Much has been said of South Africa. A nation that has been through countless obstacles since its foundation. Most notoriously known once upon a time for practising the controversial Apartheid system, however, this painful past has long been left behind. The South Africa today is like a risen phoenix, catching up on lost time and considered by many as the most developed country on the African continent.
South Africa is also blessed with the four seasons, however due to its location on the southern hemisphere of our planet, their climate resembles that of Australia and New Zealand, where winter is welcomed mid-year and summer drops by every year end.
First time visitors to South Africa should begin their journey at the city of Johannesburg. It is not only the biggest city in the country but also one of the six official capitals (yes South Africa has six official capital cities). Here in Johannesburg, visitors will be given a chance to learn of the nation’s history and how the people fought for democracy by visiting the renowned Constitution Hill. Once a military fort and prison complex, it now serves as a museum immortalizing the past tales and hurdles of South Africa. It is also now home to the constitutional court where rights of the citizens are heard.
For ease of sightseeing, hop on their famous ‘Hop On Hop Off’ bus which will take passengers around Johannesburg. Be sure to drop by the Carlton Centre, a skyscraper which gives an amazing bird’s eye view of the city from a towering height of 223 meters.
Then continue the journey to the Apartheid Museum which unravels more interesting stories of the original people of South Africa and learn of the struggles faced by world-renowned political figure and activist, Nelson Mandela.
To know more about Mr Mandela, be sure to stop by the famous Soweto neighbourhood which houses the Mandela House. Currently a museum dedicated to Mandela, it was also once his home from 1946 to 1962. The Soweto area is also home to the Orlando Towers which are now used as a site for bungee jumping.
For a glimpse into South African popular culture head on to the Maboneng district. This corner of the city boasts blocks of hip cafes and restaurants as well as boutiques and art inspired shops helmed by a new generation of young artistic South Africans. A myriad of fashion and art masterpieces can be found here, either on display or even worn by the local visitors!
Once done with Johannesburg, extend your adventure to nearby Pretoria. This administrative capital of South Africa takes about 30 minutes to reach by car from the centre of Johannesburg. In Pretoria visitors can see the beautiful bronze statues of world-famous warriors and activists who once contributed to the independence and liberation of discrimination in South Africa at theLong March to Freedom National Heritage Monument. Among the statues found there are that of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Be sure to swing by Freedom Park, another historical site which now serves as a memorial monument remembering those who died while fighting for South Africa. Just a stone’s throw away from there is also the Voortrekker monument, dedicated to the early Caucasian settlers who migrated from Europe (specifically the Netherlands) and left Cape Colony in the early 1800s. The monument recollects many tales of the first meetings between the ‘white-skinned’ settlers and the original people of South Africa.
Another must-see are the ‘Union Buildings’ area which resembles that of Washington DC where all the government administrative offices are located. And this is also where the gigantic statue of Nelson Mandela is erected and known to be a landmark of the South African nation. The area is surrounded by beautiful gardens which are often used as recreational venues for the locals.
Naturally, no trip to South Africa would be complete without visiting the world famous city of Cape Town. There are several ways to get to Cape Town but the best and probably the classiest way to get there is by taking the luxurious Rovos Rail. As though plucked right out from Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder On The Orient Express,’ the journey takes about two nights and the train leaves its very own station located in Pretoria. It really is quite the experience as every guest is wined and dined while treated like royalty. Apart from spacious luxurious cabins, exquisite meals are served accordingly with food and beverage served 24 hours a day for all guests on a complimentary basis. Passengers will also get to go on excursions as the train stops at other towns like Kimberly which is famous for diamond mining before another break at an old town known as Matjiesfontein. And get this, there is no wifi internet connection on board the Rovos Rail as they believe that the journey should be enjoyed and savoured. (But don’t worry phones can still be used inside the private cabins)
Once arrived in Cape Town, the Victoria and Alfred or V & A Waterfront must be visited by guests as it offers several attractions and spectacular vistas. Naturally, another easy option would be to get on the Hop On Hop Off bus to see the whole of Cape Town. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the world-famous Table Mountain and witness breathtaking views from high above the clouds. The top of the mountain can be reached by taking their cable car. Be sure to also swing by the colourful homes of Bo Kaap which is said to be the housing area of the Malay Muslim community of South Africa. And if you have the time take a boat ride around the V & A waterfront and check out the playful seals as they sunbathe around the area.
Truly, South Africa has so much to offer and these tales are just short glimpses of what the country has to offer. So make South Africa your next holiday destination!