Tuesday, 28 August 2007

The South-African '5'

Many things can be said about South Africa, but undoubtedly it is a complex, spectacular place in the world. With a strong post-apartheid vibe sensible in the whole country, there is an enormous energy and sense of progress taking place, which can hardly be found somewhere else in Africa.With the number of tourists rising every year and prices (relatively) dropping, South-Africa is a popular destination because of its kind climate and with many good places to see Africa’s wildlife. Although poverty, the AIDS pandemic and violence remain a problem, there is enough reason to smile when visiting this country. Whatever reason brings you to South-Africa, make sure you don’t miss these five highlights!

Capetown: in the shadow of the huge Table Mountain, this beautiful city with its glorious beaches and many vineyards is the trendy capital of South-Africa, if not the whole continent. Its mix of trendy restaurants and late night bars attracts many people every year, young and old. It is the most open-minded city in Africa with a lively gay, cultural and music scene.

Kruger Park: One of the most famous wildlife parks in the world is also one of he biggest and the oldest. It celebrated its 100th birthday in 1998. The big ‘five’ can be spotted here: lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos. But don’t be surprised if you see cheetahs, giraffes, hippos, all sorts of antelope species and smaller animals. It is the perfect place if you are a ‘first timer’ in the safari: it is not quite a wilderness experience, but highly developed, organised, accessible and popular. So don’t expect to be alone, then perhaps Tanzania (the Serengeti) is a better option for you, although that is much more expensive, so this is probably the best place for students and young travellers to start a affordable safari experience. http://www.parks-sa.co.za/

Johannesburg: Just an hour drive south of capital Pretoria, Jo’burg, Jozi, eGoli or ‘the city of gold’ (never Johannesburg) is by far the largest and if you want to get a glimpse of the real South-Africa, Jo’burg must be on your list. A huge metropolis where shameless wealth and desperate poverty live side by side, but not go hand in hand: it is by far the most dangerous city in the country. Nevertheless, If you take reasonable precautions and listen to the locals, you can enjoy it in safety.

Sowetho: South of Jo’burg one can find the South Western Townships (Sowetho). During you visit you are introduced to the vibrancy of township life and shown historic sites such as Nelson Mandela's home prior to his imprisonment in 1964 and the memorial of Hector Peterson, the first young victim of the 1976 Sowetho riots.

Arniston Bay: Arniston, also called Waenhuiskrans, is the only town in South Africa with two official names. It is called Arniston, after the British troopship that was wrecked in 1815 on the needle-sharp rocks of the Arniston Reef, with the tragic loss of 372 lives. Arniston / Waenhuiskrans is best known for the 200-year old restored fishing village of Kassiesbaai. A national monument in its entirety, this historical village with its inhabitants has stolen the hearts of numerous artists and photographers. http://www.arniston-bay.co.za/ Only fifteen minutes drive from Arniston Bay, one can find the most southern point of the continent of Africa, which is not Cape of Good Hope as many people belief, but a place called Cape Agulhas. As the locals say it in their language (Afrikaans): “U is nou op die mees suidelike punt van die vasteland van afrika” http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Shores/9624/sa/sa10.html