Southern Africa Safari Tours
Cultures, cuisines and landscapes – Cape Town
CAPE TOWN AND SURROUNDS
- Table Mountain’s flat top was formed about 300 million years ago. The mountain was at sea level during an ice age and ice sheets flattened the layers of sandstone to form the famous landmark.
- Hand axes made by Homo Erectus, dating back 750 000 years, have been found near Cape Town.
- The San and the Khoikhoi are the first recorded peoples of the Cape. The San were hunter-gatherers while the Khoikhoi were mainly herders. In later years, the Khoisan generation called the area Hoerikwaggo, meaning “mountain that rises from the sea”.
- Cape Town is situated on an underground river called Camissa, meaning “place of sweet waters”.
- In the 1500s, Portuguese sailors encountered storms as they sailed around the Cape Peninsula and dubbed it “the Bay of Storms”.
- Jan Van Riebeeck and Dutch East India Company settlers landed at the Cape on April 6, 1652. They had been sent to the Cape to establish a supply station for ships travelling to the Dutch East Indies.
- Asian immigration to South Africa started in 1654 when slaves from Malaysia were brought to the Cape, in turn encouraging the spread of the Islamic faith and culture in the Cape. They are known today as Cape Malays – a unique mixture of African and Asian culture. Their cooking is exotic and a ’must try’ during a visit to the Cape.
- Cape Town celebrates Tweede Nuwe Jaar, meaning “Second New Year”, in the form of a parade of singing and dancing ‘Kaapse Klopse’ minstrels. This tradition has its origins in the Cape Malay slaves who celebrated the ringing in of a New Year on the only day they were offered leave from work each year – 2 January. This tradition has carried on for almost two hundred years.
- Cape Town has its own unique mix of indigenous music called Ghoema, closely associated with the Cape Malay culture having its origins linked to the musical culture of the original Malay slaves brought to the Cape by the Dutch in the 1600’s.
- Great Britain took possession of the Cape during the Napoleonic wars (the Dutch were French allies) and stopped the importation of slaves in 1801. Britain gave the Cape back to the Dutch after hostilities ceased in 1802 and later purchased it from the Dutch in 1814. Britain abolished slavery throughout its empire on 1 August 1834.
- Cape Town has the oldest wine industry outside Europe and the Mediterranean, dating back to 2 February 1659 when Jan van Riebeeck produced the first wine recorded in South Africa.
- On 31 May 1836 Darwin’s HMS Beagle arrived at Simon’s Bay, near Cape Town, on its way home to South America. Darwin trailed through the Cape for 18 days while doing research here.
- The original Table Mountain Cableway opened for business on 4 October 1929, transporting millions of visitors, as well as the current Queen of England, Elizabeth ll, to its smooth summit.
- The oldest living tradition in Cape Town is the firing of the Noon Day Gun at Lion Battery on Signal Hill. The Noon Day cannons are also two of the oldest cannons in the world still in daily use.
- Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first human heart transplant in the world in 1967 in Cape Town at Groote Schuur Hospital.
- District Six is an inner city residential area made famous by the forced removal of more than 60 000 inhabitants during the 1970s. The District Six Museum was established in 1994.
- Cape Town’s City Hall was built in 1905. On 11 February 1990 Nelson Mandela made his first public speech after his release from Robben Island, on the balcony of the City Hall.
- South Africa hosts some of the largest, by number of entrants, sporting events in the world with three being the largest of their type. The Cape Argus is one and the other two are the world’s largest ultra-marathon running event, the Comrades Marathon, and the world’s largest open water swim, the Midmar Mile.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
THE CITY AND THE PENINSULA
Cultures, cuisines and landscapes – Cape Town
Take the cableway up one of the 7 Wonders of the new world, Table Mountain.
Spend the day shopping, eating and relaxing at the most visited attraction in Africa, the V&A Waterfront. (V&A stands for Victoria and Albert)
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison.
Take a walking tour or ride the ‘Red Bus’ and discover the heritage, architecture and hidden gems of the city where the colonisation of Africa began.
Stroll along the Sea Point Promenade, 11km of ocean shore walkway.
Ride or if you’ve got the time and energy, hike up Lion’s Head to experience one of the most picturesque routes in the world and enjoy stunning 360 degree views from the summit.
Feel the African vibe in Greenmarket Square, with street cafés and arts & craft markets in a cobbled-stone square.
Party at one of the vibrant clubs or restaurants in Long Street at night or browse its many quirky shops during the day.
At Camps Bay you can have a lazy day on the Blue Flag graded beach or enjoy a cocktail on the famous sundowner strip.
Take your picture outside one of the colourful houses in Bo-Kaap, the home of the historic Cape Malay community.
The Scenic Penninsula
Chapman’s Peak Drive: This is truly one of the most scenic seaside roads in the world. Absolutely stunning views of the coastline.
