Travel Guide South Africa

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gauteng


GAUTENG
Gauteng means, "Place of Gold". It is the economic powerhouse of South Africa and the Southern African region. Gauteng is a cosmopolitan, multicultural mix of people.
Gauteng’s wealth is not only in its gold but also in the mix of people. This is evident in the many museums, theatres, galleries and craft markets.
Gauteng offers you entertainment, shopping, dining and a thriving nightlife. A visit to the State Theatre in Tswane (formerly Pretoria) is a must.
Gauteng is for the night crawlers. It has its hotspots that throb with energy well into the morning hours.
There is Newtown, a upgraded part of the city of Johannesburg, with a big number of live venues and jazz clubs, a real hive of cultural activity.
There is more than sixty theatres in the province, enough for everyone’s personal taste
Places to see and tours
The vibrant metropolis of Soweto and the tree-lined city of Tswane (Pretoria)
Tour of Soweto
The cradle of Humankind- A world heritage site. See Mrs.Ples, a distant relative of Homo sapiens. Also see the Wonder Caves.
Gold Reef City (Mining town and Theme Park)
Pretoria Zoo
Aquarium and Reptile Park - Pretoria
Cullinan Diamond Mine
Tswaing Crater- One of the youngest meteorite impact craters in the world. Over 200 000 years ago a meteorite travelling at 80 000 km an hour crashed into the earth.
Lion Park
The Voortrekker Monument
Military History Museum
Pretoria
Rhino Park
Lesedi Cultural Village
Lesedi Evening
Elephant orphanage
Mandela’s Trail
Evening Shebeen/ pub tours
Apartheid Museum
Melrose House
Crocodile Ramble
Valley of Ancestors
De Wildt Cheetah Research Station
Sandboarding down a mine dump
Bester Birds and animal zoo park- Pretoria
Fly fishing for yellow fish or trout
Daniel’s Rust Horse Trails- Krugersdorp
Johannesburg Zoo
Kromdraai Special interest hiking trail- Johannesburg
Moreleta Hiking Trail- Pretoria
Parktown- Westcliff Heritage Walk- Johannesburg
Shopping
Johannesburg is the ideal place to do shopping. From buying handmade crafts and souvenirs from roadside vendors or designer labels in upmarket world-class shopping malls.
There are also great restaurants for all palates and tastes. From indigenous foods to French, Italian, Italian, German, Indian, Chinese, Korean and Thai.
There is also a wide variety of entertainment, jazz clubs, traditional dancing, classical music, rock n roll, rap and kwaito.
Shopping Centers
Fourway Mall –Sandton
Sandton City-Sandton
Golden Walk Center- Germiston
Hanger Shopping Mall- Vereeniging
Hatfield Plaza Shopping Center- Pretoria
Highgate Shopping Center- Johannesburg
Hillfox Value Center- Florida
Randridge Mall – Johannesburg
East Gate Shopping Mall –Johannesburg
Take some time to discover the heritage of the real Gauteng. The stories of the Basotho, Twana and Pedi People. Learn all about their traditions and wars and the richness of their diversity.
The Sharpeville Memorial is a reminder of our violent past.
For the more adventurous there is Hang gliding, skydiving or ballooning, horse riding or hiking.
Go down a gold mine and see molten gold poured. Watch a gumboot dance.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Free State Province



Free State Province
The Free State is wedged between the Orange River and Vaal River, the Orange being the largest river in South Africa and the Vaal the second largest.
The Free State is bordered by the Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, North West Province, Mpumalanga and Gauteng Province. It also shares a border with Lesotho.
The Gariep and Vanderkloof Dams are situated in the Orange River, which also forms the southern border. These dams are the largest in South Africa.
The Free State is very much a rural province and covers an area of 129 464 sq. km. And has a population of 2,8 million, which is 6,4 % of the national population.
It has a summer rainfall climate, hot in summer and can become very cold in winter at night. Snow occurs quite often on the eastern mountains.
The capital of the Free State is Bloemfontein, a modern city with a good infrastructure and excellent accommodation in luxury hotels and guest houses to very basic self-catering budget accommodation.
Other large towns are Welkom, which is in the heart of the Goldfields. Sasolburg with its world-renowned petrol-from-coal installation, Phuthaditjhaba, Botshabelo, which is situated 60-km southeast of Bloemfontein.
Bloemfontein
Known as the "City of Roses". It is the 6 th largest city in South Africa and the capital of the Free State. A large Casino and entertainment complex was opened here recently
Places of Interest
The South African Armour Museum
National Museum- Large collection of fossils and archaeological discoveries.
Free State National Botanical Gardens
Anglo-Boer War Museum & Woman’s Memorial
Crocodile Park – 13 km from Bloemfontein
Orchid House
Zoological Gardens
Loch Logan Waterfront
Naval Hill and Franklin Game Reserve
Appeal Court
Steam Train Route
The Sandstone Steam Rail Company runs excursions along the main railway line between Bloemfontein and Bethlehem. It also runs side excursions along branch lines to destinations such as Maseru and Ladybrand.
Mangaung Township – Cultural Route; Mangaung means, "place of cheetahs". This township is known for its historic legends in art and music. This route goes through the key attractions. Trained local guides are available to take the tourist along this route.
Motheo Art Route
Die Volksblad Arts & Crafts Market- The biggest art market for handmade articles in South Africa. First Saturday every month.
Westdene Park Market- 2 nd. Saturday of every month.
Show Grounds Flea Market- 3 rd Saturday of every month
Lettie Fourie Farm Market- Last Saturday of every month
Langenhovenpark Farm Market- Every Saturday
Sand du Plessis Theatre.
The Battlefields Route
The Ango-Boer War started on 11 October 1899. This war is considered to be the last of the gentlemen’s wars. The Free State has many historic sites related to the war. This includes13 battlefield sites, 8 military monuments, 2 war museums and 3 war & concentration camp cemeteries.
The War Museum in Bloemfontein gives an exceptional detail of these war and full details of the battlefields.
Here is a list of themain battles of the war;
Paardeberg; 18-27 February 1900
Poplar Grove; 10 March 1900
Sannaspos 31 March 1900
Mostertshoek; 3-4 April 1900
Jammersbergdrift; 9 April 1900
Sand River; 10 May 1900
Biddulphsberg; 29 May 1900
Yeomanry Hill; 31 May 1900
Roodewal; 7 June 1900
Surrender Hill; 30 July 1900
Doornkraal; 6 November 1900
The Northern Free State
Vredefort Structure- Meteorite Site
A giant meteorite of 10 km in diameter that hit the earth 2000 million years ago caused this structure. This is just south of the small town of Vredefort. This is the largest and oldest meteorite impact site on earth. The inner rim of the Dome is 42 km in diameter with at least 3 rings extending outwards. There are deep gorges between the ridges where today water streams flow and eventually join the Vaal River. The Dome area differs drastically from the flat plains of the Northern Free State and the North West Province.
The unique geographical features of the dome area provides and ideal venue for game farms.
The Chazen Game Lodge
Thwane Bush Camp- Safari Style tented camp en-suite. The highest point on one of the ridges of the dome provides a breathtaking view on the ridges and deep ravines.
Sunset game drives
River rafting
Horse Riding
Abseiling
Hiking
Mountain Biking
Parys- Afrikaans for Paris- Situated on the banks of the Vaal River
Bopanang Women’s Project- Arts and Crafts
Phatuma Hotel- Experience an African Township- Tumahole
Township lunch- London Mashego
Green Gables Country Estate
Palm Court Hotel
Habula Lodge- Guest House; Luxury Accommodation, enjoy dinners around camp fire, iron & stone age sites.
Vaal Hackie; Fly fishing in Vaal River, Bird life
Hadeda Creek; River Rafting on Vaal River
Boskoppie Game Reserve and Lion Park
Deneysville on the Vaal Dam
The Vaal Dam is known as the Highveld’s inland sea. This is a yachting mecca- chartered yacht service can accommodate 20 persons per trip. 3-4 hours.
African Crafts
Basadi Matlafalang
Tilsanang Community Project
Ziba Lodge
Sasolburg; World renowned for its petrol from coal installation
The Free State Gold Fields (Lejweleputswa)
The economy of the region is dependent on Gold Mining, Agriculture and Small Industries. Small diamond mining is to be found at Theunissen.
In April 1949 while drilling for water on the farm St. Helena, lava was struck. It was found that this gold carrying ore linked to the well-known Witwatersrand gold deposits. People from all over the world flocked to this new gold discovery. The town of Welkom was established. This town was planned to its completion before a single brick was layed.
Mine shafts sprang up all over the region and soon over a million people worked on these gold fields. The towns of Viginia and Theunissen also forms part of this region and today has some of the world’s deepest gold mines.
The region is also blessed with a game reserve, The Willem Pretorius Game Reserve and the Sandveld and Soetdoring Nature Reserve.
Other activities and places of interest
Bothaville – The NAMPO Harvest Farm and Festival. Attracts over 20 000 visitors each year.
Adventures Aldam Holiday Resort in Willem Pretorius Game Reserve.
Golden Arts & Crafts Scramble at Henneman & Virginia.
Aco tractor factory at Hoopstad
Voortrekker Monument at Winburg
Gold Museum in Welkom Library
Underground Mine Tours
World’s deepest wine cellar; St. Helena Mine- 857 meters under earth’s surface.
Phakisa Racetrack- ultra modern race track for cars and motorcycles.
Welkom Casino
Bompudi Village- Beatrix Mine in Theunissen
Arts, Crafts and Tavern Tours
Thabong Arts and Craft Center.
Eastern Free State
The Eastern Free State lies in the shadow of the Maluti Mountain range with the Orange River in the South and the Vaal River in the north.
This part of the province is primarily known for its agricultural activities and therefor offers numerous tours to farms in the area. It must not be forgotten that there are many other activities and unforgettable sites to be seen such as rock art, fossils and game viewing. We will name the towns and villages in alphabetical order and name some of the activities and places of interest in all of them.
Arlington
Simmentaler stud cattle farming
Wilton Plough Factory
Bethlehem
Pretoriuskloof Bird Sanctuary
Loch Athlone pleasure resort
Baartman Wagonhouse Museum
Hiking Trail at Loch Athlone
10 Kilometers horse riding trail at Wolhuters Nature Reserve
Several Agricultural Tours
Game Ranch with 4 of the Big Five; Bergdeel Private Nature Reserve- Caves and Bushmen Paintings, Hiking Route, Bird Watching, Game Viewing, Mountain Biking, Abseiling, Horse Riding, Caracal Cave sleep overs.
The National Hot Air Balloon race during May each year.
Clarens
Exploring fossil sites in the company of Clarens’ "Dinosaur Man".
Golf, squash, tennis, bowls, fly-fishing
The Arts and Craft Route
Basotho blanket store and learn all about the Basotho culture
Biking, Hiking or Climbing Trails
See the majestic black eagle and lammergeyer
Art Gallery – The Windmill Center
Clocolan
This is a prosperous agricultural district and forms part of the main sunflower belt.
During spring the cherry orchards are in bloom
Angora Rabbit Farm
Golfing, pottery and weaving
Bushmen paintings on the farm Die Hoek
Cherry Wine Cellar
Biking and hiking trails. The signs are well signposted and overnight huts are provided.
Various agricultural tours.
Veteran Tractor show in March.
Oldenburg Lodge and Game Farm- Bushmen paintings, horse safaris, kids pony rides, curio shop, historical sites.
Cornelia
An important fossil site on the banks of Schoonspruit.
A unique fossil site on the farm Uitzoek where in 1955 the fossilized remains of a chalicothere were discovered.
Ficksburg
This town is on the Lesotho border. It is the center of the cherry farming area.
Go cherry wine tasting.
Fruit farms such as cherries, apricots, peaches, prickly pears and apples.
Bird Life and game viewing
Fishing opportunities.
Golf courses
Six hiking trails with excellent signage.
Numerous rock art sites.
S.H.Pellisier Art Gallery.
Cherry Festival during November.
Horseback Trails
Various Cycling events.
Fouriesburg
Hiking Trails
4X4 Trails
Horse riding trails
Fishing
Ango-Boer War Site at Surrender Hill
A dairy farm where 40 cows are milked at a time.
Asparagus, cherry, apple and berry farms.
Rose show in November.
Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve- Luxury accommodation.
Hiking, Horse Riding, 4x4 Trails and Abseiling.

