South Africa is the 9th largest and most southernmost country on the continent. Learn more fun facts about this beautiful country.
1. It’s located in southern Africa and is the southernmost country on the continent.
2. It is the 9th largest country in Africa and the 24th largest country in the world.
3. It has 3 capitals: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative). Its largest and most visited city is Johannesburg.
4. It has 11 official languages: English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Setswana, Sesotho, Xitsonga, siSwati, Tshivenda and isiNdebele
5. Major ethnic groups: Black (81%), Coloured (indigenous/mixed race) (9%), White (8%), Asian (2%)
6. Major religions: Christianity (78%), No religion (11%), Traditional and other religions (7%), Islam (2%)
7. It is extremely rich in minerals and holds nearly 90% of all Platinum metals and 41% of the world’s Gold.
8. It’s known for its history of apartheid, a legal system of discrimination and race, which officially ended in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected president in South Africa’s first universal elections.
9. The Bloukrans Bridge is the site of the highest commercial bungee jump in the world, at 710 feet.
10. Boulders Beach in Cape Town is home to a colony of African penguins and is one of the few places where they can be seen in the wild.
11. Route 62, which runs through the Cape Winelands, is the world’s longest wine route, with more than 500 wineries.
12. Table Mountain, one its most iconic landmarks, is believed to be one of the world’s oldest mountains.
13. It has 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites: Fossil Hominid sites of Sterkfontein, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, Richtersveld Landscape, Robben Island, Cape Floral Region, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Vredefort crater, uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, Khomani Cultural Landscape, and Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains.
14. There are a plethora of things to see and places to visit. Among them are: Soweto, Vilakazi Street, Apartheid Museum, Sun City, Robben Island, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Winelands, Durban’s Golden Mile, the Valley of 1000 Hills, the Panorama Route, the Garden Route, the Wild Coast, Sudwala Caves, Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon.
4. Major ethnic groups: Ovambo (50%), Kavango (9%), Coloureds (8%), Herero (7%), Damara (7%), Whites (7%), Nama (5%), Lozi (3.5%), San (3%), Tswana (1%)
5. Major religions: Christianity (90%), Traditional and other (8.5%), None (1.5%)
6. It gained independence from South Africa in March 1990, following a protracted 24-year war. Prior to South Africa, it was colonized by Germany, which perpetrated a genocide against the Herero and Nama people.
7. It is one of two African countries, along with South Africa, that was subject to apartheid.
8. The name “Namibia” is derived from the Namib Desert, the world’s oldest desert. Some of the tallest sand dunes in the world are found there.
9. It’s the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.
10. It is home to some of Africa’s oldest and unique ethnic groups, including the San, Nama, and Himba people.
11. It is home to the world’s second largest canyon, Fish River Canyon.
12. It is a popular tourism destination and has a myriad of activities including wildlife reserves, adventure activities, natural landmarks, historical sites, and cultural
13. Places to visit include the capital city of Windhoek, Caprivi Strip, Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei and the sand dunes, the Skeleton Coast, Sesriem Canyon, Etosha National Park, Epupa Falls, and the coastal towns of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.
Mozambique is Africa’s 16th largest country and the only country in the world with a modern weapon on its national flag. Learn more fun facts about this beautiful country.
1. It’s located in southeast Africa and is the 16th largest country on the continent.
2. Its capital and largest city is Maputo.
3. Major languages: Portuguese (official), Swahili, Mwani, Chewa, Tsonga, Makhuwa, Sena
4. Major ethnic groups: Makua, Sena, Shona, Tsonga, Shangaan
5. Major religions: Christianity (56%), Islam (18%), Traditional and other (8%), None (18%)
6. It was colonized for nearly 500 years, before gaining independence from Portugal in June 1975 after a long civil war.
7. Mozambique’s flag, adopted at independence, is full of symbolism. The feature colors of red, green, black and yellow were derived from the flags of the African National Congress in South Africa and FRELIMO, the Mozambican liberation movement party. The star stands for Marxism and internationalism, the book stands for the importance of education, the hoe stands for the country’s agriculture, and the AK-47 rifle stands for defiance and vigilance. It is the world’s only national flag with a modern weapon.
8. Some of the scenes from the movie Blood Diamond were shot in Maputo.
9. It has extensive natural resources, including aluminum, oil and natural gas, but it is one of the poorest and most undeveloped countries in the world.
