These collections are well worth seeing.
These collections are well worth seeing.
Declared a World Heritage Site for its palaeontological significance, these caves yielded the famous Taung skull, which belonged to a 3.3 million-year-old humanoid known as Australopithecus africanus .
The impressive permanent collection of the nation’s premier art space harks back to Dutch times and includes some extraordinary pieces. But it’s often contemporary works, such as the Butcher Boys sculpture by Jane Alexander, looking like a trio of Lord of the Rings orcs who have stumbled into the gallery, that stand out the most.
These sweeping sandstone buildings are the headquarters of government and home to the presidential offices. The gardens are often used for public celebrations, and Mandela’s inauguration took place here back in 1994. Statues of a few former prime ministers inhabit the grounds, including an impressive General Louis Botha on horseback.
Covering 305 hectares, Modjadji Nature Reserve protects forests of the ancient Modjadji cycad. In the summer mists, the reserve and surrounding Bolobedu Mountains take on an ethereal atmosphere Modjadji African Ivory Route Camp is 5km into the park, accessible by car if it hasn’t rained recently.
Don’t miss a visit to the Sneeuwitjie Creche. A community initiative, this gives you the chance to see the other side of Nieu Bethesda life. Local township women have formed a programme for children in need involving education, guidance and meals. The crèche relies largely on external support, and the best way to give this is by having a meal in the restaurant.
On the south side of Greenmarket Sq is the beautifully restored Old Town House, a Cape rococo building dating from 1755 that was once City Hall. It now houses the impressive art collection of Sir Max Michaelis.
A stroll or jog along Sea Point’s wide paved and grassy promenade is a pleasure shared by Capetonians from all walks of life – it’s a great place to come at sunset and see how multicultural the city is.
Thaba-Bosiu is the evocative mountain stronghold of Moshoeshoe the Great, who first occupied the place in 1824.
This picturesque area with a number of enormous boulders dividing sandy coves is home to a colony of 2800 delightful African penguins. A boardwalk runs from the visitor centre at the Foxy Beach end of the protected area (another part of Table Mountain National Park) to Boulders Beach, where you can get down onto the sand and mingle with the waddling penguins.
If you’re all ostriched out, head to this ranch. It feels a bit zoolike but contains a good collection of wildlife and big cats (in rather small enclosures). An encounter with cheetahs costs R140, and with the tiger cubs R300 (for over-16s only); funds go to the Cheetah Conservation Foundation.
Lake Eland Game Reserve has as over 40 species of animals, and 200 bird species. You can head off on a self-drive (R40 per person) or a wildlife drive (R150 per person, minimum four). A 4.7km zip-line is the newest craze (R400 to R500, including gate entry). A short gorge walk crosses a 130m-high suspension bridge, and fishing and canoeing are available.
A third of the world’s gold is produced in South Africa. In this glitzy museum, based in the historic Martin Melck House (dating from 1783), gorgeous gold jewellery from across the continent is displayed. There are some stunning pieces, mostly from West Africa, with lots of background information.
If steamy Tzaneen is making you droop, climb to a 3-hectare formal English garden at 1050m. The Drakensberg views from the sweeping lawn are interrupted only by a lightning-struck tree, and leafy walkways wind away from the refreshing swimming pool.
The British won their 1806 battle for the Cape on this beach facing Table Bay. The panoramic view it provides of Table Mountain is its most famous feature, although the seemingly eternal wind makes it popular with kite-surfers and windsurfers; watching them ride the waves on the weekends is a very impressive sight.
The idiosyncratic vision that inspired artist Helen Martins (1897-1976) to turn her home and studio into a singular monument to oddity is now nearly synonymous with the quirky bohemian reputation of the village.