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South Africa Regions and Towns

Western Cape

Sir Francis Drake described it as "the fairest Cape in all the circumference of the World." Situated at the foot of Table Mountain, Cape Town is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, offering outstanding interest and variety to the visitor. Blending the old with the new, it has a relaxed, almost continental atmosphere that will charm even the most sophisticated jet-setter.

More about the Western Cape

Thetsitsikamma Forest runs into the Eastern Cape, a province steeped in history as well as blessed with beautiful beaches and rugged mountain scenery. This is the birthplace of President Nelson Mandela and is the melting pot of three cultures, Xhosa, British and Afrikaner. It is here that battles took place between the early English settlers and the Xhosa.

The country's longest and most magnificent coastline runs from the rugged Tsistikamma Forest area through the famed surfing spots of Jeffreys Bay to the golden beaches of the Sunshine Coast and the Wild Coast.

The coast is dotted with relaxing holiday resorts. Many resorts comprise only a cluster of houses and shops but boast sports facilities such as bowling greens and tennis courts. There are also some excellent spots for fishermen.

Inland are the wooded Amatola Mountains, a paradise for hikers, climbers and trout fishermen, as well as the brooding Karoo Desert. Visitors to the East Cape can experience scenic beauty and the life of villages unwind in a rural retreat or explore the bustling city life. This region includes the major seaport of Port Elizabeth, known as "The Friendly City".

There are also two national parks containing unique sub-species, the Mountain Zebra National Park and the Addo Elephant National Park, the last refuge of the Cape Elephant, and several private reserves.

The Rugged Regions of the Northern Cape appeal to those seeking broad horizons and peace and quiet. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and contains the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, set in the rolling dunes of the Kalahari Desert. The park is home to the magnificent gemsbok antelope, as well as the delicate springbok and the Kalahari lion, with its distinctive black mane. To the south is the Augrabies Falls National Park, where the river plunges nearly 200 feet into a narrow ravine.

The entire region has only one major town, Upington, the jumping-off point for the Kalahari, the Augrabies Falls and Fish River Canyon, and one city, Kimberley. Kimberley has been dubbed the "City of Diamonds" and its Big Hole bears testament to the diamond-rush days of the last century.

This landlocked province between the Vaal River in the north and the Orange River in the south is an area of wide, open spaces - an immense rolling prairie, checkered with farmsteads and windmills. Hospitality is one of the province's prized assets and a Free State farm holiday offers a unique opportunity to get to know the friendly people who inhabit this region. One of South Africa's major rivers, the Vaal the flows through the province and there are attractive holiday resorts near two of the river's largest dams.

The mountains of the eastern highlands harbour romantic hideaways and rugged hiking Park in the trails. The Golden Gate National Park in the north-east, with its spectacular sandstone formations, an area of scenic beauty, has a network of nature trails and provides the opportunity to see a variety of antelope and birdlife. The adjoining Qwaqwa National Park is sanctuary to rare species of vulture. Other protected areas include the Mount Everest Game Reserve at Harrismith and the Seekoeivlie Nature Reserve, a birdwatchers' paradise near the small town of Memel. Qwaqwa and many other parts of the Free State are home to the South Sotho people and their culture can be appreciated at the Basotho Cultural Village.
Capital of the Free State is Bloemfontein, known as the 'City of Roses'

KwaZulu-Natal is one of South Africa's smallest provinces encompassing the territory known as Zululand towards the north. Near Eshowe visitors can stay in typical Zulu villages (with beehive shaped, thatched huts).

In this region area number of important wildlife conservation areas, including award-winning Hluhluwe/ Umfolozi Park , where the white rhino was saved from extinction, and the coral reefs and water wonderland of the St Lucia 'estuary and Lake St. Lucia.

To the west are the soaring peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains, with protected public parks from which the magnificent scenery can be enjoyed. This region is famed for its proliferation of ancient rock paintings by the San (Bushmen), South Africa's original inhabitants.

The province is also known for its Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer battlefield sites. At its heart is the city of Pietermaritzburg. With its "olde worlde" dignity it is affectionately referred to as "The Last Outpost of the British Empire". The Midlands region boasts excellent country hotels, arts and craft routes, white water rafting on the Tugela River, trout fishing and wonderful scenery.

KwaZulu-Natal's sub-tropical climate makes it the haunt of sunbathers, swimmers and watersports enthusiasts all-year-round. Cities and towns, such as Umhlanga Rocks, have well-developed resort areas, geared for looking after demanding tourists. Durban, with its "golden mile" of modern hotels and restaurants, has been dubbed South Africa's "Sunshine Playground"

This is one of the premier tourist areas of South Africa offering a variety of tourist routes, each with its own special attractions. An appealing diversity of cultures, featuring some of the most colourful and interesting tribal groupings in the country, is a particular highlight.

Mpumalanga is a sportsman's paradise. There are golf courses in some of the province's most scenic areas. Hang-gliding, micro-lighting and para-gliding are popular and hiking is available throughout the province with the world-renowned Kruger National Park offering guided walks for small groups. Large dams provide the opportunity for watersports whilst dams and streams in the high country attract trout anglers.

