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15 Travel Highlights in Southern Africa

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15 Travel Highlights in Southern Africa
JENMAN

Jenman African Safaris has been working in South African tourism for years and we’ve compiled a list of 15 places that you just have to see! Have a look at our map and plan your trip accordingly.

1. Ascend Table Mountain with the cable car or by foot

One of Africa’s most famous mountains, Table Mountain is famous for the tablecloth of clouds that pour down its slopes when the south-easter winds blow. The view from atop stretches from Signal Hill in the north almost to Cape Point in the south – overlooking the city, crystal seas and white beaches of Clifton and Campsbay. Hiking up the mountain exposes you to the world’s smallest, yet diverse, floral kingdom. If you prefer a more comfortable way to the top: just glide up the steep flat-topped mountain with the state-of-the-art cable car for a spectacular view of Cape Town’s city bowl and harbor below. Just imagine the sheer grandeur of the 1000-meter tall mountain!

2. Take a snap worth more than 1000 words at Three Rondavels

When exploring the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, the Three Rondavels are a geological wonder on the Panorama Route. Situated along the 16 km road to Blyde River Canyon, it’s the perfect place to take a photo. Overlooking the canyon, northern edges of the towering Drakensberg Mountains and the three mountain tops with slightly pointed tops – the Three Rondavels are similar in their appearance to the traditional oval African homesteads called rondavels. Whatever their origin, they are undoubtedly breath-taking and offer a picturesque backdrop to a photo.

3. Fly with angels over the Victoria Falls

Departing from the helipad located just 3 km from the Victoria Falls town centre, the “Flight of Angels” is a scenic 15-minute flight over the thundering Victoria Falls. What an exhilarating experience – with the great views of the world’s largest sheet of falling water, the gorges and views upstream of the Zambezi river! It’s a great perspective to see them in all their glory. And you might just agree with David Livingstone who famously said, “A sight so wonderful that angels must have gazed down on it in flight”.

4. “Hakuna matata” with meerkats in Botswana

Remember Timon from the lion king and his song “Hakuna Matata”? Imagine you could meet his kind? Part of the mongoose family, these animals are most famous for standing on their hind legs and peering into the distance. Jenman African Safaris offer tours where you can observe – and sit next to – wild meerkats in the Ntwetwe Pan. Due to an ongoing habituation programme, it’s possible for guests to get up close to the meerkats. Remember, they’re not tame! On chilly mornings, you might find a meerkat snuggling up to you for warmth or using your head as a lookout post… The Ntwetwe Pan is one of the two major pans that make up the Makgadikgadi Pans, and is amongst the largest saltpans in the world. Not only can you meet the meerkats in this area but species such as bat-eared foxes and springbok.

5. Climb up the world’s largest sand dunes in Sossusvlei

The largest sand dunes in the world in the vast Namibian desert are up to 300 meters high, and could be the oldest in the world and their curves and crests change with the winds. Situated in the 50,000sq km Namib Naukluft Park, it really smacks bang in the middle of nowhere and 300 km from the nearest main highway. You will find yourself surrounded by a sandscape of red dunes. Climb up, for example, the charmingly-named Big Daddy that is 325 meters high. Once on top of the world, you can run or roll down after the exhausting climb. Just by the way, vlei is Afrikaans for “marsh”, while “sossus” is Nama for “dead end”.

6. Sleep in the middle of Zimbabwe’s bush

Spend a night under a blanket of stars as you lie in a comfortable bed covered in a mosquito net designed to enhance the midnight sky. Elephant’s Eye, Hwange in the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, completed construction of a ‘sleep-out deck’. You will be serenaded by the sounds of the African wildlife, while your eyes are dazzled by the beauty of the night sky and nocturnal animals. Rest easy – and relax – there’s always a guide camping nearby. Guests spending four or more nights can spend one night on the elevated wooden platform overlooking the nearby waterhole. From the deck, you can see animals during the night such as owls and hyena.

7. Rock out at the Great Zimbabwe ruins

Called “the house of rock”, this is not a reference to a dance club but rather the ruins of Great Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe. It’s the perfect description for the ancient city whose ruins are spread over 60 acres. Plundered in 1902, much of the ruins are still shrouded in mystery. What we do know is that the UNESCO World Heritage site was the Kingdom of Zimbabwe’s capital during the Late Iron Age, and was constructed in the 11th century. Legend has it that the former royal palace was once a playground for giants: great blocks of granite moulded into spectacular formations by centuries of wind and rain. Zimbabwe’s treasure is really unparalleled to any of Africa’s historic architecture.

8. Rope skipping with the Grootfontein Bushmen

Gain insight into the life of the San people at “The Living Museum” of the Ju/’Hoansi-San. The Living Museum of the Ju/Hoansi is situated in the small village Grashoek, between Grootfontein and Tsumkwe, north of the C44 in Namibia. Spend time: singing, dancing, looking at crafts in the village, walking in the bush, skipping rope, shooting an arrow, playing games and participating in different ceremonies. At the authentic open-air museum, you can learn about the San’s traditional culture. The Ju/’Hoansi Bushmen demonstrate and describe everything and the guide translates into English. You can also spend a night at their bush camp in the Kalahari Desert. Since July 2004 the ju/’Hoansi run their museum completely on their own.

