South Africa has many historical, cultural and natural destinations that merit preservation for future generations. First Car Rental has put together a list of South African heritage sites, some of which have been declared World Heritage Sites for their cultural significance or natural beauty. These destinations are certainly places that every South African must visit at least once in their lifetime.

1. Robben Island, Western Cape

The solitary island of Robben Island situated some 9km offshore from Cape Town has a deep connection with the history of South Africa. It is where South African President Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison and where he formulated the notion of forgiveness and dreamed of a nation free of oppression. Visitors can go on a guided tour to the Robben Island Museum and get first-hand accounts of Nelson Mandela’s life in prison. You can also visit Mandela’s cell, which has been left in its original state. Dubbed “Robben” (the place of seals) by Dutch settlers, the island was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.

2. Vredefort Dome, Free State

Over 2 million years ago an asteroid with a diameter of between 5 and 10 km hit the earth at this very spot leaving behind the largest and oldest verified impact crater on Earth, giving it the status of World Heritage Site. The Vredefort Dome stretches over 300 km across and bears witness to the world’s greatest known single energy release event, which had devastating global effects including, according to some scientists, major evolutionary changes.

3. uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, KwaZulu-Natal

This World Heritage Site in KwaZulu-Natal is an open-air mountain museum where more than 30 000 examples of Bushman rock art can be viewed on the walls of caves. The park is a combination of sheer natural beauty and a wealth of biological diversity. It is also one of South Africa’s prime eco-tourist destinations. Covering 242,813 hectares of area, the park spans parts of both South Africa, in KwaZulu-Natal province , and Lesotho. The site’s diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally threatened species, especially birds and plants.

4. Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng

The Cradle of Humankind is where the origins of the human race can be traced back to and holds great scientific importance. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. The world-renowned Sterkfontein Caves is home to the oldest and most continuous paleontological dig in the world. It is also the site of discovery of the famous pre-human skull affectionately known as “Mrs Ples”, and an almost complete hominid skeleton called “Little Foot”, dated 2.3 and 4.17 million years old respectively. So, if you want to know the history of our origins, take a trip to this amazing destination. The Maropeng Visitor Centre is open to the public from 09h00 to 17h00 every day. The last boat ride departs at 16h00.

5. Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, Limpopo

 

South Africa’s fifth World Heritage Site and fifth on our list of must-see heritage destinations is Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape. Mapungubwe is set hard against the northern border of South Africa, joining Zimbabwe and Botswana. The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape demonstrates the rise and fall of the first indigenous kingdom in Southern Africa between 900 and 1,300 AD. Mapungubwe developed into the largest kingdom in the sub-continent before it was abandoned in the 14th century. What survived are untouched remains of the palace sites and the entire settlement area around them. This landscape presents an amazing picture of the development of social and political structures over some 400 years.

6. iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Kwa-Zulu Natal

Covering about 240,000ha, with a further 84,000ha in, on or under the sea, thissub-tropical paradise stretches 220km along the East Coast from St Lucia to the Mozambique border. iSimangaliso is teeming with life and has a mind-blowing variety of natural eco-systems ranging from dune, swamp and coastal forests to rocky and sandy shores, coral reefs and submarine canyons, mangroves, savannah grassland, thickets, woodlands, and the largest protected wetland in Southern Africa. The activities you can enjoy here include game drives, snorkelling, diving, bird-watching and hiking.

7. The Castle of Good Hope, Western Cape

This unique historical site is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. It has been a centre of life at the Cape since its inception in 1666. The Castle of Good Hope was established as a maritime replenishment station at the Cape of Good Hopefor the Dutch East India Company, better known as the VOC (VerenigdeOos-IndischeCompagnie). The Castle of Good Hope was a welcome sight for sailors travelling up to six months at sea and they referred to Cape Town as the “Tavern of the Seas”. In 1936, the Castle was declared a National Monument. As a result of an extensive, ongoing restoration and conservation programme launched in the 1980’s, the Castle of Good Hope remains the best preserved monument of its kind.

