South Africa is a beautiful and multi-faceted country.The sun shines almost all year round. The beaches, mountains, bushveld, large cities and small towns across all nine provinces offer unforgettable experiences, and of course, South Africans are friendly and warm people. Travelling around and exploring our country is the perfect antidote to our everyday workplace and personal stresses, yet nowhere near enough South Africans take the time to enjoy a sho’t left (a short leisure trip or getaway).
This is exactly what the ‘Local Leisure at its Best’ project is all about: helping to entrench a culture of holiday travel by adding a rejuvenating leisure component to business trips.
Spearheaded by South African Tourism and the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA), the campaign aims to show corporates the benefits of extending their employees’ business trips to include a few days of leisure experiences by putting the rejuvenation back into business travel through a selection of affordable tailored travel deals.
“The health and wellness benefits of leisure travel are well documented,” says Sthembiso Dlamini, Chief Operating Officer at South African Tourism. “People who are encouraged to take time out to enrich themselves with holidays – even short weekend trips – tend to be more relaxed, motivated and productive employees. They are less likely to be stressed and more likely to stay in the company’s employ, as they feel valued and incentivised.”
She says that business travel offers the ideal opportunity for corporates to reward employees in a cost-effective manner, by combining business travel with holiday add-ons.
The campaign started with a process to upskill more than 50 travel consultants to sell domestic business-to-leisure travel.
“Equipping these agents, who traditionally deal with business travel, with the skills to sell leisure travel add-ons is immensely beneficial to their business as well as enhancing their business offering,” says Dlamini.
The pilot phase of the ‘Local Leisure at its Best’ project was rolled out in Gauteng in the second half of 2016, and was so successful that it has now been extended to the rest of the country, with dozens of activations taking place at various companies between February and December this year.
“We are very pleased with the success of this campaign so far,” says Dlamini. “It has already surpassed its target of reaching 10,000 potential business-to-leisure travellers. By the end of July, we had already completed 16 on-site activations at corporates, reaching more than 13,000 prospective travellers and generating close to 100 enquiries. Another 16 activations have been secured for the remaining five months of the campaign, and there are over 40 customers in the pipeline.
”The campaign ties in with South African Tourism’s new ‘5 in 5’ strategy to attract five million tourists (four million additional international and one million more domestic) in the next five years.
Dlamini expressed confidence that through this partnership and working with top corporates in various industries, including the banking, telecommunications and government sectors, more South Africans will get the opportunity to take a sho’t left and enjoy the country’s abundance of attractions.
South Africa’s ‘wild’ province, the Eastern Cape features expanses of untouched beach, bush and forest. This was Nelson Mandela’s home province, and is an area with some enticing attractions – among them the Addo Elephant National Park, with the densest elephant population in the world; the dramatic Wild Coast; and, of course, Mandela’s home at Qunu.
Tap your inner explorer and head to the Wild Coast, so named for its rugged natural beauty and myriad of adrenaline-filled adventures. From fishing expeditions and horseback rides, to hiking and 4×4 trails, the Wild Coast is an unspoiled natural treasure. The Wild Coast is also known for its shipwrecks, a legacy of its wild and tempestuous nature. Water activities like snorkelling and diving provide a spectacular view of the world beneath the waves while spotting lost treasure and other relics from shipwrecks.
Named after three distant ridges of the Amathole range of mountains that resemble the back outlines of running wild pigs, the little town of Hogsback has become an arts and crafts colony, a photographer’s picture perfect setting, a nature lover’s haunt and romance personified for honeymooners.
With stunning beaches, interesting museums and memorials, award-winning wildlife destinations, it’s easy to see why Port Elizabeth is home to South Africa’s friendliest folk! This coastal hub has a range of mesmerising cultural and historical experiences that are worth exploring, including the Red Location Museum, the Donkin Reserve and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum.
ADDO ELEPHANT PARK
The 2,500 hectare Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth is rated as one of the best places in Africa to see elephants up close. It is also South Africa’s third-largest reserve, encompassing five of South Africa’s nine biomes, with an enormous diversity of species and vegetation. The park is also home to buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino, and in the marine section you will find great white sharks and southern white whales, which means that South Africa’s Addo is one of the few reserves in the world that can boast having the Big Seven!
To give a true overview of Nelson Mandela in all phases of his life, from his youth in Qunu to his role as statesman, the Nelson Mandela Museum built in his honour comprises three separate structures: the Bhunga Building in Mthatha, accommodates an exhibition tracing Nelson Mandela’s journey, as told in his own words, and narrated in part from his acclaimed biography A Long Walk to Freedom; the Qunu component and an open-air museum at Mvezo where Madiba was born.
