People say it all the time, but we know it’s true – one of the best parts about traveling is finding something new. Whether it be an environment, a culture, a certain flavor of food or that perfect keepsake that, upon looking at it, reminds you of that wonderful trip, the sensation of finding something previous unknown to us is thrilling.
South Africa is, without a doubt, an example of all of the above. Home to stunning examples of nature, exotic wildlife, highly regarded vineyards – producing some of the finest wine worldwide – historic (and unique) towns and cities, phenomenal cuisine and, of course, culture unlike any other.
History and Culture
To understand the roots of South Africa, look no further than the capital, Johannesburg. The Origins Centre is comprised of two independent, closely-related museums: the SAMORA—or the South African Museum of Rock Art—and the James Kitching Gallery. The SAMORA revolves around the origins of modern humans in South Africa and their image-making. On the other hand, the James Kitching Gallery examines the development of the San tribe for the last 20,000 years. The Gallery is also home to dinosaur bones and DNA, and San rock art.
Dining is another way to discover South Africa. The combination of once being a colonial pit stop and its traditional African roots has allowed South Africa to produce some of the finest hybrid food samples in all of Africa, if not the world. While the traditional options are always available, similar to any civilized country, the true gems lie within the various peoples – such as Zulu cooking, Xhosa cuisine and VhaVenda traditional food.
If flavor, gourmet and adventure are the name of your game, be sure to seek out Zulu. Merging beef and dairy with vegetables, the dishes served are high in both protein and zing. Furthermore, it is worth noting that this type of food is the favorite of Nelson Mandela, so if dining on the same food as one of the most famous leaders in the world is on your bucket list, consider that checked off. Finally, VhaVenda is a more traditional cuisine that is most authentic in Northern Limpopo. Considering it is wintertime in South Africa now is the best time to go, as the food is rather heavy and serves visitors well in the colder climate.
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Entertainment and Leisure
When in doubt, head south – for entertainment, that is. Port Elizabeth, namely Nelson Mandela Bay, offers perfect beaches, family entertainment, monuments, a hopping nightlife and museums. The township has a very ‘in-your-face’ attitude about it, which may come off as harsh, but as times goes on, will become something you appreciate. With plenty of taverns to choose from, weekends are the days that the cities come alive. Visitors can enjoy the best in jazz and catching up with the locals, to bumping Saturday nights and Sunday braai (or barbeque) which extends throughout the day. All that is required is an open mind and a willingness to learn and embrace, and South Africa will handle everything else from there.
With over 70 airlines flying into South Africa, determining which company to use will be the most difficult part in getting there. Once on land, your options vary greatly – you can hire a car, catch a bus or train, fly or walk. Rental agencies are abundant, boasting efficiency, reliability and great deals.
If you are looking to discover something new and exciting, visit South Africa. APTA helps agents find the resources to plan rewarding trips for their clients.
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