Officials in South Africa expect 300,000 international visitors this June and July as football fans from around the world flock to see the 2010 World Cup. Here are a few local sites worth checking out when not at a game, or while traveling to SA generally.
Climb Table Mountain
The 90-minute hike up the Platteklip route is steep, but evenly positioned stepping stones allow a steady ascent. Descending via cableway is a recommended option.
Taste the wine country
Not to be missed by wine lovers are the Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl appellations, located just 60 minutes from Cape Town. Most wine estates have tasting rooms open to the public. The Franschhoek Valley boasts some of the countries finest eateries.
Take the ferry to Robben Island
A 30-minute ferry ride from Cape Town’s waterfront takes you to this bleak penal island, best known as where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in incarceration.
Hike the Drakensberg Mountains
This spectacular escarpment rises over 11,000 feet and is only a three-hour drive from the port city of Durban. Some of the many hiking trails through the mountains lead to ancient rock paintings of the extinct Bushman tribe.
Explore Ushaka Marine World
All things wet–beach, water park, aquarium, dolphinarium–lie on the edge of downtown Durban. Don’t miss the spectacular aquarium, which is cleverly conceived as an exploration through a sunken steam ship.
Discover Boer war and Zulu war battlefields
About four hours drive from Durban history buffs will find historic battlefields of the Zulu and Boer wars fought by the British. Visitors are scarce and monuments are humble, like this one from the bloody battle of Isandlwana.
This visitor center of the “Cradle of Humankind” world heritage site is a 60-minute drive from Johannesburg. History is what it’s all about: It’s the site of the discovery of hundreds of Hominid fossils, some 3.5 million years old.
Enjoy an Elephant Sanctuary
Visit the unique sanctuary in Hartebeespoort, an hour from Johannesburg, which shelters young elephants in need of a home. Humans eager to learn more about these creatures can enjoy a close encounter.
Only 15 minutes from downtown Johannesburg you will find this sobering tour through the dark days of the political system that tore South Africa apart through most of the 1900s.
Stroll Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square
Where the rich from across sub-Saharan Africa shop. A large Nelson Mandela statue keeps watch over strollers and diners that crowd the wide plaza.