The Golden Gate Highlands National Park
This beautiful park covers an area of 11 500 hectares with sandstone rock shapes with a beauty that is nowhere else to be found. In the spring the veld is covered with white arum lilies, orange-pink watsonias, fire lilies and red-hot pokers.
The park is also known for its prolific birdlife. The magnificent lammergeyer with a wing-span of almost 5 meters, black eagle, jackle buzzard, blue crane, secretary bird, rock pigeons, guinea-fowl and many water fowl are to be seen.
During winter the area is sometimes covered in snow. Within the reserve there is a game park with eland, blesbok, black wildebeest and other smaller antelope.
The park provides beautiful rest camps with restaurants, accommodation and curio shops.
Brandwag Rest Camp
Glen Reenen Rest Camp
Wilgehof Hostel- max. 80 people in 4 dormitories.
Hiking trails- Rhebok- 2 days / 1 night
Mountain bike trails
Horseback trails
Night drives
Game viewing
Swimming in natural pools
Nature trails
Bowls, tennis, table tennis, snooker
Harrismith
Harrismith is situated on the main road between Gauteng and Durban. There are numerous motels, hotels and guesthouses.
Places of interest
The transit campsite just outside town used by the British garrison during the Anglo-Boer War.
The petrified tree, 30 meters longs and thought to be 250 million years old- at Town Hall.
Sterkfontein Dam- South Africa’s third largest dam, 103-km shoreline. Mecca for fishing and watersport. Self-catering chalets.
The Botanical Garden
The Platberg Nature Reserve
A very large curio shop
Trout fishing in the many mountain stream
Various hiking trails
Fika Patso Mountain Resort & Conference Center
Bushmen paintings, hiking, adventure packages, overnight in caves.
Hobhouse
Named after Emily Hobhouse a British girl who sympathized with the conditions in the Boer concentration camps. She started nursing and welfare services amongst the Boer women.
Bushmen rock art in the shelters and caves in the area.
Archaeological site on the farm, Lemoenhoek.
Ladybrand
The district has a large concentration of Rock Art. Many fossils have been found and the latest is a fossilized dinosaur footprint.
Bushmen Rock Art at the Catharina Brand Museum
Mountain biking
Lindley
Grootkranz Game Farm
Game viewing
Bushmen Rock Art
Fossilized tree trunks
Le Goya Ruins dating back to the 14 th century.
October Festival - 4x4 race.
Marquard
Sparta Beef Feedlot
Hiking Trails on Korannaberg with Bushmen Rock Art
Mountain Bike Trails
Memel- means surrounded by water
Largest wetlands of its kind in South Africa
Seekoeivlei wetlands- Ramsar site
Various hunting farms
Bird Viewing
4x4 Botha’s Pass
Remains of British fort built during Ango-Boer War.
Various hiking trails – pristine forest, waterfalls, caves and panoramic views.
Paul Roux
The Basotho called the town "Fateng tse Ntsho", meaning the place of the black trees.
Rock garden in Dutch Reformed Church grounds.
Africa Material Factory.
Dinosaur tracks 10 km from town.
12 kilometers Vingerpol hiking trail is a dream of a trail.
Qwa Qwa
The Qwa Qwa National Park
Batlokwa Monument
South Sotho Open Air Museum
The Basotho Cultural Village
Basotho arts and crafts
The herbal trail
Pony trek to Rock Art Sites
4x4 Route
Mountain climbing by means of a chain ladder.
Holiday Resort at Fike Patso Dam.
Reitz
The Le Goya Ruins
Private observatory of astronomer Jannie Goosen.
Willy Doman Game Park
Agricultural Tours
Apple and potato farming
Rose farm
Exotic bird farming
Vegetables and tulip bulb farming
Stud cattle ranch
Dried flower factory
Lion breeding
Bielie-Mielie Festival – February.
Rosendal
Cheese Factory
Asparagus processing factory
Weavery
Senekal
Game ranch
Hunting
Game Lodges
Hiking trails- Biddulphsberg, Fern Routes
Riemland Wine Route
Five upmarket Cape Cellars offer an opportunity for wine tasting.
Francolin Creek Cellars with accommodation
Moratuwa Lodge
Stadlersheim Cellar and Country Restaurant
Goedehoop Cellar
Simonsig Wine Cellar and Restaurant
Boland & Moreson Cellars
Natural Wetlands with professional bird hunting opportunities.
Heilbron
African Crafts
Zwell Yawa
Timothy Poho- sculptures, wiring models
Kheswa Cement Products
Esna van Vuren- Flowers with mealie leaves
Mahlatsi Project- Mirror aets, African attire, table cloths.
Leeuwpoort Safaris on banks of Renoster River.
The Maloti Route
This is the longest tourism route in South Africa. The route starts at Harrismith and proceeds through the Free State across the Orange River, through parts of the Eastern Cape Province down to the N2 on the Wild Coast.
It also included Lesotho. It covers art, culture, history, rock art sites and cultural experiences.
Accommodation along this route varies from traditional huts, guesthouses, bed & breakfast establishments to luxury hotels.
The route starts at Ladybrand in the Free State. This town can be reached by travelling on the N8 east from Bloemfontein. From here you take the R26 south-west to Hobhouse (see details of this town under Eastern Free State). Further south you get to Jammersdrif and then Wepener. This is home to the Caledon Nature Reserve and is right on the Lesotho border. The town also has historical & cultural heritage sites.
Take the R702 south and you will get to Van Stadensrust. Here you can sleep over at Ou Mook Guest House which was the original home of Marthinus van Staden, the founder of the town. The next place on this route is Zastron with a remarkable "Eye of Zastron", a nine meter diameter hole in one of the cliffs. This area is known for its caves and Bushmen Rock Art.
From Zastron you have the choice of entering Lesotho or proceeding further on this route to the Eastern Cape. ( See Eastern Cape Province for further details.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

North West Province



The Northwest Province
This province is bordered to the north by Botswana, the Free State and The Northern Cape to the south and to the southeast by Limpopo Province and Gauteng Province. It covers an area of 118 797 sq. km. (45 869 sq. miles). It has a summer rainfall of approximately 360 mm. (it falls between October and April).
Large parts of the province consist of scattered trees and grassland. To the northeast is the Magaliesburg mountain range, which stretches from Rustenburg to Pretoria, a distance of 130 km. To the southern border flows the Vaal River. Its summer temperature varies between 17 degrees C to 31 degrees C and 3 degree C to 21 degree C in winter. In 1994 the population counted 3 669 349. The major portion of this population is the Tswana people. The balance is made up of smaller groups that speak Afrikaans, Sotho and Xhosa.
Mafikeng is the capital and other major towns are Brits, Klerksdorp, Lichtenburg, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg and Sun City.
Important historical sites are at Mafikeng, where a British garrison was placed under siege by the Boers during the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902.
Lotlamoreng Cultural Village near Mafikeng and Boekenhoutfontein, the farm of Paul Kruger. He was the last president of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek.
The province has several parks. Pilanesberg Game Reserve is the largest, located in the crater of an extinct volcano.
Another park is Madikwe National Park.
Mining forms the mainstay of the economy. The main minerals are gold, mined at Orkney and Klerksdorp, uranium mined at Klerksdorp, platinum at Rustenburg and Brits and diamonds mined at Lichtenburg, Christiana and Bloemhof.
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/diamonds.html
The northern parts of the province is known for its large beef and game farms. This part of the country around Vryburg and Stella is often called the "Texas of South Africa". The eastern and southern parts are known for its crop growing like maize, sunflowers, tabacco, cotton and citrus.
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/farmtour.html
The entertainment and casino complex at Sun City and Lost City also contributes a major part to the economy.
Cultural Villages.
Lesedi Cultural Village
This is an international fovourite if you wish to participate in mystical cultures, folklore and tradition. You can also sleep at one of the villages.
The Lost City of Mogale
This is the ancestral home of Chief Mogale that lived from 1810-1869. Remains of a late Iron Age settlements are also to be found.
The chief courtyard and reception, Monoliths, the chief’s place of worship and a cattle kraal, ceremonial cairns and slaughtering kraal.
The Mapoch Ndebele Village- Near Brits
The Ndebele villages are known for their beautiful colourful painting patterns, which presents an ideal photographic opportunity. This is also a curio collector’s heaven.
Gaabo Motho Cultural Village
Here you can meet a traditional healer
Kortkloof Cultural Village- Near Marico
Marico Valley Mampoer
Mampoer is a locally brewed drink and really strong. On the Rustenburg/ Mmabatho road. Take a Mampoer tour. 8 mampoers and 16 liqueurs. Farm weddings.
Pre-European history
The Ndebele and their leader Mzilikasi left Zululand to excape the tyranny of Shaka and settled in the now North West Province. There was a continual conflict between the Ndebele and the local Tswana people.
General Potgieter defeated the armies of Mzilikazi in 1838 at Kapain and Mosego and settled in the area. The town of Potchefstroom was named after him. He was assisted by the Griqua and the Barolong.
In 1895 the Jameson raid was launched from Mafikeng to topple the government of Paul Kruger and the Zuid Afrikaanse Republic. The raid failed miserably. The Ango-Boer War resulted and the first shots were fired at Skietpan, a railway station on the Vryburg - Mafikeng line.
Mafikeng was also in the main stream of South African history when the Boer forces besieged the town for 217 days. During this time Sol Plaatje wrote his literacy masterpiece "The Boer War Diary of Sol T. Plaatje, and African at Mafikeng".
During the latter part of the Ango – Boer War, more engagements took place in the Western Transvaal, which now forms the eastern part of the North West Province, than any other part of the country.
World Heritage Sites
The Taung Heritage Site; In 1924 some miners found the fossilized skull of a young child at Taung at the Buxton Quarry. It was taken to the archaeologist, Dr. Raymond Dart. It was named Australopithecus africanus and was now declared to represent the "missing link between apes and humans. This speciment was declared to have a brain larger than a chimp but smaller than humans.
The site was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site. A monument to the discovery of the skull has been erected. On the outskirts of the Taung village is the Mmabane Arts and Culture Center.
There is also the Vaallharts Agricultural Irrigation Scheme which transformed the dry Harts River Valley.
The Cradle of Humankind; This is also a listed World Heritage Site, shared between the Gauteng and North West Province. The finds at this site has led to some of the world’s leading palaeo- anthropologist and archaeologists to suggest that humankind first appeared in this corner of Africa. This is where the famous fossil of "Mrs. Ples", "Mrs. Ples" and "Little Foot" were found. A beautiful display center has been erected at the site and the very popular Sterkfontein Caves are nearby. The site is easily accessible. It is only 45 minutes from Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Game drives, mountain bike trails, overnight hiking trails , craft rambles and other adventure activities can also be enjoyed in this area.
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/origins.html

