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Key Regions in the Republic of South Africa


1. Johannesburg & Surrounds

The tent and tin shanty town which sprang up hot on the heels of the discovery of gold in 1886, has developed into South Africa's largest city: a vibrant, bustling modern metropolis which, while lacking the obvious attractions of our coastal towns, certainly has a lot to offer the sightseer and explorer.

A popular attraction is Gold Reef City, just south of the city centre, where you can descend 220m underground, see a bar of gold being poured, browse through the charming reconstruction of Johannesburg circa 1888, clip-clop through the streets in a horse-drawn buggy and wind up with a foaming tankard of draught. Its latest attraction is a giant Ferris wheel, allowing panoramic views of Johannesburg.

Take a picnic lunch to the Zoo Lake, north of the city centre, where you can feed the ducks, hire a rowing boat or simply relax in this peaceful oasis. Close by is the Zoo where the red pandas and white lions can be seen, as well as the farmyard, which the kids will love.

Museums abound! The Museum of Military History has a superb collection of airplanes, tanks, armoured cars, weapons and memorabilia pertaining to the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer Wars, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Border War and MK; the Bernberg Costume Museum and the Museum Afrika in the Newtown Cultural Precinct which incorporates the Bensusan Museum of Photography and the South African Museum of Rock Art.

For shopping, Johannesburg is back to tops: Southgate, Eastgate, Northgate, Westgate, Cresta, Sanlam Centre, Fourways Mall, Balfour Park, Rosebank, very chi-chi Hyde Park and ritzy, glitzy Sandton City, with its renaissance add-on, Sandton Square.




2. Pretoria & Surrounds

Affectionately known as the Jacaranda City for all the purple blossom-bedecked trees, which line its thoroughfares in summer, Pretoria is an elegant, quiet city that's a perfect contrast with its more frenetic neighbour, Johannesburg, just half an hour away. Pretoria has a long, involved and fascinating history - first as the capital of the independent Boer republic of the Transvaal, then as one of the three capitals of South Africa, it became an international synonym for apartheid. But that all changed in 1994. With Nelson Mandela's inauguration, the Union Buildings morphed overnight from a symbol of white, neo-colonial domination to one of true unity. And it's only one of the many landmarks in this cultural city.

The Transvaal Museum boasts excellent natural history displays and is the home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humankind. Artefacts from the Iron Age state of Mapungubwe are exhibited at the Mapungubwe Museum at the University of Pretoria. The famous golden rhino, golden sceptre, golden bowl and various gold, ivory and copper ornaments, trade beads and Chinese ceramics are on display. Also worth visiting are the Cultural History Museum and the Smuts Museum, in Irene, just outside Pretoria. The fact that the iconic Voortrekker Monument still stands is a tribute to the inclusiveness of the new regime in South Africa.

More adventurous travellers could do a short horse trail at the Voortrekker Monument or through the Premier Game Reserve, taking a careful look at some white rhino and a number of eland. Perhaps tandem skydiving or a first jump at the Pretoria Skydiving Club, which is the largest in the country, would be right up your ally. The nearby town of Cullinan is the site of the discovery of the biggest diamond in the world. It's worth a visit; there are mine tours, lovely restaurants, beautiful stone buildings and - best of all - an on-site manufacturing jeweller where you can buy a stone from the mine and have it mounted in a custom -designed piece.




3. Sun City, Madikwe & Waterberg area

Sun City Resort is located in the North West Region of South Africa, and is surrounded by mountains and the untamed majesty of the African bushveld. It is adjacent to the 97-hectare, malaria free Pilanesberg National Park, where elephants, rhinos, lions and antelope roam freely. Sun City is a world unto itself and has earned its reputation as Africa's Kingdom of Pleasure. Whatever you want, you'll find it at Sun City. From sizzling entertainment, world-class casinos and restaurants which cater for all tastes, to the more relaxed poolside venues, quiet places, and lush gardens and extensive sporting facilities including two world-class golf courses. They also cater for people with special needs. These are just some of the elements that make Sun City unique to the world's entertainment resorts.