10. Its tourism industry is small, but growing. Its natural beauty, beaches, national parks and wildlife reserves, cultural heritage and abundant seafood provide excellent eco-tourism opportunities for the adventurous.
11. It has the 4th longest coastline in Africa and numerous islands. The coast is 1,535 miles (2,470 km) long and is lined with beach towns. Popular destinations include Maputo, Inhaca Island, Ponta d’Ouro, Xai Xai beach, Tofo beach, Vilanculos, Bazaruto Archipelago, Inhambane, Ilha de Mozambique, Pemba and the Quirimbas islands.
12. It has some of the best coral reefs in the world, especially in the Bazaruto Archipelago. Over 1,200 species of fish have been identified there.
13. Gorongosa National Park, the Maputo Elephant Reserve, and Limpopo National Park provide wildlife safari experiences.
14. Things to do in Maputo include: the Central Market, the Train Station, FEIMA Arts and Crafts market, National Arts Museum, Casa do Ferro, Nucleo de Arte, Museum of Natural History, National Money Museum, and the Fundação Fernando Leite Couto Cultural Center.
Malawi is the 36th largest country in Africa and is known as “The Warm Heart of Africa”. Learn more fun facts about this beautiful country.
1. It is a landlocked country located in southeastern Africa and is the 36th largest country on the continent.
2. Its capital and largest city is Lilongwe.
3. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964.
4. It is nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa” because of the friendliness of its people.
5. Major ethnic groups: Chewa (34%), Lomwe (19%), Yao (13%), Ngoni (10%), Tumbuka (9%), Sena (4%), Mang’anja (3%)
6. Major languages: English, Chewa (official); Yao, Tumbuka, Tonga, Sena, Lomwe, Ngonde, Lambya (national)
7. Major religions: Christianity (77%), Islam (14%), Traditional and other (7%), None (2%)
8. Dance is an important part of Malawi’s culture. Traditional dances and music can be seen as an initiation rite, and are used during rituals and marriage celebrations and ceremonies.
9. This relatively little-known gem has much to offer tourists, including wildlife, culture, adventure activities, stunning scenery, national parks, and the third largest lake in Africa.
10. Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Lake Malawi National Park and the Chongoni Rock Art Area, a site of stone age rock art and paintings.
11. Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, takes up about 1/3 of Malawi’s area.
12. The annual Lake of Stars Festival, a 3-day outdoor festival with live music, talks, poetry, theatre, film, and wellness activities, is held on the shores of Lake Malawi.
13. Things to see and do in Lilongwe include the Lilongwe Market, Old Town, New Town, Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary, Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Kamuzu Mausoleum, Parliament Building, the Tobacco Auction Floors, Kumbali Cultural Village, Tindoz d’Afrique, art galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants, crafts shop and nightlife.
Lesotho is Africa’s 12th smallest country, known as the Mountain Kingdom due to its mountainous terrain. Learn more fun facts about this fascinating country.
1. It is Africa’s 12th smallest country, located in southern Africa and completely surrounded by South Africa.
2. Its capital and largest city is Maseru.
3. Official languages: Sesotho and English
4. Major ethnic groups: Basotho (99.7%), Others (0.3%)
5. Major religions: Christianity (95%), Traditional religions (4%), Other or no religion (1%)
6. The name Lesotho means the land of the people who speak Sesotho.
7. It is called the Mountain Kingdom because its terrain is extremely mountainous and the entire country is over 1000 meters (3280 feet) in altitude. Eighty percent of the country lies above 1,800 meters (5,906 feet).
8. The legendary Sani Pass provides the only road link between KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and Lesotho. The steep gravel road, which can only be driven by 4 x 4 vehicles, starts at 1545 meters (5066 feet) and climbs to an altitude of 2876 meters (9436 feet).
9. The Basotho blanket is a wool tribal blanket worn by the people for warmth, but also as a status symbol and cultural identification. The blankets have distinctive designs and more intricate designs indicate a higher class of blanket.
10. The Basotho pony is a national source of pride and the main mode of transport over Lesotho’s rugged terrain.
11. Water and diamonds are Lesotho’s significant natural resources.
12. It’s home to the “Highest Pub in Africa”, located at 2874 meters (9429 feet), at the Sani Mountain Lodge. This is a popular tourist stop.
