the west to Kimberley in
the east. Covering one third of the country,
it is dominated by heat, aridity, large empty
spaces and long travelling distances.
The long Orange River separates the
Kalahari and the Great Karoo, two semi-
desert regions that make up the interior
of the province. It was this landscape
that led in the 1870s to the discovery of
diamonds in Kimberley, and each year, to
the blooming of the Namaqualand fowers
in the western section of the province.
The province’s capital, Kimberley, dates
back to the early 1870s when diamonds
were discovered between the Vaal and
Orange rivers. Dug in the rush frenzy, the
500m wide Big Hole is now the biggest
attraction of the otherwise ordinary town.

By 1914 when the mine closed, over
14,5 million carats of diamonds had been
removed from the earth, from the hole
which descends into the earth 800 metres.
The Kimberley Mine Museum consists of
the old diamond-rush town, with shops,
bars, banks and churches.
Diamonds are still mined from two
mines on the outskirts of the city, and tours
underground are available.
Kimberley is the site of the country’s frst
township, Galeshewe, a tour of which takes
in the grave of Sol Plaatje, the country’s frst
black writer and a founder member of the
ANC, as well as the house where Robert
Sobukwe, founder of the Pan African
Congress, lived after his release from
Robben Island.
Upington is in the central northern
section of the province, on the banks
of the Orange River, which fows over
the spectacular 56m Augrabies Falls, a

huge granite gorge in the landscape. The
Augrabies Falls National Park consists of 55
383ha of semi-desert terrain bordering the
Orange River.

Another attraction of the Northern Cape
is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a
combination of two parks: South Africa’s
Kalahari-Gemsbok National Park, and
Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park. It’s a
vast desert sanctuary abundant in game,
set against a landscape of red dunes and
hardy vegetation, and stretching for some
38 00 square kilometres, nearly twice the
size of the Kruger National Park.
On the north-eastern border of the
Northern Cape and North West is Kuruman,
famous because of Robert and Mary
Moffat. This intrepid couple built a mission
station, and although not successful
missionaries, Robert Moffat translated the
bible into Tswana in the 50 years that they
lived in these harsh conditions. Their eldest

Walter Boermeester

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daughter, Mary, married explorer David
Livingstone.
The land of the Nama people, Khoikhoi
herders, who gave their name to
Namaqualand, is the place of an annual
display of multi-coloured daisies in August
and September. Some 4 000 species
come to life after the winter rains and
only in temperatures higher than 16ºC, in
spectacular displays.
The Namaqua National Park is home to 3
500 plant species, 1 000 of which are found
nowhere else in the world. The park is home
to the world’s only arid biodiversity hotspot.
Port Nolloth on the Atlantic Coast, at the
mouth of the Orange River, is a diamond
town. Rich bird life and a lichen forest are
attractions of the town.
North of Port Nolloth is the Richtersveld
National Park, an area of 1 600 square
kilometres, a ferce and rugged landscape,
the country’s only mountain desert, and
now, South Africa’s latest World Heritage
Site.

The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical
Landscape covers 160 000 hectares of
dramatic mountainous desert. A unique
feature of the site - both in South African
and international terms - is that it is owned
and managed by a community that until
recently had very little to call its own.
Characterised by extreme temperatures,
the landscape affords a semi-nomadic
pastoral livelihood for the Nama people,
descendants of the Khoi-Khoi people who
once occupied lands across southern

Namibia and most of the present-day
Western and Northern Cape provinces.

North West

Most well known for the Sun City gambling
and casino resort and its neighbouring
big-fve Pilanesberg Game Reserve,
North West’s frst inhabitants were hunter-
gatherers. They were displaced by Iron
Age peoples from the north around 1 000
years ago, who settled in the far northern
corner of the province.
The province is mostly fat terrain
broken by the rocky kloofs and streams of
the Magaliesberg mountain range, dotted
with holiday resorts and hiking trails.
Sun City consists of four hotels, a
golf course, a water park, and assorted
entertainment venues. Built in the 1970s
apartheid era, it offered white South
Africans a place to gamble legally in
Bophutatswana, a spurious independent
“homeland”. In 1994 gambling was
legalised and the resort’s fortunes
dwindled but these days it offers visitors
a decadent oddity in a vast, natural
landscape that contrasts sharply with its
glitzy attractions.
The 55 000ha adjoining Pilanesberg
Game Reserve offers excellent game
viewing, with the big fve visible along with
hippo, giraffe and cheetah, and a large
range of bird life.
The tiny but quaint dorp of Groot Marico
is on the way to the capital of the province,