The landscapes of the Escarpment is dramatic. The eastern faces of the mountains are particularly steep, plunging hundreds of metres down to the Kruger National Park and Mozambique. The Blyde River Canyon, one of the great natural features of Southern Africa and the third largest canyon in the world, is a majestic, red sandstone gorge whose almost sheer cliff-face plunges nearly a kilometre below. Dominating the gorge are the triple peaks known as the "Three Rondavels".

The Blyde River Botanical Reserve is situated in South Africa’s Blyde River Canyon, which is renowned for its breath-taking beauty, and its towering peaks, broad, fast-flowing rivers and green indigenous forest. (see site for full information)

Gold diggers, transport-riders and big game hunters roamed the area and have left behind a fascinating history. 'Re village of Pilgrim's Rest is a national monument where visitors are transported back to the days of the early gold rush of the late 19th century. Other tourist attractions, Barberton, Sabi and the Long Tom Pass an intriguing glimpse into a colourful pa The area known as the Lowveld is the haunt big game. West of the Kruger National Park number of private game reserves, each with its own distinct character.

This province is the commercial heart of South Africa containing the important cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Despite the urbanisation of the Johannesburg region, opportunities for getting back to nature bound. Game farms, dams lakes and rivers (for watersports and fishing, hiking trails), and picnic spots are plentiful and the Vaal River area is a particularly popular recreational area.

The province is described as "The Heartbeat of Africa". Johannesburg, known as the "City of Gold" or Egoli, is the commercial powerhouse of South Africa.

Pretoria is about 30 miles north of Johannesburg is the country's administrative capital, is known as 'Jacaranda City' after the purple-blossomed trees which bloom in such profusion in later September-October, the South African spring time. It is a fascinating melting pot of different culture - South Africa is one city. Outside the city are bushveld game farms as well as more than 100 nature reserves and bird sanctuaries of which the Rietvlei Nature Reserve is the largest.

Here is a region of vastness and variety, with a culturally rich and diverse people. The NI from Johannesburg literally splits the province in two, providing tourists with easy access to all areas.

The Southern Region is famous for its many hot spring resorts, the Nylsvlei wetland and the unspoilt mountains and flowing streams of the Waterberg. Wildlife in the game reserves is abundant and the scenery ranges from rolling hills to mighty cliffs of stark red rock.

To the east lies the immense wildlife heritage of the Kruger National Park. By contrast, visitors can breathe in the cool evening air amongst the mountains and rivers of the lowveld. This unhurried and timeless region is known as "The Valley of the Olifants" (Elephants).

In the centre is the vibrant capital city of Pietersburg - the industrial and commercial heart of the Great North. Here gold was first mined and smelted in the 19th century. The very earliest hominid fossils were discovered close by, in the historic caves of the Makapan Valley.

Sweeping across from the Northwest - and flowing along the northern border - is the Limpopo River Valley, a vast, natural area with cultures that date back to the Iron Age. Here are hilltop fortifications, and San (Bushmen) paintings and cave dwellings unchanged from the ancient past.

To the west lies the real bushveld, almost endless except for the hazy blue of distant mountains. Amongst the tangle of vegetation grow old baobab trees, their branches looking like roots thus creating a striking silhouette against a fiery sunset.

This is a land of legend, ruins and relies. The Venda people are intensely superstitious and place great store in rites and rituals. In the python dance, teenage girls perform a slow, rhythmic dance to the throb of drums. Part of the folklore of the North Sotho people is the legendary Rain Queen, Modjadji, while the Tsonga produce beautiful arts and crafts.

The North West is home to the Batswana people, who produce exceptionally fine works of art and outstanding curios. A well-known tourist attraction is Sun City, a fabulous resort complex which includes The Palace at the Lost City, Africa's most extravagant hotel. Sun City and the Lost City attract top international entertainers, provide exceptional sporting facilities, including two championship golf courses, and feature casinos, excellent restaurants and night-clubs. But there is much more to be discovered in this "Big Heart Country" province.

It boasts some excellent game reserves - such as the 60,000 hectare Pilanesberg National Park, adjoining Sun City and the newly created reserve of Madikwe, close to the Botswana border, which covers 75,000 hectares and has been stocked with over 10,000 animals in a project known as Operation Phoenix.

The province also includes Stellaland, in the Vryburg area, described as the "Texas of South Africa", where large cattle farms and game ranches are to be found. The province abounds in resorts, game lodges, guest houses and bed & breakfast accommodation. The "Diamond Route" runs from Bakerville through Wolmaransstad and Christiana to Kimberley. Active diamond digging still takes place and is on offer as a tourist attraction. Near Christiana is a thermal spring resort and game reserve famous for rhino. Hiking and canoeing trails are located near Potchefstroom, Greet Marico and Rustenburg.

At Taung a plaque marks the spot where, in 1924, the front of the hominid skull of the Taung Child was found in a lime quarry. This was the first fossil of the so-called African "man-ape" to be discovered.

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