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Raising Your Adrenaline While Thrill-Seeking in South Africa

Thrill Seeking in South Africa with WorldVia

From vintage African escapades to harrowing experiences not for the faint of heart, it’s also the ideal place to cut loose and delve headlong into adventure. For anyone considering South Africa for a bit of thrill-seeking, don’t skip these opportunities for an unforgettable experience.

Quad-Bike Safaris:

You don’t have to be a quad-bike enthusiast to enjoy cruising through the pristine South African terrain inspecting elephants, leopards, rhinos, and more. While there are many different options for safaris throughout the continent, quad-bike safaris have become very popular near both Cape Town and Johannesburg for their unique combination of thrill-seeking and scenery.
At the renowned Aquila Game Reserve about two hours from Cape Town, guests have a spread of options catered to creating an individualized experience. While those looking for a mild adventure can do a half-day trip and stay in a luxury lodge, there are also overnight camping options that will take you right out under the stars among the local wildlife. Along the way, explorers can expect to see the Big 5 in African wildlife, including a chance to get just close enough to snap compelling photos of a pride of lions. Aquila Game Reserve also has a working conservation center, where you can check out animals that are being rehabilitated before being sent back into the wild.
While there are plenty of transportation options to get to a quad-bike safari near Cape Town, the same goes for near Johannesburg. One of the most popular spots in the area, Segwati Getaways, taps an extensive network of quad-bike trails that cuts right through stunning terrain. Snaking up the beautiful Witwatersberg Mountains, trails showcase some of northern South Africa’s finest scenery, and visitors are likely to have close encounters with giraffes, water buffaloes, exotic birds, and plenty of others. Trails also are very close to the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site that offers numerous cultural experiences. Although there are many ways to see South Africa’s famous wildlife, zipping through the gorgeous countryside on an easy-to-use quad bike has become a go-to favorite for thrill-seekers.

Rock climbing (or Hiking) in the Drakensberg Mountains:

The Dutch settlers who first came to the region named them the Mountains of Dragons (Drakensbergen in Afrikaans), and there might not be a better or more interesting place to be a beginning rock climber. Swirling with local legends and panoramic beauty, the Drakensberg Mountains are mysterious and inspiring, complete with enormous grasslands and green hillsides filled with endangered plant species. A morning’s drive south from Johannesburg, near the eastern border of Lesotho, the Drakensberg Mountains have more trailheads and outdoor adventures than you’ll know what to do with.
One of the favorite spots for visitors is the Didima Camp at the base of Cathedral Peak, where hikers can find comfortable lodging as they launch into the neighboring attractions. While you can easily spend an entire day or even a week walking through the Didima Valley, most find their way to one of the nearby Cathedral Peak trails that will take you to the breathtaking summit the region is known for. Very green in the summer (December through March) and brown during most of the dry winter, Cathedral Peak has multi-day hiking trails for the most adventurous, and you can even sleep in a cave on the side of the escarpment (Twins Cave).
For those who aren’t quite up for that level of excitement, staying at the Cathedral Peak Hotel or Didima Camp and taking a more direct day hike to the summit still guarantees plenty of thrills and scenery. Also in the Didima area, the Rainbow Gorge Trail is a pleasant 3.4-mile woodlands hike that ends at a waterfall that often boasts a rainbow when there is enough sunshine.
Even if you’re not much of a mountain climber, the Drakensberg Mountains are also a great place to be a curious beginner. At the Sentinel Peak in the northern part of the mountain range, popular beginner courses will have you scaling up rocky bluffs in only a couple days of training, ending with a triumphant view of the escarpment and valley. For those not afraid of a little winter adventure, novices can also learn the art of ice climbing during the coldest parts of the year, and the views are every bit as sensational.