Be a GeePee and enjoy South Africa’s smallest province, an urban playground with large shopping malls, bars, hotels, casinos, and a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene. For heritage buffs, there are a myriad of attractions of historical interest that tell the story of the country’s emerging democracy.
THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND
The Cradle of Humankind, one of eight World Heritage sites in South Africa, and the only one in Gauteng, is touted as the place where humankind originated. The area boasts 13 excavation sites that are recognised as national heritage sites. For those wanting to experience the birthplace of humankind first-hand, the official visitor centres for the Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves, are within an easy hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Maropeng is a world-class exhibition centre that focuses on the development of humans and our ancestors over the past few million years.
The attractive little village of Cullinan, about a 30-minute drive east of Pretoria, was a pioneering mining settlement that made its name with the discovery in 1905 of the world’s biggest diamond, the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond. Highlights in Cullinan include rides on the vintage steam train, Dinokeng’s Big Five reserve, adrenalin-filled activities at the adventure zone and the opportunity to learn about the area’s mining heritage.
Gauteng is a shopping mecca. From Sandton City to the Mall of Africa, Menlyn in Pretoria and Maponya in Soweto, there’s a bustling shopping centre to tame your credit card around every corner. Gauteng hosts an annual shopping festival every year in September or October, with mall promos held throughout the year. There are also a range of flea markets that are definitely worth a visit, the most popular being the Rosebank Sunday Market, the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein and the Bryanston Organic Market.
Soweto is a must for people from all over the world, and all South Africans should visit this iconic township. The Hector Pieterson Museum recounts the 1976 Soweto Student uprisings and some of the heroes of the protest and victims of the aftermath. Nearby is the Mandela House in Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world that contains the houses of two Nobel Prize Laureates, the other one being Desmond Tutu. There is also a string of vibrant restaurants including Sakhumzi’s Restaurant, Nexdor, Thrive Café and the Corner House which usually have a fascinating variety of regular patrons plus a vibrant selection of street musicians and performers who are usually brilliantly entertaining.
APARTHEID MUSEUM & GOLD REEF CITY
Located alongside each other, Gold Reef City and the Apartheid Museum are both must-visits on any trip to Gauteng. Modelled to resemble a gold rush town and showcase the gold-rich history of Johannesburg, Gold Reef city comprises a theme park, casino, restaurants, movie theatre and the Lyric Theatre that is well-known for its live performances. The theme park has some of the most modern and scariest rides in Africa – such as the Tower of Terror which has a 50m drop at a speed of 100 kilometres per hour and a fear factor of 10/10. To remember our past while moving forward into a more stable political future, Gauteng’s Apartheid Museum serves to document the racial and economic divide that once plagued our nation. One cannot visit Gauteng without spending an afternoon at this incredible place.
The Free State’s appeal lies in its scenic beauty, rural tranquillity and natural attractions. The eastern part of the province is the most beautiful, with its sandstone rock formations and rolling grassland. It also lies in the heart of South Africa and it borders six of the country’s nine provinces, as well as the kingdom of Lesotho.
The town of Clarens is known as ‘The Jewel of the Free State’ and is a must-see on any Free State trip. Take a walk down the main street and sample eateries, art galleries and arts and crafts shops galore. If you enjoy the outdoors, you’re in for a treat – experience white water rafting, 4×4 safaris, horse trails and hikes in a truly spectacular landscape.
BASOTHO CULTURAL VILLAGE
On your way through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, pop in at the Basotho Cultural Village for an interactive tour of traditional Sotho life from the 16th century to present day. You can also take a two-hour guided hiking trail to explore a nearby rock-art site and learn about the area’s medicinal plant growth.
The oldest and largest crater on earth, the Vredefort Dome was caused when a massive meteorite struck the earth 2,000 million years ago. The force of the impact caused the rock layers to bend, resulting in a semi-circular ring of mountains that are home to abundant bird and plant life – and the world’s only pink granite. Both Parys and Vredefort are located within the Vredefort Dome’s original impact area.
Ficksburg presents the spectacular Cherry Festival each November. With live entertainment provided by well-known South African artists, festival activities include cherry tours, a golf classic, a half-marathon, cherry product competitions, veteran vehicle displays, equestrian events, beerfests and a food and wine fiesta. Watch the popular ‘Ready, Steady, Bake’ competition and see how cherry mampoer is made.