The Vredefort Dome Conservancy; A massive meteorite struck the earth 2000 million years ago several kilometers above the present day village of Vredefort. This formed an impact crater about 300 kilometers in diameter. Vredefort is the worlds largest and oldest impact structure. After 2 billion years of geological activity, the crater is deeply eroded. The crater provides a rare window into the deeper levels of the earth’s crust.
The Vredefort Dome is known for its unique natural beauty. There is also a restored mining village at Venterskroon and remnants of Iron Age habitation and Anglo-Boer War history.
The Bojanala Region
The Bojanala Region is the most scenic of the province and this is the region for adventure. Water activities, mountain sports, hang gliding, parasailing, abseiling. Hiking trails, angling, yachting, ballooning and a cableway is what you can experience here.
There is also a large variety of historical and culture interest in the area. There is the indigenous Bafokeng, Bakgatla and Botswana tribes and the German community at Kroondal.
The internationally renowned Lost City and Sun City complex is situated in this region near Rustenburg. Here there are two world class golf courses designed by Gary Player, the 6000 seat superbowl and the casino and gaming complex. These are situated in the extinct Pilanesberg volcano of more than 1300 million years ago. See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/golfing-tours.html
It is adjacent to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve where the Big 5 is to be viewed. The Kwa Maritame and The Ivory Tree Game Lodge is some of the luxury lodges that provide accommodation of the highest class. Here is the cradle of Humankind and a large number of arts, crafts and curio outlets.
To the northwest is the Madikwe Game Reserve, which offers 5 star accommodation to roughing it in style.
Other places of interest
The Crocodile, Rustenburg and Magaliesburg Arts and Craft Rambles.
Hartebeespoort Dam
Lesedi Cultural Village
Kgaswane Mountain Reserve; Offers the Baviaanskrans and Summit Hiking Trails which meanders through waterfalls and natural pools.
Pilanesberg National Park
The Madikwe National Park
Borakalalo Game Reserve
Vaalkop Dam Reserve
Twaing Salt Pan Crater
Central Region
Places of Interest
Baberspan Bird Sanctuary- This sanctuary has been declared a Ramsar Site. Over 350 species have been recorded which includes species from Asia, Europe and Russia.
Botsalano Game Reserve
Cookes Lake
Disaneng Dam
Henk Joubert Game Reserve
Kortkloof Cultural Village
Leopard Park Golf Course
Lichtenburg Game Breeding Center
Mafikeng Game Reserve
Mafikeng Capital City
Mmabatho Convention Center
Mmabatho Sun Hotel
Molemane Eye
Southern Region
Large fields of green maize and yellow sunflower lands are to be seen with patches of bushveld plains with wild olive trees and umbrella thorn trees.
Along the Vaal River, the southern border are excellent lodges offering angling and flyfishing opportunities.
Other Attractions
Bloemhof Dam Reserve; The reserve offers seasonal hunting packages.
Boskop Dam Reserve
Vredefort Dome
Klerksdorp Mine Tours
Sunwa Water Experiences
The Vaal River
Wolwewpruit Nature Reserve
Bophirima Region
Vryburg is one of the major towns of the region. This is the industrial and agricultural heartland of the region. Large number of game and cattle ranches is found all over the region. This is called the "Texas of South Africa".
Other places of interest
The Theiler Agricultual Museum and Cattle Research Center
Vryburg Museum
Tierkloof Missionary Station
Leon Taljaard Nature Reserve
Various hunting opportunities. See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/hunting-1.html
The Brahman Bush Camp which offers Night Drives and Bushman Rock Art
The town of Vryburg hosts the third largest agricultural show in South Africa
The Molopo Game Reserve is at the far western boundary of the province. Famous for raptor breeding and offers excellent hunting packages.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mpumalanga



Mpumalanga
Mpumalanga means "The land of the Rising Sun". Mpumalanga is about 2 hours drive from the metropolitan center of Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria and have a wide array of wildlife. A large portion of the World-famous Kruger National Park is situated in this province.
Very recently an international airport was built at Nelspruit which is also the capital of the province with the center of government situated here. The international traveler can fly into this airport and then self-drive to the Game Park or acquire the services of a guide to show them the beauty and splendor of Mpumalanga.
For ease of understanding the different regions and the flora and fauna we have divided it into the following.
The Highveld
Lowveld Safari
Cultural Center
The Frontier
The Grasslands
Cosmos Plains
Subtropical Region
The Kruger National Park
The Highveld
The area is well known for its trout fishing with the area around Dullstroom considered to be South Africa’s trout fishing mecca. The region can also boast with some of the rarest birds in South Africa. There is exciting rock climbing and its spectacular wild flower displays with over 120 species being recorded. It also has the only breeding community of Black Leopard in Africa. The village of Dullstroom is very rich in history and many ruins, forts, trenches and artillery placements are found in and around the village.
In the same area is the Ramsar Wetlands Site, Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve, where three of the world’s endangered crane species are found, The Blue Crane, The Crowned Crane, and The Wattled Crane.
One of the main attractions of the area is the Oosterlyn Express Steam Train which retraces the route that President Kruger used to travel between Machadodorp and Waterval Boven.
Belfast is known for its tulip farms and annual tulip festival.
Lydenburg is another town of the area. The name means "place of suffering". It was once the capital of its own independent republic. Lydenburg was founded by the Voortrekkers in the early 1800, who fled from the scourge of malaria in the lower lying areas. Here though the encountered the marauding Bapedi tribe under Kgosi Sekhukhune. A number of battles took place between the Voortrekkers and the Bapedi.
What to visit.
A place worth visiting is the museum, which depicts the history of the famous Lydenburg heads. These heads are pottery masks made by a people that lived in the area thousands of year ago. The ruins of stone and iron age settlements are to be found in the Gustav Kleinbiel Nature Reserve.
The area also offers some of South Africa’s most spectacular hiking trails. Sightings have been reported of leopard, caracal, african wildcat, kudu. Bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, duiker, otter and hippo. The entire region is a birders paradise.
At the Dullstroom Ranch the following can be experienced
4x4 Drives
Bird Watching
Fly Fishing
Game Viewing
Hiking
Horse Riding
Mountain Biking
Wildlife Walks
Where to stay
Hotels
Dunkeld Country Estate- Dullstroom
Chalets
Lala Langa Chalets- Ohrigstad
Trout Farms
Trout and About- Machadodorp
Treeferns Trout Lodge- Belfast
Boven Trout Lodge- Waterval Boven
Dullstroom Ranch- Dullstroom
Hawks Mist Trout Farm- Machasodorp
Owl and Trout- Belfast
Sycamore Trout and Trail-
Nooitgedacht Trout Lodge- Lydenburg
Salpeterskrantz Fly Fishing Estate- Roossenekal
Lodges
Bergwater Lodge- Waterval Boven
Stonecutters Guest Farm
Malapos Country Lodge- Lydenburg
Klip River Lodge- Roossenekal
Komati Gorge Lodge and Wildlife Reserve- Belfast
Indabushe Eco Lodge
Greystone Lodge, Private Nature Reserve- Belfast
Bed and Breakfast and Guesthouses
Forget Me Not- Lydenburg
The Aloe Backpackers- Waterval Boven
Charito Guest House- Dullstroom
The Kingfishers Country Cottages- Machadodorp
The Johnsons- Waterval Boven
Cottages
Machadodorp Stud Farm- Machadodorp
Thandimoelo O Farm- Lydenburg
Lowveld Safari
Here the escarpment presents a number of natural wonders such as Gods Window (a breathtaking panoramic view), the Blyde River Canyon, the world’s third largest canyon and the biggest green canyon. There are also the Bourke’s Luck Potholes and The Three Rondavels (these are three similar mountain heads).
There is the quaint village of Pelgrim’s Rest (the whole village have been declared a national monument). This is a living museum dating back to the bygone days of the gold rush in South Africa.
Other towns of this area are Lydenburg, White River, Sabie, Graskop, Ohrigstad and Hazyview. This are also offers many cascading waterfalls, bungee jumping, white water rafting, 4x4 trails, hot air ballooning, walking trails and gold panning.
At Perry’s Bridge Trading Post Shopping Village – Hazyview the following can be experienced.
4x4 Trails
Abseiling
Bungi jumping
Gliding
Paintball Shooting
River Rafting
Rock Climbing
Rock Sliding
Caving
Wildlife Walks
At Induna Adventures – Hazyview you can experience the following
Horse Riding
Canoeing
River Rafting
Rock Sliding
Rock Climbing
Where to stay
Hotels
Protea Hotel- Kruger Gate- Skukuza
Protea Hotel- Hazyview
Royal Hotel- Pilgrims Rest
Hotel Numbi & Garden Suites- Hazyview
The Graskop Hotel-Graskop
Sabie Valee- Sabie
Casa Do Sol- Hazyview
Lodges
Ulusaba Game Reserve- Skukuza
Farmhouse Country Lodge- Kiepersol
Phumalani Lodge and Cultural Village-Hazyview
Inyati Private Game Reserve- Skukuza
Lion Sands Private Game Reserve-Sabi Sands
Nkorho Bush Lodge- Sabie Sands
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve- Sabie Sands
Iduba Private Game Reserve-Sabie Sands
Exeter Game Lodge-Sabi Sands
Kwa-Umvubu Tented Game Camp- Hazyview
Djuma Game Reserve- Hazyview
Malamala Game Reserve-Sabi Sands Reserve
Elephants Plains Game Lodge-Sabi Sands
Safari Lodge- Hazyview
Kwamadevala Private Game Lodge- Hectorspruit
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/bigfive.html
Inyati Private Game Reserve- Skukuza
Inyati is the Shangaan word for "Buffalo". This is Big 5 territory. Birdlife is abundant and a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and insect are to be found. Clients can experience the African Bush and wildlife in the company of skilled rangers and Shangaan trackers. You may also set out on a dawn or dusk Game Drive in an superbly equipped open 4x4 or experience the thrill of a "foot safari".
At night African drums call the guest to the open air Boma to experience the unique cuisine and fine South African wines.
Although you will be in the heart of the African Bush, you wont have to forego any of your comforts.
Accommodation is in 10 thatched luxury chalets, with air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms.
If you need a physical workout, there is a fully equipped gym. Then go and relax beside the pool.
Simbambili Lodge-Sabi Sands
Simbambili is a Swahili word meaning;"Two Lions". It is situated in the northern sector of the world renowned Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Accommodation is provided in 6 luxury chalets. Wildlife sightings can be enjoyed at close quarters. It is quite common to see lion, elephant, white rhino, buffalo, leopard, cheetah and wild dogs. Simbambili is situated on the banks of the Manyeleti River and each chalet is positioned to have its own river view and private viewing deck. The chalets are all en-suite and air-conditioned.
The central lodge with swimming pool, dining area, bars and lounge areas overlooks the river with a viewing deck facing the waterhole.
Activities include game drives, bush walks, bush breakfasts and dinners.
Umbhaba Lodge- Hazyview
Umbhaba Lodge is situated on a hillside between the misty foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains. It is in close proximity of the Kruger National Park.
Umbhaba can accommodate 50 guests in twenty four suites with thatched roof, open log fireplaces, en-suites bathrooms, mini bars and satellite television. Meals are served either in the restaurant or on the terrace.
A number of local activities are available. Day and night safaris, helicopter excursions, fishing, hiking trails, horse riding, hot –air ballooning, mountain biking, seasonal river rafting and golfing on two superb golf courses in the area.
Cultural Center
The Cultural Center includes towns such as Witbank, Middelburg, Siyabuswa, Groblersdal, Marble Hall and Roossenekal.
Here visitors can enjoy the Ndebele Culture. The Ndebele is world-renowned for the beautiful pattern painting of their homes, beadwork and arts and crafts. There are many cultural villages to visit in the area. For the visitor with an historic interest there is a Boer War Route.
Boat game viewing can be enjoyed at Loskop Dam Nature Reserve. At Witbank is the largest municipal dam in the Southern Hemisphere. Watersport like skiing can be experienced here.
This area is also known for its coal and gold mining. Industrial and mining tours can be undertaken. This is also a rich agricultural area and farming tours are offered.
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/farmtour.html
The region is famous for the lanatus cycad that the plant enthusiast will enjoy.
Activities at Little Elephant/Nkloencane Art & Craft Market-Middelburg
Woodwork
Weaving & Knitting
Pottery
Painting & drawing
Needlework
Metalwork
Leatherwork
Jewellery
Glass & Ceramics
Cultural Village & festival
African Arts & Crafts
Kghodwana Ndebele Village- Tweefontein
African Arts and Crafts
Cultural Village
Dance
Painting & Drawing
Woodwork
Where to stay
Backpackers
Buffalo Lodge – Middelburg
Hotels
Protea Hotel- Witbank
Lodges
Bushfellows Game Lodge & Conference Center- Marble Hall
Isiyala Game Lodge- Middelburg
Olifants River Lodge-Middelburg


