South Africa as a Tourist Destination, in a Nutshell

South Africa is celebrated for its incredible natural beauty.  It has some of the most varied and diverse landscapes and environments in the world, from the tropical beaches and dramatic mountains of KwaZulu Natal, to the sweeping emptiness of the Karoo or Kalahari Desert.  Many visitors come to see the wildlife and the choice of excellent game reserves virtually guarantees good sightings of a whole host of African animals and birds.  But the cities too are equally interesting, from the fast-paced sophistication of Johannesburg, the spicy humidity of Durban, to the spectacular setting and vibrancy of Cape Town.

South Africa also has a compelling history from the Boer War to the more recent breakdown of Apartheid, seen in its colonial architecture, breezy battlefields and contemporary museums.  Yet it is the people who are the beating pulse of South Africa.  It has the largest population of people of European descent in Africa, the largest Indian population outside of Asia, and the largest Colored (of mixed European and African descent) community in Africa, making it one of the most ethnically diverse countries on the continent.

There are 11 official languages, several religions, and a myriad of cultural identities that are reflected through food, dress, music and dance.  Visitors to South Africa will not only marvel at its staggering natural beauty, but also gain an insight on how the Rainbow Nation got its name.

South Africa offers a myriad of travel opportunities for just about any experience you can imagine.  A land so diverse it really presents a world in one country!  Road Travel Africa create African tours for: Adventure seekers, Desert experience, Island breakaways, Romance, Honeymoons & weddings, Wildlife Safaris, Cultural Tours, Luxury getaways, Family travel, Business travel and Special Interest Tours.  Contact us today and let us help you discover South Africa in a tour tailor made to your preference!

The Best Ever 14 Day South African Heritage Road Trip

Day 1
Arrive at Cape Town International Airport where you will be met and transferred to your hotel, where you will stay for the next four nights.  Built in 1904 as the North Quay Warehouse and converted in 1990 to a luxury hotel, it is named in honor of the Queen of England and her son who visited the Cape in 1870, when Prince Alfred officially opened the Breakwater basin, today’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.  You can walk in the utmost safety to some of the finest retail outlets, from designer stores to restaurants, craft markets, cinemas and entertainment.
Overnight: Victoria & Alfred Hotel

V&A Waterfront
Day 2
After breakfast this morning, you will be met and transferred to Table Mountain, ascending in the morning via cable car (weather depending).  Return to the V&A Waterfront, where you will then board a ferry to Robben Island, for an informative guided tour, done by a former inmate, visits include the leper colony, the lime quarry and former president Nelson Mandela’s prison cell.
Overnight: Victoria & Alfred Hotel

Day 3
Full Day Winelands Tour, Including a morning wine tasting in the Stellenbosch area, an informative town walking tour and the Village Museum.  Lunch stop on the beautiful Helshoogte mountain pass, followed by Franschhoek, visiting the Huguenot Monument.  Last stop will be Paarl, with a visit to the Afrikaans Taal Monument and another wine tasting, a cheese tasting and the opportunity to purchase some award winning wines.
Overnight: Victoria & Alfred Hotel

Cheese & Wine Estate Paarl
Day 4
Full Day Cape Peninsula Tour, including the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.  At the Cape Point lighthouse you will get a good idea why early sailors nicknamed it the Cape of Storms.  After lunch you will visit Simonstown, where you’ll visit the African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach.  Stroll through the beautiful fishing village of Kalk Bay and browse through the many antique shops in the area.  Return to your hotel in the late afternoon, with the evening at leisure.
Overnight: Victoria & Alfred Hotel

African Penguins Simonstown
Day 5
After check out you will be transferred to the Cape Town International Airport for your flight to Johannesburg.  Upon arrival at OR Tambo Airport you will be met and taken on a short orientation tour of Johannesburg en-route to your hotel.  After checking in and having lunch, depart on an afternoon tour of Soweto.  The tour of Soweto includes a stop at Nelson Mandela’s former home, now a museum, the Hector Peterson Memorial, commemorating the ten-year-old boy who was the first casualty of the June 1976 Soweto uprising, and a stop at the Regina Mundi Church, where many protest and political meetings were held during the freedom struggle.  Visitors will also be driven through some of Soweto’s well-to-do neighborhoods and past shantytowns where thousands live in makeshift tin houses without electricity or plumbing.  A stop at a shebeen, or local tavern, for drinks and or snacks is optional but definitely recommended.  Return to the hotel later that afternoon, with the evening at leisure.
Overnight: Gold Reef City Hotel