The Gariep Dam is a staggering 100 kilometres long and 24 kilometres wide. Take a guided tour through the passages inside the wall of South Africa’s largest dam, or sample the many water sport activities on offer: fishing, windsurfing, sailing, jet skiing, canoeing, rowing… and even game-viewing by boat! That’s right – there’s a well-stocked 11,237-hectare game sanctuary on the dam’s northern shore. If you’re visiting in February, don’t miss the annual Gariep 500 Rubber Duck Race and Watersport Festival.
Welcome to the Zulu Kingdom: an enticing, spectacular and fascinating multi-cultural showpiece destination flanked by the warm Indian Ocean on the east and soaring peaks to the west. KwaZulu-Natal has a wealth of scenic and cultural attractions that include the country’s most popular beaches lying to the south and north of Durban. Add to that its bushveld reserves to the north, historic battlefields and the dramatic Drakensberg mountains, and you can see why it’s popular with travellers.
The battles fought in the rolling hills and valleys of northern KwaZulu-Natal some 120 years ago changed the course of SA history and still today, the area now known as the Battlefields seems to echo with heroic and tragic deeds of the past. The sites of famous skirmishes that rocked the British, weakened the Boers and broke the mighty Zulu nation continue to draw visitors. Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift are two of the most famous battlefields.
The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is one of the province’s two World Heritage sites. This one is part of a much longer mountain range that stretches some 1,600 kilometres from South Africa’s northernmost provinces to the Eastern Cape. Not only does the site protect a stunning natural mountain wilderness area, it also protects an amazing cultural legacy of ancient rock art in Africa pained by the San.
The Elephant Coast borders Mozambique, Swaziland and the Indian Ocean. The region comprises 21 different ecosystems and is a veritable paradise of natural wonders. There are few places in Africa that can claim to have such an incredible diversity of fresh water ecosystems, which is why a large portion of the Elephant Coast, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, has been designated a World Heritage site. The coastal dune system that runs along the 220km stretch of protected coastline comprises dunes that are among the highest forested dunes in the world, up to 180 metres high.
There is no city in SA quite like Durban. Due to its subtropical coastal climate, warm seas, beautiful swimming beaches and the variety of restaurants and nightlife, Durban has always been regarded as a holiday city. Durban’s rich cultural diversity is what gives it a vibrancy enjoyed by few other South African cities. The wonderful food, ceremonies and festivals have greatly enriched the city’s cultural landscapes.
KZN’s south coast, with its string of small villages stretching from Port Edward in the south to Amanzimtoti in the north, and its pretty beaches and warm sea, has long been one of South Africa’s favourite year-round holiday destinations. Many of the south coast’s activities revolve around the ocean. For example, you can go snorkelling or scuba diving, surfing or whale watching. The Aliwal Shoal off Umkomaas and Scottburgh, and the Protea Banks off Shelley Beach are rated as some of the top shark diving sites in the world.
Limpopo has become a sought-after tourist destination for its big game, exceptional birding, untamed bush landscapes and an ancient African kingdom, the centre of which was located at Mapungubwe National Park. It is also the northern gateway to the Kruger National Park.
The Waterberg is a true natural wonder, featuring ancient mountains, a rich tapestry of biodiversity, thousands-year-old rock art and a site of critical archaeological and palaeontological importance. Its rolling savannahs also make it a popular safari destination where large herds of buck and the Big Five can be seen.
About the time of the Dark Ages of Europe, the royal court at Mapungubwe in Limpopo welcomed traders and men of influence from Arabia and the Far East. Only in recent decades have the fascinating details of this ancient city been uncovered. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Mapungubwe was once the capital of a country as large as Swaziland, surrounded by more than 200 satellite towns. The most intact artefact found at Mapungubwe is that of a gold rhino figurine which today is under safekeeping at the University of Pretoria.
MODJADJI CYCAD RESERVE
The Modjadji Cycad Reserve holds the largest concentration of a single cycad species in the world. These majestic plants are some of the oldest and largest of their kind on the planet and are found in the realm of the legendary Rain Queen. The Modjadji Cycad Reserve is set in the foothills of blue-green mountains above the village of Modjadji near Tzaneen. Some of the cycads here reach heights of 13m and bear cones that weigh in at a hefty 34 kilograms.
The Kruger National Park is not just about big game. In the north is the Pafuri region, a wilderness area of great natural beauty where you can discover ancient forests, brilliant birding and traces of early humankind. The northern section of the Kruger National Park is an area of unique biodiversity. It’s one of the few places where fever tree forests grow side by side with forests of giant baobabs. The trees line the banks of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers.
