CAPE TOWN Cape Town is the ideal prelude to a South African itinerary, with a perfect fusion of
Cape Town is the ideal prelude to a South African itinerary, with a perfect fusion ofmountain and sea as its backdrop. The Mother City blazes with colour, from the grand, green-grey Table Mountain rising majestically against a vibrant sky and a cool blue coast to the brightly painted façades of the Bo-Kaap, the heart of the Malay community in Cape Town.
While the landscape is eclectic, the ways to discover the Mother City are just as diverse and every moment spent in the city is bound to fill you with adventure and wonder.
The best way to capture the stunning panoramic views, where the hustle bustle of city life is perfectly juxtaposed with the majesty of nature, is to take a cable car up to the top of Table Mountain. You could also take the route less travelled and hike up to the top or take a spin with a heliflip (helicopter ride). Under the looming Twelve Apostles and Lions Head, with views out across the turquoise-coloured sea, Camps Bay is one of Cape Town’s chic and undeniably pretty suburbs. Incidentally, another recommended trek is to the summit of Lion’s Head, especially on a full-moon night.
If you want to feel the wind in your hair, get chauffeured around town on a vintage World War-II motorbike, tucked in its sidecar.
You will drive by Chapmans Peak Drive, Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Penguin Colony and much more.. You can later unwind by the sea, where you can swim, surf, or sunbathe at the Blue Flag beaches. Let street musicians serenade you at the V&A Waterfront, where you can shop to your heart’s content and indulge in selfie pleasures at the nearby Nobel Square, where statues of South Africa’s four Nobel Prize winners stand tall. The waterfront also offers some great distractions for the kids including the Two Oceans Aquarium, theme park Ratanga Junction, and the MTN Science Centre. Also check out the SA National Gallery. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is a splendid showcase of indigenous flora; it boasts of over 7,000 plant species.
The city also buzzes with antique shops, craft markets, flea markets and art galleries. Greenmarket Square offers bargains from across the African continent. The food here revels in the country’s rich cultural heritage and the natural bounty of plants, seafood and meat. Stroll down Kloof Street, the beachfront at Camps Bay, V&A Waterfront and Parklands for multi-cuisine restaurants that serve Middle Eastern, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Continental, and Indian dishes. The Test Kitchen is Africa’s best restaurant and has made it to various World’s Best lists. The Roundhouse & Rumbullion provides an experience for the senses with its breathtaking natural setting, deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site. Don’t forget to sample the High Tea at Table Bay hotel or seek out the country’s favourite beverage—Rooibos Tea.
Try out a wine-tasting session in Groot Constantia, one of the oldest wine estates here. For a memorable end to the day, head to the V&A Marina for a sunset cruise. If you’re looking to pull an all-night party, Long Street is the place to be. After the last party in town has winded up, make your way to the Grand West Casino. If you feel lucky, that is.
The second largest city in South Africa, Johannesburg offers visitors a holiday as unique and diverse as the city itself. Home to over three million locals, Jo’burg, or ‘Jozi’, never runs out of experiences.
While in Jozi, you can discover the secrets of the industry that built the city—gold mining. Gold Reef City amusement park offers rides, period costumes, and live demos, combining entertainment with gold rush history on the site of a former mine. If you like to absorb your cities’ stories, cruise through historic sites and eclectic villages while perched on the open-air roof of a bus.
There’s also the Apartheid Museum and a Freedom Fighters Theatrical, which gives you a dramatic tour through the struggle of activists enacted by guides.
For a fun outing, immerse yourself in South Africa’s entertainment oasis, Sun City, which offers gaming, sports and leisure activities, water parks, splendid golf resorts, modern casinos and live shows. Take a walk through the Maboneng area to discover art, food and wares, or head to the shopping complex at Carlton Centre, Africa’s tallest building. Maboneng spoils you for culinary choices with Afro-fusion sushi, traditional Ethiopian platters, Middle Eastern cuisine, Argentine steaks and typical South African braai fare. Full of galleries and artist studios, ‘Arts On Main’ is Maboneng’s art hub. Stop at David Krut Projects and Bookstore to see the impressive print workshop, and Goethe on Main for contemporary exhibitions.