9. Dive with Potatoe Bass in Mozambique

Mozambique is one of the world’s best diving spots with unspoiled coral reefs, the warm Indian Ocean and abundant underwater life. Ponta Malongane (“Place of Children”) in Southern Mozambique has great scuba diving spots, and is home to the advanced dive site “Bass City”. At 20-25 meters depth, large potato bass chill on the rock outcroppings of the reef. Bass City even has its own celebrity – Bert is the most famous Potato Bass and loves swimming with divers. Potato bass, also known as potato cod, are large fish – and Bass City is one of the best places in the world to dive with them. They are very tame, calm and sometimes follow the divers around. Some are up to 1.5 meters long. Whale Sharks are also common here as well as octopus, lionfish, sweepers and the sandy areas are filled with carpet eels.

10. Paddle down the Okavango Delta in a traditional canoe

A safari on a Mokoro should be on your bucket list of things-to-do before you die. There is no better feeling than traversing the Okavango Delta , navigating past hippos and crocs in a traditional wooden canoe. The beauty of travelling by Mokoro is having access to remote islands, which are completely surrounded by a pristine wilderness. As the Okavango Delta is a natural majesty, it is best explored by boat. If you combine it with a land safari – you will see over 70 species of fish in the waters of the Okavango Delta and about 200,000 animals on land. The unique contrast between the surrounding dry areas and the lush Botswana Delta capture your senses as you glide through the Delta on a Botswana safari like no other.

11. Tiger fishing on a houseboat in the Jozini dam

Jozini Dam in northern KwaZulu-Natal has quite a misleading name – it’s not really a dam! Also known as Pongolapoort Dam, it was originally built as a dam for farmers but the soil’s high salt content made growing crops difficult. Connected to the Phongolo River and part of the Elephant Coast – it’s simply massive in size! Due to the high amount of wildlife, and Big Five, the private coves are perfect for exploring the African wild from the comfort of a houseboat. Shayamanzi houseboats have luxury cabins furnished with a lounge, dining area, bar and jacuzzi. Soak up the scenery while the crew and chef take care of everything else! The dam is not used for water activities: so, you won’t hear any jet skis roaring around the dam and perfect for tiger fishing that can be found in abundance. Surrounded by private wildlife reserves as well as the Pongola Game Reserve, wildlife and birdlife abound and include: elephant, leopard, white and black rhino, buffalo, hippos, waterbuck, bushbuck, nyala, greater kudu, zebra, giraffe and spotted hyena. Why not spend time chilling in luxury as you meander down one of South Africa’s prettiest waterways?

12. Swim at the edge of Victoria Falls

Somewhere between brave and scary – swimming at the edge of the Victoria Falls is definitely not something for the fainthearted. To really drive the point home, let me remind you that Victoria Falls stretches an astounding 5,600 feet in width and spills over a 360-foot-high cliff. The scary awesomeness of the experience can’t really be described in words. The naturally formed Devil’s Pool rests right on the edge of the Zambian side of Victoria Falls. A rock wall on the edge of the falls slows down the current and prevents brave swimmers from tumbling over the edge. It takes a rocky walk and swim in the Zambezi to reach the pool – then the fearless ones leap into the pool and get pushed to the edge by the force of the river. All you need is your costume and your camera (oh, and a whole lot of guts!).

13. Explore Cape Town differently with a township tour

The Give Back Cultural Field Trip is a half-day cultural tour where you can encounter township communities at a grassroots level, to gain insight into the life of South Africa and social issues that this developing nation faces. Engage with the community development organisations that are making a difference, and meet the inspiring people that have risen above their circumstances. Ushered through this authentic educational experience by a local non-profit and fair trade NGO, you visit three different community projects involved in various sectors in Cape Town, such as social work, education, housing, health, sustainable economic development, reconciliation, human rights development, environmental and green projects etc. A responsible tourism initiative, this social awareness trip is all about touring the Mother City a little differently!

14. Have a cocktail inside a baobab tree

The idea of living on the inside of a tree is something that many of us will only ever hear about in fairy tales or fantasy novels. But in Southern Africa and Madagascar there is a tree that grows so large it enables people to do just that. The Baobab tree can grow to 11 meter in diameter, the length of an average truck, and has been known to reach heights greater than a 10-story building. It’s definitely big enough to live in. To many African people, it is capable of looking after basic needs. It is hollow on the inside like a cave, allowing people to build rooms within it, the bark is fire resistant, the fruit is rich in Vitamin C and the trunk can store up to 30 000 gallons of water. The Sunland ‘Big Baobab’ in Modjadjiskloof in the Limpopo Province is famous internationally for being the widest of its species in the world. Visitors are amazed by the world-famous Baobab Tree Bar inside the massive, hollow tree where you can enjoy both a drink and this natural phenomenon.

15. Go river tubing down Storms River

From the sea, entering the canyon of the Storms River is like entering the quiet of a chapel, as the noise from the crashing ocean fades away. Here, only nature speaks. Situated on the Garden Route, black water tubing is a guided river and water tubing activity. Tube ‘n Axe offers an adventure of tubing, swimming, rock jumping and hiking through the Storms River Gorge. Located in the Tsitsikamma National Park, it is an area of pristine beauty, sea views, rare birds and forested river banks. The day of tubing kicks off with a 7am orientation and finishes at approximately 12pm, and lunch is served at 1pm. Be warned: depending on the water level of the river your tubing adventure will range from a kloofing experience to white water tubing!

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