13. Tourism largely centers around nature, adventure sports, history, and culture.
14. Things to see/do include: Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest point in Lesotho at 3482 meters (11,424 feet); Afriski Mountain Resort, a luxury resort which offers activities for skiers, snow boarders, mountain bikers, hikers, off-road enthusiasts and more; Liphofung Caves and ancient San rock art; Maletsuyane Falls; Katse Dam; and Thaba Bosiu National Monument and Cultural Village.
Botswana is the 23rd largest country in Africa and home to most of the world’s San/bushmen people. Learn more fun facts about this beautiful country.
1. It’s a landlocked country located in southern Africa.
2. It’s the 23rd largest country in Africa and the world’s 48th largest country.
3. Gaborone is the capital and largest city.
4. Major languages: English, Setswana
5. Ethnicity/race: Tswana (80% ), Kalanga (10%), White (3%), San (3%)
6. Major religions: Christian (73%), no religion (20%), traditional African religions (6%)
7. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1966; during colonization, it was a British protectorate called Bechuanaland.
8. It has the 4th largest gross national income in Africa and a relatively high standard of living. Its economy is dominated by diamond mining and tourism.
9. Botswana is home to most of the world’s San (bushmen) population, believed to be the oldest people on earth.
10. Tsodilo Hills, one of the world’s oldest historical sites, has been inhabited for 100,000 years and boasts one of the highest concentrations of ancient and contemporary rock art in the world. It is considered a sacred place where ancestral spirits dwell and the San still live there.
11. Tourism in Botswana largely centers around nature and wildlife. Areas like Chobe National Park, Moremi National Park, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta are popular safari attractions.
12. The Gaborone International Music and Culture Week, held annually in August, is a weeklong festival that celebrates the city of Gaborone through music, theatre, comedy, poetry, fashion and other cultural activities.
Angola is Africa’s 7th largest country and its 2nd largest oil producer. Learn more fun facts about this beautiful country.
1. It’s the 7th largest country in Africa.
2. It’s located in southern Africa, with a varied terrain that includes tropical beaches, rainforests, mountains and sub-Saharan desert.
3. It is Africa’s second largest oil producer.
4. Its capital and largest city is Luanda.
5. Luanda is one of the most expensive cities in the world and the 6th most expensive in Africa for expats.
6. Major Languages: Portuguese is the official language. The six most widely spoken Bantu languages are Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, Chokwe, Kwanyama (also called Oshikwanyama), and Ngangela
7. Ethnicity/Race: The three main ethnic groups are Ovimbundu 37%, Ambundu 25%, and Bakongo 13%. There are also several smaller African ethnic groups, as well as Mixed Race 2%, Chinese 1.4% and White 1%.
8. It gained its independence from Portugal on November 11, 1975, after 400 years of colonization. After independence, Angola had a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.
9. The transatlantic slave trade in Angola during the colonial era was one of the longest, with more than 5 million slaves brought to Brazil, the Caribbean, and the USA. The first 20 slaves brought to colonial Virginia in 1619 came from Angola.
10. The Angolan National Museum of Slavery details the history of slavery in Angola. The museum displays hundreds of items used in the slave trade and is housed in the former property of Álvaro de Carvalho Matoso, one of Angola’s largest slave traders.
11. It is the birthplace of Kuduro and Kizomba—music and dance styles rooted in traditional Angolan Semba. (Kizomba has been called the most sexual dance in the world)
12. It has numerous waterfalls, including Kalandula Falls, one of Africa’s largest waterfalls by volume.
13. Angola’s tourism industry is relatively new and largely based on its natural environment, which includes rivers, waterfalls, mountains, national parks, and coastline.
With 54 countries and island nations, there’s never a shortage of things to do in Africa. Here are some its best festivals.
With 54 countries and island nations, there’s never a shortage of things to do on the African continent. Festivals provide a great opportunity to experience the diverse culture, music and food, while also benefiting the local economies. Here are some of the best ones you should consider attending.
The Equatorial Guinea Bodypainting Festival ~ Equatorial Guinea
The Equatorial Guinea Bodypainting Festival is one of the newest festivals on the continent, having only been launched in 2019. But it’s already gaining fans and spurring tourism to the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa. The festival includes tours, eco-adventures, and art workshops on mask making, pole dancing, and creative drawing, among others. Of course, the festival highlight is the amazing body paint presentations.
