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TRAVEL HOTSPOTS IN SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa is a strong country on adventure, sport, nature and wildlife, and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism. The Nelson Mandela’s country is always a beauty to behold for any traveller. We have selected a few of the stunning sites in South Africa for a memorable travel experience:

1. PheZulu safari park experience

The PheZulu Safari Park located in the heart of Durban. There’s so much more to see and do at this 25-year-old Botha’s Hill venue overlooking the Valley of a Thousand Hills than the name suggests. PheZulu offers an introduction into Zulu dancing and village culture, a crocodile and reptile area, a snake demonstration, shield- and spear-making, a Fear Factor lunch challenge, a restaurant with an unbeatable view and a well-stocked curio shop.

This one-stop destination is a boon for visitors looking for wildlife encounters together with an overview of Zulu culture, which is endemic to the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Just 35km from central Durban, the the phezule safari park invites guests on an hour-long scenic game drive through a private reserve where giraffe, wildebeest, impala, zebra, bushbuck, blesbok, caracal, duiker and bush pig can be seen. The natural vegetation is also a haven for many bird species.

Demonstrating Zulu traditions in a beehive hut. Image by South African Tourism

Stick-fighting forms an important part of Zulu culture. Image by South African Tourism

PheZulu is open from 8am to 4.30pm daily. The first dance show starts at 10am and is repeated throughout the day, with the last one at 3.30pm. Note that accommodation in the form of four luxury rooms and three self-catering cottages is also available on site. Phone +27(0)31 777 1000 to book.

Demonstrating Zulu traditions in a beehive hut. Image by South African Tourism

Demonstrating Zulu traditions in a beehive hut. Image by South African Tourism

2. Mpumalanga’s Mount Anderson Reserve

Mpumalanga Mount Anderson contains some of the most magnificent scenery of the whole African continent. It is an area not only steeped in wild beauty, but also in history.

The scenery is breathtaking and incredibly diverse, with dramatic contrasts between mountaintops on the one hand, and grasslands, deep valleys with rivers and trout dams on the other. One moment you are level with vultures riding the thermals, the next in a green valley with pockets of indigenous forest. On the high slopes and grassy plains, orange-throated longclaws abound, sentinel rock thrushes sit erect on big boulders, grassbirds flit and LBJs (birders’ “little brown jobs”) scurry. In the forest a Narina trogon calls and robins sing.

Spectacular mountain scenery. Image by Kate Turkington

Spectacular mountain scenery. Image by Kate Turkington

The area is also a botanist’s paradise, with plants and trees of all descriptions. Buddleia, St John’s Wort, cabbage trees, wild gardenias and rare species of lichen rub shoulders with two species of protea, the Cape sugarbush and Transvaal silver leaf.

.Mount Anderson is still undiscovered by most travellers, so make sure you get there soon, before the word spreads…

 3. Mandela Capture Site, KwaZulu-Natal

Mandela Capture Site near Howick in KwaZulu-Nata is marked by an impressive sculpture in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. It was the place where former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela who had been on the run from the South African apartheid government for 17 months was arrested and that was the catalyst for a series of trials, culminating in the Rivonia Treason Trial that would ultimately see him spend 27 years in prison, a feat that had earned him the name ‘Black Pimpernel’.

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Mandela Capture Site, KwaZulu-Natal

How to get here

About 5km north-west of Howick on the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg, take the Tweedie turn-off to Lions River. Turn right on to the R103. The site is a five-minute drive from the highway and well signposted. It’s open from 9am to 4pm every day of the week.

Best time to visit

All year but summer (November to February) can be subject to rain showers.

Around the area

This is the start of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, which has a host of galleries, coffee shops, craft outlets and other attractions.

Tours to do

Visit the on-site exhibition to learn more about the role Nelson Mandela played in South Africa’s liberation.

Get around

Self-drive.

What will it cost

It is free at present.

Length of stay

An hour or two.

Where to stay

There are many accommodation options in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, ranging from B&Bs to guest houses and hotels in the foothills of the Drakensberg.

What to eat

If you visit between Friday and Sunday you can enjoy breakfast or lunch at the Truth Café, where there’s a swimming pool too. They are open from 8am to 4pm.

Best buys

Buy a copy of Nelson Mandela’s biography, The Long Walk to Freedom, at the bookshop. At certain times of the year you can also buy blooms of the Mandela protea, a flower named after the great man.

Mandela Capture Site near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal Image South African Tourism

 Who to contact

Apartheid Museum
Tel: +27 (0)11 309 4728 (Noelene Patel)
(The Mandela Capture Site is currently managed by the Apartheid Museum)

4. Valley of a Thousand Hills, KwaZulu-Natal

A visit to the Valley of a Thousand Hills offers so much for travellers to choose from – Zulu history, culture and curios, retail therapy, wildlife tours, adventure sports, hiking trails, excellent restaurants – amid the magnificent scenery of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

Around the rim of the Valley of a Thousand Hills lie verdant suburbs dotted with cottages and bed and breakfast establishments, while upmarket shopping centres in Hillcrest, Westville and Botha’s Hill offer shoppers a plethora of décor, home crafts, clothing, food and other goodies . View from PheZulu in the Valley of a Thousand Hills Image courtesy South Africa Tourism

Valley of a Thousand Hills, KwaZulu-Natal

Valley of a Thousand Hills, KwaZulu-Natal

How to get there

Fly in via King Shaka International Airport and take the N3 heading inland from Durban. Watch for the many signboards halfway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Around the area

Shongweni Dam and Game Reserve offers hiking trails where large game such as bushbuck, wildebeest, rhino and giraffe can be seen. And if you need to pamper yourself, the spas at Makaranga and Crowhurst, both in Kloof, are excellent.

Tours to do

The Mariannhill Monastery near Pinetown has an art gallery featuring the works of local artists and a fascinating museum detailing the monastery’s rich history. Guided tours are available.

Get around

While there are public transport options, such as taxis and buses, hiring your own vehicle would allow you to explore at your own pace.

What to pack

Always remember a hat and plenty of sunscreen.

Where to stay

The leafy suburbs around the valley offer a wide choice of charming B&Bs and cosy self-catering cottages for rent.

What’s happening

In May the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir performs a series of concerts at the Makaranga Garden Lodge.

Best buys

There are many roadside curio stalls selling a variety of leather, glass, bead and wood pieces.

Who to contact

Valley of a Thousand Hills Tourism
Tel: +27 (0) 31 777 1874
Email: thtouris@iafrica.com

Credits: southafrica.net




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“Adventure must start with running away from home” --- William Bolitho