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SA Dominates Top 10 Best Safari Parks in Africa

In a study of more than 3,000 reviews from safari adventurists and industry experts, four South African parks were declared amongst the top 10 best safari parks of Africa. SafariBookings.com, an online marketplace for African safaris, published a definitive ranking of the best safari parks in Africa. South Africa’s MalaMala, Sabi Sands, Phinda, and Kgalagadi all ranked within the Top 10. No other country had more parks ranked so highly, which is excellent for South Africa.

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A total of 2,234 reviews were contributed by safari tourists from 63 countries. The remaining 774 park reviews were written by renowned experts, including guidebook authors associated with Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Frommer’s, Bradt and Footprint.

The study found MalaMala Game Reserve ranked second of all African parks, with an average rating of 4.81 out of 5, while the famous Kruger National Park was ranked 20th. This came as a surprise to the Safaribookings team as Kruger is South Africa's most popular park. It has less wilderness appeal because it's fenced, has a network of tarred roads, large scale accommodations and can get crowded with self-drive visitors, but the abundance and variety of wildlife should make up for that.  

Kruger

When examining why the four best South African parks hold such high positions, it’s apparent each have their own special features. MalaMala, Sabi Sands and Phinda are top-grade private game reserves offering luxury accommodation and almost guaranteed sightings of the Big Five, in addition to other wildlife. MalaMala and Sabi Sands share an unfenced border with Kruger National Park and thus both have access to this enormous ecosystem. Kgalagadi is one of the most rewarding parks for adventurous self-drives, as it is off-the-beaten-track, has a real wilderness vibe and great wildlife viewing.

The Lesedi Cultural Village

Lesedi, which is in seSotho means 'light', was initiated as a tourist attraction and today features five traditional dwellings, each representing a South African culture: Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele. 

Situated within the Cradle of Humankind, any visit to South Africa would certainly be incomplete without a visit to Lesedi, the cradle of living African culture. Lesedi Cultural Village was established in 1993 to display the full diversity of the South African rainbow nation. In an informative and entertaining way, Lesedi provides the visitor with a better understanding of the rich cultural background of the traditional peoples of South Africa. 

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The opportunity to be immersed in the traditional richness of African Culture is enhanced with 38 beautifully themed guest rooms to accommodate guests in first class comfort. Lesedi has offered the pre-eminent African cultural experience in South Africa for many years now.

Representatives of the various tribes facilitated the design of the cultural villages to ensure a historically representative portrayal of the cultures, highlighting aspects of the traditional way of life. Members of these historic communities live at Lesedi and continue to breathe life into their fascinating cultures. If you want to get an idea of traditional South African culture, then the Lesedi cultural village, less than an hour’s drive north of Johannesburg and set amongst rocky hills and bushveld, is a perfect outing.

Lesedi

Each of five featured families lives here permanently, looking after cows, chickens and tourists, and tours through their homes offer interesting cross-cultural comparisons of the customs and social organisation of the different cultures. The idea is quite fresh and refreshing. If you're staying overnight, you are welcomed by the family of the homestead in which you will be staying, and the head of the house then becomes your personal guide for the duration of your stay. 

Day visitors also get to experience the origins of today’s colourful South African nation and receive a guided tour of the Zulu, Basotho, Xhosa and Pedi homesteads, after a multi-visual presentation. There are two 3-hour tours, one in the morning and one late afternoon, which is definitely the more preferable because of the atmosphere the traditional singing and dancing session, held in the boma right at the end of the tour, creates at night. 

cultural Village

The Nyama Choma restaurant offers a Pan African Buffet in true African style, after which visitors are invited to gather around a fire to share in some ‘mamba juice’, a unique Lesedi drink, before the story telling and singing and dancing begin. Entertainment at Lesedi Cultural Village includes but not limited to; Daily Cultural Show, Dance Show, School Groups, Ketti shooting competition (slingshot), Cultural Quiz, Amazing Race and Interactive Drumming. Trust Travel2Africa to help ensure that you enjoy this experience to the fullest.

The Robben Island Museum

For nearly 400 years, Robben Island, which is 12 kilometres from Cape Town, was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It is flat and only a few metres above sea level, as a result of an ancient erosion event. It was here at Robben Island that rulers sent those regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society. It was also used as a post office, a grazing ground, a mental hospital and an outpost.

Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars before the fall of apartheid. To date, three former inmates of Robben Island have gone on to become President of South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe, and former president Jacob Zuma.

Robben

Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, Western Cape. Since the end of the 17th century, Robben Island has been used for the isolation of mainly political prisoners. The Dutch settlers were the first to use Robben Island as a prison. Its first prisoner was probably Autshumato in the mid-17th century.

After a failed uprising at Grahamstown in 1819, the fifth of the Xhosa Wars, the British colonial government sentenced African leader Makanda Nxele to life imprisonment on the island. He drowned on the shores of Table Bay after escaping the prison.

During the apartheid years Robben Island became internationally known for its institutional brutality. The duty of those who ran Robben Island and the Robben Island prison was to isolate opponents of apartheid and to crush their morale. Some freedom fighters spent more than a quarter of a century in prison on Robben Island for their beliefs.

Today, however, Robben Island also tells us about victory over Apartheid and other human rights abuses: 'the indestructibility of the spirit of resistance against colonialism, injustice and oppression'. The image we have of Robben Island today is as a place of oppression, as well as a place of triumph. Robben Island has not only been used as a prison. It was a training and defence station in World War II (1939-1945) and a hospital for leprosy patients, and the mentally and chronically ill (1846-1931).

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Since 1997 Robben Island has been a museum. The museum on the Island is a dynamic institution, which acts as a focal point of South African heritage. The Robben Island Museum runs educational programmes for schools, youths and adults, facilitates tourism development, conducts ongoing research related to Robben Island and fulfils an archiving function.

Visa request process simplified

Minister of Tourism in South Africa, Derek Hanekom is confident that the introduction of online visa applications for foreigners wishing to visit South Africa holds great potential for the tourism industry. Hanekom said the electronic visas, which were expected to simplify the application process, should help increase growth in the tourism sector, “What is exciting me is the massive potential,” he said.

South African tourism was slow in 2017, up only 2.6% on 2016 compared with a global average of 7%. Authorities have blamed the weak performance on a stronger rand and the water crisis in the Western Cape. Hanekom said e-visas would also help reverse last year’s 17% dip in tourist arrivals from the increasingly important Chinese market.

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South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and Hanekom met in May 2018 and announced they would establish a team of senior officials from both departments to work on improving tourism access to the country. “We are dealing with it very vigorously,” Hanekom said. He added that the department of home affairs was looking at waiving the requirement for visas for tourists who were already in possession of visas for the US, Australia, the UK and Schengen countries, which includes 26 European states.

He said he expected changes to the regulations on documentation required by minors travelling into and out of the country to happen before the end of June 2018. “We are on the verge of making a breakthrough,” said Hanekom. In the middle of 2015, it became mandatory for minors travelling in and out of South Africa to travel with an unabridged birth certificate. This new regulation has been heavily blamed for the loss of thousands of foreign visitors. Hanekom added that the regulations “still caused a great deal of trauma”.