Kruger National Park
The park welcomes over 600,000 annual visitors and is one of the largest in the world, measuring some 350km in length and comprising an area of over 20,000 sq km . The park is home to the “big five” game animals – leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino – and seeing any of these magnificent creatures in the wild is an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
This enormous park offers an authentic bushveld experience. Rustic but comfortable overnight camps are dotted throughout the park, each with their own character. Accommodation is typically in circular rondavels, a design known to insulate against the heat of the bushveld summers.
The liberalisation of the gaming laws have spread gambling throughout the country, but until a few years ago Sun City was the only world-class gambling and entertainment venue accessible to South Africans.
Its very presence is somewhat miraculous: in place of arid, dry soil there are now two lush Gary Player designed golf-courses, a theme park boasting the world’s first pool wave generator, and some wonderfully kitsch pseudo-African architecture. The Lost City development (the largest thermal resort in the world) has greatly enhanced the prestige of this, South Africa’s very own Las Vegas.
The Cape offers some of the world’s best land venues for watching whales. The shamelessly exhibitionistic southern right whales frolic and play only metres from the shore, allowing onlookers unforgettable views. You are literally close enough to see the barnacles on their backs. Hermanus, near Cape Town and is a popular venue and is known for the eccentric rams-horn toting whale crier.
Table Mountain, Cape Town
So called because of its 3km wide flat top, Table Mountain and its outlying peak of Lion’s Head tower over Cape Town. Often covered by the “tablecloth” of white cloud that rolls over in late afternoon, Table Mountain is South Africa’s most recognisable symbol and the pre-eminent guardian of the Mother City.
The views from atop the 1100m peak are spectacular, with golden beached Camps Bay to your left, Lions Head and Robben Island ahead of you, and the winelands calling from the distant right. For the energetic, superb lung-searing hiking and climbing routes lead to the top; for everyone else the rotating cable-car does the journey in five minutes.
The recently upgraded restaurant, bar and café facilities around the cable car station are top-quality and there is no better place in the world to watch a sunset. On the eastern side of the mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden ranks as among the most beautiful in the world. Devoted to indigenous plants, the garden hosts sunset concerts in summer and is interspersed with open-air sculptures.
The celebrated Garden Route winds its 200km coastal way from Storms River Mouth in the north to Mossel Bay in the south. It passes, in turn, through the spectacular gorge of Storms River, verdant Tsitsikamma forest, the blissful retirement enclave of Nature’s Valley, the holiday idyll of Plettenberg Bay, and, finally, gentrified Knysna – last stop on the way to Mossel Bay.
The drive is well serviced with restaurants and farm stalls that cry out for you to break your journey, and is best done over a few days. Between Knysna and George a road leads north to Oudtshoorn, promoted as the ostrich capital of the world. Thrill seeking tourists can even ride one of the bizarre animals, a unique and hair-raising experience. The nearby Cango Caves is one of South Africa’s top tourist draws and has been since 1780 when a local farmer discovered the expansive complex of calcite columns and otherworldly rock formations.
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