Timkat Festival ~ Ethiopia
Timkat is Ethiopian Epiphany Day, a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ, occurring across the country, but mainly in Lalibela, Gondar, and Addis Ababa. The festival happens every year on January 19 (January 20 in leap years), with preparations the day before (ketera) and three days of colorful processions, dance, music, prayer and a ritual baptismal re-enactment. This is one of the major religious festivals in Ethiopia and an excellent way to immerse oneself in Ethiopian history and culture.
The Voodoo Festival ~ Benin
The Voodoo Festival is a celebration of the voodoo religion that takes place every year on January 10th in Ouidah, Benin. This popular festival draws fetish priests, adepts, traditional chiefs and onlookers from across the globe. There are ritual sacrifices, dancing, drinking and drumming. Devotees assume the identity of gods, dressing up and transforming into that god as they do, with the realm of the magical close at hand.
Abu Simbel Sun Festival ~ Egypt
The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples built as a monument to Pharaoh Ramesses II and his queen Nefertari and to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. The temples remain in darkness all year, except for two occasions on February 22 and October 22, when a stream of natural sunlight illuminates the entire complex. Tourists come from around the globe to see this solar phenomenon and architectural marvel, and to enjoy music, dance, food, drinking, market shopping and more.
Carnival ~ Cape Verde
Carnival is celebrated on all 10 islands, but the biggest and liveliest celebrations happen in Mindelo on Sao Vicente island. The dates change each year, but the week leading up to Shrove Tuesday (February 25 in 2020) is filled with street parties and other events, culminating with the main parade complete with samba dancing, singing, live music, elaborate floats, and colorful costumes. Come ready to have fun because the celebrations start early in the morning and go on all day.
Sauti za Busara ~ Zanzibar, Tanzania
This 4-day music festival is held every February and showcases African music from across the continent. Highlights of Sauti za Busara include 400+ live musicians, a carnival parade, impromptu jam sessions and after parties, with a backdrop of the beautiful beach views and island breezes of Stone Town.
Bouake Carnival ~ Cote d’Ivoire
Bouake Carnival is the Ivorian version of Mardi Gras. This
weeklong celebration of life and friendship is held in late March in Bouake, the
second largest city in Cote d’ivoire. Tourists and locals join together to enjoy
great music, eat traditional foods, explore cultural markets, attend lively street
parties and parades, and hear music from local artists and musicians from all
over the continent of Africa.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival ~ South Africa
Touted as Africa’s Grandest Gathering, Cape Town Jazz Festival is one of the biggest jazz festivals on the continent. This 2-day festival is hosted in the beautiful Cape Town and known for its all-star lineup of local and international acts.
Festival of Urban Music of Anoumabo (FEMUA) ~ Cote
This annual music festival is a party with a purpose – the proceeds are used to build schools and hospitals across the country. Started by Salif “Asalfo” Traoré, singer of the Ivorian band, Magic System, as a way to give back to the Anoumabo neighborhood, this celebration has morphed from a neighborhood party to a major festival, drawing crowds of more than 100,000 people to Abidjan. FEMUA features a variety of Ivorian and Pan African music and has an annual theme aimed at spurring social awareness and change. Be warned — the festival starts late and typically runs until 5:00 am.
Harare International Festival of the Arts ~ Zimbabwe
The Harare International Festival of the Arts is one of Africa’s largest art and cultural festivals, held in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare. The 6-day festival and workshop program showcases Zimbabwean, regional and international arts and culture with dance, music, circus, street performances, fashion, spoken word, theater and visual arts.
Azgo Festival ~ Mozambique
The Azgo Festival is a contemporary celebration of arts and culture, with a strong focus on artists from Mozambique and the entire African continent. The four-day festival includes live music, films, dance, artistic and cultural development workshops and gourmet street food vendors.
Bush Fire Festival ~ eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)
One of Africa’s most popular events, Bush Fire is an annual 3-day festival which showcases music, art and culture from all over the African continent. Through its mantra “Bring Your Fire”, Bushfire encourages creative expression and social change, and invites everyone to contribute and engage through a program of creative workshops, discussions, art exhibitions and guest speakers.
La Biennale de L’Art Africain Contemporain/Dak’Art ~ Senegal
La Biennale de L’Art Africain Contemporain, commonly known as Dak’Art, is a month-long contemporary arts festival held every two years in Senegal’s capital of Dakar. The festival features art exhibitions with a variety of national and international artists, as well as in situ mural and sculpture creations, lectures, films, live performances, African culinary presentations, and more. The next edition of Dak’Art is in 2020.