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Mafkeng. Groot Marico is now a landmark
after well-known writer Herman Charles
Bosman based his delightful short stories
on his short experience as a teacher in the
town. An annual literary weekend in his
name is attended by his fans.
The capital Mafkeng, with a smattering
of graceful buildings, was made famous
during the South African War of 1899-
1902. The Siege of Mafkeng happened in
1900, when Colonel Robert Baden-Powell
(of Boy Scouts fame) defended the town
against the Boers for 217 days, along with
hundreds of local Barolong.
The cruel tragedy of the siege was that
British regiments were given armfuls of
medals while those Barolong who survived
despite meagre rations, were never
recognised for their role in the battle.
One of the country’s frst black writers
and a founder member of the ANC, Sol
Plaatje, recorded his poignant observations
of the siege in a diary.

Western Cape

Cape Town is undoubtedly one of the
world’s most beautiful cities. Its striking
Table Mountain overlooks the city and
one of the country’s World Heritage Sites,
Robben Island, lies about 12 kilometres off
the mainland.

Used for centuries as a place to house
unwanted people - prisoners of war,
criminals, leprosy sufferers, mentally
ill patients, a military base, apartheid
prisoners, among them Nelson Mandela
and Walter Sisulu - for many the island’s
associations are of isolation and inhumane
treatment. Paradoxically, it’s also a place
of sanctuary for around 132 bird species,
some of which are endangered. The African
penguin, once close to extinction, breeds
prolifcally on the island. Around 23 species
of mammals, including many types of
buck, ostrich, lizards, geckos, snakes and
tortoises, also live on the island.
Cape Town itself has much to offer:
150km of beaches, hikes and walks,
windsurfng, paragliding, cycling, great
restaurants, unique fora, and the
winelands.

Settled by the Dutch in 1652, the city
is a refection of the different cultures
that established themselves below the
mountain: European, Dutch and Malay. An
active slave trade, with some 63 000 slaves
imported from East Africa, Madagascar,
India and Indonesia, has resulted in Cape
Town having a unique favour.
The Western Cape was originally
occupied by San hunter-gatherers, then the
pastoral Khoikhoi, before Europeans made
it their home.

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Cape Town has many signifcant old
buildings: the Castle of Good Hope, the
country’s oldest building, as well as the Old
Town House, Palm Tree Mosque, Long Street
Baths, the South African Mission Meeting
House Museum, St George’s Cathedral,
the South African Museum, Koopmans-De
Wet House, De Tuynhuys, the South African
National Gallery, the Great Synagogue, and
the Houses of Parliament. The suburb of
Bo-Kaap houses the Muslim community,
in brightly coloured 19th century Dutch
and Georgian terraces. It’s a distinctive
community, with its own Afrikaans dialect.
The District Six Museum tells of the lively
coloured community that lived in the suburb,
dismantled in the name of apartheid in the
1970s.

Other places of interest are the Victoria
and Alfred Waterfront, the Gold of Africa
Museum, and the Two Oceans Aquarium.
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical
Gardens in Newlands is the oldest and
largest botanical garden in South Africa with
over 22 000 indigenous plants. It attracts
botanists and researchers from around the
world.

The dramatic Table Mountain has been
a beacon to ships for centuries. The Table
Mountain National Park stretches from Signal
Hill to Cape Point and includes the seas
and coastline of the peninsula. There are 1
400 species of fora on the mountain, and
fauna includes baboons, dassies or hyraxes,
Himalayan tahrs and porcupines. The
mountain is crisscrossed with hiking trails. It
is one of the country’s natural World Heritage
Sites.

Constantia was Cape Town’s oldest
wine farm, started by Simon van der Stel in
1685. These days it consists of four wine
estates: Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia,
Steenberg and Buitenverwachting.
Muizenberg, St James, Kalk Bay, Fish
Hoek and Simon’s Town are quaint villages
dotted along False Bay, south of the city.
Chapman’s Peak Drive hugs the
spectacular coastline until Cape Point and
the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve,
around 60km from the city centre. Some 2
256 species of fynbos are to be found in the
reserve. Cape Point is not the most southerly
point of Africa - Cape Agulhas, some 300km
south of Cape Town, is where the Indian and
the Atlantic oceans meet.
One of the Western Cape’s biggest
attractions is the winelands, with over a
dozen wine routes, and hundreds of estates,
extending to the Karoo and into the Northern
Cape. The wine regions closest to Cape
Town are those surrounding Stellenbosch,
Paarl, Franschhoek and Somerset West.
Sweeping mountains, Cape Dutch
architecture and green valleys characterise
the towns and their surrounds.
Other great Western Cape attractions
include the hot springs in Montagu, the
ostriches in Oudtshoorn, the nearby Cango