Shark cage diving and cableway tours near Cape Town:

If you’ve ever wanted to slip into a Discovery Channel documentary, all you need to do is charter one of the many boat tours that leave from various spots in Cape Town. While searching for sharks jumping out of the water is sure to yield a memorable experience, true thrill-seekers can find their way into a shark cage in Shark Alley, where your sense of adventure will be challenged by face-to-face meetings with great whites.
One of the most popular launching points is False Bay, where there is a wealth of options for a close encounter with the local marine life in the area. From fall to spring (March through September) you can expect clear waters all around internationally famous Seal Island, the hot spot for catching great whites jumping out of the water in a feeding frenzy. If you want to get into the water next to a great white, a shark cage expedition from either False Bay or Gansbaai Harbour is sure to be one of the most intense experiences of your life. Between the chilly Atlantic waters and a close-up of a great white buzzing by your cage, even a seasoned thrill-seeker will have a spike in adrenaline.
If diving with one of the greatest predators in the history of the planet is a bridge too far, there are also terrific whale-watching options just south of Cape Town off the coast of Hermanus. Sailing along the southwestern tip of South Africa between July and November, visitors can check out the massive southern right whales gliding just off the rugged coast. Thrill-seekers can still take it to the next level here as well by renting a kayak for an even closer look at the many sea beasts of Cape Town.
Meanwhile, taking a cable car to the 3,500-foot peak of Table Mountain will yield a spectacular view of Cape Town and miles upon miles of ocean-hugging coastline. The gigantic Table Mountain National Park – spanning almost the entire west side of Cape Town – also has an exceptional assortment of hiking trails that boast impeccable views of the region, including down to the majestic Cape of Good Hope. With thrill-seeking opportunities to fit every type of traveler, Cape Town is simply an outstanding launching point for adventure.

Gauging the weather:

Many of the activities in South Africa change substantially from season to season, although they’re still predominately doable year-round. In the Drakensberg Mountains, for example, the pinnacle of fall between April and May is generally seen as the best time to hit the hiking trails, as you’ll see a lush green landscape without the constant threat of summer thunderstorms. By winter (roughly May through August) you’ll have to be prepared for temps to drop below freezing at nighttime, though you also won’t have to deal with the rainfall you’ll have to overcome during the summer months. A similar dynamic will be at play for anyone eager to check out a safari; knowing the local climate and bringing the right gear will be a fundamental part of your trip.
As for chartering a boat or hopping in a shark cage, your tour will completely weather dependent and keeping a close eye on forecasts is a must. You’ll also want to have an alternative in mind in case you get bad weather, though that shouldn’t be difficult considering Cape Town’s extensive network of popular sites and icons. For those ready to persevere no matter the weather, however, South Africa is difficult to surpass when it comes to thrill-seeking.

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3 Magical Towns in South Africa For Art Lovers

African Towns For Art Lovers

The bigger cities are cultural meccas of colorful creativity, individual expression, and vibrant invention. Many wanderers have been stopped and enthralled by the treasures found there, yet artists are often drawn to smaller towns where the quiet calls and even the skies seem airbrushed by a painter’s hand.

Clarens is Playful

Clarens is often referred to as the “Jewel of the Free State,” but those familiar with the enchanting town know it as the ultimate artist’s hideout. It rests comfortably beneath the Maluti mountains, a craggy range that embodies the American West. Multi-colored sandstone formations and pristine rivers and streams dress up the landscape. Nature here is canvas enough for outdoor enthusiasts to take advantage of trout fishing and white water rafting on the Ash River. Scenic cycling trails and bird watching adventures also await.
The town of Clarens is an eccentric town full of quirky character that is just a few hours from both Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. The village square is bustling by day with over fifteen unique art galleries, charming antique stores, and cafes. You may want to check out the Robert Badenhorst Gallery where both emerging and established fine artists are showcased. Stop by the Highland Coffee Roastery for a cup of heavenly coffee. Clarens is a friendly and walkable community, so you can take your time and explore.
In the evening, Clarens transforms from lively to subtle, quietly enticing the romantic and hungry to experience fine dining. You can reserve a table at Clementines with its upscale country menu and relaxing ambiance, or keep it cozy and casual at The Artist’s Cafe. There are several lodging options in town when you are ready to call it a day. You can sleep in style at the Mont d’Or Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel with all the frills, or opt for a quaint B&B like Patcham Place in the heart of the village. Self-catering cottages are also available.