PRIVATE GAME RESERVES
Limpopo offers dozens of superlative private game lodges situated in prime wildlife areas, including the Waterberg, Welgevonden, Klaserie and Timbavati reserves. Sometimes more affordable than some of the other lodges in northern South Africa, these reserves boast game galore, including the Big Five, scenic beauty and often fewer visitors.
Mpumalanga means ‘the land of the rising sun’ in the local siSwati and Zulu languages, a name it derives from lying on the eastern border of the country. It is most famous for being the southern gateway to the country’s premier wildlife reserve, the Kruger National Park. It is a place of game, adventure and rich history.
On the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, with its breath-taking vistas around every mountain corner, waterfalls plunging down faces of sheer rock, memories of the gold rush following you as you meander down an endless river canyon, and eagles hovering above your head – you can’t help walking with your head in the clouds. Attractions include the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window.
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
The Kruger National Park is renowned not only for its diversity of wildlife, but also for its conservation record. You can see the famed Big Five, but you’ll also be dazzled by hundreds of birds, ancient trees, mighty rivers and much, much more. The Kruger National Park gets over 1.4 million visitors a year, but because it’s so big – 352 kilometres from north to south, and covering over 1.9 million hectares – you will be amazed at how often you are alone watching game on a 2,500-kilometre network of tar and dirt roads.
The village of Pilgrim’s Rest is a settlement lost in time. Here you can walk in the footsteps of early gold prospectors and relive the heady days of pioneers, garter-snapping barmaids and highway robbers. You can also stay over in an historic hotel and drink in a legendary bar. Pilgrim’s Rest is situated on the magnificent Panorama Route of the Mpumalanga province. The entire village is a tourist attraction and was declared a National Monument in 1986. Today, Pilgrim’s Rest is a living monument to the feverish gold rush days of the late 1800s.
Mpumalanga is one of South Africa’s most scenic provinces and when you drive through the Panorama region or visit the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, you’ll see why. But it’s not only canyons, mountains and seemingly limitless horizons that are waiting for you, there’s also the Sabie Waterfalls Route. There are more waterfalls here than anywhere else in southern Africa, and you’ll be astonished by their beauty and diversity. Forget the Big Five and that magnificent canyon for a while, set aside a day or two, and take yourself on a waterfalls tour.
The ‘Gold Rush’ town of Barberton is situated in the heart of Mpumalanga’s Makhonjwa Mountains. With its mild Lowveld winters, rich history and wide array of things to see and do, Barberton is the perfect year-round holiday destination. Monuments to Barberton’s golden past can still be seen along the Heritage Walk, while mining tours and gold panning experiences give a taste of what life would be like. Yet there is more to Barberton than gold. The mountains that surround Barberton contain some of the rarest rocks on the planet and the Geotrail transports visitors 3.5 billion years
The North West province features premier wildlife destinations, among them the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and the Madikwe Game Reserve; parts of two UNESCO World Heritage sites (the Vredefort Dome and the Taung Fossil Site, part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site); and the world-famous Sun City gaming and entertainment resort.
MADIKWE GAME RESERVE
Located near the border of Botswana, Madikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s foremost Big Five malaria-free reserves, was envisaged not by conservationists, but by economists. They found conservation would create more income and jobs than the existing land-use, which was cattle-farming. This successful reserve is now a model that has inspired South African conservation. The reserve has a host of private game lodges providing luxurious bush experiences.
PILANESBERG GAME RESERVE
See the Big Five just two hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria in one of the country’s most popular wildlife areas – Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Set in an ancient volcanic crater, this well-stocked reserve has a dramatic landscape that supports a wide variety of plants, animals and birds. As a true Big Five area it features elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino. But there’s a lot more wildlife to discover. Some of the other animals that roam the park include African wild dogs, brown hyenas and sable antelope.
The Magaliesberg Mountains is home to the inviting Magalies Meander arts and craft route. You’ll also encounter warm country hospitality when you visit the art galleries, arts and craft centres and interesting boutiques the area is famed for, before coming to roost at any one of many attractive lodges and restaurants along the Magalies Meander. The mountains are also home to an amazing variety of indigenous woodland, plants, birds and wildlife – a nature lover’s paradise.
The Sun City theme park in the North West province is part of the Sun City resort and entertainment complex, offering a myriad of leisure and recreation options for the entire family. Known worldwide for its exotic entertainment options, the Sun City theme park is more a mini-city than a park, with so many attractions and entertainment options that first-time visitors may find it pleasantly bewildering. Activities run the gamut from adventure sports and safari options to a world-famous golf course and a wide variety of rides and games to keep the children happily busy.