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Caves, Prince Albert and the Swartberg
Pass, the extremely isolated valley of
The Hell, the Karoo National Park, whale
watching at Hermanus, the fshing village of
Arniston, and the many charming towns of
the Little Karoo.
The Garden Route, billed as “South
Africa’s paradise”, stretches 200km from
Mossel Bay to the Storms River Mouth. The
area was once a vast African forest, the
remnants of which can be found around
Knysna and in the Tsitsikamma National Park
at the Storms River Mouth.
It was at Mossel Bay in 1488 that the frst
Portuguese sailors, captained by Bartolomeu
Dias, frst set foot on South African soil. The
ancient Post Offce Tree, where for centuries
mariners left messages for passing ships,
can still be seen in the town.
Knysna has a unique beauty. Although the
coastal town lacks beaches it is a beautiful
place, with a vast lagoon gated to the
ocean by steep promontories known as the
Heads, a surrounding natural forest and local
game reserve. It’s a charming and trendy
town, offering coffee shops, craft galleries,
street traders and oyster restaurants - and
host to a spectacularly indulgent annual
oyster festival. The town’s forest, formerly
a magnifcent woodland and home to Khoi
clans and herds of elephants, is still lovely,
with tall indigenous trees and set among
streams fowing to the sea.

On the eastern edge of the Garden Route
is the Tsitsikamma National Park, a place of
forest, fynbos, rivers and the Storms River
Mouth, a fve-kilometre estuary stretching
into spectacularly wild ocean. The park
conserves inter-tidal life, reef and deep-sea
fsh, including dolphins and porpoises, and
a red data species of bird, the African black
oystercatcher.
The Storm’s River Mouth is also the
starting point for South Africa’s most popular
hiking route, the Otter Trail.
For adrenalin freaks, a highlight of the
region is the Bloukrans River bridge, which
offers the highest professionally supervised
bungee jump in the world - a long and fast
216-metre drop.
The west coast of the Cape contains
the West Coast National Park, just inland
from the secluded harbour of Saldanha
Bay. Thousands of seabirds roost on
sheltered islands, pristine beaches stretch
endlessly and salt marshes are home to vast
concentrations of migrant waders. Up to 4
000 wild fowers can be seen in the park and
surrounding areas.
Other small harbour towns are
Langebaan, Lambert’s Bay, Paternoster and
St Helena Bay. Vasco da Gama frst set foot
on South African soil at St Helena Bay.

Source: www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com

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The Blue Train

The Blue Train has been synonymous with luxury hospitality,
tourism and leisure since 1946. It offers a unique way of
experiencing some of Southern Africa’s magnifcent landscapes
and landmarks.

On board the train, guests indulge with
fne cuisine accompanied by some of
the best wines South Africa has to offer.
Around-the-clock personal Butlers see to
the guests’ every need for the duration
of their experience; be it in the comfort
of their private suites or at any one of our
exquisite lounges.

On Board Amenities

On The Blue Train luxury assumes a
new dimension, becoming the working

defnition of everything your heart desires.
You’ll feel it from the moment you step
into your suite, transformed from an
elegant, spacious lounge by day, into
a sanctuary of comfort and slumber by
night.

The De Luxe suite offers you a choice
between twin beds (with shower) or
double beds (with bath).

Luxury suites are more spacious and offer
twin or double beds with bath facilities.

All suites on board The Blue Train come
equipped with a writing desk, ideally
positioned next to the window, where
you can note the view in style. Each
suite is a world on its own, with an
individually controlled air-conditioning
system and a private entertainment
centre with a choice of movie channels
and radio stations. The Luxury Suite
takes the choice even further, with an
inviting selection of compact disks and
movies on video and DVD. You can also
tune into the driver’s eye view camera,

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and watch the world ahead as you
swiftly glide along.

The Blue Train is synonymous with the
luxury of personal service that comes
as standard with a dedicated Butler at
your beck and call to ensure the ultimate
defnition of luxury in motion.

Description of routes and off-the train
excursions

Pretoria – Cape Town – Pretoria

The route between Pretoria and Cape
Town is a 27-hour journey through some
of the most diverse and spectacular
scenery the sub-continent has to offer.
Southbound, off-the train excursions
include the diamond town of Kimberley
where one can explore the Big Hole and
the Diamond Museum. Northbound,
visit the historical town of Matjiesfontein
where the Victoria buildings and original
nineteenth century London lampposts
impart to the traveller, the uncanny sense
of entering a colonial time warp – an
oasis suspended in a different age.