Prince Albert is Crafty

Prince Albert in a hidden gem in the Karoo Desert where craftmakers, photographers, and story-weavers animate imagination. The picturesque Swartberg Mountains in the distance frame a living gallery bursting with cultural pride and rich history going back to the year 1762. Be sure not to bypass the Fransie Pienaar Museum where you will be mesmerized by the extensive collection of earthenware, fossils, and olden musical instruments. An onsite distillery produces local moonshine, called witblits, available for tasting and purchasing at the museum’s shop.
The off-the-beaten-path town of Prince Albert is alive with an artistic vibe spanning the creative genres and straining the poetic norms. Karoo Looms is not to be missed on a visit to town. The weavery was established in 1983 and has since delighted all with its highly-skilled spinning and weaving of beautiful mohair rugs. You can take a stroll down Kerkstraat (Church Street) with its quaint woodworking and pottery shops as well as outdoor cafes.
Dining choices are plentiful in Prince Albert, and a slow relaxing dinner with a glass of local wine at the Gallery Cafe is the perfect way to close out the day. Owner Brent Phillips-White uses ingredients from local sources including those from his own garden, planted to supply the restaurant. You might want to try the black wildebeest fillet for an authentic South African experience. You can stay the night at one of the community’s unique lodging establishments like the historic De Bergkant Lodge. The tranquil Cape Dutch homestead offers comfortable, spacious suites with elegant features and cool antique accents. Large swimming pools and natural green terraces invite peaceful relaxation.

Nieu Bethesda is Dynamic

Nieu Bethesda is mostly known for The Owl House, a tribute to outsider art by Helen Martins. The friendly, small village is also home to a growing number of creative types who appreciate its serene lifestyle and breathtaking vistas. The gurgling of fresh spring water running through the town’s working furrow system serenades while Compassberg, the Eastern Cape’s highest mountain, keeps vigil over the idyllic setting. You can take a leisurely donkey cart tour with Jakob van Staden who cheerfully shares his extensive knowledge of his hometown and its history.
Nieu Bethesda may appear to be a sleepy village at first glance, but the interesting and talented characters who have gathered there bring a colorful animation to the area. Charmaine Haines, an acclaimed South African ceramicist, was inspired by the natural environment and chose to open her studio in the village as did renowned sculptor, Frans Boekkooi. The Bethesda Arts Centre is an incredible testament to textile arts celebrating Bushman mythology through vibrant tapestries crafted by the indigenous artists of ǀXam descent. You might also want to check out Dustcovers Bookshop for rare books sourced from all over the world.
The Brewery and Two Goats Deli is the ideal spot to enjoy a delicious lunch and a cold glass of ale in the shade of pepper and pear trees. The almost-hidden rustic pub makes its own cheese, hand-roasts its coffee, and brews its own craft beer for a fresh and authentic experience. Dinner at The Tower Restaurant finds you comfortably seated in a quaint old tower with a pleasantly mysterious ambiance. The menu is varied and includes Karoo Lamb, Cottage Pie, and vegetarian dishes. Accommodations in Nieu Bethesda are homey and sometimes quirky. Self-catering cottages like Murrayfield Guesthouse and Rustpunt Cottage are clean and affordable options for a one-of-a-kind South African adventure.
South Africa has much to offer both travelers and residents, from its rich diversity to its awe-inspiring landscape. Cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg exude cultural charm and modern amenities, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take the roads less traveled. You never know what treasures you may find there.

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4 Unforgettable Destinations for Wine Enthusiasts

Unforgettable Wine Destinations

Take an unbelievable journey to these 4 must-see destination’s to experience ancient traditions and cutting-edge techniques that fuse each region’s uniquely charming history into the finest vintage lines to create an unforgettable travel adventure for the oenophile in everyone.

