12 Months of Travel: December 2017 – South Africa

Extraordinary luxury awaits in the foothills of South Africa’s Cederberg Mountains at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat. Sink into the rhythms of nature surrounded by wind-sculpted cliffs as you relax on the private terrace of your Relais & Châteaux haven.

In celebration of our 2017 calendar, Anywhere Anytime Journeys has created the “12 Months of Travel” to accompany the calendar’s breath-taking photos.

2017 concludes with …

South Africa

Inspiring New Ways

South Africa is an incredible destination in so many ways – it is the kind of destination that will touch all of your senses in a myriad of ways, and once all is said and done you probably won’t be the same again. The incredible diversity is a key attraction – from the deserts of the Kgalagadi to the lush green forests of Tsitsikamma to the unspoiled beaches of the Wild Coast to the vibrant nightlife of Cape Town – they really do have it all.

Cape Town
Cape Town

South Africa is mercurial in nature, one moment you’ll be exploring the origins of ancient man, the next you’re cage-diving with Great White Sharks and the next you’re drinking traditional beer in a lively township shebeen. South Africa really is a destination where you can experience it all, and more.

As a people, they are known for their humanity – they may have come from a past filled with separation and struggle but their future is one of unity and possibility. In true African spirit, they understand the value of a warm South African welcome, and they can’t wait to welcome you to their Rainbow Nation – in 11 official languages.

Say Welcome in the languages of South Africa! (Translations courtesy of http://www.salanguages.com/multilingual.htm
Say Welcome in the languages of South Africa!
(Translations courtesy of http://www.salanguages.com/multilingual.htm

There are nine spectacular provinces for you to explore – nine incredible diverse parts of the country that will open up your sense of possibility in ways you never thought possible. Oh, and by the way – they do have a sensational climate (with over 300 days of sunshine per year in some parts). They are also extremely proud of their superb infrastructure – excellent roads, a great variety of accommodation options and world-class service.

South Africa truly is a ground-breaking destination for explorers and adventurers who want to experience life in all its fullness. They are a destination that allows you to scratch below the surface and experience endless possibilities, and to walk away the richer for having been there.

Geography

Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape, South Africa, is a place of rugged beauty. Its pristine coastline, virgin bush and sub-tropical forests exist as though untouched by time. It’s the home of Africa’s Big Five (the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard) and South African surfing, and the birthplace of Nelson Mandela. It boasts many natural, historical and cultural attractions and activities.

Its natural diversity is second to none: the Eastern Cape incorporates parts of all 7 ecological zones that occur in South Africa and features all 3 of the country’s biodiversity regions, which is further enhanced by its 820 kilometers of untamed, if not wild, coastline.

Visit Tsitsikamma and do the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee jump or renowned Otter Trail; see the Sundays River Valley with the world-famous Greater Addo Elephant National Park and 120,000 hectare marine reserve; or stop over at the aptly named Wild Coast, birthplace of Nelson Mandela and home to the Nelson Mandela Museum.

Storms River Mouth at the Tsitsikamma / Photo courtesy of South African Tourism

Free State Geological Wonders

South Africa’s Free State province boasts some of the most impressive rock features in the world. It is most renowned for the mighty sandstone cliffs that tower above the Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the hills at Vredefort that form part of a pre-historic meteorite impact crater.

Visitors can hike the hills, or abseil, horse ride and canoe the area around the Vredefort Dome, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Vredefort Dome. / Photo credit: South Africa Travels
The Vredefort Dome. / Photo credit: South Africa Travels

South of Vredefort, in the eastern Free State, are the geological wonders of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This protected area is renowned for its impressive sandstone features, most notably The Sentinel buttress.

The Sentinel is the most northern point of the Drakensberg Mountains and an iconic symbol of this national park. The Sentinel hiking trail takes visitors 3,000m above the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, affording spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

Gauteng

Gauteng is a dynamic province. Considered the commercial heart of the country, its energy and vibe are tangible from the moment you arrive. From historical and cultural attractions that speak of the country’s turbulent past to world-class cities that are distinctly African, Gauteng has much to offer visitors.

