The Rainbow Nation
Whether you seek outdoor activities, solitude or the buzz of the city – South Africa offers unlimited opportunities for any kind of holiday. The southernmost African country is lovingly referred to as the Rainbow Nation due to its ethnic variety. Culture and nature – everything here is colorful.
The cities Johannesburg and Pretoria are in the northern part of South Africa. The latter doubles as the country´s capital and is supposedly one of the most liveable cities in the world.
When spring starts in the southern hemisphere around the end of September hundreds of jacaranda trees give the streets a purple shimmer.
Johannesburg has a number of museums on African history and the gold rush. Here you can also find the highest building in the continent: from the top of the 721ft Carton Center you can see far beyond the city limits on a clear day.
About 100 miles northwest of Johannesburg the South African version of Las Vegas attracts thousands of tourists every year. Sun City is an amusement park filled with casinos, glamorous shows, and luxurious hotels. The golf courses are in excellent condition and unique water gardens invite you in for a rest. The latest attraction is called Lost City, an Atlantis-themed casino complex. The Pilanesberg National Park is in the direct vicinity of Sun City and easy to get to.
The most famous reserve is the Kruger National Park. For many this park alone is reason enough to travel to South Africa. The largest game reserve in the country is home to about 500 different species of bird life and 150 of mammal, among them the big five: elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, buffalo, and lion.
For the past few years the park has been extended into Zimbabwe and Mozambique. To experience the extraordinary variety of life you should rent accommodation in one of the camps for a few days. The park administration arranges guided safaris that explore the park for several days.
Fans of water sports will be attracted to the beaches in the Durban area, on the east coast. The water is warmer than on the west coast, which makes a dip in the ocean more comfortable. Otherwise you will find plenty of pools and water parks along the beach promenade.
West of Durban the Drakensberg, South Africa´s highest peak, reaches 3408m (11,424 ft). The northern and central part is well ear-marked for tourism with good hiking infrastructure (trails and hotels), whereas the southern part is appropriate only for experienced hikers.
While hiking you should keep alert for traces of ancient indigenous culture, which has left its mark in caves and on stone walls.
For about nine months out of the year a vast rocky and sandy steppe extends to the west. However, during winter, when there is plenty of rain, the Namaqualand seems to explode with colors: within just a few days millions of flowers appear on the plains.
Cape Town, the best-known South African city, is on the southern shore. The 3300 ft high Table Mountain offers fascinating fauna as well as a breathtakingly spectacular view over the cape.
The Victoria & Albert waterfront is the city´s amusement mile. Here you can catch a ferry to Robben Island, the former prison that held Nelson Mandela.
The legendary Cape of Good Hope is just 30 miles south of Cape Town.
To the north-east you will find green valleys, pine tree forests, and rough rock formations. The Winelands have produced fine wines for over 300 years, mainly in the towns Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl.
The remarkable Garden Route stretches between Hermanus and Port Elizabeth. Millions of people take this journey on foot or by car, along the white beaches, crystal-clear lakes, remote lagunas, dense forests, and steep mountains.
A second Vegas, vast seas of flowers, some of the most beautiful towns in the world: that is just how diverse the Rainbow Nation is.