Urigue Game Ranch- Groblersdal
Bed & Breakfast & Guesthouses
Gables Guest House- Middelburg
Yakla Guest House- Witbank
Oases Guest House- Groblersdal
Chalets
Aventura Loskop- Middelburg
Vlakpan Wildboerdery- Groblersdal
The Frontier
This region borders on to Mozambique, Swaziland and the southern end of the Kruger National Park. It is said to have some of the oldest rocks on earth in the Mkonjwa Mountains dating back to more than 3 billion years.
Some of the towns in the region are Barberton, Komatipoort, Kaapmuiden and Badplaas. Barberton was at the center of the gold rush and also had South Africa’s first stock exchange. The façade of this building still stands today. It was built in 1887.
The Frontier offers the Wild Frontier Heritage Trails and some excellent 4x4 trails, hiking trails and the hot sping and hydra at Badplaas is a must to visit.
Where to stay
Lodges
Nhlumi Safari Lodge- Hectorspruit
Thanda Nani Game Lodge- Komatipoort
Grand Kruger Lodge- Komatipoort
Ebutsini Lodge- Badplaas
Pestanee Kruger Lodge- Malelane
Bushwise Safari Lodge- Komatipoort
Rio Vista Lodge- Malelane
Malelane Sun- Malelane
Dowsons Game and Trout Lodge- Badplaas
Buhala Game Lodge and Country House- Malelane
Chalets
Komati River Chalets- Komatipoort
Inkuba Game Farm
Guest House & Bed and Breakfast
Croc River Lodge- Komatipoort
Hillside Lodge- Barberton
Ochards Farm Cottage- Komatipoort
Villa Langa- Malelane
Barberton Caravan Park- Barberton
Badplaas Youth Center
Jerusalem Game Lodge- Barberton
Riverhouse Guest Lodge
Da Bois Lodge- Marloth Park
Old Coach Road Guest House- Barberton
Self-contained
Elephant Walk Retreat- Komatipoort
Grace Farm Cottage- Barberton
Komati Springs-Badplaas
Selati 103 Guest Cottages- Malelane
The Grasslands
This region includes Chrissiesmeer, the largest freshwater lake in South Africa. At Chrissiesmeer a giant mysterious footprint in rock is to be found that matches a similar one in Canada.
The Grasslands and Wetlands is also known as a birdwatchers paradise and also hosts an annual frog watching festival.
Annually an Anglo- Boer War battle is re-enacted. This route is bordered by Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State. It also included the farming communities of Amsterdam, Ermelo, Carolina, Hendrina, Volksrust, Piet Retief, Breyten, Lothair and Morgenzon, which is known for its Merino sheep farming, Maze and Dairy Farming and one of the largest Beef Feedlots in the world.
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/farms.html
What to see
Bird Watching
Bird Life South Africa
Wildlife Walks
Farm Tours
Deutsche Media & The Mushroom Pit- Piet Retief
Craft Market
Pottery
Weaving & Knitting
Woodwork
Where to stay
Hotels
Wakkerstroom Country Inn- Wakkerstroom
Lodges
Waterside Lodge- Piet Retief
Majuba Guest House- Volksrust
Hlumu Lodge- Badplaas
Holiday Resort
Warmbad Private Game Reserve- Piet Retief
Guest House and Bed & Breakfast
Kosmos Guest House- Carolina
Biggies B & B- Ermelo
Granny Goose Guesthouse- Volksrust
Bow Bridge Farm Guest House-Volksrust
Drinkwater Guest House- Ermelo
Greendoor Guest House- Piet Retief
Wetlands Country House and Sheds- Wakkerstroom
Chalets
Birdlife South Africa- Wakkerstroom
Doornkop Fish and Wildlife Reserve- Carolina
Cosmos Plains
The Cosmos Plains lies in the southwest of Mpumalanga, bordered by the Free State and Gauteng. It includes towns such as Secunda, Evander, Delmas, Leandra, Bethal, Standerton, Balfour and Greylingstad.
It is home to the largest underground coal mining complex and South Africa’s fuel from coal production. Sasol Synfuels at Secunda is the biggest factory site in the world. It is also the only place in the world where petrol is made out of coal, commercially.
Graceland is the area’s gambling casino.
Where to stay
Hotels
Graceland Hotel, Casino and Country Club- Secunda
Protea Hotel – Evander
Bed and Breakfast and Guest Houses
The Guesthouse –Secunda
Die Groenkoei- Bethal
The Lodge Stay in Style- Bethal
Duhorah Guest House- Standerton
Subtropical Region
The main town and capital of Mpumalanga is Nelspruit, which is also the seat of the provincial administration. Other towns are; White River, township of KaNyamazane and the wild horse town of Kaapsehoop, Malelane and Komatipoort.
Near to Nelspruit is the oldest dolomite caves in the world, Sudwala Caves where you will also finf South Africa’s Jurassic Park.
This area is also known for its unique butterfly garden, a botanical garden with an enormous collection of cycads and an African rainforest.
Other activities include quad and mountain biking, paragliding, microlighting and cultural tours to the authentic village and most important, Game viewing to the adjacent Kruger National Park
At The Riverwild 4x4xFore at Nelspruit you will be able to participate in the following;
4X4
Abseiling
Hiking
Mountain Biking
Mountain Climbing
Paintball Shooting
River Rafting
Rock Climbing
Slalom Canoeing
Caving
Wildlife Walks
Mpumalanga Provincial Government Complex- Nelspruit
African Arts & Crafts
Glass & Ceramics
Painting and Drawing
Unique Buildings
Weaving and Knitting
Woodwork
Casterbridge Farm Center- White River
Films
Jewellery
Museum
Painting and Drawing
Pottery
Sculpting
Theatre
Where to Stay
Hotels
Formula 1- Nelspruit
Protea Hotel – Nelspruit
Sudwalas Kraal – Schagen
Emnotweni Sun- Nelspruit
Orion Hotel Promenade- Nelspruit
Lodges
White River Golf Lodge- White Rive
Duma Country Lodge- Karino
Royal Kruger Lodge- Marloth Park
Matumi Golf Lodge- Nelspruit
Boondocks Mountain Lodge- Kaapmuiden
Kwanyoni Lodge- Nelspruit
Hulala Lakeside Lodge- White River
Guesthouses and Bed & Breakfast
Hannis Paradise Swiss Lodge- Nelspruit
The Arches B & B- Nelspruit
Saint Cloud B & B- White River
Ambience Inn- White River
Sheridah’s Mountain Retreat- Karino
Hazyhaven- Hazyview
Self-contained
Golf Escapes- White River
Legogote Lodge- White River
Raedowns Guest Farm- White River
Bushveld Lodge & Chalets- Nelspruit
The Kruger National Park
From; South African National Parks publication. "Inhale the clear, warm air of the African Bush. Fall asleep to the accompaniment of the bush orchestra, which may include the powerful roar of a lion, the laughter of hyenas and the shrill call of a jackal. Wake up to a chorus of birdsong and watch the ebb and flow of animals coming to drink while a fish eagle swoops down, intent on its prey".
The park was established in 1898 and is 350 km from south to north. It has close to 150 mammal species, more than 500 species of birds and over 300 species of trees. It covers and area of 19 633 km2. The park is a world leader in environmental management techniques.
The southern portion of the park draws the highest number of visitors. Malelane Gate, the most southerly entrance to the park, is just 3 km off the main road from Johannesburg to Mputo.
The largest camp in the park, Skukuza is also situated in the southerly section. Set along the Sabie River, it is a favourite place for bird watchers.
Lower Sabie, 42 kilometers downstream from Skukuza, is the most attractive camp in the park.
Activities
Skukuza and Letaba have information centers and visitors are accompanied by ranges on bush drives or bush walks. These should be booked well in advance. The camps at Berg-en-dal, Pretoriuskop, Mopani and Shingwedzi have swimming pools.
Skukuza have a unfenced nine-hole golf course.
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/golfing.html
Useful information
It is advisable to use malaria prophylactics and mosquito repellants.
Some accommodation units have no cooking facilities and visitors have to provide their own cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery.
A flashlight may come in handy when wanting to visit communal facilities at night.
The roads are either well maintained tar or gravel and carry a speed restriction for the safety of visitors and wildlife.
Accommodation
The park caters for the needs and a full spectrum of the visiting tourist. There are ten main fenced rest camps, which caters from the merely affordable to luxury accommodation.
This includes caravan and camping sites with shared communual facilities and also luxurious bushveld camps and bush lodges.
Electricity, a shop, first aid center, a restaurant or self-service cafeteria, communual kitchen facilities, public telephone and a filling petrol/ gas station can be found at all major rest camps.
All accommodation units are self-catering and serviced daily. Bedding, towels and soap are provided.
Several camps also provide for paraplegics and conference facilities are available.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fossils