Anchored by the historical cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng provides plenty in the way of shopping and entertainment through its network of malls, casinos, flea markets and suburban stores.

South Africa’s administrative and executive capital, Pretoria is 30 mi/45 km northeast of Johannesburg, less than an hour’s drive. It is part of Tshwane Municipality.

Both cities house a number of museums, including the Hector Peterson Museum, Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Museum of Military History, Pretoria Art Museum and Museum Africa.

Pretoria extends north into the Dinokeng tourism region, which is home to the quaint mining town of Cullinan with its diamond history, and vast savannahs that feature a number of game reserves.

KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is a place of great scenic beauty. From mountains and midlands to pristine beaches, its natural splendor combined with a rich culture and historical heritage, make the province hard to beat.

KwaZulu-Natal holds many wonders. Mountain scenery, rolling midlands, bush and beaches come together to offer a compelling and intriguing KwaZulu-Natal tourism experience. All this is underpinned by the legacy of the Zulus and the wars which played out here, completing the picture of KwaZulu-Natal’s alluring tourist attractions.

River in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. / © Can Stock Photo / EcoPicture
River in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. / © Can Stock Photo / EcoPicture

These exquisite mountains are a World Heritage Site and a major leisure attraction, offering walks, hikes and adventure activities. They house the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg National Park with its abundant biodiversity, including 300 bird species and 48 mammal species.

Limpopo’s Cultural Heritage

Limpopo’s cultural heritage has deep roots. Dating back to 1000 AD, it is full of stories of lost civilizations, African kings and queens, historical groups that left their mark in secretive caves and traditional cultures that still hold on to the myths and legends of their forefathers.

While paleontological evidence at Makapans Valley suggests the history of Limpopo dates back some 3 million years when hominids roamed the area, archaeological evidence uncovered around the province points to its founding cultures, the first people of Limpopo.

A dominant Limpopo culture is that of the Venda, which is steeped in myth and legend. Several sites around the province are sacred to the group, including Lake Fundudzi, the magical lake inhabited by the python god of fertility, and the Thathe Vondo forest, which is believed to be filled with spirits.

Thathe Vondo with Lake Funduzi / Photo credit: ShowMe South Africa
Thathe Vondo with Lake Fundudzi / Photo credit: ShowMe South Africa

Mpumalanga

The Mpumalanga province is dominated by the Blyde River Canyon – the world’s third-deepest gorge; the Sudwala Caves – the world’s oldest; and the Kruger National Park – arguably the world’s most famous wildlife sanctuary. Yet it is South Africa’s second-smallest province.

Mpumalanga means ‘the place where the sun rises’, and while it may be among South Africa’s smallest provinces, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in spectacular natural diversity.

Not only is Mpumalanga home to the world’s most famous game park, the world’s third-deepest canyon and the world’s oldest cave system, the region is also dotted with numerous game reserves teeming with flora and fauna.

Four billion years ago Antarctica and Madagascar separated from Mpumalanga’s Blyde River Canyon, leaving behind a spectacular and beautiful landscape, which rises towards the north-eastern mountains, ending in a massive escarpment that drops steeply to the lowveld below.

The region’s twisting mountain passes, steep valleys, rivers and pristine forests have given rise to alluring natural phenomena, including the 3-million-year-old Sudwala Caves, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window, Wonder View and the Three Rondavels (The Panorama Route).

God's Window, Panorama Route, Mpumalanga, South Africa. / Photo credit: Celso FLORES / Flickr
God’s Window, Panorama Route, Mpumalanga, South Africa. / Photo credit: Celso FLORES / Flickr

North West

The North West province is home to 2 premier game reserves housing the Big 5, the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site, the Taung Heritage Site, The Lost City, and Valley of the Waves playground, a variety of adventure-sport destinations and an underwater cave-diving experience.

