A trip round South Africa can feel like a trip around a whole continent. It’s unusual that in just one country you can tour the longest wine route in the world, do the highest bungee trip, swim with sharks, watch a lion take down an antelope, chill with penguins, visit world class museums and galleries, fine dine, climb mountains, road trip through deserts, be a beach bum, and dance all night long to any music imaginable.
Best of all, these wonders and experiences are easily accessible because of South Africa’s great infrastructure, with good quality roads, cheap flights and comfortable buses. There’s also every kind of accommodation available from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to guesthouses and backpacker hostels.
Despite the pride that South African’s have in their Rainbow Nation, with 11 official languages and varied ethnicities, post-Apartheid, there are still obvious racial and social divides. While they too still have a long way to go, exploring cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg is the best way to witness cultures beginning to come together in a harmonious way.
There is no use comparing Johannesburg and Cape Town. Cape Town is undoubtedly the more beautiful of the two – few cities in the world could compete with Cape Town’s natural beauty: the unique artistry of Table Mountain towering over pristine beaches. Johannesburg’s allure is entirely different: it’s not a place you come to simmer down, but a place you come to be productive.
Durban, the largest city in the Kwa Zulu Natal region is emerging as a city to watch, hailed as a great city for young people, and hosting international conferences and other high profile events such as MTV Africa Music Awards.
Of course the region is also home of the proud and multitudinous Zulu people.
Outside of the cities, South Africa’s highlights include the lush winelands of Franschhoek, the rugged semi-desert landscapes of Karoo, and the Kruger national park – one of the largest game reserves in the world.
South Africa’s economic growth has been sluggish in recent years, largely due to industrial action in its mining sector. However it still remains Africa’s second largest economy (behind oil rich Nigeria).
Among the extensive list of successful South African companies are MTN, Standard Bank and Sasol.
The 2010 World cup, hosted by South Africa, played an important role bringing South Africa to the international stage, and showcasing it as a modern and happening destination.