View or even swim with African Penguins who are permanent residents on Boulders Beach
See spectacular natural scenery and catch a ride on the funicular at the most south westerly tip of Africa, Cape Point.
Ride on horseback across the uninterrupted 8km stretch of white sand at Noordhoek Beach.
Enjoy traditional fish and chips from a box at Hout Bay Harbour or visit the Bay Harbour Market over the weekend.
Simon’s Town is the historic naval centre of South Africa. If you visit, take a pic with the statue of ‘Just Nuisance’ the only dog ever to be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy, who served during WWII.
The Cape is dotted with bay after picturesque bay. Browse the quaint, arty shops or drink and dine at one of the many sea view restaurants or coffee shops in Kalk Bay.
In Muizenberg bay you can stroll along the beach and feel the cool Benguela current as it collides with the African continent before it heads north along Africa’s west coast. Take a picture of the brightly coloured wash houses on the beach or for the more adventurous, try surfing
Have an incredible personal encounter with a Seal on a guided snorkelling trip or go cage diving with Great White Sharks. Bookings can be made at most seaside towns and bays.
The Peninsula is ideal for road bike cycling and every March it hosts The Cape Town Cycle Tour called The Argus, the worlds largest cycle race.
Cultures, cuisines and landscapes – Cape Town
CULTURE AND CUISINE
The most notable effect the Cape Malay culture has had on the South African lifestyle is in the kitchen. Cape Malay samosas are a Cape Malay traditional dish with a South Asian influence. Adaptations of traditional foods such as bredie, bobotie, sosaties and koeksisters are staples in many South African homes.
The founders of this community were the first to bring Islam to South Africa. The Muslim community in Cape Town remains large and vibrant. The Indian influence in the Cape Malay culture is a result of generations of widespread intermarriage and union between the two communities.
People in the Cape Malay community generally speak Afrikaans but also English, or local dialects of the two. They no longer speak the Malay languages and other languages which their ancestors used, although various Malay words and phrases are still employed in daily usage.
Take a walk down Long Street or visit the V&A Waterfront to sample the various unique South African cuisines available. From world class wines to spicy curries to mouthwatering desserts, here you will find so many to choose from.
Cultures, cuisines and landscapes – Cape Town
TOUR THE PENINSULA
CAPE TOWN CYCLE TOUR – THE ANNUAL ARGUS
Cape Town Cycle Tour is the largest cycle race, based on number of entrants, in the world. It is traditionally staged on the second Sunday of March and has attracted well known competitors such as Miguel Indurain, Jan Ulrich and Lance Armstrong. South Africa hosts some of the largest sporting events in the world with three being the largest of their type. Besides the Cape Argus cycle race, the other two are the world’s largest ultra-marathon running event, the Comrades Marathon, and the world’s largest open water swim, the Midmar Mile. Officially known as the Cape Town Cycle Tour, it is an annual cycle race hosted in Cape Town, South Africa and is usually 109 km (68 mi) long. It is the first event outside Europe to be included in the Union Cycliste Internationale’s Golden Bike Series. The Cycle Tour forms the last leg of the Giro del Capo, a multi-stage race for professional and leading registered riders.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
The city of gold and the economic capital of Africa
JOHANNESBURG AND SURROUNDS
Located in the province of Gauteng and known as the City of Gold, Johannesburg and it’s surrounding suburbs is a vast metropolitan area with a population of approx. 12 million. It is still considered the financial center of Africa and the tourism gateway to sub-Saharan Africa. Although not considered a tourism hotspot itself, there are a few locations of interest to see while here. The city has a vibrant nightlife geared towards the younger generation with many clubs and bars that will give you a genuine taste of modern Africa. Dotted around greater Johannesburg are casinos and one in particular is of interest as it includes a theme park as well as being situated on a former gold mine that now operates as a tourist attraction. The Gold Reef Casino and Theme park is definitely worth a visit. There are museums and historical sites in the township of Soweto that may be of interest as well. If you are an amateur anthropologist or archaeologist than do not miss The Cradle of Humankind. This world heritage site spans about 100km across the north of the city and features a museum with a functioning science laboratory. Here you can observe technicians in lab-coats with microscope headgear delicately remove 2 million year old hominin fossils from solid rock. You can also view the caves from where these fossils were retrieved although it does require some physical exertion so bare that in mind should you decide to visit the caves.
Although Gauteng is not a large province, it does still boast one ‘Big 5’ game reserve, Dinokeng. Not only can you see most of the wildlife found in South Africa here but you can stay in comfort at your choice of accommodation, from backpacker to 5 star. The park features professional game drives with fully qualified rangers and hot air balloon rides over the reserve.
So, if you are short on time or do not want to travel greater distances, then Johannesburg and it’s surrounds can offer a great taste of Africa at bargain prices and at nearby locations.