For the most part, South Africa’s North West province is a vast grassland dotted with trees and views that stretch to distant horizons. It contains 2 of the country’s largest game reserves, the world’s largest playground and a World Heritage Site.

The Magaliesberg mountain range occupies the province’s north-east corner, while the mighty Vaal River creates a natural boundary to the south.

Hartbeespoort Dam also known as Harties. The Hartbeespoort Dam Reservoir is a dam situated in the North West Province of South Africa. It lies in a valley to the south of the Magaliesberg mountain range and north of the Witwatersberg mountain range, about 35 kilometres west of Pretoria. / © Can Stock Photo / demerzel21
Hartbeespoort Dam also known as Harties. The Hartbeespoort Dam Reservoir is a dam situated in the North West Province of South Africa. It lies in a valley to the south of the Magaliesberg mountain range and north of the Witwatersberg mountain range, about 35 kilometres west of Pretoria. / © Can Stock Photo / demerzel21

Its inland location and extensive grasslands provide the perfect setting for a number of malaria-free wildlife reserves. These include Madikwe, South Africa’s fourth-largest game reserve, and the Pilanesberg National Park, both home to the Big 5 and many more southern African mammals and birds.

Northern Cape

If you love wide open spaces, wild flowers or Africa’s big cats, you’ll love South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. Among its many attractions, the Northern Cape is home to one of the world’s most important diamond mining towns, most impressive natural floral display, and famous black-manned lions.

Most of the Northern Cape Province lies south of the mighty Orange River (Augrabies Falls National Park) and comprises desert and semi-desert landscapes. The province is characterized by vast arid plains with outcroppings of rocks, with the cold Atlantic Ocean forming its western boundary. Although slightly off the beaten track, there are many tourism highlights located in the Northern Cape. During August and September, the area of Namaqualand (also referred to as Namakwaland), is transformed into a brilliant carpet of wild flowers. This region is world-famous for its floral exuberance and photographic safaris to the area are very popular.

Augrabies waterfall Northern Cape South Africa / © Can Stock Photo / HarmKruyshaar
Augrabies waterfall Northern Cape South Africa / © Can Stock Photo / HarmKruyshaar

Western Cape

In the Western Cape you will discover world-class wines, wonderful whale watching, contrasting landscapes, ample adventure options, as well as the magic of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, which meet at Africa’s most southerly point.

The Western Cape is home to the world’s longest wine route, found along Route 62, a scenic tourist route that runs from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, 850 kilometers up the eastern coast. If you don’t have time to complete the whole route, consider visiting the wine-growing areas of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington, Franschhoek, Ceres, Worcester, Bonnievale and Robertson.

The Garden Route, from Cape Town to Knysna, is gorgeous, passing through many a quirky town, complete with welcoming locals and fresh produce stalls. Stop in at Swellendam, a town where the jailer once doubled as the postmaster, to experience Cape Dutch architecture at its best.

A trip up the West Coast will take you through many a small town, mainly quiet fishing villages such as Langebaan and Paternoster. Be sure to take the time to enjoy the flora along the way – and stop in at Yzerfontein to experience a South African beach braai.

For serious peace and quiet, head north to the Karoo, one of the most arid regions in the country. This sparsely populated, semi-desert area offers open space, fresh air and historical architecture.

Kite-surfing along the West Coast, shark cage diving in Gansbaai, sea kayaking in Simon’s Town, hiking along the Otter Trail, ostrich riding in Oudtshoorn, bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge in Nature’s Valley, and scuba diving along the East Coast are sure to keep the most ardent adrenalin junkies entertained.

How would you like to explore South Africa?

cruise_iconCruises

land_iconLand Vacations

hotels_resorts_iconHotels & Resorts

For more information or to book your Trip-Of-A-Lifetime, contact Brad Martin at Anywhere Anytime Journeys.

[SOURCES: Anywhere Anytime Journeys’ Destination Site & the Pocket Travel Guide App.]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Leave a Reply