Vacation in South Africa, the Most Diverse Country in the World

by TessaSchlesinger

Whether you want to go on safari, view sharks in a feeding frenzy, climb Table Mountain, watch Zulus doing the gumboot dance or stroll gorgeous beaches South Africa is it!

South Africa is a truly unique country. With eleven official languages, six different climate zones, tremendous diversity in all things, rich in gold, diamonds, coal, and other minerals, immense wild life reserves boasting the big five, fertile land and stunning geographical features, it is probably the vacation of a lifetime. Read about just some of what South Africa, situated at the very botton of the African continent, has to offer the intrepid tourish. South Africa is about twice the size of Texas.

Cape Town Carnival

The Cape Town Carnival went through many metamorphases. It started off as a parade in the Mother City (Cape Town is the Mother City) and was later moved to stadiums by the South African Apartheid government. It has morphed to rival the Mardi Gras in Brazil.

Cape Town Carnival

Cape Minstrels at the Cape Town Carnival
The Ndebele Tribe of South Africa

There are many different nations and tribes living in South Africa. One of these nations/tribes is the Ndebele people.The homes of the Ndebele people are similar to those of the Zulu people - higly decorative and beautiful.. They also do beadwork.

Their style of dress is also very decorative, with particular styles of dress indicating their status in the tribe. Copper rings around arms and legs of women will indicate that they are married and faithful. The rings come off if her husband dies. Married women also wear grass rings around their necks. In the past, young boys would be naked except a small pouch covering the loins as would be young girls. Breasts would be naked. I grew up quite accustomed to seeing naked African men and women around me (only the pouch to cover the loins).

Gumboot Dance

The Gumboot dance came about as a result ofwhite mine bosses. They wanted to ensure that the Africans working on in the gold and diamond mines had some recreation and exercise and this dance was created for them.That said, it takes an amazing amount of energy and uses steps unique to some of the southern African tribues. Generally, the gumboot dance will be danced in most cities in the country as a way of earning a living.

South African Wild Life

Safari in South Africa

There are many animal reseves in South Africa. Some are extremely expensive and they are frequented by the very rich of the world. Others are affordable for us ordinary people!  Some game reserves, like Addo National Park, predominantly have elephants, while others like the Kruger National Park have the big five. Private game lodges are extremely luxurious but, again, expensive enough to host only the very rich. Game farms allow hunters to shoot anything from buck to lion. However, special licences are required (also very expensive) and this is used as a means to cull animals as, although vast tracts of land are allocated to game reserves, there isn't sufficient land to increase the size of these reserves endlessly.

South African Beaches

Muizenberg, Sardina Bay, Camps Bay, Jeffries Bay, Clifton

There is nothing quite like summer in South Africa. Because it's the southern hemisphere, December is the month for taking vacation, having barbecues, surfing, and tanning in the sun. Beaches tend to have fine white sand, stretch for miles, and, depending on the climate zone, face either the Indian Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean.Sardinia Bay, just outside Port Elizabeth, has rolling sand dunes like the Sahara Desert going down to the sea. The bush surrounds it and, in my youth, I used to go horse riding there. It's beautiful. Clifton Beach is the home of the world's most beautiful women. Charlize Theron might be one of them. Likewise my late mother. :)

South African actress, Charlize Theron, at home in South Africa.

Charlize Theron

Durban Beach on the east coast of Africa has a sub-tropical climate and lots of sharks

Durban Beach

Clifrton Beach - known internationally for its beautiful bikini girls

Clifton Beach, cape Town
Shark Feeding

In my childhood, great white sharks were the nightmare of Durban beaches on the east coast. The Indian ocean is warm and it was always thought that the sharks liked the warm water and that's why there were so many attacks in Durban. However, Cape Town now has many shark attacks by Great Whites and the eco-tourism industry has taken advantage of this. Divers go down in iron cages and horse meat is litered around the ocean. The sharks come to an eating spree and the divers watch. There has been an enormous outcry against this as surers now get attacked by Great Whites.


Feed the sharks in Cape Town

Shark Cage Diving
South African Safari and Sharks

Surfers Come to Jeffries Bay From All Over the World

Jeffries Bay Surfing

Jeffries Bay is not far from my home town, Port Elizabeth. It is one of the most famous surfing spots in the world because it has a particularly long continental shelf. This makes for enormous waves. Unusually, in Jeffries Bay, surfers get to share the water with dolphines. Watch the video below. 


Surf with the Dolphins in Jeffries Bay, South Africa

Jeffries Bay

Zululand, Home of the Zulu People, and Paradise.
Zululand is on the east coast of South Africa and has a sub-tropical climate. The hills are green and the flowers are richly fragrant. There are birds that take your breath away. Towards the north, on the coast, is a diver's paradise. as the coast of Zululand is known to have some of the richest coral reefs in the world. Driving through Zululand - known as Kwa-Zulu - means going back in town as huts litter the landscape. In order to drive from Durban to Zululand, you will need to drive through the Valley of a Thousand Hills, once made famous by books like Alan Paton's, Cry the Beloved Country. If you watch teh video below, you will see the traditional Zulu huts, and the way they dance, shamans and all.

Zululand or Kwa-Zulu
Pretoria, the Jakaranda City

Pretoria is one of the seats of government in South Africa. It is known as the Jacaranda city because its streets are lined with the purple blossoms of the Jacaranda tree. In addition, it is where laws are made in South Africa. If I remember correctly, it is called the legislative capital. There are beautiful old colonial buildings throughout the city. In the spring the city is fragrant with blossom and beautiful to behold. It is where Nelson Mandela was sworn into power when he became the first African president of South Africa after apartheid fell.

