Africa - where to start?

Talk to 90% of the population and Africa is in the top three for the Travel Bucket List. It’s a destination evocative of mystery, adventure ……. the trip of a lifetime! How, where and when to go is something the average traveller struggles with. It’s such a large continent, filled with so many unique countries, cultures and topography. Impossible to do everything in one go! It can be overwhelming trying to decide where to start.

The next few weeks will be dedicated to discovering the various regions of Africa. What to expect, what to plan to see and how to best incorporate those components which are important to YOU.

We begin with South Africa. There is no doubt that South Africa is blessed with spectacular natural beauty, a fantastic climate and diversely interesting regions and cultures. To say that South Africa is a virtual paradise is a true statement. The county geographically consists of an unspoiled coastline stretching for 2800 kms, dramatic mountains and escarpments, extensive bushveld, sub-tropical forests and outstanding wetlands. Although South Africa is a large country, it is relatively easy to get around due to its excellent air and rail services.

A good starting point is Cape Town, a cosmopolitan and modern city surrounded by beautiful landscapes like Table Mountain and a multitude of beautiful beaches. Table Mountain hovers over the city and can be reached by cable car and offers amazing views of the surrounding areas. The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a bustling shopping, dining and entertainment centre offering the overwhelmed tourist a lively afternoon to people watch. A short ferry ride takes you to Robben Island which is where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated and is now a UNESCO site. A truly interesting attraction is the District Six Museum. A memorial showcasing the sad history of forced movement of inhabitants to District Six during the Apartheid in the 70s. Another absolute “must” is the Cape of Good Hope. A rocky promontory which is home to breathtaking scenery, various hikes and some 250 different bird species.

Johannesburg and Pretoria are home to more historical parliamentary buildings, Apartheid museums and the glorious Garden of Remembrance which honours those who struggled and sacrificed all to end Apartheid.

Kruger National Park encompasses two million hectares and is South Africa’s number one game reserve. Boasting the Big 5 …. The lion, the leopard, the elephant, the buffalo and the rhino, it also serves as home to a myriad of other wildlife and bird species. You can either stay in one of the private lodges inside the park or there are a number of hotels just outside the park perimeter.

The Cape Winelands are the definite destination for the budding oenophile. Fabulous wines, culinary experiences, cycle routes and scenery await. The Drakensburg Mountains are the aboriginal cultural centre and home to over 600 rock art sites. Zululand is the heart of the cultural tribesman and the site of many battlefields signifying the clashes between the Zulu forces and the British over the past 200 years. Durban …. Home to some of the best surf in the world.

South Africa is the quintessential African destination encompassing every possible variety of accommodation, activity and cultural experience. Rich in history, both good and bad as well as offering a splendid variety of wildlife. It’s an excellent choice for your first visit to Africa, to break yourself in so to speak. Game viewing is best June through October. Canadian travellers need a passport with minimum six months validity and no mandatory vaccinations are required.

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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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