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Truly a "World in One Country", South Africa offers the visitor an amazing variety of vacation experiences ranging from game viewing to wine tasting.

Occupying the southern part of the African continent, South Africa is sub tropical in the north and east, has a Mediterranean style climate in the south and the south west with dry arid deserts in the Karoo and Kalahari and can be regarded as a year round destination.

South Africa is a fascinating melting pot of cultures. The Khoisan people can be traced back over 2000 years and there are more than 15,000 sites of rock paintings throughout the country some of which are in the Drakensberg  (Dragon Mountains) in KwaZulu Natal, the Golden Gate National Park in the Orange Free State and in both Western and Eastern Cape provinces. Later migration included the Bantu People and examples of their cultural lifestyle can be found at Lesedi Cultural Village in Gauteng and Dumazulu Traditional Village in KwaZulu Natal. European emigration was started by the Dutch in 1652 at Cape Town, followed by French Huguenots in the latter part of the century and the British in 1795. Later arrivals of Malay, Indian and Chinese added to the ethnic mix. Historical sites abound throughout the country reflecting the early settlements, the Zulu wars, Anglo Boer Wars and the Voortrek (the great trek north by the Boers from the Western Cape begun in 1834.)

South Africa has a wealth of minerals with roughly 40% of the world's gold reserves. The Western Deep Levels mine in Gauteng at 12,400 feet is the deepest man has penetrated into the earth. Gold Reef City near Johannesburg provides the opportunity to go underground in a gold mine whilst Pilgrim's Rest in Mpumalanga is an authentic gold mining village. Kimberley in Northern Province is famed for diamonds and boasts the Big Hole, the largest man-made hole in the world as well as the Mine Museum.

Nature lovers are spoiled for choice in South Africa. Game viewing is available in public game reserves or parks such as Kruger National Park which occupies a large section of both Mpumalanga and Northern Province or Madikwe Game Reserve in North West Province, however, many  visitors prefer the private game reserves such as Sabi Sabi, Exeter or Londolosi in Mpumalanga or Shamwari in Eastern Cape Province. Accommodations range from tents to luxurious suites with first class catering arrangements. Be sure to try a Braai (BBQ) and Biltong (dried meat). The presence of a game warden and tracker on each safari ensures a high chance of spotting the "Big Five" (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffulo) as well as many other mammals, animals and reptiles.

Bird watchers can sight over 750 species in the game parks, public nature reserves such as Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in Northern Cape and Royal National Park in KwaZulu Natal or in private reserves like Grootbos in Western Cape Province. Oudtshoorn in the same province has around 200 ostrich farms. Whale watching is available off the southern coast during winter. 

The Western Cape is renowned for its profusion of flowers both in the wild and in public and private gardens whilst the "Garden Route" between Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth is so named for over 3000 species of flowers which grow in the area.

The scenic beauty of South Africa  has to be seen to be believed. Table Mountain in Cape Town is world famous and the summit can be reached by cable car whilst the Cape of Good Hope should not be missed.  Blyde River Canyon and God's Window in the Drakensberg in Mpumalanga are awesome sights as are the Cango Caves on the edge of the Karoo in Western Cape Province and the Kalahari desert.

The road system in South Africa is excellent with rental vehicles freely available in the major cities. Luxurious train transportation is offered on Rovos Rail, the Blue Train and the Safari Express and flights between the major cities and tourist areas are frequent. Charter flights are available into the more remote regions.

South African wines are rapidly gaining international recognition with most of the "New World" cultivars successfully grown, however, Cape Riesling and Pinotage (a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage)  are unique to the country. Three of the best known producing areas Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschoek occupy gloriously scenic valleys just east of Cape Town whilst Constantia is on the southern slopes of Table Mountain. Wine tasting tours of various duration can be arranged and a variety of first class accommodations and restaurants are located in these areas.

A wide diversity of adventure vacations can be offered in South Africa. Safaris are available on horseback, by camel or hot air balloon. Hiking, climbing, cycling, diving, and white water rafting vacations can be arranged. Sportsmen can enjoy golf and both fly and sea fishing.

Of the major cities, Cape Town with Table Mountain, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and easy access to the Cape of Good Hope, wine areas and the "Garden Route" is a popular destination as is Durban and the beaches on the surrounding coastal areas of KwaZulu Natal. Pretoria and Bloomfontein are steeped in tradition and Johannesburg is the financial hub of the country. Cosmopolitan night life abounds and Sun City in North West Province offers a complete resort option with hotels, casinos, water theme parks, golf courses, and game viewing.

South Africa also provides easy access to some of the less developed surrounding countries such as Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Namibia. Visits and vacation arrangements can also be made for these countries.

 


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