If you’re feeling just a little giddy at the prospect of a new age in South African politics, you may want to sustain that feeling by tapping your Proudly South African gene and visiting some of the local destinations that have made South Africa great in so many ways. Says Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) Leisure Marketing Leader, Nicky Potgieter: “South Africa is regularly voted among the best countries to visit in the world. What better excuse to see what makes us stand out internationally than now, as the political winds of change fan positive sentiment and we’re celebrating being South African?” Here’s Flight Centre’s guide to South African destinations that will reinvigorate your love for Mzanzi:
Maropeng (Cradle of Humankind)
It means “returning to the place of origin” in Setswana and is believed to be the birthplace of all humankind – Maropeng is entirely unique to South Africa and every human being is connected to it. At only just over an hour’s drive from either Johannesburg or Pretoria, there’s no excuse not to revisit the path of our forefathers.
Pinnacle Point Caves – Mossel Bay
Pinnacle Point Caves in Mossel Bay is also key to understanding the developments of modern man and how we came to be. Here, visitors will see signs of man’s first attempts to leave his mark on this planet with the earliest evidence symbolic behaviour, as well as the oldest indication of heat treatment of rock to make tools.
Jeffrey’s Bay Supertubes
The Supertubes are a mecca for any South African traveller even remotely interested in surfing. Located just 65km from Port Elizabeth, the spot is rated as one of the top five destinations on earth. It is considered to be one of most perfect right hand point breaks in the world and is on the ‘must-visit’ list for surfers everywhere. It takes a lot of skill and experience to handle but even if travellers aren’t up for surfing, it’s a great spot to sit and watch the pros ride the waves.
Robben Island – Cape Town
Every South African who has the opportunity to visit Cape Town, should make the pilgrimage to Robben Island. The World Heritage Site was infamously the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years and is located just 5.5km from the city. Visitors will be guided around the island by former inmates and will gain unique insight into the walls that held South Africa’s, and arguably one of the world’s, greatest political leaders.
Freedom Park – Pretoria
Full of symbolic and striking monuments, Freedom Park is a place of remembrance and contemplation to honour those who sacrificed their lives by helping to change and shape South Africa. The park was designed to be a tranquil space where people could come to remember loved ones and contemplate on the difficult, and often brutal, history of this country. The 697 metre Wall of Names pays a striking tribute to 75,000 South Africans who lost their lives fighting for their dream of an emancipated South Africa.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park – KwaZulu-Natal
In 1999, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park became South Africa’s first World Heritage Site. The name iSimangaliso means ‘miracle and wonder’ and is fitting for the large protected area that runs along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal. The park is home to the immense Lake St. Lucia, home to 526 different species of birds, hippos, pelicans and crocodiles. Visitors to the park can enjoy scenic hiking routes, sandy beaches, and scuba diving or snorkelling in the nearby spectacular coral reefs. Those feeling brave can take a kayak through the lake to get a glimpse of the famous wildlife up close.
Blyde River Canyon – Limpopo
Visitors searching for a mind-blowing nature experience should look no further than the Blyde River Canyon. As the third largest canyon in the world, it is truly a sight to behold, with views stretching over the Klein Drakensberg – leading the area to be known as the ‘Panorama Route’. Natural viewpoints over the canyon include God’s Window, Wonder View and The Pinnacle, each offering spectacular views of the breath taking panoramic scenery.