Saint-Louis Jazz Festival ~ Senegal
Held in the former French capital of Saint-Louis, the renowned Saint-Louis Jazz Festival happens annually in May and attracts local and international jazz greats. The 5-day festival is in its 28th year and attracts close to 100,000 music lovers from around the world.
Windhoek Annual Cultural Festival ~ Namibia
The Windhoek Annual Cultural Festival is a new festival, which seeks to promote Namibian cultural diversity and provide a platform for upcoming artists and entrepreneurs to exhibit and promote their businesses. Participants celebrate their cultural backgrounds through traditional dress, dance performances and food. Additional activities include a battle of DJs, choir competition, battle of chefs, eating competition and talent show.
Fes Festival of World Sacred Music ~ Morocco
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music is 10-day celebration held in Fes, in northern Morocco. The festival advocates music as a means of promoting dialogue and harmony between civilizations and is a combination of concerts, workshops and discussions on climate change, human and civil rights, social justice and other important issues.
Jazzablanca ~ Morocco
Jazzablanca is an international jazz festival held yearly in Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city. The 9-day festival features local and international artists with a mix of famous and up-and-coming jazz, pop, rock, blues and funk. Food and fashion workshops are also held.
Zanzibar International Film Festival ~ Zanzibar, Tanzania
The Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), also known as Festival of the Dhow Countries, is an annual 10-day film festival held on Zanzibar island. ZIFF includes workshops and screenings of African films in various genres, including African Animation, TV series and Web series.
Panafest ~ Ghana
The Pan African Historical Theatre Festival, commonly known as Panafest, is a cultural festival held every two years for Africans and people of African descent. The festival is intended to bring together Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora around the issues raised by the transatlantic slave trade. The two-week festival includes a variety of cultural events, performance arts, dance and music workshops, speaking colloquiums, and tributes to the ancestors. The next Panafest is in 2021.
Chale Wote Street Art Festival ~ Ghana
Chale Wote has quickly become one of West Africa’s biggest and most popular events, with more than 100,000 attendees and 200 Ghanaian and international artists participating. The 10-day street festival includes street painting, graffiti murals, photo exhibitions, live street performances, extreme sports, African cinema, street boxing, a fashion parade, a music block party, design labs and more.
Gaborone International Music and Culture Week (GIMC) ~ Botswana
GIMC is a weeklong annual festival that celebrates the city of Gaborone through music, theatre, comedy, poetry, fashion and other cultural activities. Performers include local, regional and international artists.
Lake of Stars Festival ~ Malawi
Lake of Stars is an annual 3-day international music festival held on the shores of Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. The activities include music, talks, poetry, theater, film, art and wellness activities from Malawi and across the globe. On-site camping is available and encouraged. The festival is on hiatus for 2020, but is expected to return in 2021.
Nyege Nyege Festival ~ Uganda
Held on the shores of the Nile River, the 4-day Nyege Nyege festival is one of the biggest underground music festivals in East Africa. Nyege Nyege is a Swahili word meaning an uncontrollable urge to move, shake, or dance and you’ll do just that at this non-stop party and celebration of Ugandan and African culture. Nyege Nyege showcases an eclectic mix of music genres from Africans and the diaspora, including electronic music, Ugandan dancehall, Balani (Mali), Kweito (South Africa), Kuduro (Angola), Cumbia (South America) and more.
Felabration ~ Nigeria
Felabration is an annual music and arts festival commemorating the life of Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician and human rights activist known for pioneering the afrobeat music genre. The weeklong celebration includes a wide range of activities, including debates, symposiums, afrobics dance competitions, art exhibitions and competitions, and music concerts.
Mombasa Carnival ~ Kenya
The Mombasa Carnival is one of Kenya’s biggest and most
popular festivals, held every year in November. This lively street party revolves
around two parades, which converge on Moi Avenue and display Mombasa’s diverse cultures
with an array of floats, traditional dress, music concerts, and dance. A mix of
traditional and contemporary artists join the celebration.
Afrochella ~ Ghana
Afrochella is Africa’s answer to America’s Coachella. This annual one-day festival seeks to highlight the thriving talent from and within Africa and features African music, culture, art, fashion and food. Related happenings, including panel discussions, charity events, and parties, are held the week of the festival.