Hartbeespoort Dam is a popular weekend and day trip. The dam and surrounding areas offer a host of outdoor activities, from a variety of water sports to flights of every description. Hikes, walks and trails complete the region’s compelling outdoor adventure activities. Hartbeespoort Dam is the area’s major attraction and the heart of this tourism region. A mecca for adventure pursuits, the majority of Hartbeespoort adventure activities are centred on the dam and its magnificent mountain and bushveld surrounds.
The Northern Cape is the largest of South Africa’s provinces but has the smallest population, making it one of the more remote areas of the country. Among its key selling points are its vast, open spaces, unique vegetation – including the beautiful spring flower spectacle that transforms a semi-desert landscape – and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is famous for its lions.
At the Augrabies Falls you will be awed by the water thundering down the gorge. Particularly when there has been plenty of rain and the Orange River is overflowing, you will experience the full might of the water as it thunders down the 56-metre-high falls. There are also plenty of other attractions to explore nearby, including a wide variety of flowers and animals, and the inimitable views from the Moon Rock.
KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was declared in 2000, formalising an ecological entity that was already there. Tourists love it, but this inspiring wilderness has given rise to something more. Now there are ideas of linking this gigantic conservation area to others nearby. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park straddles the border between South Africa and Botswana, a semi-desert of red dunes and starry skies.
Kimberley, thanks to the fevered diamond rush of the 1870s, has a glittering past. Take a guided tour of a once-operational diamond mine, which descends a staggering 840 metres below the earth. Start your exploration of the city at its main attraction: the Big Hole. Imagine a hand-dug hole the size of eight football fields and you have some idea of the labour that went into creating the Big Hole. Adjacent to the Big Hole is the Kimberley Mine Museum, which brings to life the way of the city during the frenetic days of the diamond rush.
In spring the Namaqua National Park is painted orange by exuberant daisies. The distant mountains, the roads, the rocks, the trees and straggly shrubs of the succulent Karoo are completely transformed by a lively array of spring flowers. Every year the timing of the flowers and their quantities vary somewhat. But somewhere between August and the beginning of October, this dusty stretch of land springs to flowering life for a few intense weeks.
Sutherland is a world-renowned astronomical centre in South Africa. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is situated on a mountain top 14 kilometres out of town and is known to be one of the best star-viewing destinations in the southern hemisphere. Sutherland is also
The scenic splendour of the Western Cape has long been a drawcard in South Africa. This is where you’ll find the Cape Winelands and a beautiful stretch of coastline. Most visitors list Table Mountain, Robben Island (where the late Nelson Mandela was incarcerated) and a visit to the Cape of Good Hope, at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, as priorities.
Table Mountain is South Africa’s best-known landmark, but what many don’t know is that it is also a hiker’s paradise with numerous trails, amazing views and plenty of interesting facts to learn. Table Mountain has some remarkable features that make it a great destination for nature-lovers, deserving of more than just a quick cable car ride to see the view from the top. The mountain forms part of Table Mountain National Park, which is globally recognised for its biodiversity, and contains truly unique fauna and flora.
At times a leper colony, mental hospital and defence training base, the Robben Island World Heritage site is more famed as the prison to which anti-apartheid activists, among them former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, were banished. Visitors to the island are able to see the cell in which Mandela, the world’s most famous prisoner, as he was known for many years, spent 18 years of his 27-year incarceration.
The Garden Route is a mix of modern golf courses, ancient forests, secluded artists’ communities, retirement estates, modern malls, craft centres, mountain hideaways and beach holidays. A large number of interesting and creative people drawn to this magnificent stretch of coastline have made it home. The main arterial highway through The Garden Route, a highlight on most visitors’ itineraries, is the N2 stretch running from Heidelberg in the Southern Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border.
The Cape’s 18 official wine routes and two brandy routes are among the most scenic in the world, featuring many historic wine estates that date back centuries. Take your time exploring this magnificent part of South Africa’s Western Cape province and enjoy sampling its magnificent wines and brandies. Most Cape wine estates are characterised by classic Cape Dutch-style buildings and massive vineyards with picturesque mountains as a backdrop. Wine tasting, winemaking tours, excellent cuisine and magnificent scenery collectively create an irresistible attraction for international and local travellers alike.
CAPE WHALE ROUTE
The Cape Whale Route is a superb outdoor adventure family holiday destination. Incorporating towns such as Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Hermanus, Pringle Bay, Stanford and Gansbaai, the route offers some of the best land-based whale-watching spots on the planet, as well as many activities for the whole family. The road trip from Betty’s Bay along the coast toward the other towns on the Cape Whale Route is a peaceful experience, with the Atlantic Ocean on the one side and mountainous, fynbos terrain on the other.