Attractions that Tourists Should See

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Friday, 14th October 2016

South Africa has countless attractions that deserve more attention from tourists. Michelle Colman asks authorities for their tips on what not to leave out.







Ditsong National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg.

In Johannesburg, Laura Vercuil, PR and Communication Officer for Johannesburg Tourism, suggests the Johannesburg Art Gallery on the corner of Klein and King George Streets in Joubert Park as a site that more visitors to the city should take the time to see.

The gallery gets a bad rap as a result of the deterioration of its inner city location, which is most unfortunate as the elegant building and its art collections that hark back to 17th Century Dutch masters are impressive. In total, the gallery has over 9 000 works of art, although only 10% are on display at any one time. Works include painting and sculptures by Picasso, Monet, Sekoto, Pierneef, Rodin, Moore and Kentridge. In honour of its 100th anniversary in 2015, R42m was spent on the building’s restoration.

Vercuil’s list of lesser-known Johannesburg gems includes the James Hall Museum of Transport, now one of the stops on City Sightseeing's hop-on hop-off Red Bus.  She also recommends the Ditsong National Museum of Military History next to the Johannesburg Zoo.

Open by appointment for tours of 90 mins to two hours, the Lindfield Victorian House Museum in Auckland Park is another attraction well worth the visit, as is the Bryanston Organic Market, open on Thursdays, Saturdays and public holidays.  Moonlight markets take place on specific Tuesday nights in the summer.  The ABSA Money Museum in Troye Street, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Nizamiye Turkish Mosque in Midrand are other suggestions.

Gaongalelwe Tiro, Manager: Communications at the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA), says there is now a dedicated focus on some township attractions that warrant more traffic. “An example is the growing adrenalin-inducing adventure activities in Soweto. These range from quad biking to bungee jumping from the Orlando Towers,” he says.

He further points to the recently refurbished Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit for motor racing enthusiasts, and Zwartkops Resort in Centurion for a variety of action-packed activities.

The quaint mining village of Cullinan is always a hit with visitors.  Not only does it have a fascinating mine tour, but tourists love to while the day away in the old mining cottages, now turned boutiques and eateries. 

GTA’s mobile app, which provides comprehensive information on must-see attractions can be downloaded from the Google Playstore or Apple App store.

In the Western Cape, Chief Marketing Officer of Wesgro, Judy Lain, tips the Rooibos Route in the vicinity of Clanwilliam in the Cedarberg Mountains as a great attraction, with experiences that include tea tasting in the only Rooibos Tea House in the world, wining and dining with rooibos-infused gourmet food or luxury pamper experiences with rooibos products. 

On the Garden Route are the Noetzie Castles near Knysna.  “This is a secluded cove, boasting a pristine beach, an impressive variety of indigenous flora and fauna and an eclectic collection of classic beach houses and fanciful ‘castles’ that are available for vacation rentals,” says Lain. In Cape Town, it is possible to do hour-long tours of the Cape Town Stadium on Tuesdays to Saturdays, as well as explore the city’s ‘secret tunnels’.  Nowadays, cross-city highways are common means of conveyance, but in Cape Town’s early days, the canals and rivers of the city acted as underground routes of travel.

In the winelands, historic steam trains are being revived by the Ceres Rail Company, travelling through Mitchell’s Pass. Train services run every Saturday with two departure times. They operate as a hop-on hop-off system and visitors can disembark at Waverley Hills for a wine tasting or lunch.

 A ‘hands-on farming’ experience at Farmer Redbeard in Ashton, with harvesting and beehive smoking, is another suggestion from Lain, as is the hand-driven river pont that runs daily between the east and west banks of the Breede River at Malgas. Top it all off with socially conscious shopping at Magpie Art Collective in Barrydale, where recycled creations are on sale.

Some of these locations are small-town treasures on Route 62 which links the Western Cape with the Eastern Cape. Tania Botha, Reservationist at Lalibela Game Reserve, a major wildlife attraction in the Eastern Cape near Grahamstown, reminds readers of the attractions of this route, which runs from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn.  A feature that makes the route so appealing is its many mountain passes, the Swartberg Pass between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert being one of the most impressive.

On a similar note, Papama Duntsula in a PR and Communications capacity at Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN), rates the Sani Pass as an attraction more tourists should experience. Located in the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho on the KZN border, the road with its heart-stopping turns is best traversed by 4x4, and the views are spectacular. At the top, visitors can enjoy a cold glass of the local Maluti Lager at the highest pub in Africa. Tourists must carry passports.

Papama further recommends the Station Drive Precinct, Durban's first urban renewal and creative district. Once a no-go area, it now hosts a craft brewery, trendy clothing designers and a Sunday produce market.  She also highlights the 10 000ha Intsikeni Nature Reserve between Underberg and Kokstad; the Ntsikeni Vlei Wetland is one of the largest high-altitude wetlands in South Africa, as well as a birding and botanical treasure. At summer’s peak the area is covered in a variety of orchids.

Other provincial prizes include the Midlands Meander, the Howick Falls Gorge Walk, Khosi Bay and Rocktail Bay.

Article and photos courtesy of Tourism Update. Article has been edited.

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