Beautiful South Africa
Last month, we shared with you the spectacular destination reports provided by your fellow travel advisors. This month, we are excited to continue to discuss destinations while introducing the newly revised geography textbook for the travel professional: Exploring the World, 5th Edition!
If you are in this business, you must love destination geography, but the amount of information available can be overwhelming. Exploring the World cuts through endless data sources to give agents some validated what-to-do-and-see, when-to-go, and how-to-get-around information on the top cities, countries, and regions of the world. It’s truly a kaleidoscope of possibilities.
As always, it’s important to check the varying reopening dates, operating hours, and availability of attractions and accommodations and to consult sources like the U.S. State Department, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) before booking your clients.
To give you a taste of all the course has to offer, we will present, in September, excerpts of four different global regions taken directly from Exploring the World. This week’s topic is South Africa.
South Africa lies at the southern tip of the continent, with the Indian Ocean to the east and the South Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its Southern Hemisphere location lets visitors swap winter for summer. Enclosed within its borders is the small kingdom of Lesotho.
South Africa has three main geographic regions. First, the vast plateau of the interior slopes north and west to form part of the Kalahari basin. Second, the Great Escarpment rims the plateau. Third, a strip of fertile land runs along the coastal plain.
The major cities are along the Cape’s south and east coasts. The most popular international gateways are Johannesburg and Cape Town. Cape Town is the legislative capital, Pretoria the administrative capital, and Bloemfontein the judicial capital.
Cape Town Lying in a natural amphitheater at the foot of Table Mountain is Cape Town, which often is wreathed in a summer cloud known as the “tablecloth.” The mountain forms an unforgettable background. Visitors can go to the mountaintop via cable car, or they can hike a variety of trails that range in difficulty.
The restoration of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront has made the harbor an attraction. The waterfront is filled with restaurants, shops, hotels, and jazz clubs. From the waterfront, a ferry goes to Robben Island, the nature reserve best known as the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
The Cape of Good Hope juts southward from Cape Town. Semi-tropical plants, ostrich farms, and the rugged terrain make it one of earth’s most beautiful places.
The Winelands The area north of Cape Town includes vineyards and old Cape Dutch villages. South Africa’s 13 major wine-producing regions have sign-posted wine routes; one of the best known is the Stellenbosch Wine Route. Stellenbosch, the second-oldest European settlement after Cape Town, was founded in 1679. Many of the wine estates are open to visitors, some with restaurants and some providing bed-and-breakfast accommodations.
Garden Route East from Cape Town lies the Garden Route, one of the world’s most beautiful drives. The highway passes attractive resorts and long-established towns with elegant Cape Dutch buildings and lush vineyards.
Johannesburg Inland, Jo’burg is the largest African city south of the Sahara. Gold Reef City is an attraction that highlights South Africa’s legendary gold mines. Also popular are excursions to Soweto to visit the homes of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
From Johannesburg, most tours include an extension to Victoria Falls in neighboring Zimbabwe or a visit to Sun City resort, the “Las Vegas of Africa.”
Wildlife Safaris South Africa’s wildlife sanctuaries include nature parks, private game reserves, and national game reserves. Nature parks are noted more for their scenic beauty and hiking trails than for wildlife. Private game reserves offer a personalized game-viewing experience, whereas national game reserves can be explored by visitors in a variety of ways.
Kruger National Park is a national game reserve, probably South Africa’s most important attraction. It is along the border with Mozambique. The park has 137 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, and more than 100 kinds of reptiles. Facilities include roads, campgrounds, shops, and restaurants.
A dozen private game reserves share the park’s perimeter. Upscale Kapama and Sabi Sand provide game viewing in opulent surroundings.
Interested in learning more about Africa and the Middle East? It’s all in Chapter 13 of Exploring the World!