The holidays may be over, but summer’s here to stay for a few more months. Here’s a prime pick of how to capture some of the best experiences South Africa has to offer while the heat is on.
For both local and international visitors, the second half of summer – from January to April – is often the best time to see South Africa. And even for those who have gone back to work or school, you still have a chance to live large on the weekends with great destinations to visit and food to enjoy while you’re exploring. Here are a few suggestions…
Get to the Point
Open from sunrise to sunset, Cape Point is a nature reserve that falls within the southernmost part of the Table Mountain National Park. Expect rich biodiversity, beautiful beaches, shipwrecks and take-your-breath-away views of the swirling oceans. There is also the Flying Dutchman (the only commercial funicular in Africa) which transports you 87 metres above sea level. Browse through the three available shops or wind down at the Two Oceans Restaurant. The latter is a particular treat, with beautiful views over False Bay.
Other attractions in Cape Town…
Did you know Cape Point is one of the Cape Town Big Six? Also visit Robben island, the V&A Waterfront, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Groot Constantia and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. For more information, visit Cape Town Big 6.
Where the wild things are
Covering an area of nearly 2 million hectares across Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the Kruger National Park is home not only to Africa’s Big Five (elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo), but also to an astonishing number of other species including 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.
Day visitors are welcome, but the park is best known for its numerous camps with accommodation ranging from camping to luxury lodges.
For a culinary delight, book a table at The Kruger Station at Skukuza Rest Camp. This new food and beverage hub, due to open in a few months’ time, will be an artisanal food experience. Be on the lookout for the Kruger 360 virtual theatre. The hub is created with family in mind, with things to do for kids and adults alike. This will be the perfect spot for visitors to break their morning or afternoon game drives and experience the nostalgia of dining around the last train to ever ride through the Kruger. For more information, contact [email protected].
Other national parks…
Although the Kruger National Park is one of the largest of its kind in Africa, there are over 20 national parks in South Africa, many of which have guest accommodation but all of which welcome day visitors as well. For more information, visit Sanparks.
Take a step back in time
There is an abundance of historical sites to be explored across South Africa, but a few of the most significant are in the Gauteng Province.
If you’re into fossils, a 50km drive northwest of Johannesburg will find you at Maropeng. This is the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind. Just 10kms further you can visit the Sterkfontein Caves, one of the Cradle’s main fossil sites.
Within Johannesburg itself, and part of the Gold Reef City complex, is the Apartheid Museum. The first of its kind, the museum illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid and is a truly educational experience for young and old. Or, do a tour of Soweto where you get to explore the wealth of history that grew out of this vibrant township. Visit the Hector Petersen memorial, Vilakazi Street which was home to Nelson Mandela, and Kliptown where the Freedom Charter was drawn up. There are also many shops and restaurants where you can enjoy a true taste of township culture. Wandies Place, well-known for its traditional African cuisine, is hugely popular among both locals and visitors to Soweto.
Other historical sights to explore…
The Castle of Good Hope, The Company’s Garden and the District Six Museum, all in Cape Town; the Big Hole and Mine Museum in Kimberley; and the Isandlwana Battlefields route found in KwaZulu-Natal. Click here for more information.
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