Afropunk ~ South Africa
Afropunk is an annual alternative arts festival that includes live music, film, fashion, and art produced by black artists. The festival debuted in Brooklyn, New York and has since expanded to locations across the globe, including Johannesburg, South Africa. The two-day Afropunk Joburg features live concerts, panel conversations, battle of the bands, and food and craft markets.
Calabar Carnival ~ Nigeria
Called Africa’s biggest street party, the Calabar Carnival takes place the entire month of December in the city of Calabar in southeastern Nigeria. It attracts more than 2 million revelers and has participants from 25 countries. The festivities include street parades, battle of the bands, concerts, art shows, street parties, food competitions, fashion shows, sporting events and non-stop parties. Carnival week, the final week between Christmas and New Year, is when most of the highlights occur.
Victoria Falls Carnival ~ Zimbabwe
The Victoria Falls Carnival is a 3-day blowout party held annually at the end of December. The party starts on Day One with a Carnival train ride and secret bush party. Day Two features an electric safari concert with the best live house, African, indie and electro-pop music. The party culminates on New Year’s Eve, with a concert and year-end countdown complete with fire breathers, traditional dancers, and a host of African music artists. All of the fun is held in the backdrop of Victoria Falls, one of the biggest and most famous waterfalls in the world.
With its stunning views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town regularly graces the lists of the world’s best places to visit. Indeed, most visitors to South Africa will spend time in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and maybe even Durban. But while each of those places offers its own unique attractions, “those in the know” know that Mpumalanga is not to be missed.
Mpumalanga (a Zulu word meaning “the place where the sun rises”) is a province in eastern South Africa, bordering the nations of Swaziland and Mozambique. Just a one hour plane ride or four hour drive from Johannesburg, Mpumalanga is a nature lover’s dream with big game animals, a bounty of flora and fauna, mountains, canyons, caves, rivers, and waterfalls. Aptly known as “Paradise Country”, Mpumalanga will treat you to some of the most breathtaking scenery you’ve ever seen. Here are my top 8 things to do there:
1. Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is South Africa’s premier safari destination. Covering more than 7,523 square miles and extending over two provinces, it’s one of the largest game reserves in Africa. All of the Big Five game animals are found at Kruger, as well as 336 species of trees, 49 species of fish, 34 species of amphibians, 114 species of reptiles, 507 species of birds and 147 species of mammals. Most visitors to Kruger self-drive, but park rangers also offer morning, sunset and evening game drives. Guided nature walks (with armed field guides) are also available. Kruger has numerous rest camps, private lodges, and several restaurants, allowing visitors with reservations to stay overnight inside the park. Park accommodations should be booked well in advance to ensure availability.
2. Private Game Reserves
Set alongside Kruger’s unfenced western boundary, Kruger’s Private Game Reserves – Thornybush, Sabi Sand, Kapama, Timbavati, Manyeleti, Klaserie, and Balule – offer some of the most exclusive safari experiences in South Africa. These luxury accommodations don’t come cheap, but the expense is well worth it. Most offer morning and evening game drives with experienced rangers and trackers in private 4-wheel drive vehicles. Their ability to engage in safari activities not permitted in Kruger, such as off-road driving and spot lit night drives, increase the likelihood of closer and more frequent animal sightings. And after long mornings and evenings of game viewing, you’ll be treated to gourmet meals and other amenities, like private butler service, spa treatments and private suites with magnificent bush views. Everyone should have the experience at least once.
Infinity pool in the bush, Kirkman’s Kamp, Sabi Sand private reserve
3.Blyde River Canyon/Panorama Route
Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on Earth and considered by many to be the largest “green canyon” due to its lush sub-tropical foliage. Also known as Motlatse River Canyon, it is part of the Panorama Route, a scenic road covering nearly 240 miles and connecting several waterfalls, mountain passes and natural vantage points. Some of the popular natural landmarks include God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck potholes, the Pinnacle, the Three Rondavels, the Lisbon Falls, the Berlin Falls and the Mac Mac Falls. There also several historic and tourist towns along the route, including Pilgrim’s Rest, a restored gold mining town, and Graskop, reportedly home of the best pancakes in the southern hemisphere.