Acknowledgement
Dr.R.M.H.Smith-South African Museum-Cape Town
Dr.M.A.Cluver-Fossil Reptiles of South African Karoo
Readers Digest-Atlas of South Africa
Johan Fourie and Izak Rust- An introduction to nature guiding
Introduction
In 1838 an important discovery was made in South Africa. A roadbuilder Andrew Geddes Bain, a self-taught engineer, who had a passion for adventure and a flair for geology found a fossil in a road cutting near Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape .Bain sent this fossil to London where is was classified as reptilian.
In 1897 a Scottish paleontologist, Robert Broom recognized that the fossil also had certain mammalian characteristics. Robert Broom left for South Africa and spend a lifetime uncovering the age-old secrets of the Karoo mammal-like reptiles.
These mammal-like reptile fossils are of utmost importance because they document the origin of the first mammals from reptile ancestors. These fossils ranging in age from 240 to 190 million years led to the evolution of mammals.
The Karoo
Karoo is a Khoi word meaning ‘thirstland’.
What did the Karoo look like 240 million years ago?
A huge inland sea covered approximately two thirds of modern day South Africa .The African continent was then part of a continent called Gondwanaland which consisted of Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica and India. Various Mississippi-size rivers, which originated in the newly formed mountain ranges to the south ,spread over the floodplains .In the low lying areas between these huge meandering rivers ,were lakes and dams that were regularly filled with water when these huge rivers spilled their banks.
The climate was very much the same as of the Karoo of today. Warm dry conditions during the major part of the year with a short rainy season during which the dry flood plains were temporary flooded.
The vegetation differed considerably from the modern Karoo .The vegetation was mainly restricted to the wet areas of the floodplains, along the riverbanks and around the perennial lakes.
The animals
The animals of this period consisted of a high percentage of herbivores (plant eaters) and a small percentage of carnivores (meat eaters).
Mammal-like fossils are divided into five main groups and each consist of hundreds different species. Fossils of four of the main groups were found in Beaufort West area of the Karoo.
The most common of these fossils is the small plant eating dicenodontiers like the Emydops .The Emydops probably grazed in small groups on the shrubs along the banks of rivers. With their tortoise-like beaks they would break off the leaves and small branches and chewed it with forward and backward movements of the lower jaw.
The other common plant eater was the Diictodon.
The predatory Lycaenops probably hunted on the helpless Diictodon.
There were also other herbivores like the Endothiodon , Rachiocephalus and Aulacephalodon .One of the smaller herbivore was the Cistecephalus which was probably a nocturnal animal that stayed in its underground burrows during the day.
Amongst the fallen leaves and debris the small insectivore reptile Scaloposaurus hunted for beetles and worms.
In the waters of the lakes and rivers lived the crocodile-like amphibian, the Rhinesuchus.
How were the skeletons of these animals fossilized?
Many of the skeletons of the animals that died either of natural causes or were killed by carnivores disintegrated and thus never became fossils. Others were covered by mud or sand blown by the wind. Others died in their burrows or covered by drift sands at waterholes. Last mentioned had the best chance of becoming fossilized because they were covered soon after death and thus protected from the elements sun ,rain and wind.
Long after these animals were buried ,the lime minerals in the skeleton dissolved and were gradually replaced by silica minerals from the surrounding sediment .The fossils thus formed is an exact rock replica of the original skeleton .Through pressure and heat the mud became mud rock and shale .These fossils remained in the metamorphasized rock .Modern rivers and winds eroded through the rock and again exposed it to the atmosphere .Once a fossil is exposed ,it quickly disintegrates.
The fossils of the West Coast
The site is known as Langebaanweg. This is one of the richest 5 million-year fossil sites in the world and have been declared a National Monument.
The site have attracted worldwide attention and generated over 70 scientific publications to date.
Many thousands of fossil bones have been found at this site .Some of the fascinating extinct animals include a bear Agriotherium africanum, the first bear ever discovered south of the Sahara .Other animals include lion-sized saber-toothed cats ,longhorned short-necked giraffes called Sivatheres ,three-toed horses and two species of extinct elephant .Also Homiphoca capensis ,an extinct seal and four extinct species of penguins. In addition there are numerous fish ,frogs ,reptiles and birds which include a mega tooth shark and a huge ostrich.
Details of the habitat of that era have been deducted from evidence provided by fossils, shells and the remains of a variety of invertebrates.
Continuous research is necessary to determine the palaeohabitat of this area and to understand the significance of how, why and when the different environmental changes occurred over the last 5 million years.
Fossils in the Northern parts of South Africa
From a brochure ;Wits Earth Sciences.
Prehistoric creatures brought back to live ;it sounds like a bad B-movie storyline ,but it is actually an everyday part of the serious educational and outreach initiative of the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research (BPI) and the Department of Palaeontology in the Wits School of Earth Sciences.
The BPI’s robotic reconstructions of dinosaurs, mammal-like reptiles and other creatures from the prehistoric past of this country are perhaps the most visible aspect of its very active program, but they are certainly not the only one.
The reconstruction by the BPI includes a life size giant (about 80 cm in diameter) hairy Carboniferous spider, which actually walks ,a giant member of the fly family Gerarus, about 50cm long and the biggest insect that has ever lived ,Meganauropsis,a Carboniferous dragonfly with a wingspan of just under a metre; and a 45 cm Permian cockroach .Then there is’ George’ a 250 million year old sabretooth Gorgonopsian and his beak-mouthed Aulacephalodon prey(nicknamed ‘Lunch’) .They will also be joined by ‘Dicky’ a little Dicitodon (a beak-mouthed burrowing animal about the size of a dachshund).
Visit this exciting display and then drive down to the Eastern Free State and visit the fossil sites of prehistoric dinosaurs near the Golden Gate National Park.
The Dinosaurs are divided into two groups .The flesh eating and plant eating group ,Saurischia and the Ornithischia, which were exclusively plant eaters .Of the latter group ,the fossils of the 6 metre long Massospondylus and the 12 metre long Melanosaurus are found in the Karoo’s Red Beds .An example of the first mentioned group is the Heterodontosaurus.
Finding Fossils
To find fossils one needs an experienced eye and many days of strenuous methodical search along the steep shale sides of dolerite rock formations. Some fossils are found easily but others really need the eye of an expert. Many of these fossils have deteriorated badly and sometimes only the skull is found. Complete fossils are very scarce.
It takes days and sometimes weeks to dig out a fossil and a hammer drill is quite often required. Broken fossils must be glued and cast in plaster of paris before it can be removed. Every piece is numbered and details of its locality noted.
In the laboratories the rock must be removed from the fossil. This is a very painstaking process and takes up to six months to complete.
All fossils are scientifically studied and analysed by South African and other world renowned palaeontologist before it is stored away or displayed in a museum.
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/fossil.html

Rock Art



San is a Khoekhoen word used to describe the oldest of the indigenous people of South Africa .San is an alternative for the word Bushman because of the unflattering connotations of the word Bushman .It is a word from the Nama language and is a plural of the word Sa which means a person who forages for food ,in other words ,a hunter gatherer. The San were an indigenous South African people who lived by hunting, fishing and foraging or gathering. Human skeletal remains found in the Southern Cape suggest that a similar people to the San lived in the continent 120 000 years ago. The history of the San people is recorded in part by the rock paintings at the places where they lived .We also get some idea about what they believed from these rock paintings and engravings. It is only recently that the code of these paintings were unraveled and it was discovered why they were done and what they mean. Once the meanings of the rock paintings were understood ,it was realized that these San were no ordinary people.
We now know that most of these rock paintings are related to the religious experience of the San. San religion is centered around the desire for supernatural power. Shaman or medicine people learned how to receive this power and how to use it. The Shaman used this power received during trances for three main purposes. One was to heal people. The other was to make rain .The third was to allow the Shaman’s spirit to go on a out-of-body travel. During this experience the Shaman will seek out and control game animals or find and observe about friends and relatives. When entering such a state ,the Shaman would take the form of an animal such as a lion ,or may feel as though he was flying or traveling through water or underground .It is these experiences of the Shaman that were recorded in the thousands of rock paintings all over South Africa.
Travel with us through the annals of time and experience how these people lived ,hunted and gathered food .How they danced and told stories and raised their children.
This is an educational experience you will never forget .We will go on trails and search for their paintings and learn how to interpret them while enjoying the beauty of the South African landscape and wildlife.
See website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/bushmen.html