In the 1880’s, the richest gold deposits in the world were discovered in Sandton. Although it is not apparent today, Sandton City wasn’t always the economic centre of South Africa. In fact it only opened its doors in 1973. Before then it was primarily farmland waiting to be developed into the the metropolis it is today. The CBD of Johannesburg was originally the economic centre but from the mid 1970’s businesses and corporations began to migrate about 15km to the north. Today, Sandton is Africa’s richest square mile
Archaeological findings suggest the area, which Sandton comprises today, had originally been occupied by various indigenous groups, before European settlement, most notably the Tswana and, to a lesser extent, Sotho people. The remains of an Iron Age smelter was discovered in Lone Hill, a suburb of northern Sandton. One of the first Voortrekker parties to settle in the area were the Esterhuysen family on the farm Zandfontein (Afrikaans and Dutch for Sandy Spring or Sand Fountain). A monument to commemorate them may be found just off Adrienne Street in Sandown where the family cemetery is located.
In the 1960’s, Nelson Mandela was captured by South African police in the area. Tried for treason in what became known as the ‘Rivonia Trial’, which derives its name from the locality of Rivonia and includes Liliesleaf Farm, home of the conspirators. Nelson and his co-conspirators were captured at or near Liliesleaf Farm, privately owned by Arthur Goldreich, on 11 July 1963. The farm had been used as a hideout for the African National Congress and others. Among others, Nelson Mandela had moved onto the farm in October 1961 and evaded security police while masquerading as a gardener and cook called David Motsamayi (meaning “the walker”). The trial was memorable for Nelson Mandela’s speech in which he stated -‘During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, my Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’- and for the verdict in which the presiding judge Dr. Quartus de Wet gave the defendants life sentences instead of the death penalty as was anticipated by many. Image the difference in the world today if the judge had decided to impose the death penalty.
In 1969 the Johannesburg Town Council proclaimed a new municipality, which they called “Sandton”, a name derived from suburbs Sandown and Bryanston, and it was rezoned in recognition of the need for another town centre in Johannesburg.One of the main attractions in Sandton is Sandton City, which ranks among the largest shopping centres in Africa. Together with Nelson Mandela Square, the centre, with some 144,000 m2 of shopping space, is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Much of Johannesburg’s business tourism is centred on Sandton, which has a string of 5-star hotels.
It was recently announced by Liberty Properties that Sandton City will receive a R1,77-billion upgrade. Liberty Properties chief executive Samuel Ogbu has envisaged the complex as South Africa’s very own Wall Street “Africa is not for sissies, but we have a bold vision, which is to see the Sandton City precinct as our own Wall Street.” The redevelopment will include the construction of a 60-storey office tower, a new hotel, new retail and office space and residential apartments. The 60-storey office tower will be the tallest building in Africa, replacing the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg CBD. The extension will stretch to 30 000 m2 and the total complex will have a gross lettable area of 158 000 m2. London-based RTKL Associates have been chosen to design the complex.
Nelson Mandela Square, formerly known as Sandton Square, was renamed in March 2004, after the unveiling of a 6-metre bronze statue of the former South African president. Perhaps ironically, Liliesleaf Farm, where Nelson Mandela lived in the early 1960s and where many leading political activists were arrested in 1963 and tried as part of the now infamous Rivonia Trial, is just north of Nelson Mandela Square, close to the N1 Highway, off Rivonia Road.
Some of the other tourist attractions in Sandton include Liliesleaf Farm which is now a museum with guides and video presentations. For more information, visit http://www.liliesleaf.co.za/ If you are interested in South African flora then perhaps a visit to Johannesburg Botanical Gardens would be an enjoyable excursion. Learn more at http://www.jhbcityparks.com/index.php/conservation-contents-95/botanical-gardens-contents-96 Perhaps you have an interest in birds or maybe enjoy the glitz and glamour of a casino or both. If so then a trip to Monte Casino is recommended. You will find an aviary with over 60 species of bird as well as small mammals and antelope. For more info visit https://www.tsogosun.com/montecasino/entertainment/bird-gardens In addition, Monte Casino boasts 30 restaurants, a piazza, a live theatre, movies, a 10 pin bowling alley and much more.
Dinokeng Game Reserve
Archeology and Anthropology
The Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa. Here, the landscape is dotted with subterranean limestone caves that have turned up a rich fossil record for human evolutionary studies, which lend credence to the ‘Out of Africa’ theory of where our ancestors came from. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxgnlSbYLSc
Also of interest is the documentary – Dawn of Humanity – (768) NOVA Science Documentary – Dawn of Humanity – YouTube
Archaeological finds within the Cradle of Humankind include two-million-year-old stone tools. About 50km north-west of Johannesburg is the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, an area of undulating grassland, rocky outcrops and river courses typical of the Highveld before it was overtaken by urban sprawl.
It’s a place that draws visitors from around the world for the fossil record that lies in the network of limestone caves beneath the surface.