View from God’s Window, Blyde River Canyon
4. Shangana Cultural Village
Located midway between Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon, the Shangana Village gives visitors a firsthand view of the way of life of the Shangaan people. The Village offers a variety of daytime and evening tours, some of which include traditional meals and/or performances by local dancers and drummers. The Marula Market allows craftspeople from all over the region to showcase and sell their traditional handcrafted art. The market is open daily from 9am to 5pm and entrance is free.
5. The Sudwala Caves
The Sudwala Caves are said to be the oldest caves in the world, formed about 240 million years ago. The Caves are open daily for tours from 8:30am to 4:30pm and the standard tour lasts one hour. Visitors will observe a variety of interesting stalagmite and stalactite formations, as well as primitive plant fossils and stone age tools from early inhabitants. Visitors will also be surprised to see a functioning amphitheater inside the Caves. For the truly adventurous, the 4-hour Crystal Tour takes visitors more than 6,500 feet inside in the Caves, on an excursion that involves wading through water, climbing up and down rocks, and crawling through small tunnels to see the amazing array of aragonite crystals. The Crystal Tour is offered on the first Saturday of each month or by arrangement for groups of 5 or more. Advance booking is required.
Stalagmite formation inside Sudwala caves
6. The Jane Goodall Institute South Africa Chimp Eden Sanctuary
If you ever watched the Animal Planet television series “Escape to Chimp Eden”, then you’ve seen the amazing work of Chimp Eden, the first and only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa. The sanctuary rescues chimps that have survived the bush meat trade, been orphaned, traded in the illegal pet market, or traumatized to provide entertainment in circuses, beach resorts or night clubs. Chimp Eden is open daily from 8:00am to 4:00pm and offers guided tours three times per day at 10:00am, 12:00pm and 2:00pm. The chimps are quite fascinating to watch in their semi-wild enclosures and their varied personalities and temperaments are readily seen. One chimp in particular, Cozi, is sure to entertain with his playful antics.
Chimp playing with tube, Chimp Eden Sanctuary
7. Elephant Sanctuary – Hazyview
The Elephant Sanctuary provides a safe haven for young African elephants in need of a temporary home. Visitors are able to touch, feed and get to know the animals while learning all aspects of elephants and elephant husbandry. The sanctuary offers a variety of elephant interaction programs, including hand-in-trunk walks, elephant brush downs, elephant rides and elephant keeper for a day.
8. Extreme and Adventure Sports
Those hooked on extreme and adventure sports and activities can certainly get their fix in Mpumalanga. Mpumalanga provides both beautiful surroundings and a myriad of activities to spike your adrenalin levels. The gorge swing, white water rafting, tubing, hang gliding, sky diving, zip lining, hot air ballooning, quad biking, mountain biking, hiking, abseiling, and rock climbing are among the many activities offered in the region. And as an added plus, many tour operators focus on eco-adventure, which involves minimizing impact on the land and increasing environmental and cultural awareness.
South Africa is among the top 10 wine producers in the world, producing more than 1,000,000 liters of wine per year. But while black and coloured* South Africans represent nearly 90% of the population, they remain woefully underrepresented in the $3 billion wine industry, at less than three percent. This great imbalance is a legacy of colonialism and South Africa’s apartheid past, when non-whites were prohibited from drinking or making wine and black ownership of land was limited.
Government land redistribution efforts and an affirmative action program known as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) have been largely unsuccessful in increasing black ownership and participation in South Africa’s wine industry. Lack of collateral makes it near impossible for blacks to secure business loans from banks or funding from the government. Non-ownership of land, grapes or wineries and consumer reluctance to purchase wine brands with “African sounding” names have been additional obstacles. But despite these barriers, blacks are making inroads. Listed below are 10 black vineyards, winemakers and wine brands seeking to excel in South Africa’s competitive wine business.
Seven Sisters wine brand launched in 2007 and is owned and managed by coloured South African Vivian Kleynhans and her six sisters. The Seven Sisters wines are named after each sibling and the range consists of a Bukettraube (Odelia), Pinotage-Rose (Twena), Chenin Blanc (Yolanda), Sauvignon Blanc (Vivian), Pinotage/Shiraz (Dawn), Merlot (June) and Cabernet (Carol). The Seven Sisters vineyard, located in the Stellenbosch region of the Cape Winelands, is open to the public for tours and tastings by appointment. Seven Sisters can be contacted by phone at +27 710494109 or by email at [email protected] Seven Sisters wines are sold in the United States and South Africa.