Madiba stained glass Methodist church
Day 6
After breakfast this morning, you will be taken on a walk through Gold Reef City.  Gold Reef City could have been a good name for Johannesburg, but it is in fact rather Johannesburg’s own theme park where the turn-of-the-century mining town is brought to life.  Take a trip underground at the Gold Reef City Mine and learn about the mining of gold – you can even take home a solid bar of gold – if you can carry it away single-handed!  Includes an underground mine tour, the pouring of gold bars, gumboot and tribal dancers.  After lunch you will be taken across to the Apartheid Museum.  The first of its kind, the Museum, with its large blown-up photographs, metal cages and numerous monitors recording continuous replays of apartheid scenes set in a double volume ceiling, concrete and red brick walls and grey concrete floor, illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid.
Overnight: Gold Reef City Hotel

Shaft 14, Johannesburg
Day 7
After an early breakfast you will be met and transferred north, to Leshiba Wilderness, which stretches along the top of the western Soutpansberg Mountains.  Located in mountainous terrain, the farm is often lost in morning mist.  Overnight in the Venda village – a unique village created by the multi-talented Noria Mabasa, famous for her monumental wood figurines.
Overnight: Leshiba Wilderness

Day 8
Spend the day exploring Leshiba.  Game drives are available, but the best way to experience all the farm has to offer is on foot.  There are 10 marked trails from 2-5 hours walking time, with paths meandering through the lush bush, over plains and down spectacular gorges.  With over 300 bird species and larger game such as white rhino, leopard, giraffe, zebra, sable brown hyena and antelope – you will certainly not be at a loss.
Overnight: Leshiba Wilderness

Day 9
After breakfast and check out you will continue your journey in an easterly direction and arrive at picturesque Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge, set on the banks of the Albasini Dam overlooking the Luonde Mountains.  Once you arrive, relax on your waterfront terrace or take a sunset cruise on the motorized raft.  Set against a backdrop of Mountains and Forests, Holy Lakes and sacred ruins, Shiluvari welcomes you to the Heart of Ancient Venda and promises to restore your natural rhythm.  On a natural peninsula in 30 hectares of natural vegetation, Shiluvari’s sweeping views of the Albasini Dam & Luonde Mountains are the perfect base from which to explore this ‘Land of Legend’.
Overnight: Shiluvari lakeside lodge

Day 10
Full day Venda tour.  Your guides will mystify you with the tales of python gods, ancient lakes and holy forests.  You will visit Lake Fundudzi, which is sacred to the Venda people, and listen to the myths associated with this natural splendor.  The Sacred Forest will also be visited, maybe you could spot the protector of the forest and listen to the whisperings of the ancestors.  Enjoy a picnic lunch at Phiphidi waterfalls.
Overnight: Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge

Day 11
Full day artist’s tour, incorporating the many varied and talented local artists and crafters, including: The Mashamba potters, Twananani batik factors, John Baloyi – wood carver and philosopher, Phineas the drum maker and Tsonga Textiles the local screen printing and textile factory.  Today you will visit all these artists in their own homes and villages and experience this fascinating wealth of Venda and Shangaan culture firsthand.  Picnic on the banks of the Ribolla Lake, with the evening at leisure to listen to the sounds of the African night and appreciate the starry African sky.
Overnight: Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge

Day 12
Drive through to the northern reaches of the Kruger National Park, entering via Punda Maria gate heading for the Outpost, the only privately owned game lodge in the Makuleke region of the Kruger National Park.  The Makuleke community was moved off their land in the KNP in 1969, and has only recently reclaimed their land.  In partnership with a private game lodge operator, the Outpost has been established.  Evening game drive in open vehicle landrovers and dinner at the Outpost boma.
Overnight: The Outpost

Day 13
Early morning optional game drive or a bush walk with a qualified ranger in a concession covering 25 000 hectares are your choices for the morning.  Encounters with Africa’s wild and wonderful await you.  Afternoon siesta, followed by a high tea and then evening game drive and spectacular outside dinner in the finest bushveld surroundings.
Overnight: The Outpost

Kruger Park Elephant
Day 14
You will be met at The Outpost, exiting once again through the Punda Maria gate looking out for any last minute wildlife sightings, and transferred to the Kruger Mpumalanga Airport for your short scheduled flight to OR Tambo Airport for your international homebound flight.