Here you’ll find the Sterkfontein Caves, Swartkrans and Kromdraai, among other fossil sites, all places that tell the story of what the world was like when our human ancestors were evolving some two to three million years ago.
At the Sterkfontein Caves alone, the remains of more than 500 hominids (the hominid family includes modern-day humans and their direct ancestors) have been uncovered, lending credence to the ‘Out of Africa’ theory, which is that humans and their ancestors evolved in Africa first. So rich is this hominid fossil record that the area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, one of eight in South Africa.
Fossils were first unearthed here in the 1890s when the caves were blasted open for lime needed for the extraction of gold discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1886.
But it was only from the 1930s that serious scientific work started to take place.
One of the first major discoveries was that of ‘Mrs Ples’, a pre-human skull dating back more than 2-million years (Australopithecus africanus) unearthed by Professor Robert Broom and his assistant, John Robinson, in 1947 at the Sterkfontein Caves.
The skull was originally classified as Plesianthropus transvaalensis (hence the name) and was an adult version of the same species as the Taung Child, the tiny fossilised skull of a child about three years old that had been found at the Taung limeworks in what is now the North West province, and identified by Professor Raymond Dart in 1924.
Although smaller than us, Australopithecus africanus is regarded as one of our early ancestors because it walked upright. In 1997, a complete hominid skeleton called ‘Little Foot’, also found in the Sterkfontein Caves, was introduced to the world and is still in the process of being described.
Located just an hours drive north of Johannesburg is Gauteng’s only ‘Big 5’ game reserve, Dinokeng. This reserve is new, only established in 2004 and small in comparison to Kruger National Park but still large enough and established enough to provide visitors with a genuine African experience. It features professional game drives with qualified rangers that are equal to drives experienced in larger, more famous game reserves. It has several choices of accommodation and activities, ranging from hot air balloon flights over the reserve to tours to the Cullen Diamond mine. There is also an animal rehabilitation center with animals from all over Africa located within the reserve.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
Kruger National Park
The Panorama Route is a popular road-route along the Great Escarpment in the north eastern corner of South Africa, exploring several cultural and natural points of interest. Traveling through Mpumalanga province, the route is dotted with historical sites as well as some of the most amazing views of the African landscape including the world’s third largest canyon, Blyde River Canyon. In addition it features numerous waterfalls, large areas of Pine forest and natural landmarks such as ‘Bourkes Luck Potholes’, the ‘Three Rondavels’ and ‘God’s Window’. Depending on your point of entry the starting point may vary although it is generally accepted to begin at the foot of the Long Tom Pass just outside Lydenburg and ends at the border of the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces near the Echo Caves. Many visitors enter at Hazyview and travel northwest along the Kruger National Park border, slowly climbing up into the Drakensberg Mountains and through the Blyde River Canyon. Regardless of where you start and end, the scenery is stunning and history is fascinating.
Africa’s best wildlife reserve
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK AND SURROUNDS
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926.
To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere an area designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve.
The park has nine main gates allowing entrance to the different camps
Skukuza is situated on the banks of the Sabie River in the south of the park and is the original name of the park, Skukuza rest camp
Skukuza has a number of historical sites including 3 museums and a library. The camp center consists of shops and restaurants with the Selati Train restaurant situated on an old train platform east of the center. There is a main reception where it is possible to book game drives, bush braais or guided walks in Kruger. Skukuza also has 2 swimming pools, a golf course, garage, police station, post office and a bank. The camp is spotted with huts, guest houses and basic camping facilities. Nearby the camp is a nursery where plants native to the region can be viewed and purchased. There is an airport 5 km away, called Skukuza Airport, with direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg on a daily basis. SAA Express operates two daily from Cape Town and OR Tambo, as well as two daily flight from Skukuza to both OR Tambo and Cape Town International.
In the late 1990s, the fences between the Kruger Park and Klaserie Game Reserve, Olifants Game Reserve and Balule Game Reserve were removed and these parks were incorporated into the Greater Kruger Park adding 40 000 hectares to the reserve.
Finally, in 2002, Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique were incorporated into a peace park, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
As of 2013, the park’s anti-poaching unit consisted of 650 SANParksgame rangers, assisted by the SAPS and the SANDF (including the SAAF). In addition, the park is equipped with two drones borrowed from Denel Dynamics, South Africa and two Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopters, donated by the RAF to augment its air space presence. Automated movement sensors relay intrusions along the Mozambique border to a control center, and a specialist dog unit has been introduced. Buffer zones have been established along the border with Mozambique, from where many poachers have infiltrated the park, as an alternative to costly new fences. The original 150 km long fences were dropped in 2002 to establish the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The national anti-poaching committee oversees all activities and coordinates interested parties.
