21st February 2013
One of South Africa's most spectacular landmarks, Table Mountain towers 1.086m above the 'Mother City', and on a clear day can be seen from as far as 200km out to sea. A quick trip up the cable car is a must, offering breathtaking views of the city and coastline from the many view points at the top. For the more energetic pack a picnic and a map and hike up one of the mountain paths, drinking in the spectacular scenery and the rich diversity of flora and fauna. No trip to Cape Town is complete without a visit to this splendour of nature.
The Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa. Nearly 2 million hector of land with an extremely high diversity of life forms and archaeological sights are protected in the oldest National Park of South Africa. The park is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.Furthermore, it preserves evidences of early human settlement such as the Thulamela Stone Citadel or ore mines.Today the Kruger National Park is one of the top tourist destinations in South Africa and attracts about 1.25 million guests per year. Despite this huge number of visitors, the park managed to align nature conservation with tourism very well. Today it is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.
Outshoorn Ostrich Ranch and Cango Caves
Outshoorn became a thriving town in the early 20 th century when Ostrich feathers were at the height of fashion, and is now the Ostrich capital of the world. Visit one of the many ranches and learn more about these huge flightless birds, try your hand at riding one and take home an enormous painted egg as a souvenir! The Cango caves are situated 28km outside of Oudtshoorn, and are well-known for their fascinating limestone formations. The cave extends for 5.3km in a series of connected chambers, the largest at 107m being the Grand Hall. Experienced guides take you through the caves, and one can choose the length and degree of difficulty of the tour. A must see!
The Cango Caves lies in the Swartberg Mountain Range in a limestone belt measuring about 1,5km in width and almost 16km in length. The limestone layer was formed by the deposit of calcium carbonate crystals. This part of South Africa was once below the ocean. As the continent rose the Little Karoo finally found itself above the water level. The caves only started to form some 20 million years ago, when the water level dropped to such an extent that the ground water could start to seep into the limestone.
Tsitsikamma’s Big Tree
The ancient Outeniqua yellowwood, estimated to be between 600 and 800 years old. Tourists and locals are able to admire the
giant specimen, reaching 40m skywards and a girth near to 9m. Sanral has pledged to assist in improvements in efforts to attract more tourists, with the construction of a secure public parking area that can accommodate up to 74 cars. The famed Tsitsikamma (a Khoi word meaning “place of abundant water”) Big Tree lies within the boundaries of the spectacular Garden Route National Park, on South Africa’s southern coast. The majestic tree is open to viewing all year around. Interested visitors can park their cars in the parking lot beside the N2 near the Paul Sauer bridge over the Storms River – often incorrectly called the Storms River bridge.The walk to the yellowwood is about 1km in total and takes about 10 minutes through lush indigenous bush. For the more advanced hiker there are two other trails starting from the same point, one of 2.6km and one of 4.2km.From the shadow of the Big Tree visitors can also gaze over the forest from a look-out deck, and the more energetic can wander down one of the trails that are accessible from this point.
The Mandela Museum
The Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha, situated in the Eastern Cape, is fast becoming a top tourist attraction in South Africa. The Nelson Mandela National Museum opened its doors on the 11th of February 2000 and the museum’s popularity continues to increase daily with thousands of South African and international tourists every year. The Mandela Museum is also considered one of South Africa's most significant heritage institutions.It's a rather out of the way place that nobody really knows about, yet it's a most fantastic museum once you're in there.
The Big Hole – Kimberly
The province's capital, Kimberley, dates back to the early 1870s when diamonds were discovered between the Vaal and
Orange rivers. Dug in the rush frenzy, the 500m wide Big Hole is now the biggest attraction of the otherwise ordinary town. By 1914 when the mine closed, over 14,5 million carats of diamonds had been removed from the earth, from the hole which descends 800 metres into the earth.The Kimberley Mine Museum consists of the old diamond-rush town, with shops, bars, banks and churches.
Diamonds are still mined from two mines on the outskirts of the city, and tours underground are available.The Big Hole itself is an astonishing sight.Mined to a depth of 215 metres, and with a surface area of about 17 hectares and a perimeter of about 1,6 km, it is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world.On 14 August 1914 work on the mine was suspended.
By that time 22,5 million tons of earth had been excavated, yielding 2 722 kilograms of diamonds.
Robben Island Museum
From the 17th to the 20th centuries, Robben Island served as a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment. Today it is a World Heritage Site and museum, a poignant reminder to South Africans of the price paid for freedom.
History of Robben Island
People lived on Robben Island many thousands of years ago, when the sea channel between the Island and the Cape mainland was not under water. Since the Dutch settled at the Cape in the mid-1600s, Robben Island was used primarily as a prison.Indigenous African leaders, Muslim leaders from the East Indies, Dutch and British soldiers and civilians, women, and anti-apartheid activists, including South Africa's first democratic President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and the founding leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, were all imprisoned on the Island.