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Maps

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

KwaZulu-Natal Province



KWAZULU-NATAL
KwaZulu-Natal is often called the garden province. There is more here to see than anywhere else in Africa. This is the place of the Kingdom of the Zulu. KwaZulu-Natal is where you can either set your own pace by playing to a 24 hour clock or relax and let the rest of the world rush by. You can stay in a rustic tree house and enjoy prolific birdlife, or soak up the sun on a deck of a beachfront cabana or unwind in the luxury of a mountain lodge.
THE HISTORY OF THE PROVINCE
When British rule was established in the Cape Colony in 1806, the independent Afrikaners were dissatisfied and an exodus of Voortrekkers resulted to the interior. They wanted to govern themselves and maintain their cultural identity. A group of Voortrekkers under the leadership of Piet Retief arrived in Natal in 1838. Piet Retief negotiated with the then Zulu king, Dingaan for land but Retief and 101 of his men were murdered at Umgungundlovu, the kraal of the Zulus.
The Voortrekkers mobilised to avenge this and other attacks and at Wasbank in December 1838 under Carl Celliers they made a vow that if God granted them victory over the Zulus, they would build a church and commemorate the event annually as a Sabbath day.
About 15000 Zulus attacked the 460 Voortrekkers at Blood River on 16 December 1838. The Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus and built the Church of the Vow in Pietermaritzburg in 1841.
The amazulu are descended from the Nguni people, who lived in central or east Africa.
According to the Zulu storytellers, their original land was called Embo. During the 16th and 17th centuries the Nguni moved south. A small group settled in the valleys of Zululand. One of the Settlers was Malandela who had two sons. The second son was named Zulu (Heaven). When he got married, a new clan was formed and all his descendants were known as Zulu.
The Zulus initially lived in peace and harmony but as time went on, they became divided and also battled with other tribes in neighbouring regions. It was the emergence of warrior King Shaka that reunited the amaZulu into a proud and powerful nation.
The traditional head of a Zulu clan is the Inkosi. He is regarded by his people as a father figure- the source of their wealth and well being, the spiritual symbol of their tribe and the man who determines the fate of his people. The Zulu people display an unyielding loyalty to their Inkosi.
While you are in the region, take time to observe the daily customs of the Zulu people. There is a reason for almost every action or gesture.
While shopping for curios, notice that the Zulu woman will pass the artifact to you using her right hand only. The palm of the left hand is held under the right forearm. This serves to assure you that there no hidden weapons and you have nothing to fear.
There is also an accepted etiquette when greeting. The person with the higher standing will greet first. The inferior person will remain silent until he or she is addressed directly. The greeting is, Sawubona ( I see you). The other person will respond, Yebo, Sawubona ( Yes, I see you too).
Every colour of traditional beadwork has a different meaning. A Zulu woman can weave a message of love, grief, jealosy, poverty or uncertainty into her work.
A white bead represents love, a black bead means grief, a green bead is rich grass and implies lovesickness or jealousy.
THE CENTRAL AND NORTHERN DRAKENSBERG
The Zulu calls it uKlanhlamba – the barrier of spears. The Drakensberg is one of the most spectacular tourism attractions in all of Africa. It is a place of unforgettable beauty, outdoor pleasures and entertainment. It offers countless places of interest and a wide range of outdoor activities. There is something for everyone. Music and art lovers, hikers, nature seekers, anglers, birders, rock climbers, shoppers, historians, golfers and mountain bikers. Every season is the best time of the year to be in the mountains.
Champagne Valley
The Champagne Valley in the Central Berg is a natural stepping-off point for an exploration of all the attractions that the Drakensberg has to offer. It is the heart of the Drakensberg Drive from which to visit surrounding battlefield sites, game reserves, arts and craft outlets and the world famous Drakensberg Boys Choir.
There is a wide range of accommodation establishments, camp sites, guest farms, mountain lodges and high quality hotels. The valley also offers two golf courses, well stocked trout and bass fishing spots, hiking and horse trails, white water sports, a vulture restaurant, scenic flights, shopping, shopping, dining and the Bushmen Caves.
The Amphitheatre and Tugela Falls
A walk that starts from the Royal Natal National Park takes you to the foot of the Tugela Falls. The waters of the Tugela River tumbles over the edge of the Amphitheatre and plunges 948 meters down sheer cliffs in a series of cascades. The 7 kilometers climb up the Tugela Gorge takes you through indigenous forests. The last part is a boulder hop and finally a chain ladder takes you over the final stretch.
There is also a 22.5 kilometers hike to the summit of the Mount-Aux-Sources. There is a shorter route however by a very scenic drive to the Sentinel car park at Witsieshoek in the Free State. This gives you a 4 ½ hours climb to the top of the Amphitheatre.
Royal Natal National Park
This 8000 hectare park got its regal prefix after a visit in March 1947 by the British King George and Queen Elizabeth.
There are 31 walking and riding paths in the park and each on leads to a spectacular beauty spot. There is accommodation available to suit all tastes.
The 1000 meter sheer basalt cliffs forms a backdrop to the Amphitheater which wall stretches across 4 kilometers.
The Vulture Restaurants
The Berg is known for its birds of prey but 299 bird species have been recorded. Predators such as black eagles, cape vultures and white-necked ravens are common but the bearded vulture or lammergeyer is the monarch of the skies. These giant raptures have a wingspan of nearly 3 meters. Their preferred meal is the marrow in bones. It is an unforgettable experience to see these huge birds drop bones while in flight, shattering them on the rocks below and then swooping down to extract the marrow with their long scooped tongues. There are several hides from which visitors can watch these birds and other raptors feeding on carcasses that have been laid out for them.
Trout and Bass Fishing
A very popular attraction in the Drakensberg is the abundance of trout and bass fishing facilities. The rivers and dams are well stocked. This is a favourite for the skilled fly-fisherman but should not discourage the inexperienced enthusiast to try their hand. Your resort will be only to glad to help you this treasure of the Drakensberg.
Scenic self drives
There are a number of scenic routes in the Drakensberg that can comfortably be done with the standard sedan.
Here are a few.
The Injusuti (Fat dogs) drive.
Amphitheatre Drive.
Monks Cowl Drive.
Oliviershoek Pass.
Mike’s Pass.
Golden Gate.
Witsieshoek Mountain Drive.
Middledale Pass.
Retief’s Pass.
Route maps and details of these drives are available from the Drakensberg Tourism Association.
Horseriding
The full length of the Berg is negotiable on horseback. The inexperienced horse rider can comfortably manage many of the spectacular paths.
For the more experienced there is an unforgettable overnight trail leading to the summit of Mont-Aux-Sources. Virtually all the resorts offer guided horse trails.
World Heritage Site
On 29 November 2000 the uKhahlamba –Drakensberg Park was declared a World Heritage Site. This park stretches over 243000 hectares area. This park satisfied two of the four natural criteria and two of the cultural criteria to be included in the World Heritage list.
International recognition was granted to its unique richness of biological diversity, its endemic and endangered species and its superlative natural beauty as well as its masterpieces of human creative genius in the form of tens of thousands of San rock art paintings. Within the Park there are some 600 rock art sites with over 35000 individual images.
The Park is one of South Africa’s premier tourist attractions with an abundance of game, birds and plants as well as the above-mentioned rock art.
A total o 299 bird species have been recorded and 48 species of mammal, including leopard, baboon, jackal, black wildebeest, eland, zebra and red hartebeest and clawless otters.
The park can accommodate over persons per night and there are almost 2200 beds available at private establishments.
BATTLEFIELDS
Vootrekkers-Zulu Wars (1836-1852)
When British rule was introduced to the Cape Colony in 1806, the Afrikaners became dissatisfied and they began their exodus to the interior where they wanted to govern themselves. They were called Voortrekkers. A group of these Voortrekkers under Piet Retief arrived in Natal in 1838. He started negotiations with Dingaan, the Zulu king, but Retief and 101 Voortrekkers were murdered at Umgungundlovu. The Voortrekkers mobilized and decided to avenge this and other attacks. In December 1838 at Wasbank, they vowed that if God would give them the victory they would commemorate the day as a Sabbath annually.
A 15000 strong Zulu force attacked 460 Voortrekkers at Blood River on 16 December 1838. The Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus.
At the site of this historic Battle there is a replica of the Voortrekker laager cast in bronze.
Anglo-Zulu War 1879
King Cetswayo started building up the Zulu nation and colonists saw this as a threat. An ultimatum was presented to the Zulus but this was ignored. British troops invaded Zululand.
On 22 January 1879 25000 Zulus attacked the British camp at Isandlwana and killed 1300 of the 1500 British troops.
On the same day the Zulus attacked the mission station at Rorkes Drift (used by the British army as a magazine and hospital). The 101 British troops repelled a force of 4000 Zulu warriors. The British lost 17 men and won 11 Victoria Crosses.
King Cetswayo was finally defeated at the Battle of Ulundi on 4 July 1879.
First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881)
The British annexed the territory of the Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek in 1877. The ZAR tried to regain their independence through peaceful attempts but failed and the First War of Independence was declared (First Anglo-Boer War)
Their were cashes at Laing’s Nek, Schuinshoogte and Majuba. The British commander, General Colley was fatally wounded at Majuba.
The armistice was signed in March 1881 at the base of Majuba Mountain. (Majuba means the mountain of Doves) and the final peace treaty at Hilldrop House in Newcastle.
Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)
In 1886 gold was discovered in the Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek. The Boers feared a massive influx of foreigners and amended the voting act. The foreigners on the goldfields protested and war broke out between Britain and the ZAR/Orange Free State on 11 October 1899.
The Boers occupied Newcastle on 15 October 1899 and the first major battle of the Anglo-Boer War took place on 20 October 1899 at Talana, 2 kilometers from Dundee. The British believed the war would be over by December of that year but it became the longest, costliest, bloodiest and most humiliating war Britain had fought since 1815.
The Boers besieged the British forces at Ladysmith for 118 days, an event which dominated world headlines. The biggest battle ever fought in the Southern Hemisphere, before the Falklands War, took place at Tugela Heights
Other engagements took place at Spioenkop, the Armoured Train Incident, Elandslaagte and Vaalkranz.
Places to visit and other battlefields
The Battle of Colenso
R.E.Stevenson Museum (Colenso)
Ambleside Military Cemetery
The Battlefields of Colenso and Tugela
Clouston Garden of Remembrance
Winston Churchill Capture Site
Dundee – Battle of Talana
Battle of Helpmekaar
Baskets from Africa
Iron age smelting sites
Valley of Cannibals
Blood River Battlefield
Rorke’s Drift Battlefield and Museum
Prince Imperial Memorial
Hiking Trails
Talana Trail – 4 hours
Mpati Hiking Trail – 3 sections- each 2 days
Cannibal Hiking Trail- 18 km
Black Eagle Hiking Trail
Isibindi Eco Reserve- visit a traditional Zulu village
(White –water rafting, abseiling, team building)
Izemfene Hiking Trail- 2 days in Biggarsberg Mountain Range
Crafts
Baskets from Africa
Elandskraal Store- Genuine traditional Zulu crafts
Talana Museum shops
Mlaba African Curios-Dundee
ELC Crafts Center – Hand woven carpets, wall hangings, pottery and printed fabrics
Tactile Carpets
Places of interest in and near Estcourt
Thukela Biosphere- 100 000 hectares
Fishing
Golfing
Abseiling
White water rafting
Canoeing
Mountain biking
Horse Riding
4x4 Trails
Game viewing
Bird watching
Zulu Kraal- Amangwane
Fort Dunford Museum
Bloukrans- where many Voortrekker families were killed by Zulus after the murder of Piet Retief in February 1838.
Brynbella Willow Grange- Southernmost battle of Anglo-Boer War
Glencoe
Elandslaagte Battlefield and Cemetery
Gandhi Memorial
Carl Landman’s house- Second in command of Battle of Blood River
Ladysmith
Siege museum
Ladysmith / Emnambithi Cultural Center
Battlefields- Ladysmith surrounded by 10 major battle sites
Architectural Route
Platrand/Wagon Hill Battle site
Spioenkop Dam and Nature Reserve
Spioenkop Battle Site
Malandeni Bird Sanctuary
Newcastle
Bullers Headquarters
Carnegie Art Gallery
Draaiwater Country Farm Stall
Fort Amiel
Majuba, Laing’s Nek Battlefields
Gansvlei bird sanctuary
Schuinshoogte Battlefield
Wildlife and Nature Reserves of the Central Drakensberg area.
Cathedral Peak- 32000 hectare section of the Natal Drakensberg Park. 8 marked hiking trails. San Rock Art can be seen on some of the trails. Duration of trails from one day to several days. Accommodation in campsites or caves.
Chelmsford Nature Reserve at Chelmsford Dam. Carp and bass fishing. 1000 hectare. Rhino, wildebeest, zebra, blesbok, springbok. Many bird species. Sailing and power boating and water skiing.
Accommodation: Chalets, camps and caravan sites.
Giant’s Castle-34638 hectare reserve-part of Natal Drakensberg Park- World Heritage Site. San (Bushmen) art at Main Caves and Site Museum.
Vulture Restaurant
Accommodation: Chalets
Injasuti- In northern section of Giants Castle area between Injasuti River and Cowl Fork River
Several kilometers of trout waters
Accommodation: Fully equipped self-catering cabins.
Dormitories for backpackers and campsites. Caves accommodation for hikers, caravan sites.
Royal Natal National Park- Some of the most spectacular scenery in Africa- 8000 hectares. There are 31 hiking trails; from easy going to very difficult. As a backdrop to the Park is 1000 meter sheer basalt cliff of the Amphitheatre. The wall of the Amphitheatre runs across 4 kilometers.
One of the walks that must not me missed is the path that takes you to the foot of the Tugela Falls. The head-waters of the Tugela River tumbles over the edge of the Amphitheatre to 848 meters below in series of cascades. This is the second highest waterfall in the world. A chain ladder takes you over the final stretch.
There is also a 22.5 kilometer hike to the summit of Mount-Aux-Sources. There is also a scenic drive to the top Sentinel car park and then a 4-½ hour (return) to the top. Trout fishing can be enjoyed here.
Accommodation: Chalets and cottages.
Mahai and Rugged Glen-Part of Royal Natal. Horse riding and hiking 83 kilometers of it.
Accommodation: Camp and caravan site.
Spioenkop Nature Reserve-6000 hectares. Adjacent to Angle- Boer War battle site. Angling, yachting, water skiing, power boating.
Accommodation: Camp sites, caravan sites, bush camps
Wagendrift Nature Reserve- 980 hectares resort near Estcourt. Angling, sailing, power boating, water skiing, 3 kilometer self-guided trail. Abseiling off dam wall and tours inside wall
Accommodation: Camp and caravan sites.
Weenen Game Park-Game viewing. Black Rhino, white rhino and the rare roan antelope. 279 Bird species. Night drives, hiking. 47 Kilometers of 4x4 trails.
Accommodation: Rustic tented camp, cottage, camping and caravan sites.
Thukela Biosphere-Two hours drive from Durban. 100 000 hectares of valley bushveld, malaria and bilharzia free. The topography of The Biosphere is diverse, from large trees with dense canopies along the many rivers to thick acacia scrub and open grasslands.
This area supports a wide range of wildlife; elephant, white rhino, wildebeest, leopard, warthog, hyena, jackal and various species of buck.
The area also has a prolific birdlife. The mild climate also favours reptiles like crocodiles, leguaans, tortoises, terrapins, snakes, lizards, geckoes and rock python.
The Thukela Biosphere was awarded the Natal Park Board’s conservation award in 1998.
White river rafting can be enjoyed on the Thukela River, 4x4 trails, mountain biking and horseback safaris.

