Looking at the size of South Africa, ten days would seem insufficient to explore its vast treasures. Fear not, you can still optimize your July vacation in this stunning country. Visit the Apartheid Museum that chronicles the healing process of the South African people from a psychological-devastating racial rift to their triumph over legalized discrimination. Stop over in Soweto which two iconic figures, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, once called home. Hang out with the chimpanzees saved by the Jane Goodall Institute or take a stroll near Boulder Beach, where the penguins strut their suits on the rocks. There are natural wonders like king-sized diamonds and many exciting options for the culture-loving traveler. Shall we begin? Here are ten must-see places and tours.
Taking a walk through the Apartheid Museum is like taking a walk through a living historical story from its first conflicting breath to its last. While the museum is the love child of historical and architectural beauty, its exhibitions were lovingly curated by experts, who authenticated this unique South African experience of struggle and triumph.
On your arrival, you’ll see the bold Pillars of Constitution stretched towards the sky beyond the red-brick wall that surrounds this treasure. Experience several of the permanent exhibitions such as Journeys and Race Classification. Except for three holidays within the year, the museum is opened on Mondays through Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is less than $7 USD. Spend a reflective two hours there, and according to Desmond Tutu, “Look the beast in the eye…” and let the story walk through you. Visit the museum's website for more information.
Out of Soweto, ‘South West Townships’ close to Johannesburg, rose mighty and memorable South African leaders like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The original purpose of the township during Apartheid was to house the black population, who continued to work in Johannesburg.
Injustice fuelled the 1976 social unrest that cost 176 students their lives. This propelled Soweto onto the international stage. This community is rich with culture. Visit Hector Pieterson Museum and Vilakazi Street named after a celebrated literary giant, Dr. BW Vilakazi; there you’ll find Mandela House and where Desmond Tutu lived. Kick back there and enjoy a meal too.
Animal lovers, you can adopt a chimp long before and after you visit Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The sanctuary opened its doors in 2006 while the Institute, which is devoted to chimpanzee conservation and behavioural research, was established in 1977.
On arrival, watch these adorable rescued animals play, lounge and eat in their secure enclosures, a sanctuary from trauma such as circus abuse and hunting. Tours are educational and are about an hour and a half for about $30 USD. You can enjoy delicious meals at the on site restaurant, which is opened from 8 am to 4 pm. All and wheelchairs are welcome. Visit their website for more information.
Here in the Caribbean, a pothole is not a beautiful thing. It makes the journey irritating, especially when you are on a bus with bouncing seats. However, in Mpumalanga, Bourke Luck Potholes lay beneath your feet like caramel Swiss cheese, earthy and creamy. It’s a beauty, a wonder. And while we all know the power of water, the destruction it can bring, the water in the Blyde River Canyon will make you think of water in a different way.
I think of it like a potter working the clay for hundreds of years, his fingers swirling in dance where the two rivers touch. Here the space is sacred, the rock is eroding, but not in a vulgar manner. The rock is taking shape; the rock is becoming art. The bonus likes in the fact that you get to see it from the bridges that curve above them metallic rainbows. The irony lies in the origin of its name. Bourke Luck Potholes, a modern-day wishing well, was named after a real person who once dug futilely for gold. I dare say his spirit is still there making impossible holes in solid rocks.
Pretoria, one of the main cities in Gauteng, is historically and culturally rich. Its old buildings are quiet celebrities. And if you are into museum strolls, it is the ideal place as it also has a Botanical Garden, bird sanctuary and zoo. Fun fact. Did you know that Pretoria is one of South Africa’s capitals? It is more laid back, which makes it an amazing city to explore.
While in Mpumalanga, visit God’s Window, a spectacular VIP landing of the landscape wonders. The cliff-like precipice is 700-900 meters above the forest floor that spills ahead as far as the eyes can see. It is such a well-kept secret. You will call it that too when you realize that it is as unseen as the palm of a closed fist when you park your vehicle. There are reserves, hills, waterfalls and an opportunity to engage in a number of activities. The walk that takes you to the Rain Forest above to your left is quite a hike but ten folds worth it. Can you get anything this spectacular from a US dollar?
African penguins have the monopoly on the continent and maybe their unique sound has kept the other penguins at bay. Conservation plays a major role in keeping these tuxedo birds safe since their numbers dipped precariously 100 years earlier. You can see them in action at Foxy Beach, which is also wheelchair accessible and get more information about the birds and their presence there at the Boulder Visitor Centre. While the birds are around year round, summer is the suggested time to visit.
Book a two-hour surface tour of a diamond mine, Cullinan's to be exact. With Premiere Diamond Tours, you can follow the process from search to cut and peruse replicas of world-famous diamonds, including Cullinan's famous 3106ct. diamond, which weighed a whooping 621.2 grams. In addition, the gaping hole in the earth is enough to make your mouth drop.
Taking this tour is a raw reminder that diamonds are stones with not-so-pretty beginnings. And why not visit Cullinan Diamond Mine, a historical legacy that lends us a sneak peep behind the curtain of a desirable precious stone. Would you like to know the best part? You can shop for diamond-set jewelry on site. Oh happy day!
If you are from the islands, you will find that being on water in St. Lucia is both soothing and nostalgic because it is that idle drifting on the waves that indirectly connected you to home. However, the bundles of celebrity hippopotamuses, 800 strong, and the pine-cone bodies of lounging crocodiles are an ever present reminder that you are no longer in the Caribbean because these new found waters are already inhabited with territorial creatures that are quite oblivious to you cruising by. iSimangaliso Wetland Park is their haven and you are welcome to sail by for approximately 300rand or 21 USD.
That's right. A Hippo and Croc Safari is just one of the plethora of activities this World Heritage town has to offer. Besides, who said safaris are suppose to be on land and in jeeps? St. Lucia is paradise for outdoor and animal lovers. Note that there are approximately five trips per day starting as early as 6:30 a.m. in the summer and 7:15 a.m. in the winter. Take your jacket with you and, of course, your camera or binoculars on your two-hour discovery. This is definitely an experiences worth having.
From a distance, this world wonder or UNESCO World Heritage site seems like a barren, decapitated rock, but a slow, lulling 5-minute ride in cable car to its plateau magically transforms Cape Town into a picturesque miniature city at its feet and at the top, a thriving flora population of over two thousand plants that call Table Mountain National Park home is there waiting to welcome you. Better yet, on a clear day, Robben Island pops up in the horizon to say hello.
Formally, Cape Peninsula National Park, Table Mountain is a unique way to experience being on top of the world even though that world is Cape Town. Ideal for nature lovers who dare to defy heights and love being in the open under the lazy sprawl of the turquoise heavens. Table Mountain offers fresh air, stunning views, casual strolls marked by educational placards, seating and from what I recalled, a gift shop. Experience the Elevated Life for Less than 40 USD.
Which one of the ten peaked your interest? Which one have you visited or would like to visit? COMMENT BELOW.
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Welcome, I'm Rochelle, curator of saltfish & Lace, a St. Martin lifestyle blog.
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This section of my blog is dedicated to the culture-loving globetrotter who splurges 'once in a blue moon' &
the budget friendly traveler
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