The Drakensberg includes the highest mountains in Southern Africa. The name means Dragon Mountains in Afrikaans and is called uKhahlamba in Zulu which means "barrier of spears". Large parts of the Drakensberg were declared a world heritage site in 2000 due to its ecological and cultural diversity. The range stretches over 300km (186 miles) along the edge of KwaZulu-Natal and completely encompasses The Kingdom of Lesotho.
The Drakensberg can be divided up into three main sections - the Northern Drakensberg, Central Drakensberg and Southern Drakensberg. These regions also include different parks and reserves as well as towns such as Ladysmith and Ixopo. The mountains draw both local and international tourists, who come to see the regions scenic beauty, beautiful flora, cultural history and the areas many hiking trails.
Within the Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal lies the 243 000-hectare mountain region that is also a world heritage site, known as Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. Not only does it boast some of the most incredible scenic beauty, but it also has over 600 examples of San rock paintings in caves around the park.
The Drakensberg is not only about its famous mountain peaks - Giants Castle, Cathedral Peak, Mont-Aux-Sources - it is also graced with a number of lower peaks known as the foothills of the Drakensberg. The entire Drakensberg is riddled with incredible waterfalls, rock pools, mountain streams, caves, crisp mountain air, and special spaces that draw both visitors to South Africa and locals alike.
What makes it so popular, besides its sheer majesty, is its accessible plateau and the numerous passes and slopes that make for some of the best and most strenuous hiking in the province; possibly South Africa.
The Drakensberg was featured in the 2009 American science fiction film 2012. It was mentioned in the last scene of the movie, where after twenty-seven days of a great flood which people tried to survive by building arks, the waters began receding. The arks approach the Cape of Good Hope, where the Drakensberg (now the tallest mountain range on Earth) emerges.
The Drakensberg area is "home to 299 recorded bird species"' making up "37% of all non-marine avian species in southern Africa.” There are 24 species of snakes in the Drakensberg, two of which are highly venomous. The mountains are rich in plant life, including a large number of species listed in the Red Data Book of threatened plants, with 119 species listed as globally endangered and "of the 2153 plant species in the park, a remarkable 98 are endemic or near-endemic”
You can visit and explore the Drakensberg as a day visitor but to fully appreciate all that the region has to offer, we recommend a stay of a few nights. The Drakensberg accommodation options include hotels, self-catering, Bed & Breakfast and fully catered, luxury lodges.
The Lion Park is a 600 hectare wildlife conservation enclosure located in the Gauteng province, just near Lanseria Airport within distance of Johannesburg and Pretoria for Transvaal lions. The park has a large variety of predators and large herbivores indigenous to Africa.
If you are pressed for time, or your trip does not include a journey to one of the major game reserves in South Africa, then it follows that you might still want to view lions 'up close and personal' in a wildlife conservation enclosure. In fact, if you've just come in the country via Lanseria Airport, you could make it one of the first things you do after stepping off the aeroplane, as the Lion Park lies between Lanseria Airport and Fourways, making it incredibly convenient and a wonderful first encounter with South Africa.
The Lion Park is home to over 80 lions including the rare white lions and many other carnivores such as South African cheetah, Cape wild dog, hyena and spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, and a wide variety of antelope which roam freely in the antelope area. The antelope area, containing blesbok, gnu, impala, gemsbok, and zebra, is in a separate part away from the lions and other carnivores.
Our Travel2Africa tour experience will help you get an up-close look at all the animals in the place. The only downside is that the animals are in enclosures but the upside of that is that those who could never afford to see these animals in their natural surrounds can visit the Lion Park and experience first-hand these beautiful beasts.
South Africa’s Cape Town has once again been included in a list of the World's Top 15 Cities according to the latest Travel + Leisure survey 2017. The international travel magazine hosts the annual survey through a reader questionnaire. Readers vote on several categories, including the world's best hotels, airports, spas and islands.
Cape Town has featured below the top 10 spot for several consecutive years. According to the magazine Cape Town is ranked at number eight this year. The magazine described the city as "cutting-edge, artsy, and buzzing with energy", and applauded the variety of activities in Cape Town.
"There are few places in the world where you can exercise your shopping skills (head to Woodstock's Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday mornings for Afrikaans jerky and silk-and-leather sandals), take off on a safari, or indulge in world-famous cuisine and meet the South Africa's cuisine all in one weekend," the magazine explained.
Atlantic-facing Clifton Beaches are the South Beach of South Africa, known for enormous natural boulders tumbling into the sea, pristine sunbathing conditions, and the capoeira dancers that entertain crowds with fire and African drums on Monday nights.
Top of the list, however, Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende, with Charleston in the United States and Chiang Mai in Thailand in second and third place respectively this year. These were followed by Kyoto in Japan, Florence in Italy, Oaxaca in Mexico, Hoi An in Vietnam, just below Cape Town is Ubud in Indonesia, followed by Luang Prabang in Laosand, Santa Fe in New Mexico, Rome in Italy, Siem Reap in Cambodia, Udaipur in India, and taking the 15th spot is Barcelona in Spain. Readers rate the top cities based on sights, culture, arts, food, friendliness and shopping.
The Ellerman House, a Cape Town hotel, also made it on to the list of the World's Best 100 Hotels, ranked at number 73. Other South African hotels on the list includes; Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge, Phinda Private Game Reserve at number 44, Londolozi, Sabi Sand Game Reserve at 35, La Residence, Franschhoek at 18, Singita Sabi Sand, Sabi Sand Game Reserve at 14, and Tswalu Kalahari, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve at number 6.
Hotels were rated in terms of facilities, location and service. Based on the survey, the 2017 top hotel in the world is The Nihi Sumba Island (formerly Nihiwatu) in Indonesia
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.