The wide choice of conference venues and hotel accommodation from The Palace of The Lost City to the informal Sun City Cabanas as well as uncompromising standards and professionalism, ensure a level of convention and banqueting facilities that few can beat. Finally re-discovered and now part of Sun City, The Lost City and the Valley of Waves, fabled to be the ruins of a glorious ancient civilisation, celebrate and bring to life the legends of this mystical city. The Lost City is internationally applauded for its wonderfully imaginative theme and exquisite landscaping whilst the fantastic Valley of Waves is one of the world's most exciting water parks.

The Madikwe Game Reserve, situated against the Botswana border, 90 km north of Zeerust, just three hours' drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, is now one of South Africa's prime safari destinations. Madikwe is a Big Five game reserve covering some 75,000 hectare. It is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa. The rich diversity of vegetation ensures a wide range of game and the back to topography offers ideal game viewing opportunities. Apart from its undeniable come-hither beauty, Madikwe is an amazing success story of translocation where 8,000 animals (including herds of elephants) were re-located - flown or driven - to the reserve, over a period of seven years from various parks around Southern Africa. Today this 760 sq km of bushveld, savanna and riverine forest is an Eden regained where the Big Five plus the endangered wild dog and the rare black rhino roam wild and free. And the early morning bird song is the chorus of some of the 350 species of birds that flit here.

The Waterberg is also malaria-free and one of the country's premier wildlife areas, featuring many private game reserves. One of the last truly wild places in the country, the Waterberg was created as a sanctuary for rare and endangered animals and includes the Big Five. The Waterberg is aptly named for its strong streams that flow even in dry seasons, making for excellent game viewing.

The Waterberg is an extremely vast area and covers an area of about 15 000 square kilometres in the most northern parts of South Africa. Characteristic of this area is the Waterberg Mountain Range which is one of the longest mountain ranges, not only in South Africa, but in the Southern Hemisphere.

These mountain formations were created when sediments were deposited in a huge trough known as the Waterberg basin, bounded on the north and south by two fault zones. The landmasses on either side of the zones have moved to form the Waterberg plateau, which looks like an enormous inverted saucer.



4. Kruger National Park & Surrounds

The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of nearly 2 million hectares, is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies. With a range of accommodation and game drive safaris to suit all preferences and budgets, the Greater Kruger National Park offers, you, the visitor, an exceptional experience in Africa at its best.

Each year South African game reserves win many international tourism awards for their hospitality excellence. The friendliness and enthusiasm of the staff, the unique bush activities on offer and the luxurious and private camps and lodges are a combination that sets South African wildlife tourism apart as truly remarkable. Imagine a river side villa with private splash pool and elephants browsing just a stone's throw away. South Africa's private game reserves make dreams like this come true. Most of South Africa's private game reserves boast the Big 5 - lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo. These animals were the most feared by hunters in the past and now serve as major tourism draw card because they instil respect and awe in anyone who encounters them. Other animals typically spotted in the country's wildlife areas are giraffe, zebra, blue wildebeest, greater kudu, hippopotamus and thousands upon thousands of impala - the most common antelope of southern Africa. There is, however, more to the African bush than abundant wild animals, luxury accommodation and terrific food. Be prepared to be amazed by ancient trees and awed by the expansive landscapes, admire colourful butterflies and listen to the sounds of bush.

Your trip to this area will not be complete without sback to topping over on the panorama route. The small town of Graskop is the gateway to Panorama, South Africa. It's a good place to set up base. Scenic landmarks with evocative names like God's Window, Wonder View, the Pinnacle, Bourke's Luck Potholes and Three Sisters as well as the awe-inspiring. Lisbon, Berlyn and MacMac waterfalls are a short drive away. Adding some historical romance into the mix, half an hour's drive from Graskop, the gold rush town of Pilgrim's Rest - a national monument in its entirety - gives you the chance to relive the 1873 gold rush in surroundings of unparalleled beauty. You can even try your hand at panning for gold.



