When I announced I was taking a trip to South Africa, the first
thing my friend told me was: “Don’t sleep with anyone.”
At the airport, a travel agent I sparked a conversation with
advised: “Don’t walk on the streets alone. And lock all your
valuables in your hotel safe.”
Rather than accepting awed responses or cheerful farewells, I
was dismayed to receive several precautions. But I can’t say I was
completely surprised. Having suffered through decades of Apartheid,
South Africa sometimes comes with an unfavorable stigma. However,
even though the country struggles with poverty and AIDS, when you
get there you learn this ambitious and inspiring destination is
South Africa is experiencing a second gold rush and the optimism
is clear. On the streets billboards proclaim the CVB’s supportive
advertising campaign “It’s Possible” and the economy is booming.
Tourism has increased 18 percent from 2006 and by the time the
World Cup takes place in 2010, the country anticipates 10 million
visitors yearly. With growing attention, rich culture, important
history and ample diversity for visitors from thrilling safaris to
sublime beaches travelers are flocking to a new, progressive South
“Africa Footprints” is a staple of the
Johannesburg art scene.
As we navigated the streets of Johannesburg, I admired the
historic attractions and immediately noticed the walls surrounding
many of the buildings they were high and seemingly out of place.
Aware of my curiosity, our tour guide, Joe, said: “They are from
the Apartheid days. They were used for protection, to keep black
Despite its apparent obstruction and futility, the walls remain
physical evidence of a history marked with struggle that
unfortunately continues to echo throughout the city but primarily
concentrated in Soweto (South Western Township).
Comprised of approximately 3.5 million black residents, the
shantytown of Soweto was an area I was reluctant to explore I was
nervous of making the locals feel like they were on exhibition
especially in Motsaoledi, the squaddie camps, where the poor live
in truly rough conditions.
But Joe renewed my confidence and once there, I didn’t feel as
though we were imposing. Soweto is obviously not the most
sought-after excursion, but entertainment wasn’t our purpose.
The experience stirred a range of emotions as we glimpsed the
poverty that millions of people live through today. The residents
were affable, and they invited us into their homes. A worthwhile
excursion, clients visiting here will find no indications of
animosity or bitterness and, in some of the homes, they will see
well-kept gardens and a sense of optimism that is overwhelming.
Chock full of historical interests, Johannesburg, “The City of
Gold,” is best explored on wheels. Clients can drive to Sandton,
which is a vibrant, trendy area that has everything from local
designer boutiques to popular restaurants. Bukhara, featuring
gourmet Indian cuisine, is a favorite for locals and tourists
alike. Affluent travelers should head to Gold Reef City, a coliseum
of entertainment where you can discover traditional dishes at Back
of the Moon restaurant (owned by Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, the “Oprah”
of South Africa) and catch the buzzing show, “Africa Footprints,” a
staple of the Johannesburg art scene.
Durban is known for its beautiful
“I want you to be my wife!” the tribesman cried in native Zulu,
clad in warrior gear including headpiece, loincloths and a beaded
belt. He raised a spear high as the tribeswoman he courted accepted
his proposal by offering her necklace. Behind him, in the vast,
unspoiled landscape, the other tribesmen performed their
ritualistic song and dance.
This reenactment of the Zulu tribe was in honor of their rich
heritage at pheZulu Park, an homage to the important Zulu culture
(of which leader Shaka Zulu initiated) in Durban.
Dubbed the Miami of South Africa, Durban is perhaps the most
laid-back, and is known for its street markets, terrific beaches
and world-renown curry. Durban is also one of the least expensive
cities in South Africa and clients can bargain for handicrafts or
try a traditional Bunny Chow (curry in a bread bowl) for $6 at
local favorite The Oriental.
Unlike the relaxed pace of daytime, Durban boasts one of the
most riveting night scenes in South Africa. Nightlife is limited,
but thriving, particularly on Florida Road a strip of buzzing
restaurants, bars and clubs where the trendy set flood the
Tell clients to try some bitong (beef jerky) at Butcher Boy and
have a local beer at Monsoon Lagoon. Who knows? They just might rub
elbows with Prince Henry or Alicia Keys, who are regular visitors
to the city.
The oldest South African city, Cape Town is also the most diverse,
with at least 20 different ethnic groups. The draw, perhaps, is the
impact of its endless natural features: the commanding Table
Mountain, visible from virtually any standing point; sublime
beaches in Sea Point; the historic Robben Island; and sprawling
In addition to miles of unspoiled environment, the wildlife is
just as enticing to travelers. It’s not rare to find signs telling
people to avoid feeding an animal group, or to drive out to the
rustic vineyards and see zebra and ostrich grazing on the same
Cape Town is also a base for hundreds of safaris just outside
its city limits an essential feature to any itinerary. But with the
friendly cosmopolitan flair of Cape Town complete with great
cuisine, attractions and accommodations, you may find it hard to
This hotel, located at the corner of Fifth Street and Alice Lane
is a luxurious property in a prime location.
This five-star hotel is conveniently located near the convention
center and is just a short ride to the beach.
CAPE TOWN12 Apostles
This five-star luxury boutique hotel is located in Camps Bay, a
popular area for oversees visitors.