Not mentioning wildlife in an African travelogue can be a bit of sacrilege but outside the wildlife parks and sanctuaries there is much that you can do in South Africa. So if you are planning a trip to the nation and are willing to go beyond the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo – you can explore some of the more civilized part of South Africa.
The European hangover
South Africa was colonized by the Dutch and British and the hangover of the colonial days still makes a quiet presence. In fact, some of its major cities have Dutch names, for example, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. Cape Town, which had once served as the interim port for European ships to Asia boasts an architecture that is distinctively Dutch. The rainbow nation with its fine weather also flaunts an interesting wine route. When it comes to food, European cuisine dominates.
Cape Town can safely be considered as the most vibrant harbour city in the world. During the day time, it will capture your attention with its history, the beautiful vineyards and most of important of all, Table Mountain, which is one of the contenders for the New Seven Wonders of the world. Fall dusk and you will find a city with an enormous appetite for nightlife. There are dozens of nightclubs, pubs and lounges to while away the hours.
Johannesburg can trace its being to the gold-rush in the 1880s. Even today, it is a serious mining destination home to some very significant gold mines. Visit the Gold Reef City to get a feel of what it is like to be miner. This theme park tour takes you down a shaft into a dark, humid god mine and gives you an insight into what a risky business extracting the gold can be.
South Africa is where the world’s largest community of Indians can be found outside the Indian sub-continent. If you are travelling from India, you will be completely at home – from biryani, dal fry, gulab-jamuns or even Jain food, there is everything on the plate to suit all palates. And even the casinos are not left unscathed. Go to the flashy casino in Sun City hotel or and you will find the expansive ‘Raj’- the beaches too are not spared! So all Indian group travellers planning to take a cook along, be assured from Jain to Gujarati to Marwari, you’ll find the spread you want!
When it comes to accommodation South Africa does not disappoint. There is an option to suit all tastes, group sizes and budgets. From the non-descript B&Bs, budget hotels to luxury South Africa villas and five resorts, there is something for everyone.