5. KwaZulu Natal Province

KwaZulu-Natal is a mosaic of sights and experiences, of thrusting vital cities like Durban, a golden coastline which is the darling of surfers and swimmers, and mountains that ripple across the horizon like the waves of a brown ocean. Here you will find soft and extreme adventure and game safaris where you eye the Big Five while lolling in luxurious comfort. This province is also the proverbial melting pot where African, Indian and European elements are stirred to create a rich stew of experiences.

Sophisticated and cosmopolitan; Durban Metro after dark is abuzz with elegant lounges, funky taverns and cosy inns, distinctive local theatre and live music, trendy clubs, pubs and discos. Rave 'till dawn and catch sunrise over the vast Indian Ocean horizon - this is nightlife in a modern, authentic African metropolis!

The Northern and Central Drakensberg area has some of the most beautiful scenery that can be imagined. The area falls into four valleys, beginning with the Champagne Valley in the Central Berg, through the Cathedral Peak and Didima Valley, then the Royal Natal National Park and Amphitheatre Valley, and finally the Middledale Pass Valley in the Northern Berg. Each of the four valleys has its own kind of beauty and character; all have magnificent mountain views.



6. Eastern Cape Province & Port Elizabeth

For the total South African experience, Port Elizabeth, gateway to the Eastern Cape, is the perfect extension to the Garden Route, Settler Hinterland, Sunshine Coast and Cape. Located on the south-eastern coast of Africa, this major seaport and tourist destination is set along the dazzling shores of Algoa Bay and is fondly referred to as 'The Friendly City'. As a family and adventure holiday destination, the city offers an unbeatable and diverse mix of eco-attractions: scenic nature trails and magnificent wildlife experiences, long golden beaches, a rich historic heritage and a unique coastal climate.  Tourists who take the time to discover Algoa Bay's 40km of magnificent coastline boasts a perfect combination of warm water, protected beaches and invigorating sea breezes. The beaches are wide expanses of golden sand and include Bluewater Bay, Brighton Beach, Hobie Beach, King's Beach, Pollok Beach, St George's Strand and Wells Estate. Algoa Bay is regarded as one of the best sailing venues in the world, while scuba-diving is of world-class quality with beautiful reefs, shipwrecks, fish and colourful coral species.

Bayworld is one of Port Elizabeth's major tourist attractions and is situated on the beachfront at Humewood and comprises the Museum, Oceanarium, Snake Park and Tropical House. In addition to the popular daily dolphin and seal presentations hosted at the Oceanarium, the Snake Park houses a wide variety of exotic and indigenous snakes, as well as an impressive variety of Eastern Cape Reptiles, while a profusion of exotic plants may be viewed at the Tropical House. It has a full mix of family fun, entertainment, shopping, dining and gaming.



7. Southern Cape Garden Route

The Garden Route includes one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline, whose starting point is constantly contested as towns such as Witsand, Stilbaai and Albertinia join the route that winds its way for some 200 km via George, Wilderness, Sedgefield and Knysna on to Plettenberg Bay and culminating in the Tstisikamma Forest a fairyland of giant trees, ferns and exquisite bird life.

Mountains crowd close to a shoreline dotted with beaches and bays, and vividly coloured wild flowers delight the eye. Between Heidelberg and Storms River, the Garden Route runs parallel to a coastline featuring lakes, mountains, tall indigenous forests, amber -coloured rivers and golden beaches. Meandering trails are followed by hikers, the forests invite long, leisurely drives, and the lakes and rivers lend themselves to swimming, boating and fishing. A wide range of leisure options, spectacular scenery and a mild climate guarantee an unforgettable holiday experience when visiting the Garden Route in South Africa.