8. Pilgrim’s Rest, Mpumalanga

A small town in Mpumalanga, Pilgrim’s Rest is protected as a provincial heritage site. Pilgrim’s Rest is situated on the magnificent Panorama Route in the Kruger Lowveld region of the Mpumalanga. This living museum takes visitors to the day of the Transvaal Gold Rush;the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest for gold. Pilgrim’s Rest was declared a gold field in 1873, soon after digger Alec “Wheelbarrow” Patterson had found gold deposits in Pilgrim’s Creek.The Valley proved to be rich in gold and by the end of the year, there were about 1500 diggers working in the area. Today, mining still continues in the hills surrounding Pilgrim’s Rest.

9. Nelson Mandela Museum, Mthatha, Eastern Cape

Take an inspirational journey through the life of former President and world icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha. The Museum officially opened in 2 000, ten years after his release from prison in 1990 and incorporates three sites – Mvezo, near Coffee Bay, where Mandela was born; Qunu, his childhood village; and the Bhunga Building in Mthathawhere the story of the life and times of one of South Africa’s greatest leaders is depicted. The Museum is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4pm.

10. Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Northern Cape

The Richtersveld is one of the few places where one can still see a harmonious interaction between man and nature. The Richtersveld is the pastoral grazing ground for the Nama, the indigenous community who live the transhumance lifestyle – migrating seasonally with their livestock from mountains to the river and, as such, make sustainable use of the fragile succulent ecosystem. Their seasonal pastoral grazing regimes help sustain the extensive biodiversity of the area and demonstrate a way of life that persisted for many millennia over a considerable part of Southern Africa.

Source: firstcarrental.co.za

A week is a good amount of time to spend in Cape Town. It’s long enough to take in the big attractions, but also focus on your own particular interests and really get under the skin of the city. Cape Town has a lot going on, and it’s worth spending some time getting off the beaten track, making friends with locals, and getting to know the authentic Cape Town. There’s enough time to take it easy, explore the places you fall in love with, or get to know the locals.

 

Day 1: Broad strokes

The first day is great for taking in as much of the city as you can, to get the big picture. The best way to do this is to get aboard the hop-on-hop-off City Sightseeing bus. It’s well worth getting hold of an iVenture card, which gets you free entry into many of the city’s top attractions. Start the day by catching the bus from the V&A Waterfront and heading straight for the city’s centerpiece—Table Mountain. You can hop off here and take the Aerial Cableway to the top. From there, you’ll have panoramic views of the city and coast. It’s a great way to orientate yourself, and the views are magnificent. There’s a wifi lounge at the top, where you can grab breakfast and a coffee.

Next, you’ll head over the mountain to the Atlantic Seaboard. Here, especially in Camps Bay and Clifton, you’ll find some incredible beaches, bars and restaurants, making this a fantastic spot to spend the afternoon. Get some sun, have lunch, sip on cocktails, or walk the Sea Point Promenade. There’s loads to see here, so you can spend a few hours in the area. Just make sure you leave time to head back to the Waterfront and catch a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners served their time during the apartheid era.

At sunset, settle yourself at one of the picturesque bars at the Waterfront, to watch the sun go down and enjoy some cocktails, craft beers, or fine local wines. There are endless dining opportunities here too, so you might want to stay for dinner.

 

City sightseeing bus

 

Day 2: Wining and dining

On your second day, spend some time exploring the Cape Town wine routes. It’s worth picking one and setting aside the day for it. There are five main wine routes to choose from, each with their own character. Constantia is close to the city, and it is home to some of the country’s oldest and most prestigious wine farms. The Helderberg is famous for its white wines, particularly chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Stellenbosch has about 150 estates to choose from, making it a good option if you want to be spoilt for choice. Franschhoek is really pretty and it is home to the Franschhoek Wine Tram, which allows you to enjoy the day’s tasting without worrying about driving. They’ll even hang on to your wine for you and arrange shipping. The Durbanville Wine Route is also fairly close to the city, with fantastic views of Table Mountain and intense, fruit-driven wines. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to find beautiful scenery, award-winning wines, and some exquisite cuisine.