Kruger’s big game poachers have sophisticated equipment and operate with night vision instruments and large caliber rifles that are fitted with suppressors and high tech telescopes. They are mostly Mozambique citizens that initiate their carefully planned incursions from the Mozambique border region. In 2012 some 200 poachers were apprehended, while about 30 were killed in skirmishes.
In July 2012, a Kruger game ranger and policeman were the first to die in an anti-poaching operation, while other employees reported intimidation by poachers. Rangers in and around the park have been pressured or blackmailed by poaching syndicates to provide intelligence on the whereabouts of rhinos and anti-poaching operations. In December 2012, the park started using a Denel Dynamics Seeker II drone against rhino poachers.
Poachers mostly operate at or near full moon and make no distinction between white and black rhinos. Losses of black rhino are however low due to their reclusive and aggressive nature. With rhino horn fetching in excess of $66,000 per kilogram, the CITES ban on the trade in rhino horn has proved largely ineffectual. The second horn is sometimes hacked from the skull to obtain about 100 ml of moisture that is sold locally as traditional medicine. Poaching related to rhino horn escalated in the 21st century with 949 rhinos killed in Kruger in the first twelve years (2001 to 2012), and over 520 in 2013 alone. A planned memorandum of agreement between South Africa and Vietnam, in addition to the one with China, are seen as necessary milestones in stemming the tide, while negotiations with Thailand have not yet started.The amount of rhino horn held in storage is not publicly known. Since 2009 some Kruger rhinos have been fitted with invisible tracing devices in their bodies and horns which enable officials to locate their carcasses and to track the smuggled horns by satellite. South Africa’s 22,000 white and black rhinos, of which 12,000 are found in Kruger, represent some 93% of these species’ world population. Kruger experienced significant elephant poaching in the 1980s, which has since abated. It holds over 48 tons of ivory in storage. According to Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), it is allowed to sell 30 tons. Following approval by CITES, 47 metric tons of stockpiled ivory from Kruger were auctioned on 6 November 2008. The sale fetched approximately US$6.7 million which will be used towards increasing anti-poaching activity. The average price for the 63 lots on auction was US$142/kg. It is foreseen that the placement of wire traps to procure meat would eventually become the most challenging form of poaching. A scheme has been proposed to reward adjacent communities with the proceeds of game sales in return for their cooperation in game preservation. The larger communities include Bosbokrand, Acornhoek, Hazyview, Hoedspruit, Komatipoort, Malelane, Marloth Park, Nelspruit and Phalaborwa.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
The Pilanesberg Mountain, also known in geographical terms as ‘Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex’, is a vast ring dike of a very ancient extinct volcano that last erupted some 1,200 million years ago in the North West Province of South Africa. The mountain is a circular structure that rises from flat surrounding plains and consists of three concentric ridges or rings of hills, of which the outermost has a diameter of about 24 km. Pilanesberg, named after a Tswana chief, Pilane, is for the greater part enclosed in a protected area known as the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
The Pilanesberg Game Reserve borders with the entertainment complex Sun City and is currently administered by the North West Parks and Tourism Board. The creation of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve in the 1970’s is considered one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind to be undertaken anywhere in the world and ‘Operation Genesis’ is still the largest game translocation ever undertaken.
The park has a rich array of southern African wildlife including the Big Five, the five most dangerous game animals in Africa. The Pilanesberg is not in a location which the Big Five animals would naturally inhabit, however they have been relocated to the park with great success.
Most of the animal species of southern Africa live in the Pilanesburg Game Reserve today, including lions, elephants, black rhinos, white rhinos, Cape buffalo, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles. The Cape wild dog had been eradicated from the park but the species has recently been reintroduced. In addition, over 360 bird species have been counted. As of December 2010 the total count of large mammals was approximately 10,000.
Aside from the wonderful wildlife within the reserve, scattered throughout the park are various sites that originate from the Iron Age and Stone Age and show the presence of early man. The park has an area of 572 square kilometres (221 sq mi). One can travel through in a standard road vehicle as although most of the 188 kilometres of track are not surfaced, they are well maintained. There are three main tarred roads named Kgabo, Kubu and Tswene providing several stops where there are bars and gift shops. Within the park there are several lodges providing excellent overnight accommodation. Towards the centre of the park there is an artificially constructed lake at Mankwe Dam as well as Thabayadiotso which means “the Proud Mountain”
Hartbeespoort, nicknamed “Harties”, is a dam, lake and resort area in the North West Province of South Africa. Situated on slopes of the Magaliesberg mountain range the name is Afrikaans and means “gateway of the hartebeest”, a species of antelope. It was built on a farm owned by Hendrik Schoeman and the town Schoemansville is named after him. Other towns in the area include Hartbeespoort, Meerhof, Ifafi, Melodie, and Kosmos. The dam is fed by the Crocodile River and was built primarily to provide irrigation for numerous farms in the area although the water has been tainted by pollution over recent years making it unsuitable for most farms today. The dam lake also struggles with water Hyacinth, covering large sections with the large green leaves of the plant. Despite these problems it is still very picturesque. The region is scattered with holiday homes, resorts, game reserves and attractions as it is a popular getaway location for residents of Johannesburg as well as tourists from abroad.
