South Africa is an extraordinarily unique sub-Saharan African nation jutting formidably – for sailors who have planned to round its cape – into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the southernmost top of Africa. The archeological evolution of humanity has been documented in South Africa, with a history as old as any on the planet. Even more, the wildlife and biodiversity of South Africa’s semi-arid plateaus, bush and coastline are possibly the most thrilling and rewarding in all of Africa. Explore the vibrancy of a multiethnic, forward thinking democracy interlaced with the splendor and community of traditional Africa!
The South African Identity – 11 Languages Strong
South Africa stands apart from the rest of Africa with its unique colonial origin that carried over to modern day. Those who travel to South Africa are often drawn by the fascinating multicultural immersion found in a modern country that is confronting racial issues head on. Dutch navigators and settlers occupied the area for much of the 17th and 18th century, importing slaves from India, Madagascar and Indonesia to make up for a labor shortage. The descendents of the resulting interracial marriages make up a large population of the Western Cape today (“Cape Malays”) and displaced much of the local Xhosa and Bantu people. The British ultimately colonized South Africa when the Dutch could no longer fight their own battles against native resistance.
After independence, the European minority remained in political control and apartheid ensued until 1994 when black Africans finally gained full political rights and enfranchisement. Interestingly, South Africa is the only African nation to be ruled by a continuous democracy and the first and only nation in the world to build nuclear weapons only to voluntarily dismantle the weapons program altogether.
Whales, Wine and Wetlands
Since the end of apartheid, it has been much easier to enjoy the spectacular sights of South Africa. From the busting city of Cape Town, hike the iconic Table Mountain National Park when the flat top is covered in an eerie layer of clouds or travel west to the Shipwreck Coast of the Cape of Good Hope where a graveyard of unfortunate naval expeditions are well preserved and add character to the stunning coastline. Also signature of South Africa’s coastline is the abundance of whales. Spend an afternoon in the seaside town of Hermanus, famous for whale watching, or take a guided boat trip to catch a closer glimpse of the majestic creatures. From here, a trip along the popular Garden Route winds through hidden nature reserves, tucked-away coastal towns, national monuments, indigenous forests, sea caves and borders the peaceful desert highlands of the Karoo. The Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park to the north is worth a visit to see the massive hippos rummaging quietly through the marsh. Unwind from your expeditions in South Africa’s prosperous and productive wine region northeast of Cape Town. Arrange for a stay on an estate in Stellenbosch and treat yourself to a tour of some of the world’s best wine, introduced by Europeans in the 17th century.
Most of the popular areas are in the Western Cape and along the coast, although more pristine wilderness and less urbanized indigenous culture will be found inland. Also, the commercial capitals of Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria (the administrative capital) are exciting for their urban juxtaposition to the African wilderness at large. South Africa is a wondrous and historic land of global culture that has never been more accessible or enjoyable. Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to explore the gem of the oldest and most diverse continent on earth!