What to do in South Africa

A visit to the Dragon Mountains – SA’s breathtaking Drakensberg

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Running for a thousand kilometres along the eastern side of South Africa, the Drakensberg mountain range is a sweeping escarpment of unspoiled beauty that is the highest in the southern half of the African continent; the tallest peak near being Thabana Ntlenyana or “beautiful little mountain” in local language Sesotho is 3 482 meters (or 11 424 feet) above sea level.

The Drakensberg is a treasure waiting to be discovered by international tourists. It is well worth taking a detour off the usual Cape-Town-Garden-Route-Johannesburg beaten track for, and escaping to one of the many charming B&Bs and hiking trails. From great budget stays, to family friendly accommodation, to a five-star luxury city break – the Drakensberg has something for every kind of traveller.

 

Bungee in SA – from Bloukrans Bridge to Orlando Towers

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The idea dates back to the Aztecs: throwing yourself from a great height with nothing but a cord strapped about your ankles to suspend your fall.

Comparatively, commercial bungee-jumping is an extreme sport still in its infancy. This hair-raising activity is so popular today largely thanks to New Zealander AJ Hackett, who has been bungee-jumping from famous landmarks the world over since 1986 – including the Eiffel Tower, the Macau Tower in China, and an almost 1500m jump from a helicopter.

 

Shark cage diving in Gansbaai – up close with the Great White Shark

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Just off the fishing village of Gansbaai in the Western Cape of South Africa, lies what some call the Great White shark capital of the world: Dyer Island.

Thousands of African penguins live on Dyer Island, and the smaller island of Geyser Rock nearby is the home of a high concentration of Cape Fur seals. No wonder the channel between these two islands is called ‘Shark Alley’ – with seals being a particular favourite on the Great White sharks menu.

 

In the shadows of giants - The Addo Elephant National Park

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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.

 

Rafts, Rapids and Runs! Discover the Orange River

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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.

 

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