The region provides a stirring study in contrasts. The delightful town of George, known as "The Gateway to the Garden Route", graces a coastal plateau in a fertile area of lush greenery at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains. Oudtshoorn, "Capital of the Klein Karoo", is set in a semi-arid valley, providing the ideal habitat for ostriches which are farmed here on a grand scale.



8. Western Cape Province & Cape Town

By any standard, the Cape Town region of South Africa is one of the most beautiful and compelling places to visit on the planet. Here, in addition to a city with fascinating historical sites, excellent museums, vibrant markets and a handsomely restored waterfront you'll encounter mountain wilderness, rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, lush gardens, beautiful wine estates, superior hotels and some of the warmest, most welcoming people.

Experience wine tasting at the numerous wine estates, the thrills of Ratanga Junction Theme Park and the splendour of the V&A Waterfront. Then there's the grandeur of Table Mountain and the awe-inspiring views from Cape Point. For business or pleasure, a quick break or a long relaxing holiday, the Cape Metropolitan Area has it all!

Whether you're a discerning businessman, pleasure-loving bohemian, thrill seeking adventurer, sports fanatic or inquisitive historian, the Cape Metropolitan Area offers you a rich variety of activities to excite the senses. Enjoy classical music with the Philharmonic Orchestra and sunset concerts at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Buskers entertain you as you explore the city malls, and down at the V&A Waterfront there's live music at the open-air amphitheatre.



Key Regions in Southern Africa

1. Victoria Falls (Zambia & Zimbabwe)

David Livingstone explored this land of potent beauty and discovered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. In his footprints, only moments away from the mighty Zambezi River with the dramatic torrent of the Victoria Falls as its natural milieu, a magnificent Resort has been created as a testament to his discovery and in reverence to the splendour of this World Heritage site. Journey to this magical place and witness the greatest mass of falling water on earth as it plunges down a sheer rock face, spraying its mystical mist hundreds of metres in the air. The awesome Victoria Falls is much closer to you here - literally on the doorstep of The Falls Resort - it feels as if you could reach out and touch it, as it plummets into the chasm far below. The turbulent waters emerge through a narrow gorge leading to a steep-walled, zigzag canyon. At high-flood stage, a roaring, curtain of water makes the ground shake and throws a plume of mist hundreds of meter's into the air. Visible for many kilometres around, this spray earned this natural phenomenon its African name, Mosi-Oa-Tunya, "the smoke that thunders".

Today, the Victoria Falls is one of Africa's prime travel destinations. It straddles the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and it has grown into a busy resort and the principal gateway for safaris in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. Although the waterfalls remain and will always be the main reason for visiting this area, plenty of other attractions have been developed over the years to turn Victoria Falls into the Adventure Capital of Africa! For the thrill-seekers whose adventurous spirit is stirred by this mighty waterfall, there are challenges that lie and wait set to test even the bravest of hearts. Choose between white water rafting, river boarding, jet boating, abseiling, gorge swings, bungi jumping, or the ever popular Flight of Angels - an exhilarating helicopter, or microlight flip, that takes you over The Victoria Falls and The Boiling Pot, an aptly named gorge, where the water foams and churns in its effort to escape.



2. Namibia

Namibia is the least known of the Southern African countries, but her attractions are unparalleled. Namibia is known for its contrasting landscapes. The desolate Namib Desert is said to be the oldest in the world, with its high dunes and awe-inspiring sense of space. The central plateau, with its thorn bush savannah and rugged mountains, rising abruptly from the plains, gives way to the majestic Fishriver Canyon in the south. In the north of the country, landscapes range from dense bush and open plains of the great Etosha Pan, to woodland savannah and lush vegetation. Dinosaur footprints preserved in sandstone, prehistoric rock art, the ancient fossil plant, Welwitschia mirabilis, all bare witness to the timelessness of this country.