M’Hudi is a family enterprise owned and operated by the Rangakas, a black family who moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town in 2003 to realize their dream of owning a wine farm. With no prior winemaking experience, mother Malmsey, father Diale, and their three children, Tseliso, Lebogang, and Senyane have created a successful brand. M’hudi produces a “Premium” range (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage and Merlot) and an “On the Move” range (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon). M’hudi’s Stellenbosch vineyard is currently closed to the public, but expected to re-open in April 2017. M’Hudi wines are sold in South Africa.
Thandi was South Africa’s first agricultural BEE project and is owned by 147 farm worker families who hold 62% shares in the company. Thandi produces five ranges of wine: Reserve Range (Cabernet Sauvignon), Premium Range (Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz), Pioneer Range (Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc, Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Rose, Sparkling Rose, Sparkling Red, and Sparking White), Rossouw Private Collection (Merlot/Cabernet and Pinotage) and JAC Range (Pinotage, Red Blend and Shiraz). Thandi’s Stellenbosch vineyard is open to the public for tastings, Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Thandi wines are sold in Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Russia, Sweden, South Korea, Sweden and South Africa.
Ntsiki Biyela holds the distinction of being South Africa’s first black female winemaker. Biyela started her career in 2004 at the Stellenbosch vineyard of Stellekaya, where she is head winemaker. Biyela recently started her own Aslina wine brand, which is currently sold in the United States, Denmark and Germany. The Aslina brand will be sold in South Africa in 2017. Biyela has three Stellekaya varietals available at Wine for the World.
Carmen Stevens is South Africa’s first coloured female winemaker and she has been the winemaker at Amani’s Stellenbosch vineyard since 2005. At Amani, Stevens makes a range of wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Franc and a wine named I Am One, a Bordeaux/Shiraz blend. Stevens recently started her own wine brand, Angels Reserve, with the help of angel investors. Her wine can be purchased online at Naked Wines.
Heinrich Devon Keenen Kulsen
Heinrich Devon Keenen Kulsen is winemaker at Earthbound Wines, an organic and Fairtrade-certified range made from grapes supplied by Papkuilsfontein Vineyards in the Darling region of the Western Cape. The range consists of five varietals, four of which are organic: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir (non-organic). Earthbound wines are sold in South Africa at Tops @ Spar and Darling Wine Shop, and online at Cyber Cellar.
Black Wine Brands
House of La RicMal
Malcolm and Ricardo Green are the father and son team behind the House of La RicMal, which has been in operation since 2008. Sourcing grapes from Darling, House of La RicMal produces two brands, La RicMal Supreme (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and Sauvignon Blanc) and Lerato (Classic Red, Sweet Red, and Classic White). House of RicMal brands are sold in South Africa at Pick and Pay, Checkers, Tops @ Spar, Liquor City and Agrimark and also exported to Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Malawi, and Angola.
House of Mandela
Dr. Makaziwe Mandela and Tukwini Mandela (the daughter and granddaughter of late South African president and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela) are the mother and daughter team behind the House of Mandela. The House of Mandela produces varietals under five labels: Deep River (Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay blends), Royal Reserve (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Shriaz), Thembu Collection (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinotage, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc), Vusani (Chenin Blanc and Pinotage) and Brut (Sparkling Wine). House of Mandela wines are sold in South Africa, the United States, Canada, Turks and Caicos, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Taiwan and Japan.
Ses’fikile is 100% owned and controlled by black women. Ses’fikile sources grapes from the Wellington area of the Western Cape and produces six wines: Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. Private tastings can be arranged by phone at +27 83 431 0254 or by email at [email protected] Ses’fikile wines are carried in select South African restaurants and hotels.
Women in Wine
Founded in 2006 by a group of 20 women, Women in Wine partners with existing cellars and bottling companies to produce its wine. The Women in Wine label produces six wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, Pinotage Rose, and Chardonnay Chenin Blanc. The Women in Wine brand is sold in the USA, China, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and Denmark, and in South Africa at Makro stores.
*In South Africa, the term Coloured is an ethnic label for people of mixed ethnic origin who possess ancestry from Europe, Asia, and various Khoisan and Bantu ethnic groups of southern Africa. For purposes of this article, the term Black is used to refer to persons who identify as Black or Coloured.
Have you visited any of these vineyards or tasted any of the wine brands? What did you think? Share your comments below.