Some of the main tourist attractions in or around Hartbeespoort Dam are:
• The Hartbeespoort Dam wall and tunnel
• The Hartbeespoort Dam Snake Park
• The Hartbeespoort Dam Aquarium
• Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway
• Transvaal Yacht Club
• Oberon Leisure Resort
• Welwitchia Country Market
• The Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoort Dam
• Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary
• Harties horse trail safaris
• Chameleon Village
THE HARTBEESPOORT AERIAL CABLEWAY
The Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway or Harties Cableway, originally constructed in 1973, extends to the top of the Magaliesberg and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. It is situated 1km to the east of the town of Hartbeespoort in the North West Province, and is the longest mono-cableway in Africa. In 2010 the cableway was completely revamped and modernised by Swiss company Zargodox (Pty) Ltd, and officially reopened on 14 August 2010 by the then Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk. The aerial cableway is open 7 days a week.
Sun City is a luxury resort and casino, situated in the North West Province of South Africa along the borders of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, only about a 2 – 3 hour drive from Johannesburg.
Sun City offers superb game viewing in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, to which it is adjacent, as well as a multitude of entertainment choices such as golf, dining, shopping and gambling.
Created in the late 70’s, Sun City was developed by the hotel magnate Sol Kerzner as part of his Sun International group of properties. It was officially opened on 7 December 1979; at the time it was located in the Bantustan of Bophuthatswana.
With its relative proximity to the large metropolitan areas of Pretoria and Johannesburg, Sun City soon became a world famous tourist destination.
Today, Sun City is a popular holiday and conference location for local and international travelers.
Sun City also has two international-standard 18-hole golf courses, the Gary Player Country Club and the Lost City Golf Course, both designed by Gary Player. The Gary Player Country Club is home to the Nedbank Golf Challenge (formerly the Nedbank Million Dollar Golf Challenge) that is held annually.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
The Garden Route is a 300-kilometre stretch of coast located along the south-west of South Africa, extending from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape. The name is inspired by the lush vegetation set amongst the lagoons and lakes that perforate the coastline. It features quaint towns such as Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay, Little Brak River and Nature’s Valley while the City of George is the administrative hub.
Boasting one of the mildest climates in the world, temperatures seldom fall below 10 °C in winter and rarely climb beyond 28 °C in summer. Nestled between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains and the coast, it is fed by the humid Indian Ocean, allowing year-round precipitation and creating an ideal climate for flora and fauna. On the leeward side of the mountain range is an area known as the Little Karoo, a semi desert area.
The many bays provide sanctuary for Southern Right Whales to breed here as well as being home to seals and dolphins. In addition there are numerous wildlife reserves in the region featuring excellent game viewing experiences including the ‘Big 5’
Imagine a remote and pristine African coastline, rugged and virtually untouched by human hands and you will have an image of the Wild Coast. With no coastal road but spotted with small communities and the only road out is the road in. It is hard to believe that on a continent with a population of 1.1 billion that you could find an area so sparsely peopled, yet here it is. A true naturalist’s paradise.
Located in the Eastern Cape, the Wild Coast runs from Port Edward on KwaZulu-Natal border down to East London. With countless bays and small towns with names like Coffee Bay, Wavecrest and Haga Haga, the region echoes adventure and wilderness.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
Victoria Falls (Tokaleya Tonga: Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke that Thunders”) is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Frequently described as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708m and height of 108m resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls.
David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855, from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls near the Zambian shore. Livingstone named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria of Britain.
There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank and Livingstone Island near the middle—the point from which Livingstone first viewed the falls. At less than full flood, additional islets divide the curtain of water into separate parallel streams. The main streams are named, in order from Zimbabwe (west) to Zambia (east): Devil’s Cataract (called Leaping Water by some), Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.
The Zambezi River, upstream from the falls, experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river’s annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April. The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 m and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 48 km away. At full moon, a “moonbow” can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Close to the edge of the cliff spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia’s Knife-Edge Bridge.
Archaeological sites around the falls have yielded Homo habilis stone artifacts from 3 million years ago, 50,000-year-old Middle Stone Age tools and Late Stone Age (10,000 and 2,000 years ago) weapons, adornments and digging tools. Iron-using Khoisan hunter-gatherers displaced these Stone Age people and in turn were displaced by Bantu tribes such as the southern Tonga people known as the Batoka/Tokalea, who called the falls Shungu na mutitima. The Matabele, later arrivals, named them aManz’ aThunqayo, and the Batswana and Makololo (whose language is used by the Lozi people) call them Mosi-o-Tunya. All these names mean essentially “the smoke that thunders”.
