Large, diverse and beautiful, South Africa is said to be the size of France and Spain combined, and roughly twice the size of Texas. With the vast semi-desert across its heart, it is regarded as of one of Africa’s premier safari destinations such as Kruger National Park. It does come as a pleasant surprise to those who get to visit this amazing country by its excellent infrastructure, which draws favorable comparison with major leading countries in North America, Asia and Europe. Good transportation, excellent safe roads and first class hotels or room and board make South Africa a perfect touring country. A trip to South Africa would require detailed planning due to its vastness; therefore it is advised to focus on one section of the country based on the time of year chosen to visit. As South Africa’s almost entirely urban smallest region but home to nearly ten million people, Gauteng contributes about forty percent of the GDP; and while the province encompasses a section of the Magaliesberg Mountains and Witwatersrand, it is dominated by the huge metropolis incorporating Johannesburg, Pretoria and other industrial towns and townships surrounding them. Unlike other provinces that are known for spectacular natural attractions, Gauteng is a subtle physical driving force that sets the grounds for an forgettable touring experience.
Meaning Place of Gold in the Sotho language, Gauteng is dominated by the ever popular Johannesburg known for its fast energetic street life, soaring buildings and multicultural mix of people, makes for an African city that is like no other. The older parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria are described as the world’s largest man-made forest; but for those who acquire a taste for Jo’burg are mesmerized by its energy and vibrancy, which is said to be unmatched by any other city in South Africa. As a highly cosmopolitan city and the most Africanized in the country, Jo’burg is occupied by South Africa’s most famous townships, an active diverse cultural life as well as some of the best restaurants and the most progressive nightlife. Pretoria is the country’s administrative capital. Once a historically Afrikaner location, it has a diverse mix of civil servants, diplomats and students from within and outside of South Africa. Although smaller and more relaxed than Johannesburg, Pretoria is regarded as an important and intriguing destination, with a range of interesting museums and historic buildings. For those out to mingle, whatever your interest, club hopping or relaxing with friends in an open-air beer gardens, Cape Town is the place to be– especially in the summer where many bars, lounges and clubs awaits visitors. For the adventurous interested in animal sightseeing, Kroger and KwaZulu-Nata offer great game and birdlife with Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park offering the best place to see endangered rhinos in addition to several other outstanding small game reserves nearby, such as Ithala, Mkhuze and Ndumo.
Another historic tourist attraction is Constitution Hill that overlooks Johannesburg. The multi-million Constitution Hill development was one of South Africa's most ambitious public building projects following the country's first democratic elections in 1994, which gave rise to some of the new South Africa's most admired architectures. A multi-purpose, multi-faceted heritage precinct in the heart of the city, Constitution Hill was built on a century-old prison complex where the leaders and activists such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were once detained. Hence, Constitutional Hill is a witness and tells the story of South Africa's turbulent past and its extraordinary transition to democracy. Through guided tours and exhibitions that have been designed as interactive experiences, visitors learn about the injustices of South Africa's past while observing the process by which the country's freedom was won and is now protected. The visitors experience a real court case at the Constitutional Court, the court's collection of South African artworks, and three prison museums namely Number Four, the Women's Gaol and the Old Fort which is one of Johannesburg’s oldest building built in 1893 as a fortress during the Anglo Boer War and Nelson Mandela was the only black prisoner to be held in this prison. The Number Four was once home to activists and leaders Mahatma Ghandi, Robert Sobukwe and the students of the 1976 Soweto uprising. A visit to this museum deepens the knowledge of the severity of injustice during the era of apartheid. The Victorian-style building of the Women's Gaol held female leaders and activists such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Fatima Meer. In addition to touring the location, videos run constantly as part of the exhibition. For example, one filmed in April of 1977 showcases some of the thirteen years into Madiba’s life sentence in Robben Island.
Transcending race and language, sports unite the country. From the township of Orange Farm to the KwaZulu-Natal Province, it is a national religion. When a South African team wins, hooting, cheering, banging of dustbin lids, trumpeting on cow horns and fireworks reverberates across the largest cities. The national adrenaline goes into overdrive. When the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup on home turf in 1995, Nelson Mandela wore the No 6 shirt of the team's captain – Francois Pienaar, an Afrikaner – and the two embraced in a spontaneous gesture which melted hearts around the country. So a trip to South Africa during the World Cup or African Cup of Nations soccer games, which is the most popular sport in the country and continent, expect to feel the soccer fever at an all-time high. Festivals are also synonymous with South Africa and the culture. From the traditional New Year’s Kaapse Klopse festival in the Mother City, to artistic expressions in Grahamstown, to more sporting events than you can wave a stick at, visitors get to partake in the celebrations of South Africans. To experience the country of South Africa, contact a profession tour operator or the Department of Tourism to know more about the country and the best time to travel for breathtaking explorations and adventures and be partake in the pulsating heartbeat of an African giant nation!