Stellenbosch, South Africa

With over 160 regional wineries to choose from and a historic status as South Africa’s second oldest city, the nearly 350-year-old Stellenbosch lays claim to the country’s first wine route that takes you along the breathtaking Precambrian granite mountains and lush scenic valleys of the Western Cape. The local winemakers’ long-running experience is reflected in their award-winning Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinotage creations, as well as their warm and inviting vibe. Here, mineral-rich, delectable wines are augmented by the deeply rich cultural heritage which includes numerous art galleries and museums, as well as celebrated restaurants that have garnered the district its fitting moniker as “The Gourmet Capital.”

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Stellenbosch

Where to Visit: The historic 1690 Stellenbosch Vineyards feature multi-tiered food and wine fusions that offer a one-of-a-kind dining experience, including a delectable new Chocolate & Wine Pairing. The estate is just 5 minutes from the innovative tasting room of Thandi Wines, the first fair-trade brand in the world. If you’d like some wildlife with your wine, head over to the elegant minimalism of Remhoogte Estate, where the succulent summer tastings overlook a park stocked with zebra, springbok, and wildebeest. Many of the area’s vineyards have their own on-site, full-service restaurants, including Simonsig, Delheim, and Warwick, and the wide array of accommodations feature the most modern hotels mixed in with rustic lodges, quaint cottages, and centuries-old homesteads. The Vine Hopper Tour takes you on an enlightening outing to 15-20 vineyards spread across the northern, southern, and eastern sections of this vibrant region.
Best Time to Go: From September until mid-February you can experience the beautiful spring and summer weather of the southern hemisphere, and the cool, lush autumn season ends around mid-April. Many fun Harvest Season bashes take place from late January until mid-March.

Napa Valley, California

For three days each April, the world-renowned ‘Vineyard to Vintner’ festival in Napa Valley takes travelers inside the homes and inner sanctuaries of the area’s leading winemakers for private tours of the cellars, fun social tastings, celebrated dining experiences, and exclusive access to purchase select varieties from internationally acclaimed vineyards. During these festivities and throughout the year you can learn about the exquisite soils, climate, and geology that make this unique district California’s first American Viticultural Area.

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Napa Valley

Where to Go: Napa Valley is home to some of the most exclusive Cabernet Sauvignons in the world, as well as singular berry blends of Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel. Explore the lands on the famed Napa Valley Bike Tours, or board the elegant Napa Valley Wine Train to visit environmentally Gold Certified Cade Estate, enchanting Inglebrook’s 150-year old French heritage, or the 15,000 square foot cave tastings and tours of Failla Winery. The region also has a vibrant arts scene showcased in the annually curated masterpieces of downtown’s Napa Art Walk and a week-long film festival featuring artists from across the globe.
Best Time to Go: Late April for the Vineyard to Vintner Festival, late August through early November for the full grape harvesting experience, November 7-11, 2018 for the Napa Valley Film Festival, and March through May for a less-crowded visit while spring is in full bloom.

Douro Valley, Portugal

“A geological poet. A supreme splendour.” – Portuguese poet Miguel Torga describing Douro Valley
Three distinct regions make up the ancient and awe-inspiring Douro Valley: the western Baixo Corgo is known for its ruby and lighter tawny Ports, the Cima Corgo for high-quality Vintage and LMV Ports, and the archaeologically-inspiring Douro Superior shares a border with Spain and features exceptional dry wines that match its arid climate. The dazzling scenery features magnificently steep terraces that overlook the beautifully tranquil Douro River, and the entire valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the transformative human cultivation of the land over the past 2,000 years.

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Douro Valley

Where to Go: Sister cities Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia sit on the opposite banks of the charming river and offer an enticing array of cultural and culinary experiences, such as the celebrated Wine Quay Bar which is situated amidst Porto’s historic monuments and museums and features selections from across the valley. Heading westward, Gaia’s 1751 Ferrarai Porto port house, which was founded by famed Douro matriarch Dona Antónia Adelaide, provides you with fascinating lessons in winemaking as a well as an intriguing journey into the region’s development. The valley itself is home to numerous vineyards and wine houses, including the oldest still-active Port-producing estate, 430-year-old Quinta de Roeda. One of the most unique experiences is found at the Museum of Art and Archeology in Côa, which offers tours of the region’s famous 20,000-year-old rock art followed by select tastings at the on-site restaurant.
Best Time to Go: Most everyone agrees that September through early November is the time to see the phenomenal color scapes that light up the land and to experience the one-of-a-kind harvest celebrations. The region offers a wide array of riverboat, train, hiking, biking, and motorcar tours to take you across this breathtaking and sophisticated valley in style.

