South Africa is a place where unity continues to grow and flourish. Its national motto “Diverse People Unite” describes not only the incredible social advancement that has brought its people together, but beautiful relationships of all kinds that can be seen all across this country. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans grace its coasts, desert meets forest in its interior, and amazing parks, wildlife and countryside villages share ideas with the cosmopolitan vigor of its modern cities. Many African countries offer awe-inspiring safari experiences; a few others, their cultural and city highlights. All of these can be found in abundance in South Africa - whether for family, personal or group travel, this exceptional destination has much in store.
Johannesburg, the largest city in the country, and Cape Town each hold treasures for the traveler, with their multiculturalism, historic neighborhoods, museums, scenery and waterfront activities, and no shortage of accommodation to suit every taste. These are the places where most travelers fly into before South Africa tours get rolling, but they are far more than just jumping-off spots to pass through and check out an attraction or two! The Apartheid Museum and township tours (including Soweto, former home of national hero Nelson Mandela) await as two top activities in Johannesburg, epicenter of the struggle to end the racial segregation of South African society that formally lasted from 1948 to the mid 1990s. Scenic Cape Town is full to the brim with a bountiful array of activities, from taking in the soaring skyline of Table Mountain from the city below, by hike or aerial tramway, to exploring the V & A Waterfront and beach-studded coastline. One of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in South Africa, Robben Island is the notorious site of Nelson Mandela’s 18-year imprisonment under apartheid, and is located just a short boat ride offshore for a perfect day trip. Durban, another municipality known for both its local indigenous and foreign national populations, boasts tempting beaches and vibrant urban culture along the east coast’s Indian Ocean. With fascinating history, top tier gastronomic provisions at local restaurants, and captivating surrounding scenery, South Africa’s urban centers are not to be overlooked!
The South Africa safari has earned well deserved fame for the landscapes, wildlife and Covering the western portion of the country, the succulent vegetation-covered “karoo” drylands give way to the Kalahari Desert to the west as it extends into Namibia and Botswana, and grasslands and savanna cover the majority of the eastern half of the country. It is this area where most national parks, private reserves and game reserves are located, and their numbers and variety of wildlife stands out as some of this nation’s top attractions. Of these, three rise above the rest: Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Kruger’s mind-boggling wildlife communities that go far beyond just the Big Five, the dramatic geography of Blyde River Canyon, and the UNESCO World Heritage network of lake and estuarine waters of iSimangaliso present endless adventure opportunities! Together with other relatively small and intimate protected areas such as the exclusive Phinda Private Game Reserve and luxurious Sabi Sands, exhilaration beckons in the eastern provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The elephants, lions, and other iconic wildlife you’ve dreamed of seeing reside in abundance in these refuges of well-managed wilderness, so have your binoculars and camera ready! Along the southern coast stretching between Mossell Bay and Storms River lies the Garden Route, which passes through the national park of the same name. An idyllic climate, biodiverse forests and many recreational activities and new experiences to discover along this 200 kilometer, winding stretch of highway with views that are a splendid accent to a South Africa safari. Whether at a fine hotel or rustic lodge, out in the bush or on a game drive with an expert guide, or taking in the sights by road trip on your own terms, some of the world’s most stunning natural conditions and wonders are beheld by travelers here.
Many points of contact between cultures in South Africa - including indigenous groups and descendants from many countries from across Europe from the Dutch to Germans - has created a culinary setting unmatched by any other African country. The Mediterranean climate created the environment for wine country, and South Africa’s Cape Winelands have risen to the occasion; their wine rivals any from Europe or the west coasts of North or South America. Stellenbosch is the center of South Africa’s wine industry, and when paired with the French gastronomic sophistication of Franschhoek, you have the recipe for cuisine of the finest order. Providing a respite from active days on safari, enjoy touring wineries and estates for tasting in between feasting at award-winning restaurants. Time at breweries and cooking schools are available in Cape Town, where you can sample craft beers and or learn how to prepare local ingredients for quintessential South African dishes. When it comes to a delicious culinary tour or luxury safari, South Africa and Global Basecamps know how to deliver!
Like any country we might explore, South Africa’s true richness is in its people. South Africa claims 11 national languages, among the highest on the African continent. The Zulu, Xhosa, Makuleke, Khosan and other tribes have occupied this region for thousands of years, and play an important role as cultural representatives of South Africa. Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment and subsequent rise to presidency from 1994 to 1999 cemented him in the cultural memory of the country, and renowned musician, actress, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and activist Miriam “Mama Africa” Makeba was also influential in opposing apartheid and bringing African music to the world stage until her passing in 2008.
With South Africa’s positioning just a short flight from Zimbabwe, Botswana (famous for the wildlife of the Okavango Delta), Zambia and Mozambique, some who travel with Global Basecamps opt to combine visits to these great countries with their safari. Whether a relaxing retreat to a pristine white sand beach in Mozambique or visit to Zimbabwe’s glorious Victoria falls, your multi-country African adventure is within reach! Excellent options in international destinations for your holiday in southern Africa can be combined in numerous ways to make for the time of your life!