There’s a shopping destination for everyone in good ol’ Jozi. People visit Hyde Park Corner to enjoy sophisticated shopping and socialising in consummate style; Sandton City combines the world’s most desirable brands with everyday leisure and entertainment; Melrose Arch offers a truly international high street fashion experience, alfresco style; and Oriental Plaza gives you an indoor bazaar with shops selling bargains from clothing and home ware to spices.
For adventure enthusiasts, there’s the 19th-century Emmarentia Dam at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. After the South African War, the dam has been popular with urban canoeists, kayakers, boating enthusiasts, and anglers. Families can opt to spend a day at the Zoolake.
Nights in Jo’burg are never dull. Lyrics laden with street slang hung on the irresistible dance beats of kwaito can be heard blasting out of taxis, clubs, shebeens and street parties. The Horror Café adds a dimension of horror movie memorabilia to kwaito on weekends. For the creative ones, there’s Kitchener’s Carvery Bar, formerly a colonial hotel that plays underground notes at night. If you take your dinner marinated with jazz and blues, The Bassline hosts amazing local bands while The Orbit features the biggest names on the scene.
Whether you are on a business trip, seeking a cultural shift, an adrenaline rush, or simply want to unwind for a few days, Jozi has it all. Take your pick.
The beautiful city of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province is best known for its gorgeous, sun-kissed beaches and subtropical climate. Situated on the eastern seaboard of Africa, the city is built around one of the busiest ports in Africa. Beyond the beaches though, Durban flaunts a diverse culture, an urban lifestyle and scenic attractions dipped in a warm African flavour.
Refurbished for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the seafront promenade runs from uShaka Marine World, an enormous theme park with an aquarium, to the futuristic Moses Mabhida Stadium. Half-day and full-day guided tours include visits to both these attractions and many in between, such as the Golden Mile, a stretch of sparkling pristine beach with its own promenade, University of KwaZulu-Natal, the bustling markets of Warwick Triangle and the 19th-century botanical gardens—home to stunning orchids, ferns and bromeliads. You can also explore the city at a leisurely pace on a three-hour bicycle tour.
Durban has the largest concentration of people of Indian descent outside of India; a visit to the colorful Victoria Street Market is enough proof with its spicy aromas. Spread out over 170 stalls, the vendors at the ‘Vic’ offer a range of African and Oriental products on bargain. On the other hand, the Workshop Shopping Center is a melting pot of African, Indian and European Cultures in the mould of a modern shopping hub. It is home to Durban’s best bunny chow and the largest Curio Shop in the country.
Wildlife enthusiasts can take a full-day tour of the savannah at the Hluhluwe–IMfolozi Game Reserve, or opt for a cruise in the St. Lucia Estuary to see hundreds of hippos and Nile crocodiles.
What’s a trip to South Africa without a bit of Zulu in it? You can relive the days of Shaka, one of Zulus’ greatest kings, at Shakaland through the era’s traditions, meals, and music. The tour provides insight into crafts such as spear-making, hut-building, pottery, and weaving, as well as an enthralling performance of Zulu dance. Alternatively, another half-day tour takes you to the picturesque countryside of the Valley of 1,000 Hills, where you visit a reconstructed Zulu village, replete with beehive-shaped thatched huts and artifacts, and get a look at crocodiles and Burmese pythons at the Phezulu Safari Park.
Those fascinated with the life and times of Nelson Mandela can opt for an eight-hour tour to his capture site which includes stops at Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal’s capital city; the beautiful Howick Falls; Phezulu Cultural Village and Reptile Park. A longer 14-hour tour takes you through the Isandlwana Battlefields to learn about the greatest defeat inflicted on the British army during the Victorian era.
For your Durban meals, try Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi for braai fare and Plush Ultra Lounge for a fine-dining experience. And for a fun end to the day, head to Flagons and Dragons, a sleepy Irish pub in Windermere which fills to capacity every Friday with locals and tourists trying their hand at karaoke. Drown your inhibitions and give it a go!