Tailor-made charters

Why not charter The Blue Train for
strategic meetings, product launches,
VIP breakfasts, lunches, dinner and
cocktail parties, weddings and more.
You can also book a charter with a
difference such as a Golfng or Safari
charter through the unique beauty of the
“Valley of the Olifants” along the Kruger
National Park, or to other attractions
of the Mpumalanga or Kwazulu-Natal
Provinces. Charters are not limited to the
charter options or the routes mentioned
above. Charters are dependant on rail
network’s compatibility with The Blue
Train’s technology.

So take a journey into a timeless world
of grace, elegance and romance,
where spectacular scenery stirs your
imagination and luxurious comfort
soothes your body and soul.

For more info, visit us on:
Internet: www.bluetrain.co.za
E-mail: info@bluetrain.co.za
Pretoria: Tel: + 27 12 334 8459
Fax: + 27 12 334 8464
Cape Town: Tel: + 27 21 449 2672
Fax: + 27 21 449 3338

The Blue Train,
A Window To The Soul
Of South Africa.

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Travel & Tourism

ExecExpress – Love getting there!

We attribute this to our unwavering
passion to provide excellent service,
with a focus on exclusivity and
personalisation. This is key to our
business and is something we monitor
very closely through client surveys, to
ensure that we consistently offer our
clients the service they have come to
expect.

ExecExpress offers a range of services
with tailor-made packages to suit
everyone’s needs. Irrespective of the
package chosen, you can be assured that
every journey will be comfortable and
memorable. Our tours are very popular –
we offer a range of packages to popular
destinations, but we’re always up to
the challenge of new destinations if you
have something else in mind. Whether
you are an adventurous tourist, or a local

ExecExpress was founded in 2004 and has grown from
strength to strength in a very competitive market.

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that would simply like to experience
more of our beautiful country, put us up
to the challenge of creating the perfect,
memorable tour for you. Our guides
are pleasant, well presented individuals
with experience in a number of parts
in our country. They take each tour
seriously and will make it their personal
undertaking to make each experience
interactive and insightful.
The most popular tours range from
guided game drives in the beautiful
Kruger National Park or the Lion and
Rhino Park, through to the rich cultural
experience of Soweto or the Lesedi
Cultural Village. For the individual
that prefers the dazzle of lights, we
offer tours to the capital city Pretoria
and adventurous tours to Sun City.
Don’t forget the allure of the sparkle of

diamonds – our tours to the Cullinan
Diamond Mine are very popular.
Our range of tours is certainly not
limited to the above. As mentioned, we
are always keen for a challenge if you
had something more unique in mind.
As part of our commitment to personal
service, we offer a 24 hour call centre
service which allows clients to book that
last minute transfer, when needed. We
also pride ourselves in a state of the art
booking system that allows appropriate,
timeous communication between
ExecExpress and the client.
Make ExecExpress your preferred
transfer’s operator and enjoy peace of
mind knowing you and your family are in
good hands.

Love getting there!

Tel: +27 11 791 4097
Fax: +27 11 792 4305
A/H assistance: 083 445 0459
Email: reservations@execexpress.co.za
Web: www.execexpress.co.za

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Visit the Elephant Sanctuary …

The Sanctuary offers guests exhilarating
elephant driven programmes, with the focus
of their operations on happy elephants
and satisfed guests. As the Elephant
Sanctuary’s focus is on education through
interaction, guests will not only learn a lot
about elephants, but also get to touch,
brush and walk trunk-in-hand with these
magnifcent pachyderms.
The Sanctuary is open seven days a
week and offers several programmes during
the day. Guests can also book an intimate
overnight stay in one of the two lodges.

Booking is essential.
Tel: +27 12 258 0423
or +27 12 258 0332
www.elephantsanctuary.co.za

Just an hour from Johannesburg and Pretoria,
wrinkly grey giants walk the earth.

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Protea Hotel The Ranch

Walk with the Lions!

Walking with lions is an experience that will
be treasured by all those who want to fully
understand the world of the African lion.
The Lion Kingdom is part of the 1 000 ha
conservancy that surrounds Protea Hotel
The Ranch in Limpopo Province, a hotel that
has been under the personal management of
the Shearer family for ffty years. By special
arrangement, this one and a half hour walk
across the savannah with expert guides, will
allow each guest the unique opportunity to
personally experience a special bond with
the proud and magnifcent King of Africa.

For further information and reservations
Protea Hotel The Ranch
POLOKWANE ~ Limpopo Province
South Africa
Tel: +27 15 290 5000
Fax: +27 15 290 5050
E-mail: reservations@theranch.co.za
www.theranch.co.za

PROTEA HOTEL

T H E R A N C H

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