Willamette Valley, Pacific Northwest

Spread across a sweeping 5,000 square feet of prime Oregon territory, this region’s tagline of ‘We are Pinot Noir’ makes a bold promise that it delivers on with its 500 internationally esteemed wineries set against stunning Cascade and Coastal Mountain scenery. The local cultivators collectively made Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2016 Wine Region of the Year due to a generation of risk takers who recognized that the mountains, river, sea, and soil of the area all combined to form an ideal atmosphere for growing the perfect grape that bridges the gap between Burgundy and California styles.

Where to Visit: The Carlton Winemakers Studio is Oregon’s first cooperative wine house and features pourings from 15 top-rated ‘indie’ estates in a revolutionary business model that allows small vineyards to thrive. Just down the road, the ever-evolving Red Ridge Farms features 5-generations of toilers who were among the original Oregonians to grow grapes for wine cultivation. They now showcase relaxing Wine Country Retreats and a holistic food and natural product boutique right on sight for a fun shopping excursion. One of the best ways to experience the region is through a cultural wine tour aboard Precision Helicopters: you can fly over the breathtaking panoramas and hear the history, geology, and stories of the people who overcame the naysayers to craft an exclusive array of internationally acclaimed vintages. Social responsibility is also part of the community vibe, and the heartfelt Taste of Community tours offer you the opportunity to experience the valley’s famously eclectic black cherry-herb infused flavors while giving to a local cause.
Best Time to Go: From late September to early November is harvest season highlighted by multiple ‘crush’ lunches, winery concerts, interactive tours, and fun festivals, such as September’s Feast Portland. Summer is more laid back, with the lush Portland landscapes in full bloom and plenty of hiking, biking, art galleries, and resort and spa experiences to keep you entertained.
Ready to kick back with a glass of amazing vintage and a dazzling view into a whole new culture? Then pack your luggage—and your wineskins —today!
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4 Unforgettable Natural Wonders of South Africa

South Africa has an incredible number of national parks, nature reserves, beaches and other amazing destinations that are hard to match. If you want to take a once in a lifetime excursion to a land where you can find lots of unspoiled nature and wildlife, you can’t do better than South Africa. Here are four of the top destinations to explore if you’re fortunate enough to visit this majestic land.

Kruger National Park

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Sunset In Kruger Park

Kruger National Park, about four hours from Johannesburg, is one of South Africa’s largest and best-known game reserves. Many people who plan African safaris are set on seeing the “Big Five,” which are lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and rhinos. While you can certainly see these in Kruger National Park, there’s so much more as well such as birds, primates, wildebeest and countless other species. Here are some guidelines to help you plan the best possible journey.
Choose the right tour
If you prefer a guided tour, make sure you select carefully. Consider factors such as the length of the tour, quality of accommodations, how many people are on the tour, and the cost. Always check out the reputation of the tour company. There are definite benefits to being led by a knowledgeable guide. You don’t have to worry about getting lost and the guide will know when and where to find the animals.
Giraffes on a safari in Kruger Park

Consider a self-guided tour 
If you like to be independent and want a more intimate journey with your companion (s), you can take a self-drive tour of Kruger National Park. This, of course, requires more planning than a guided tour. Make sure you have a reliable off-road vehicle as the terrain is often rough.
Decide when to come
One of the best times to visit Kruger National Park (or any game reserve in Africa) is winter when visibility is best. If you visit in summer you can expect quite a bit of rain. It’s also more challenging to see animals because of thicker vegetation. Another factor to note is that in summer you may need medication to prevent malaria. In winter this isn’t usually an issue as mosquitoes aren’t active. However, you always have to check with your doctor and health advisories for the region before visiting Africa.
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Zebras in Kruger Park

North or South?
Kruger National Park is very large and is divided between north and south. The southern part has a higher density of wildlife while the north is less crowded (in terms of human visitors as well as animals). If you have time, both are worth exploring. If you’re set on seeing predators such as lions, the south is your best bet. However, the north has plenty of animals as well, including elephants.

