The expression ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove’ is fitting for Bloemfontein, as it is both the judicial capital of South Africa and home to the Supreme Court of Appeals, but is also popularly known as the ‘city of roses’.
Bloemfontein is the sixth-largest city in the country and is the capital of the Free State province. While it does indeed have many lavish gardens and flowers (like the 4000 rose bushes planted in Kings Park), and is made more unusual for the fact that it is in an arid part of South Africa characterised by grasslands and the encroaching Karoo desert, the true origins of its poetic name are a mystery. Translated directly from Dutch, Bloemfontein means ‘fountain of flowers’ or more accurately ‘flower spring’.
72 km outside of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, the Addo Elephant National Park represents one of South Africa’s major conservation success stories. In the early days of European settlement, elephants were hunted for the bounty of their ivory. By 1920, the entire elephant population of the region had dwindled to only 11 remaining elephant survivors. Addo Elephant National Park was proclaimed an elephant sanctuary in 1931 and since then the elephant population of the Eastern Cape has grown to over 450. Here the majestic grey giants of the bush are safe from persecution, and roam the 164 000ha Park in peace.
The word ‘safari’ transports one back to Colonial times, when British explorers would undertake expeditions into the ‘dark continent’ to observe wildlife and experience the flavours of African culture.
Today, going on a safari to see the Big Five – that is a lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and a rhinoceros – is a must on the modern expedition to South Africa, and the Kruger National Park in particular.
To the Bushmen it was known as “eGariep,” the Great River. Early adventurers called it “die Grootrivier.” Contrary to popular belief, its name has nothing to do with its colour… In 1777, at a time when the Dutch were laying claim to the Cape, Robert Jacob Gordon, a Dutchman of Scottish descent named it “Oranjerivier” in honour of Prince William of the Royal Dutch House of Orange (Oranje).
The Orange River is certainly South Africa’s greatest river.Rising in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho and following some 2250km to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, it is the 39th longest river in the world. The great bulk of its water comes from its source, the Caledon River and its tributary, the Vaal. It has been dammed in two places.
South Africa is a veritable “potjiepot” of diverse cultures and traditions, from the Afrikaner to the Zulus. Over the last few years the increasing demand for accessible cultural tourism has brought to life the heart and soul of South African cultural heritage through the establishment and development of the concept of The Cultural Village. A cultural village allows a visitor to experience a traditional way of life, whether it is in the hills of Zululand or along the dusty streets of Soweto.
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|Last week was my birthday and I didn't feel very well waking up that morning. I went downstairs for breakfast hoping my wife would be pleasant and say "Happy Birthday", and possibly have a present for me.
As it turned out, she barely said good morning, let alone, "Happy Birthday". I thought....well, that's marriage for you, but maybe the kids will remember. My kids came down for breakfast and didn't say a word.