Stick around for lunch. Many estates have fine-dining restaurants on site, while others have pre-packed picnics or more casual eateries. No matter your taste or budget, there is sure to be something that appeals to you.

Come evening time, you’re likely to be ready for an early night, or you may consider booking a night in the Winelands and dining at one of the fine restaurants there.

 

Constantia wine route

 

Day 3: The South

On day three, we head south. Get an early start, and make your way to Kalk Bay. You might want to hire a car, take the train, or find a tour operator that can customise a tour for you. African Eagle Day Tours does customizable full day tours, and is an accredited tour provider. The trip to Kalk Bay is lovely and scenic, and once you’re there you’ll find some lovely spots to grab some breakfast. Olympia Café does great cooked breakfasts, and their baked goods are delicious. You can browse the quirky shops and explore the harbour while you’re there.

Next, carry on further to Simon’s Town. This is where you’ll find Boulders Beach, home to the colony of African Penguins. You can take a dip with these creatures, or admire them from the walkway. Once you’ve spent some time there, it’s time to venture further south to one of the most beautiful spots in town.

Cape Point is the star of the day three show. Here, you’ll find a spectacular sight with towering stone cliffs, endemic fynbos, breathtaking bays, beaches, and rolling green hills and valleys. The climb to the top is steep and requires some fitness, but you can opt for the Flying Dutchman Funicular to take you to the top. Spend a few hours here taking in the astounding natural beauty and endless ocean views. You can also visit the Two Oceans restaurant, which offers casual but delicious dining with truly phenomenal views.

As the day draws to a close, head back into town for the evening. Consider checking out one of the 50 restaurants that locals love, to find a restaurant close to where you’re staying. If you’re up for more activity, you could take in a show at one of Cape Town’s theatres.

 

 

Day 4: Road trip

Cape Town has plenty to offer, but it also makes a fantastic base for exploring the surrounding areas of the Western Cape. Day four is about halfway through your trip, and a great time to get to know the outlying areas. You could head off in any direction, depending on your interests and the time of year. If it’s between September and November, consider driving up the West Coast to see the fields of wildflowers in bloom. Between June and October, it’s whale season, and a trip to Hermanus would offer the chance to see these majestic creatures of the deep calving just off shore. The Karoo, to the north, offers vast scrubby landscapes, small quirky towns, and a taste of rural South Africa. You could also take a trip to Aquila Private Game Reserve, where you’ll have a chance to see the famous Big 5 up close on a safari. There are endless options, and each is as appealing as the next.

In the evening, save your energy for tomorrow. Consider a quiet night, get together with your new Cape Town friends for dinner, or enjoy a drink at one of Cape Town’s best sundowner spots.

 

Scenic drive Chapmans Peak Cape Town

 

Day 5: Do your own thing

Day five gives you a chance to slow down and focus on the things you’re really interested in.There are some fantastic museums and art galleries, and Cape Town has a rich history to explore. The beaches are also great on a good day. It’s up to you—this is your day, but we’ll give you a few ideas. You might consider a street art tour of Woodstock, or a cooking course that’ll teach you how to make real Cape Town cuisine. You could visit the city’s museums, or check out the amazing art galleries.  Whatever you choose to do, set aside a few hours to visit the Zeitz MOCAA, where you can explore nine floors worth of art from Africa and its diaspora.

 

Woodstock streetart building

 

Day 6: Live like a local

Day five is all about getting into the Cape Town spirit. You’ve ticked off most of the biggest attractions, and now it’s time to look a little closer. Explore the City Bowl’s many shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and markets. Spend some time in Greenmarket Square, finding some keepsakes to take home. Go for a city breakfast on Long, Bree, or Kloof Street, where you’ll find all sorts of establishments catering for any tastes.