European settlement of the Victoria Falls area started around 1900 in response to the desire of Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company for mineral rights and British colonial expansion north of the Zambezi. Before 1905, the river was crossed above the falls at the Old Drift by dugout canoe or a barge towed across with a steel cable. Rhodes’ vision of a Cape-Cairo railway drove plans for the first bridge across the Zambezi and he insisted it be built where the spray from the falls would fall on passing trains, so the site at the Second Gorge was chosen. From 1905 the railway offered accessible travel from as far as the Cape in the south and from 1909, as far as the Belgian Congo in the north. In 1904 the Victoria Falls Hotel was opened to accommodate visitors arriving on the new railway. The falls became an increasingly popular attraction during British colonial rule of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), with the town of Victoria Falls becoming the main tourist center.
There are two small national parks at the falls – Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is 66 square km and Victoria Falls National Park is 23 square km. However next to the latter on the southern bank is the Zambezi National Park, extending 40 km west along the river. Animals are free to move between the parks although they are somewhat restricted by the town of Livingston and fencing around some of the lodges.
The national parks contain abundant wildlife including sizable populations of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, Grant’s zebra, and a variety of antelope. Katanga lions, African leopards and South African cheetahs are only occasionally seen. Vervet monkeys and baboons are common. The river above the falls contains large populations of hippopotamus and crocodile. African bush elephants cross the river in the dry season at particular crossing points. Klipspringers, honey badgers, lizards and clawless otters can be glimpsed in the gorges but they are mainly known for 35 species of raptors including Taita falcon, Black eagle, Peregrine falcon and Augur buzzard that breed there. Above the falls, herons, fish eagles and numerous kinds of waterfowl are common.
Interesting facts about Victoria Falls
- The spray from the falls means that the Rain Forest at Victoria Falls is the only place on earth that it rains 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.
- Moonbow – During a full moon you can see a moonbow also known as a Lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls.
- When the river is at a lower level during the months of September to December, it is possible to swim in a naturally formed pool known as the ‘Devil’s Swimming Pool’ right on the edge of the falls. This pool is accessed from Livingstone Island. There is a natural rock wall just below the water on the edge of the falls which prevents swimmers from being washed over by the current.
- Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The others are the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Harbour of Rio de Janeiro, Mount Everest, Polar Aurora, Paricutin volcano.
- Victoria Falls is the world’s largest curtain of falling water. The 1,700m wide water cataract drops through 110 m and the flow exits through a series of zigzagging gorges a 100m wide.
- The Victoria Falls Bridge was the dream and brainchild of Cecil John Rhodes, but he died before the bridge was completed.
- Queen Elizabeth the Queen of England visited the Victoria Falls in 1947… and stayed at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel in the royal suite.
- The falling water crashing into the bottom of the falls is eroding all the time. The pool beneath the falls is 70m deep.
- In 1910 two people named Mrs Moss and Mr Orchard’s bodies were found in the second gorge of Victoria Falls. They had been swept over the falls after their two canoes were capsized by a hippo at Long Island above the falls
- During the high water level in April of 2013, four elephants trying to swim across the Zambezi River were swept by the currents down the river and over the falls.
- The falls were once illuminated at night but the lighting was removed by The National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC).
- The Zambezi River is the fourth largest African River after River Nile, River Congo and River Niger and transverses six countries that include; Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is 1677 miles long.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
Chobe National Park, in northern Botswana, has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. It is Botswana’s first national park and is 11,700 km², the third largest park in the country after the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Gemsbok National Park and is the most biologically diverse. The Chobe Game Reserve was officially created in 1960, and in 1967, the reserve was declared a national park. The park is widely known for its spectacular elephant population. It contains an estimated 50,000 elephants, perhaps the highest elephant concentration of Africa.
The park receives many visitors because of its proximity to the Victoria Falls. The town of Kasane, situated just downstream, is the most important town of the region and serves as the northern entrance to the park.
Bordered by the Chobe River in the north, the landscape varies from swamp to semi desert and vegetation that changes from woodlands to savannah. The depression in southwestern corner where the Savuti Marsh is located is believed to be the remains of an ancient super lake.
Wildlife viewing include Rhinoceros, Warthog, Kudu, Impala, Zebra, Wildebeest, Elephant Lion, Leopard, African wild dog, Roan antelope, Sable antelope, Hippopotamus. Crocodiles and occasionally Cheetah.
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a swampy inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough at an altitude of 930–1,000 m in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari. All the water reaching the delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired and does not flow into any sea or ocean. Each year, about 11 cubic kilometres (2.6 cu mi) of water spread over the 6,000–15,000 km2 (2,300–5,800 sq mi) area. Some flood waters drain into Lake Ngami. The area was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that had mostly dried up by the early Holocene.