GAME RESERVES, LODGES AND PLACES OF INTEREST IN NORTHERN KWAZULU-NATAL
Website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/bigfive.html
Northern KwaZulu-Natal (also known as Maputuland) have some of the most outstanding game reserves, game lodges and nature reserves in South Africa (including marine reserves). The Natal Parks Board is known for its unique efforts to save the Black Rhino and the White Rhino from extinction. Two of the main game reserves run by this organisation is the Umfolozi and Hluhluwe Game Reserves.
Umfolozi have the following accommodation
Mpilo Camp- 7 bedded self-contained cottages
5 bedded self-contained cottages
4 bedded huts
Masinda Camp-Hutted camp-4 bedded
Masinda Lodge- nine bedded
Sutuli Bush Camp- 2 bedded A-frame units-central lounge and kitchen area. This camp is on the bank of the Black Mfolozi River.
Noelweni Bush Camp- 2 bedded units on stilts.
Gqoyeni Bush Lodge-2 bedroomed units with bathroom en-suite. Overlooks deep pool in Gqoyeni stream.
Animals to be seen;
There are about 1600 square-lipped (white) rhino. Buffalo, blue wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, elephant, impala, waterbuck, common and mountain reedbuck, nyala, kudu, bushbuck, steenbuck, duiker, warthog, black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, jackal and many smaller mammal species. About 300 bird species have been recorded.
Hluhluwe is situated in northern Zululand 280 km north of Durban. Established on 30 April 1895 and is the oldest game reserve in Africa. This reserve together with the Corridor and Umfolozi is managed as one protected area of almost 96 000 hectare. The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park is the only park in KwaZulu-Natal where all of the Big Five occur.
Accommodation;
Hilltop Camp-2 bedded rondavels. 2 bedded and 4 bedded self-contained chalets 2 bedded chalets. Exclusive accommodation is available at Mtwazi Lodge-Lounge, dining room, kitchen with own cook.
3 bedrooms.
Muntulu and Munywanini Bush Lodges. These are up-market bush camps. 4 separate en-suite bedrooms overlooking Hluhluwe River. Cook/caretaker in attendance. Game walks available with a game guard.
Mkuzi Game Reserve- is situated approximately 335 km from Durban. The reserve was established on 15 February 1912 and covers 36 000 hectare.
At Mantuma Hutted Camp there is 3 bedded huts, 5 bedded bungalows and 3 bedded bungalows. Each have a bathroom and communal kitchen/communal ablution facilities. Cooks prepare visitors meals but visitors must bring their own food.
Tented safari camps 2 beds each with kitchen and en-suite showers, basins and toilets.
Nhlonhlela Bush Lodge- Eight bed lodge overlooking water pan. Game walks with game guard.
Umkumbi Camp- Situated in controlled hunting area. Safari tents each with 2 beds, and en-suite shower, washbasin and toilet. Cook/caretaker in attendance. Game walks with game guard.
Camping and caravan area at entrance gate.
Game; Black and white rhino, elephant, giraffe, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, eland, hippo, impala, kudu and many smaller antelope. Cheetah, hyena, suni and leopard. Four game hides for viewing game at water pans. More than 400 bird species have been recorded. The Mkuzi Auto Trail and Fig Forest Trail should not be missed. Night drives gives the visitor the opportunity of seeing some of the nocturnal animals and birds.
Cultural Village- represents the lifestyle of the Zulu people who lives in the area.
It is advisable to bring binoculars, first aid box, a torch, insect repellant, a hat and sun block lotion.
The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park.
The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park has been declared an International Heritage Park. A unique 38 000 hectare of lake, islands and estuary. The park incorporates a variety of habitats ranging from the Ubombo Mountains to grasslands, forests, wetlands, mangroves and dunes with magnificent beaches and coral reefs.
Because of its diversity it supports a wide variety of fauna and flora. It has Nile crocodile and hippo, rhino, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, waterbuck, kudu, nyala, impala, duiker and reedbuck. The park is also known for its prolific birdlife. Thousands of waterbirds like flamingos, pelicans, herons, terns, ducks, geese and storks visit the lake.
You can enjoy canoeing on wilderness trails and the coast has excellent snorkeling, angling and boating opportunities. Leatherback and loggerhead turtles nests on the beaches at night and whales and dolphins can be seen off shore.
Mapelane-Mapelane has excellent ski-boating and surf fishing and a hiking trail offers a coastal forest walk.
Mapelane’s camp has fully-equipped 5 bedded log cabins. (Each with two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and a lounge/dining room). There are also 45 camping and caravan sites with modern ablution facilities.
Charters Creek- is a favourite with fishermen and birdwatchers. A boat is available for hire. Accommodation includes a 7 bedded cottage, ten 4 bedded rest huts, 3 bedded rest huts and 2 bedded rest huts each with a refrigerator. The camp has a communal lounge and ablution block and have two central kitchens. There is also a swimming pool, a self-service laundry and a playground for children and several picnic sites.
The camp is an excellent base for bird watching. There are two self-guided hiking trails.
Boat Tours- Guided boat tours provide sightings of hippo and a large variety of bird life and lasts 1 ½ hours.
Fanies Island-Situated on the western shore of Lake St. Lucia with a seven-bedded cottage and two-bedded rest huts. Two central kitchens and a ablution block serve the camp. There is also a swimming pool and a number of camping sites. The 5-km Umkhiwane Trail is recommended for bird watchers. A fully equipped rustic conference center seats 50 delegates and is situated at the lake side.
Mission Rocks-It is 16 km north of St. Luca Estuary. Picnic sites and ablution facilities for day visitors. The Mziki Trail offers 3 one-day hikes from 10-18 km. Accommodation in the old World War 2 radar hut. For backpackers there is the Emoyeni Trail 4 nights 5 day. Approximately 65 km.
CAPE VIDAL
Is popular for its sport fishing and snorkeling. Five bedded and eight bedded fully equipped log cabins 50 campsites. Five fishing cabins on shore of lake. Bhangazi accommodates groups of 8-20. Bush Lodge sleeps 8 people- 2 bed self-contained units. Fully equipped staffed kitchen.
SODWANA BAY
This is one of South Africa[‘s prime destinations for scuba diving and angling. Game fishing in the marine reserve has yielded record catches.
Night tours in December and January offer camp residents excellent sightings of leatherback and loggerhead turtles nesting on the beaches.
Accommodation – 5 bedded and 8 bedded chalets-fully equipped. Lake Sibayi, South Africa’s largest fresh water lake is nearby with Baya Lodge luxury accommodation.
FALSE BAY PARK
This park is on the northwestern shore of Lake St. Lucia. 38 camping sites and 4 bedded huts.
Boating, fishing, birdwatching and game viewing. Swimming pool. Self guided hiking trails.
ITALA GAME RESERVE
Itala is situated near Louwsberg in Northern KwaZulu-Natal and is 20 653 hectare big. With the exception of lion, all the major game species occur in Itala. 80 Species of mammals, 320 bird species occur here. Close to 100 species of amphibia and reptiles. Rare animals include greater bushbaby, leopard, honey badger, brown hyena, pangolin, tsessebe, goliath heron, bald ibis, bat hawk, martial eagle, brown-necked parrot and cape eagle owl.
Accommodation; 3 Rustic bush camps. Fully equipped but visitors must bring their own food, beverage and torches. Hiking trails with game guard.
Ntshodwe Camp- 39 self-catering thatched chalets with 2, 4 or 6 beds. Fully equipped. A la carte restaurant and take-away service.
Six-bedded luxury lodge with own swimming pool with cook in attendance.
NDUMA GAME RESERVE
Proclaimed in1920’s and is one of South Africa’s oldest and most scenic parks. It is situated just south of the Mozambique border.
The focal points in the reserve are the Nyanuthi and Banzi Pans, which are surrounded by fever trees.
The Ndumo Wilderness Camp offers luxurious tented rooms with en-suite bathrooms. The entire camp is raised up on wooden deck and linked with a walkway. The camp has its own swimming pool.
The Park is ideal for birdwatching with over 400 species being recorded and various species of wildlife like Black Rhino, White Rhino, buffalo, hippo and crocodile occur. Open 4x4 vehicle drives can be undertaken around the various pans.