For lunch, head to Gugulethu, one of Cape Town’s townships, for lunch at Mzoli’s Place. It’s a a popular gathering spot for Cape Town locals and a major tourist attraction. Numerous celebrities have visited, including Jamie Oliver, who was apparently very interested in the ingredients of the basting sauce, but they are a closely guarded secret. You’ll pick your meat cuts, find a seat at a communal table, and sip some local beer, while the cooks grill your food to perfection over open fires. On weekends it’s a lively, festive, and authentically South African vibe.

As evening approaches, make your way to Cape Town’s biggest party hub, Long Street. Here, you’ll find pubs, clubs, and live music venues galore. Whatever your taste in music and nightlife, Long Street is where you’ll find it. It’s time to eat, drink, and be merry with the locals.

 

The infamous Mzoli's Meat

Mzoli’s is a must

 

Day 7: Sunday Funday

Even if your last day isn’t a Sunday, it’s the perfect chance to slow down, admire the views, and be outdoors. Sleep in, if you like, and get a late start with one of Cape Town’s favourite brunch spots.

Once you’re well fed and ready for the day, you have some choices. Kirstenbosch Gardens is an amazing place to spend an afternoon. It was the first botanical garden in the world to be established (in 1913) to protect local flora. Its lawns are ideal for picnics and there are several walking trails. You can spend the rest of the afternoon here, exploring or lounging on the lawns. If you’re feeling a little more energetic, try out one of the hikes that Cape Town is famous for. There are loads of options, of varying degrees of difficulty. It’s a good ides to get started early if you’re hiking, before it gets too hot and sunny.

As the sun goes down, head for one of the best sundowner spots in the city to bid farewell to your new favourite place.

 

Source: capetown.travel

 

25 Okt 2017

Robben Island is not any ordinary island in the sea but has a long history of political imprisonment with the great leader Nelson Mandela being one its most famed political prisoners.

1. Easily Accessible From Cape Town

Robben Island is located in the Table Bay, 6.9 km from the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. The roughly oval-shaped island is about 3.3 km long and 1.9 km wide. It covers an area of 5.07 square km. The island is quite flat in nature and erosion has reduced its height close to the sea level. The island is open to tourists and can be easily visited from the tourist hotspot of Cape Town.

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2. Nelson Mandela Served 18 Years Of Jail Term On This Island

The island served as the site of imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, the most prominent figure of the anti-apartheid movement, and the country’s former president and a Nobel laureate. Mandela spent 18 years of his 27-year old jail term on this island. Two other presidents of South America, Kgalema Motlanthe, and Jacob Zuma were also inmates of the jail at Robben Island.

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3. Robben Island Is A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Currently, the island serves as a symbol of the people’s struggle to achieve freedom from racism and thus is a South African National Heritage Site. As of 1999, UNESCO also recognizes the island as a World Heritage Site.

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4. Robben Island Has A Long And Rich History

Robben Island had served as a place to isolate political prisoners since the end of the 17th century. The first to use the island as a prison were the Dutch settlers who imprisoned various political leaders from Dutch colonies on the island. A whaling station was opened on the island by John Murray in 1806.

During the fifth of the Xhosa Wars when the British defeated the natives Xhosas of the region, the African leader Makanda Nxele was sentenced to life on the Robben Island. He died by drowning while trying to escape. The island was also used as a leper colony and a quarantine station for diseased animals. The South African government used the island as a prison for political prisoners and convicted criminals. Both the prisons were later closed down. The former was closed in 1999 and the latter was closed five years later.

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5. Robben Island Is A Living Museum

The island is currently visited by thousands of tourists via a ferry from Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. A large number of the guides working here were former inmates of the prison at the island. The place reminds one of the dark days of the past and the hardships faced by famous world leaders like Nelson Mandela during their time spent on the island.

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6. A Shipwreck Hotspot

Navigating near the Robben Island is not an easy job. The island has a jagged coastline and a rough Atlantic swell prevails in the region around the island. 31 known vessels have been reported to have wrecked around the island.

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7. Good Penguin Viewing

Robben Island supports a significant population of penguins which is a great magnet for tourists. The penguin population of the island is, however, falling due to unidentified causes, although food scarcity has been mentioned as a possibility.

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