The Okavango is produced by seasonal flooding. The Okavango River drains the summer (January–February) rainfall from the Angola highlands and the surge flows 1,200 km (750 mi) in around one month. The waters then spread over the 250 by 150 km (155 by 93 mi) area of the delta over the next four months (March–June). The high temperature of the delta causes rapid transpiration and evaporation, resulting in 3 cycles of rising and falling water level that was not fully understood until the early 20th century. The flood peaks between June and August, during Botswana’s dry winter months, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size, attracting animals from kilometres around and creating one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
The delta is very flat, with less than 2 m (6 ft 7 in) variation in height across its 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi), while the water drops about 60 m from Mohembo to Maun
Most nationalities do not require a visa to visit Botswana, including Australia, Canada. USA and Great Britain.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
Etosha National Park
The greatest wildlife sanctuary in Namibia is the Etosha National Park. When rain falls during the wet season in Angola, the water winds it’s way south via the Ekuma River, one of the three rivers that supply a majority of water to the pan. The other two rivers are the Oshigambo River and Omurambo Ovambo River. Ekumo is an ephemeral river that occasionally flows, or forms pools, during the rainy season. It originates from the southern shores of Lake Oponono and is 250 kilometres long.
There is an abundance of game in Etosha National Park, showcasing some of the most common and rarest wildlife species. Home to some of the largest Elephant in Africa due to the vitamins and nutrients found in the ground, the endangered black rhino, lion, giraffe and even leopard. Birders will love the rainy season in Etosha. After good rains the salt pan fills with water attracting a cloud of flamingos. More than 340 bird species have been counted in Etosha National Park. Among the migratory species, is the European bee-eater. The game reserve is also home to the world’s largest bird, the Ostrich, and the heaviest flying bird, the Kori bustard.
Granted independence in 1990, this former German colony still echoes the past in towns such as Swakopmund and the city of Windhoek. The European heritage can been seen in many old buildings and is sometimes referred to as the Bavaria of the South.
As an Australian, you can visit Namibia for tourism purposes for up to 3 months a year without a visa. For other visits you’ll need to get a visa in advance.
Southern Africa Safari Tours
Kenya is located on the equator in Eastern Africa. It borders South Sudan, Uganda, Somalia, Tanzania and Ethiopia. The highest point is Mount Kenya at 5,197 meters above sea level. The 2 major cities are Nairobi in the central highlands and Mombassa on the coast.
Kenya boasts several reserves, the most well known being the Masai Mara Game Reserve famously known for the Great Migration.
Another is Amboseli National Park, one of Kenya’s most popular tourist parks, adjacent to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.
Lake Nakuru National Park is famous for its vast numbers of pink flamingoes while Samburu National Reserves is located in an arid region in the remote north of Kenya.
Tsavo National Park is Kenya’s largest park, divided into Tsavo West and Tsavo East.
Sibiloi National Park in Kenya stands on the edge of the largest desert lake in the world, Lake Turkana. The park is a World Heritage Site and known as The Cradle of Mankind due to its unique fossil and archaeological significance.
Nairobi National Park is world famous for being the only National Park to be found within a capital city in the whole world and although small (it covers an area of 117.21 km2) it is popular and well frequented by tourists.
‘I had a farm in Africa . . . ‘ from the movie ‘Out of Africa’.
Also in Nairobi is the home of Karen Blixen, now a museum and worth a visit if you enjoyed the movie.
Every year around 1.5 million wildebeest, close to a million Zebra and large numbers of others animals undertake the long trek from drier lands in Tanzania, northwards to Kenya’s Masai Mara in search of lush grazing grounds and life-giving water. This vast movement of animals is what is referred to as the Great Migration – which is one of the most remarkable wildlife encounters in the world and a thrilling display of wildlife behaviour.
The great migration is an all year event, dictated by the seasons and where the rains are, with Mara River crossing being the climax of the migration period. The Mara River crossing is one of the highlights as the animals try to cross the crocodile infested Mara River, during which many cannot escape the giant nile crocodiles lying in wait for their prey.
The migration into Masai Mara typically starts in July when the first large wildebeest herds gather at the northern edge of Serengeti, near the Mara River.The line of wildebeest migrating to Kenya’s Masai Mara frequently stretches as long as 40km or more. Sometimes the herds gather but do not cross so the Masai Mara Migration is unpredictable.Usually mid July to late August is the best time to see the migration which takes places over several weeks at different locations along the Serengeti Masai Mara border.
The northward movement of the wildebeest is from Serengeti into Masai Mara and is dictated by factors such as the climate, pasture and mating and calving seasons. The wildebeest are migrating through the year in a generally clockwise direction covering vast areas reaching into Southern, Central and Western Serengeti before the year long trek brings them to Masai Mara around July/August. Their journey back to Serengeti begins late October though is less of an event in comparison to the July/August migration