South Africa

South Africa is such a large and varied country that the two weeks I spent there was barely enough to scratch the surface. My visit to South Africa started with four nights in Cape Town, followed by several nights at the Grootbos Nature Reserve, which is about 70 miles east of Cape Town and near Gansbaai, where I went out for two separate days of watching and diving with the great white sharks. Finally, after a trip to Namibia, I returned to South Africa and finished up at Djuma Reserve, a wildlife area near Kruger National Park.

While in Cape Town, I went to the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town's signature landmark, for spectacular views of the city and coastline below. I also visited the Sunday craft and flea at Green Point Stadium and took in the Victoria and Alfred waterfront area. I then spent half a day on a township tour that showed the other side of Cape Town: the squalid and rambling "townships" where Blacks and Coloreds were forced to live during the apartheid years and now where many continue to live because of poverty. Later that day I made the trip out to the former prison on Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela and other advocates of majority rule were held for years as political prisoners. Another full day was spent touring the scenic Cape Peninsula, including an offshore seal colony, a penguin colony and miles of dramatic scenery in between.

For South African safari experience, I chose Djuma Reserve, one of the private reserves near the Kruger. The private reserves feature the same animals as Kruger (there is no fence between the reserves and the park), but also offer freedom from various park rules that are necessary in a park open to the general public. Thus, the reserves allow bush walks (with an armed ranger), night game drives and the chance to stay in a comfortable lodge that is close to the action. (For a more detailed review of Djuma and other wildlife parks throughout Africa, see the separate Game Parks page.)

The photos above show some of the highlights of my visit to South Africa. For more photos and further information about each particular area, check out the other South Africa pages listed below.

Other South Africa pages: Cape Peninsula & Southern Coast, Cape Town, Townships & Robben Island, Djuma Game Reserve and Great White Sharks.