Drakensberg

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Eland in South Africa

Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park often called simply the Drakensberg, is one of South Africa’s most dramatic landscapes. Drakensberg means Dragon Mountain and the Zulu name Ukhahlamba means barrier of spears. Both of these names were inspired by the unique appearance of this mountain range. This is a vast area encompassing three provinces. Here are some sights and activities that are available in this breathtaking region.
Giant’s Castle Game Reserve
This game reserve is best known for its large eland herds. Another protected species, bearded vultures, are also prevalent here. You can also see some fantastic cave painting dating back thousands of years. You can even spend a night in a cave. Accommodations range from camping to luxury lodges.
Bird watching
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Knysna Loerie bird in South Africa

The Drakensberg is a must-see for nature lovers, as it’s one of Africa’s most biodiverse regions. It’s especially appealing for bird-watchers, as it has 299 recorded species of birds.
Hang gliding and paragliding
If you’re into adventure sports, the Drakensberg offers some incredible launch sites. There are several companies in the area that offer adventures and instruction in paragliding and hang gliding. Another way to get a birds-eye view of the region is hot air ballooning.

Wild Coast

As the name suggests, the Wild Coast is an untamed and pristine area on the Indian Ocean in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. This is the place to come if you enjoy open spaces and scenery that hasn’t changed much in millennia.
Visit the birthplace of Nelson Mandela
The famous leader and activist was born in the small village of Mvezo. You can visit the Nelson Mandela National Museum, which is refreshing for its remoteness compared to your typical tourist museum.
Mkambati Nature Reserve
One of the country’s more secluded nature reserves, this one is only accessible by hiking or boating. Here you can find pristine hiking trails, waterfalls that empty directly into the ocean, and wildlife such as eland, wildebeest, and an incredible variety of birds. Because of its remoteness, you won’t find luxury hotels here. There are, however, quite a few modest lodge and cottages where you can stay.
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Uncrowded beaches
Haga Haga is one of the relaxing beaches on the Wild Coast where you won’t have to contend with the usual crowds. Another is Coffee Bay Beach. Aside from the opportunities for swimming and sunbathing, you can hike around the surrounding areas.
Explore the Xhosa community
The Xhosa are the traditional people who have lived in this region for many centuries. Visit IKhamanga Cultural Village, where you can stay as a guest among these friendly people and learn about their ways.

Table Mountain

Just outside of Cape Town, Table Mountain is one of South Africa’s most recognizable landmarks. Named for its flat top shape, the mountain offers spectacular views of Cape Town as well as a surprising variety of flora. In fact, many of the plants you’ll see here are unique to this mountain.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

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Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Among the world’s most beautiful botanical gardens, Kirstenbosch gives you a chance to see the area’s many beautiful plants and flowers. There are free guided tours as well as the Centenary Tree Top Canopy Walkway, which leads you through an incredible forest.
Ride the cable car
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway provides the best views of Table Mountain, Cape Town, and surrounding areas. This is a popular activity so it’s best to pre-book your tickets.
Hiking
The mountain provides many hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty. Be careful and make sure you know where you’re going as some of these trails are more difficult and treacherous than they appear. Those in good shape can hike all the way to the top. If you’re less active, you can take the aforementioned cable car.
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Table Mountain, Cape Town

South Africa is a nature lover’s paradise. You can, of course, also enjoy the cultural attractions and beaches of Cape Town and Johannesburg. However, the above destinations will give you a chance to see some of the landscapes and wildlife that are hard to find anywhere else.