The central region of Namibia is the hub of the country, with Windhoek, the vibrant capital city at its heart. Windhoek is a bustling, cosmopolitan city with good hotels, sophisticated shops and convivial bistros. Stately buildings range from the home of Namibia's parliament, to the newly founded Hero's Acre. Day tours can be undertaken into Katutura, several museums in Windhoek, the National Library, National Archives, National Art Gallery and the National Botanical Gardens.
A safari in Namibia offers a rich cultural and wildlife experience for any visitor to the country. Namibia is definitely an African destination not to be overlooked!



3. Mozambique

Welcome to the land of smiles! Mozambique has something to offer everyone, from exciting diving and snorkelling to deep-sea fishing and sailing. This tropical paradise in Africa has over 2500 km of clean sandy beaches and rugged coastline - all just waiting for you to enjoy.

Due to its excellent location on the East African coast, Mozambique early on became a significant trading post for gold, ivory and later slaves. Civil war followed the end of Portuguese rule, but since 1992, the country has enthusiastically set about rebuilding, with an ever-growing economy. Though its natural resources are extensive, the country's biggest treasure is arguably its marine biodiversity. The country's vibrant capital on the Indian Ocean coastline boasts a fascinating mix of Arab, European and African cultures.

Travellers to Vilanculos will be tempted to linger at the self-contained luxury resorts of the Bazaruto Archipelago. Many of these resorts can arrange boat hire for those who enjoy a spot of deep-sea fishing. The whole Bazaruto Archipelago is an ecological gem that has been granted National Park status. It falls into the Eastern African Marine Eco region, which stretches over a 4,600km coastline, from South Africa to Somalia. The Bazaruto Archipelago is a group of small islands situated approximately 40 kilometres off the Mozambique coast.  Bazaruto is the largest (approximately 37kms long and up to 7kms wide) and northern most of the five islands.

The diverse ecosystems contained in the archipelago cater for a wide range of interests.  The squeaky white beaches and protected reefs surrounding the islands support dolphin, dugong, game fish and giant lobster.   The shallow, crystal clear waters with dazzling soft corals, starfish, anemones, seahorses and a bewildering range of beautiful fish, extends to dive sites featuring creatures such as green turtles, manta ray, sailfish and a variety of sharks.  Big game fishing, including marlin and barracuda, is truly spectacular.  Fauna and flora on the island abounds.  Flamingos on tidal flats; endemic butterflies, hundreds of bird species in wetland, savannah grassland and thicket.  Freshwater lakes, home to many large crocodiles and in total contrast, the eastern strip is composed of huge bare and vegetated sand dunes. So whether you would like an adventure holiday or you just prefer to relax and get away from it all, it's all waiting here for you in Mozambique - the land of smiles.



4. Botswana

Botswana is an African success story. After achieving democratic rule in 1966, three of the world's richest diamond-bearing formations were discovered within its borders. Today, the country enjoys a high standard of economic stability, education and health care, which, with the exception of South Africa, is unequalled elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. However, its modern veneer belies the fact that much of it remains a country for the intrepid (not to mention relatively wealthy) traveller. This largely road-less wilderness of vast spaces requires time, effort and, above all, lots of cash to enjoy it to its fullest.

Landlocked Botswana extends 1100 km from north to south and 960 km from east to west, making it about the same size as Kenya or France and somewhat smaller than Texas. Most of the country lies at an average elevation of 1000m, and consists of a vast and nearly level sand-filled basin characterised by scrub-covered savannah. The Kalahari, a semi-arid expanse of sandy valleys, covers nearly 85% of the country, including the entire central and south-western regions. In Northern Botswana, the Okavango River flows in from Namibia, and soaks into the sands to form the Okavango Delta, easily accessed via Maun. With vast open savannas teeming with wildlife, Botswana is truly the Africa of your dreams. Because the Okavango Delta and the Chobe River provide a year-round water supply, nearly all southern African mammal species are present in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve and Chobe National Park. In the Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans National Park herds of wildebeest, zebra and other mammals migrate annually in search of permanent water and stable food supplies.