Part of my Childhood in Kamanasie Dam, Oudtshoorn

Ostritch Farming in South Africa

I spent some time living with my grandparents on their farm while my parents toured Europe for six to nine months in 1957. So ostriches were pretty much part of my childhood! I didn't stay on an ostrich farm, though. My grandparents farmed dairy and tobacco, but there were ostrich farms down the road. At the time, South Africa was the place to get ostrich feathers from and there was a big market for them. For those who are brave, sitting on the back of an ostrich while racing another ostrich may be considered. Personally, I'll give it a miss!

Ostritch Farming in South Africa

South African Snakes!

So I want to tell you a story.

My sister is building a cottage for me on the land they recently bought near the wilderness. The plan is that I spend six months of the year with her and six months galavanting all over the world (when I've got the money sorted out, of course). So she sends me this google map and tells me to mark the place on the map where I want my cottage build.

Um, yes, about one hundred and twenty four acres of it... And it's bush. 

So when we skyped I asked her about snakes. "Oh, not a problem. I saw one of those little yellow ones the other day."

My flesh froze.

"Those little yellow ones, yes. Oh, yes. A Puff Adder."

Excuse me while I nearly fainted. "But they're deadly."

"Yes, Tess, but we wear gumboots. If they 'pik', then they can't get through the rubber."

I'm still trying to figure out how to tell my sister that me and civilization are best friends and that me and snakes aren't...

South Africa has got a plethora of dangerous snakes.

Catching a Deadly Poisonous Snake.

Rinkhals Sanke

South Africa is Twice the Size of Texas

Geography of South Africa

South Africa is twice the size of Texas, and at one time, was probably one of the most mineral rich countries in the world. That's becausel it has diamonds, gold, uranium, gold, and coal for energy. . It has about half a dozen different climate zones and has most types of geographic terrain, ranging semi-arid desert through to lush sub-tropical vegetation. Cape Town is close to the South Pole but still boasts a pleasantly Mediterranean climate. In the North, it's hotter than hell and would make a Texan sweat. It snows in on the Drakensberg mountains in winter but skiing and other winter sports have not been introduced, although many vacation in these mountains. It's known more for its long hikes. The Orange Free State is flat, flat, flat. You can drive for miles and never see anything but flat land.

The Drakensberg Mountains
Many people go to the Drakensberg in winter for the snow. Although skiing isn't a particulary South Africa pasttime, it has slowly entered the picture during the past two or three decades. The Drakensberg is where the snow is. Likewise, it is where hikers go.


Hiking in the Drakensberg

Music is rich and diverse in South Africa.

South African Music

Everybody knows Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo (who performed with Paul Simon). They might have heard of Brenda Fassie if they lived in Europe or even Sipho Hotstix Mabuse. Johnny Clegg defied the times in Apartheid South Africa by becoming a 'black musician.'

 There is only one way to explain South African Music and that is to listen to it. Then, again, it's so extremely diverse, that it's difficult to believe that 'boere musiek' came from the same country as 'kwaito.'

Miriam Makeba

Ladysmith Black Mambazo


Afrikaaner 'farm' music.

Boere Musiek

The Big Cities of South Africa

Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth

South Africa, like every country in the world, has its world class cities. Cape Town is, perhaps, the city where the world's wealthy often come to retire. Princess Di's brother spent some time living there with his wife.Most of South Africa's rich people prefer to live in Cape Town. That said, Johannesburg is the diamond and gold mining center of South Africa. Durban is where people vacation and, of course, it has an enormous harbor as have several of the port cities. Port cities include Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town. Soweto stands for South Western Township and it was the designated area for 'people of color' to live during apartheid. Today, it is a bustling cosmoplitan city in its own right. To my mind, Port Elizabeth, my home town, is the most underrated city in the country. It's simply gorgeous! 

Durban, South Africa

Known Internationally to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world - the garden route...

The Garden Route

Like Los Angeles, Johannesburg has a Buzz of of its own


Table Mountain in Cape Town is one of the things to do before you die...

Table Mountain, Cape Town.

Me, in Namaqualand, with my young daughter in another life...

Namaqualand in the spring
Table Mountain the distance
My sister and her friend with Table Mountain in the back.
My sister and her friend with Table M...
Cape Town Entertainment
My sister - centre, being hoisted!
My sister - centre, being hoisted!
I went to Seal Island on a Cruiser...
Seal island
Seal island
Johannesburg Musicians
I was watching these at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg
I was watching these at Gold Reef Cit...

How to get to South Africa

Travel to South Africa

There are two ways to get to South Africa. The first is flight and the second is ocean liner. Direct flights tend to be from Europe, so if you go from America, you probably need to fly to Europe first. There are occasional direct flights though. British Airways and South African aiways are probably your best choice. In addition, the ocean liners come to South Africa in the summer. Another option is to find a cargo ship that brings cargo to South Africa. One can often book as a passenger on board them, and they tend to be cheaper. I've traveled on several and they're great. 

Once in South Africa, beware the taxis. I kid you not. They drive in a way certified to cause damage. Best way of getting around the country is to either hire a car, take the train, or fly. Hiking is not advised.

South Africa has, at times, being known as the most dangerous country in the world outside an active war zone. So it's good to stick to the crowds and not go off our your own. There are still shamans who will cut off certain of your body parts for 'muti' (medicine).

South Africa produces some awesome wine, on par with the best. You can travel the wine route and go wine hopping in the western cape. You can go to Robin Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned or take a tour to Seal Island. You can travel on a luxury train and sleep in a paradize compartment. Sun City and other theme hotels all over gambling of every type. In the spring, flowers abound in Namaqualand and it's worth the trip. 

One thing, lions actually do eat people. Tourists have got eaten. South Africa is a frontier world in some ways, with eon old civilizations living alongside a modern world. Take care, but you will enjoy an amazing country.

Updated: 12/05/2013, TessaSchlesinger
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