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South Africa Holiday - South Africa Travel & Tourism

Culture and People of South Africa

The adventure capital of the world, South Africa is the southernmost country in the African continent, with a 2,500 km coastline along the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Emerging from the shadows of its tumultuous past, South Africa today has tourist arrivals far surpassing the global average.

Its multi-ethnic mix has earned it the sobriquet of "Rainbow Nation", with the Zulus, Xhosa and Swazis forming the majority with the Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga and Venda tribes. The Afrikaners, English, Indians, the Khoikhoi, San and migrants from other parts of Africa, Europe and Asia add to the cultural spectrum. No wonder then, that South Africa has 11 official languages!

With the end of apartheid in 1994, a re-organization of territories brought about the formation of nine provinces. Except for the Namib Desert, the weather across South Africa is generally pleasant, varying from sub-tropical to Mediterranean. Its diverse natural beauty has made South Africa a popular destination amongst tourists looking for the out-of the ordinary. Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces are the favourite haunts of backpackers.

Places To Visit in South Africa

South Africa's palette covers barren deserts, lush coastal forests, a teeming wildlife at its national parks and preserved heritage sites. Its rich flora and fauna is spread over 21 national parks, with a concentration along the coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Africa's "Big Five" - the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard - can be viewed on a trip to a safari game lodge, which would include game drives, walks through the forests with professional guides, and charming accommodation within the forest.

Off the coast, the southern right whales migrating from the Antarctic in June generate much enthusiasm, and their delightful acrobatics are a great hit with tourists.

Cape Town is one of South Africa's most beautiful cities, with the Table Mountain standing protectively behind it. A lively, multi-racial city, it pulsates with activities that take you close to nature, be it swimming in the ocean, boating, sand boarding, and skydiving.

The Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden covers 500 hectares of the Table Mountain and ranks amongst some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Though a little expensive, a ride on the cable car would reveal all the wonders of the tableland. A walk through the Rondevlei Nature Reserve offers the scope to watch the 231 bird species and the hippos that are being actively conserved here.

The city's attractions include three museums, with the District Six touching an emotional chord with every visitor as it reveals the pains of a tormented community.

Johannesburg or the City of Gold is the heart of the country and can be explored aboard the hop-on-hop-off bus that makes its way through the affluent and not very fortunate sections of the city. At the Gold Reef City theme park in the southern suburbs you will need the entire day to enjoy the different rides, and amble through the several re-constructions of a bank, brewery or a newspaper office. There's even a gallery to watch a gold mine in action within the theme park! Montecasino in Sandton, another family destination is a much visited casino drawing inspiration from a Tuscan village.

Two hours away from Johannesburg is Sun City, South Africa's luxury casino resort. Its grandiose environs and attractions like the hot air balloon trip over the Pilanesburg Park draw large weekend crowds from Johannesburg and Pretoria, and is a must-see destination for international tourists

Jeffrey's Bay has South Africa's best beaches with the thick sub-tropical forests in the background. You can join the crowds at surfing, ocean swimming, dolphin watching, sand boarding or bird watching at the Kabeljous Beach or the Supertubes. You can even hire a mountain bike to traverse the bay!

Durban is another beach city, with surfing, sea kayaking, diving and white water trips on the Umgeni River ruling the lifestyle of its residents! In contrast, Pretoria, or Tshwane the administrative capital, is steeped in history, well preserved in its eight museums!

Bloemfontein, South Africa's "City of Roses" has also kept its past alive through its architectural heritage. A beautiful city, Bloemfontein has a range of attractions for tourists like the Orchid House, Botanical Gardens, the National Museum and the Sand du Pleiss Theatre.

South Africa tour is wonderfully affordable, and you can choose from family-centred establishments to international hotel chains, from bed-and breakfast accommodation to guesthouses. Shopping, and selling is a passion with South Africans, so let yourself go at the shopping centres- high street shops or flea markets, hawkers or minibus taxi ranks, crafts markets or farm stalls - you're sure to find enough that takes your fancy!


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