Monday, 22 May 2017

SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa Is Blessed With Treasures

While the US issues European travel alerts, warning its citizens to be wary of terror attacks in tourist hotspots on the continent, one of its biggest news outlets is recommending South Africa as the place to holiday.

CNN this week published a list of reasons to visit South Africa, which it says is "blessed with treasures". We love that.

To coincide with Freedom Day on April 27, they put together a slideshow of stunning images that celebrate the glorious natural and man-made wonders of "the best places to see in the Rainbow Nation".

While the list includes many obvious spots - including Table Mountain and the Kruger National Park - there are a few surprises and certainly a few omissions.

Still, the list makes for interesting reading, and is a great reminder to all of us who live here to be a little more appreciative and perhaps even a little smug.

We also think it's a good starting point for planning your next holiday.

If you're looking for a quick break, well these "23 reasons to visit SA" are all in your back yard.

1) The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve: Claimed to be the world's largest green canyon, the reserve is home to a 33km gorge, abundant wildlife and dramatic landscape.

2) Umhlanga, KZN: This "resort town" is celebrated for its 3km-long promenade, beaches and famous lighthouse.

3) Table Mountain, Cape Town: Says CNN, "Other cities have skyscrapers, Cape Town has Table Mountain."

4) Stellenbosch, the Cape Winelands: With gorgeous vineyards surrounded by mountains, Stellenbosch is also noted for its claim of having the only new grape variety created outside of Europe, pinotage.

5) Jacaranda season in Pretoria or Johannesburg: From late October to early November, says CNN, "there are few things more beautiful than the purple blossoms spilling from trees across the city". We agree.

6) Kruger National Park, Limpopo/Mpumalanga: One of the largest game reserves in South Africa and home to the Big Five.

7) Joburg sunsets: Joburgers will surely be touched by the advice that: "Sunset views over the city are breathtaking every time." We're not sure about the recommendation to view it from the Nelson Mandela Bridge, though, especially not for camera-toting foreigners. But yes, we love those sunsets.

8) Bourke's Luck Potholes, Mpumalanga: These potholes, part of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, include viewpoints and bridges over some of the most beautiful sections.

9) Hermanus, Western Cape: CNN calls it "one of the world's best whale-watching spots between July and November", when the waters off this coastal town become mating and breeding grounds for Southern Right Whales.

10) Chapman's Peak Drive, Cape Town: A 9km-long scenic drive with 114 bends.

11) Tugela River, KZN: Originating in the Drakensberg Mountains, the river is the largest in KZN. At times a rocky stream and at times a br)ad river, CNN says, amusingly, "it recalls scenes from the American West, except for the hippos".

12) Robben Island, Western Cape: The former criminal and political prison island is a Unesco world heritage site and packed with history - plus it offers a unique view of Cape Town.

13) De Hoop Nature Reserve, Overberg: Ideal for hiking, cycling and whale-watching, this reserve is also home to mesmerising sand dunes that fall away to the ocean.

14) Namaqualand, Northern Cape: See it in September, when this desert is blanketed with fields of bright blossoms.

15) Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape: Home to the Orange River Gorge and the 56m-high Augrabies Falls.

16) Amphitheatre, Drakensberg, KZN: This is described as "a near-perfect symmetrical rock wall rising 1,200m from the Tugela Valley". It's challenging hiking for experienced hikers.

17) Constitutional Court, Johannesburg: This former prison "that once held Mandela and Gandhi now houses the nation's highest court", plus there's an art gallery and museum. The ramparts of the old barracks offer some of the best views of Joburg.

18) Silvermine Nature Reserve, Cape Town: This one is a "favourite backyard garden for the residents of Cape Town," with fynbos and picnic spots.

19) Valley of Desolation, Graaff-Reinet: The valley inside the Camdeboo National Park is famous for its cliffs and natural dolerite rock columns rising as high as 120m. They don't say it's one of the most astounding views you'll ever see, but it is.

20) Mandela Capture Site, KZN: This steel-column sculpture marks the site where the former president was taken into custody. The surrounding landscape is stunning too.

21) Cango Caves, Western Cape: "A palace of exquisite formations."

22) Kalk Bay, Cape Town: A picture-perfect fishing town for Instagrammers.

23) Bo-Kaap, Cape Town: Go for the colourful houses, cobble-stone streets and the incredible Cape Malay cuisine.