Contact Road Travel Africa today to turn your Dream African Holiday into a reality.  We look forward to being of assistance to you.

Our Soweto

We Love Soweto, its a place of contrasts with the same vibrant feel as Johannesburg, with a cheerful energy and a bustle of activity.  This is the perfect place to learn to understand what the words “Rainbow Nation” really mean.  Here you’ll find rows of tin shanties and luxurious mansions, piles of garbage and pitted roads which offset green fields and rustic streams.  Soweto is the most metropolitan township in the country, setting South African trends in politics, fashion, music, dance and language.

Soweto may sound like an African name, but the word was originally an acronym for “South Western Townships”.  Soweto is a melting pot of South African cultures and has developed its own sub-cultures.  Afro-American influence runs deep, but is adapted to local conditions.  In their speech, dress and gait, Sowetans exude a sense of cosmopolitan sophistication.

The establishment of Soweto is, like Johannesburg, linked directly to the discovery of Gold in 1885.  Thousands of people from around the world and South Africa flocked to the new town to seek their fortunes or to offer their labour.  More than half the population was black, most living in multi racial shanty towns near the gold mines in the centre of the town.  As the gold mining industry developed, the need for labour increased.  Migrant labour was started and most of these workers lived in mine compounds.  However other workers had to find their own accommodation often in appalling conditions.

In 1903 Kliptown, the oldest of a cluster of townships that constitute present day Soweto, was established.  The township was created to house black labourers, who worked in mines and other industries in the city, away from the city centre.  The inner city was later to be reserved for white occupation as the policy of segregation took root.  Only black families were located into Klipspruit and the housing was on a rental basis.  Klipspruit was subsequently renamed Pimville.  Some residents were to be relocated to Alexandra township (near the present day Sandton).

During the 1930’s the demand for housing for the large numbers of black people who had moved into Johannesburg grew to such an extent that new housing was built in an area known as Orlando, named after the first administrator Edwin Orlando Leaky.  In the 1940’s a controversial character James Mpanza led the first land invasion and some 20000 squatters occupied land near Orlando.  James Mpanza is known as the “Father of Soweto”.

In 1959 the residents of Sophiatown were forcibly removed to Soweto and occupied the area known as Meadowlands. S ir Earnest Oppenheimer, the first chairman of the Anglo American Corporation, was appalled by the housing shortage and was instrumental in arranging a loan for the construction of additional housing and this is commemorated by the Oppenheimer Tower in Jabulani.

Since it came into being, Soweto was at the centre of campaigns to overthrow the apartheid state.  The 1976 student uprising, also known as the Soweto Uprisings, began in Soweto and spread to the rest of the country.  Other politically charged campaigns to have germinated in Soweto include the squatter movement of the 1940s and the defiance campaigns of the mid to late 1980’s.  The area produced many political, sporting and social luminaries, including Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, who once lived in Orlando West.  Other prominent figures to have come from Soweto include boxing legend, Baby Jake Matlala, singing diva Yvonne Chaka Chaka, The Soweto Gospel Choir and soccer maestro Jomo Sono.

Infused with the history of the struggle against apartheid and abuzz with the energy of Egoli, the city of gold, Soweto is a must-see for visitors who are looking for a deeper insight into our country.  With heritage sites, restaurants and shebeens aplenty, Soweto is well worth visiting to experience the real South Africa – a place of friendship, vibrancy and contrasts.

Soweto’s history and bright future has guaranteed it a place on the world map.  Those who know little else about South Africa are often familiar with the name “Soweto” and the township’s significance in our country’s past and future.  Contact us at Road Travel to experience the real Soweto.