The Tembe Elephant Reserve is nearby.
ROCKTAIL BAY LODGE
The lodge is situated within the Maputuland Coastal Forest Reserve and adjoining the Maputuland Marine Reserve. The lodge is just meters away from the Indian Ocean.
A variety of guided activities are available. The sea along this coast is ideal for snorkeling and surf fishing is excellent.
Nature walks through the coastal forest and drives in open 4x4 vehicles are a must. The spectacular lake Sibaya is a short drive away. Excursions along the beach in search of sea turtles laying eggs can be arranged.
Website; http://www.aaaafrica.com/bigfive.html
Accommodation- Ten wood and thatch tree-house chalets on stilts in the forest canopy with own shower and toilet facilities. Lounge/pub and dining area.
CULTURAL VILLAGES
Duma Zulu- Traditional village and lodge. Duma Zulu means the "Thundering Zulu". It is located near Hluhluwe village. Daily tours are conducted. Graham Stewart’s Zulu team have strived to capture customs and traditions practiced during the reign of the famous Zulu King, Shaka.
The kraal residents carry out age old manufacturing traditions including spears, shield and clay pot making, basket weaving, bead work and Sangoma bone throwing. The cultural experience culminates in spectacular Zulu dancing
The lodge consists of 20 units sleeping 2-4 persons each and the exterior of each unit resembles the different peoples of South Africa i.e. Zulu, Swazi, North Sotho, South Sotho, Xhosa, Venda, Tsonga, Ndebele and Twana.
Shakaland- Village and Hotel- This kraal was originally created for the film sets of Shaka Zulu and John Ross. It is a cross cultural centre and living museum where Zulu folk pursue the customs and traditions of their forebears.
Attend explanations of typical Zulu traditions such as beer brewing, spear making, hut building, pottery, weaving and beadwork and lectures on traditional dress.
Spend the evening around the campfire enjoying home-brewed tshwala, while being entertained with song, dances and folklore.
Cultural Village in Mkuzi Game Reserve
Isibindi Zulu Lodge with Zulu homestead and cultural experience near Rorkesdrift
Cetswayo’s Kraal
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN MAPUTULAND
Jozini Dam
Kosi Bay Nature Reserve
Tembe Elephant Park
Lake Sibaya
Maputuland Marine Sanctuary
OTHER ACCOMMODATION IN MAPUTULAND
Abu Madi
Bonamanzi
Bushbaby Lodge
Bushlands Lodge
Ehlatini Lodge
Emdoneni Lodge
Falaza Game Park
Glen Gweni Backpackerd
Hluhluwe River Lodge
Landula Bushcamp
Malala Lodge
Mazuri Lodge
Mhlosina Bush Lodge
Mkuze Nyala Lodge
Phinda Mountain Lodge
Phinda Forest Lodge
Shaka Zulu Hotel
Sungulwane Bush Lodge
Sungulwane Game Lodge
Sutton Game Farm
UMziki Pan
Zululand Tree Lodge
Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Bayete Bush Camp
DURBAN
The biggest city in KwaZulu-Natal. Durban has grown into one of South Africa’s most popular coastal resorts. Approximately 4 km of safe, sandy beaches and an abundance of holiday accommodation with all year sunshine attract more than one million visitors each year.
Durban harbour is also the biggest and busiest in Africa. The Marine Parade along Durban’s beachfront offers many attractions. There are trampolines, a miniature golf course and a mini pleasure park for children, fun rides and an aerial cableway. UShaka Marine World offers aquarium displays, a shark tank, dolphin and seal performance
A memorable experience is a ride along the beachfront in a ricksha with an extravagantly decorated ricksha puller. Rates are set by time and distance traveled.
Durban is also a famous surfing centre with the Bay of Plenty, a venue for many international contests.
The coastal waters are a paradise for anglers and deep-sea fishing cruises depart from the Maydon Wharf Fishing Jetty. Then there is the annual phenomenon sardine run which occurs in June/July.
Daily trips are offered by pleasure launches, harbour ferries and deep sea fishing trips.
Various museums take you into the past history of Durban. There is the local History Museum, Old House Museum, Old Fort, The Kellie Campbell Museum, Addington Hospital Centenary Museum and the Whysalls Camera Museum.
Culture and the Arts- Focus of the performing arts is the Natal Playhouse, an ultra-modern complex. This is the venue for opera, ballet, contemporary theatre and the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.
For visual arts, the Durban Art Gallery in the City Hall is one of the best-patronised galleries in the country. Other art galleries are the Natal Society of Arts Gallery, the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery, and the Grassroots Gallery. The African Art Centre has excellent works by black artists and sells beadwork, baskets, woven goods and woodcuts.
Nature trails and parks-Closest to the beach is the attractive landscaped Amphitheatre Gardens. Medwood Gardens and tea kiosk offer a pleasant relaxation for city strollers. Albert Park has a restaurant and exercise track for the energetic. The Botanical Gardens are well known for its orchid house, a rare collection of cycads and the Natal Herbarium.
A number of self-guided hiking trails are near the city centre at Pigeon Valley, Burman Bush, Virginia Bush, Kenneth Stairbank Reserve, Paradise Valley and Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. The Japanese Gardens make a popular picnic and photography spot. The Umgeni River Bird Park is worth a visit.
Shoppers-For those who enjoy shopping for arts and crafts there are the sprawling fleamarkets in the Marine Parade Amphitheatre and the Indian Market.
ORIBI GORGE NATURE RESERVE
The Oribi Gorge is a 24-km revine known by this name. It is situated on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, 21 km from Port Shepstone with a tarred road all the way.
The scenery along the gorge formed by the Umzimkulwana River is a photographers and nature lovers paradise.
There are many walks and self-guided trails in the gorge, which is the third biggest in the world.
The camp has two-bedded huts, seven-bed self-catering chalet and a 10-bedded rustic cottage.
The reserve has a rich variety of birdlife. There is a hotel on the estate.
UMTAMVUNA NATURE RESERVE
A 3100-hectare reserve near Port Edward. It is a sanctuary for wildlife and birds and also noted for its impressive rivirine forest.
PIETERMARITZBURG
Pietermaritzburg together with Ulundi is the capital of KwaZulu-Natal. It is one of the best-preserved Victorian cities in the world. It started as a well laid-out town under the Voortrekkers (Boers) but expanded under the British rule and became the seat of government for the colony.
The Voortrekkers, after defeating the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838, established the Republic of Natalia. The capital was named after the two leaders, Pieter Retief and Gert Maritz.
In 1843 the British garrisoned the town. After Union in 1910 the town remained the capital, now of the Natal Province.
The historical past-The town have many a historical building that reminds one of the past history.
The City Hall with its elaborately decorated red brick structure and tall clock tower, dominate the centre of town. It is also the home of the Tatham Art Gallery with fine 19 th and early 20 th century French and English paintings.
Nest door to the City Hall is the Publicity Association in the building built originally in 1884 for the Borough Police.
Other buildings and places of interest are, the Old Supreme Court, the Legislative Assembly building, the Legislative Council Building, the Carbineer Gardens, the Voortrekker Museum (the original Church of the Vow built in1841), the Oldest House in Town (built in 1846 for a Voortrekker P.G.Pretorius), the Voortrekker Cemetery and the Natal Museum.
Parks and Nature Trails-On the banks of the Msunduze River is the beautiful Alexandra Park. This also is the spot where the annual Duzi Canoe Marathon to Durban starts. The park has lovely gardens, a rockery, a swimming pool and a tearoom alongside an ornate bandstand built in 1892.
The Botanical Gardens alongside a lake is also worth visiting. Queen Elizabeth Nature Reserve on the outskirts of town is the headquarters of the Natal Parks Board. Here visitors can see Zebra, blesbuck, impala, duikers, bushbuck and rhino.
There are a number of Green Belt Trails through the World’s View area.
Watersport and fishing-A popular venue for boating, fishing and recreation is at Midmar Dam, Albert Falls Dam and Nagle Dam.
Out-of-town venues include the magnificent Howick Falls and Karkloof Falls, the drive to Otto’s Bluff in July/August when the aloes are in bloom, the Natal Lion and Game Park and ajacent to this is the Zoological Gardens.