South African Gems
South Africa is a country of diversity, but there’s more to this southern land than its celebrated wildlife. The country’s most frequented cities offer a stark contrast to the wild plains, each boasting its own flavour.
CAPE Town is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines – largely because of the country’s troubled past which ended in democracy in 1994 after a highly politicised struggle. Culture is celebrated in Cape Town with a number of annual festivals, but Table Mountain National Park is a must for any visitor, with the flat-topped giant standing at attention by the city’s outskirts. There are also countless cafes, gardens and historical buildings, the acclaimed Constantia Wine Route, and quaint villages down the Southern Peninsula.
Durban has shaken its reputation as a tired city and emerged as a cosmopolitan hub thanks to a major makeover leading up to the 2010 World Cup. The culture is unlike any other destination in South Africa, with a beach-meets-business vibe like Sydney meets the Gold Coast. Home to the biggest port in Africa, Durban’s business sector continues to swell, but the beach and sultry weather creates a cosmopolitan feel unlike Durban’s bigger sisters Cape Town and Jo-burg. Durban also has the largest Indian population outside of India, culminating in a unique Asian/African buzz. The curry is also mouth wateringly good – the Bunny chow is a must.
AS THE largest city on the map in South Africa, Johannesburg has everything travellers would expect from a buzzing city. There are cultural districts, museums and cafes, and a bustling business centre, along with a host of wealthy suburbs which give Australia’s top areas a run for their money. The ultra rich pockets are countered with poor neighbouring townships, and poverty is still clearly apparent. But Johannesburg’s cultural gems are where it shines. The Apartheid Museum tops the list, but Constitution Hill is another must along with Circa on Jellicoe which is an architectural landmark which doubles as a contemporary art gallery.
NELSPRUIT is a far cry from the buzzing metropolises of Jo-burg and Durban, but its laid back charm is its claim to fame. Nestled in the south east corner of the country, close to Mozambique and
Swaziland, the Kruger National Park is what lures travellers from afar. That, and its natural scenery with the likes of the Blyde River Canyon which just makes the podium as the third deepest canyon in the world. Adventure seekers will get the most out of Nelspruit and its surrounds, with the adventure-sports capital Hazyview within easy reach with quad bike riding, zip lining, abseiling and tubing on offer with operators including Induna Adventures and Africa Safari Adventures.