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August 24, 2015
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Sub-Saharan Africa: Limpopo in the Spotlight as September Commences


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By Kim Muller

As South Africa leaps into September – designated by the UNTWO as Tourism Month the world over – much is in the works to ensure that the next 30 days are memorable both for domestic tourists and for internationals. Limpopo is the province South Africa has chosen to highlight this year. Known for its diverse bushveld, majestic mountains, indigenous forests and unspoilt wilderness, the region is ideal for safari adventures. But perhaps less known are its warm, welcoming people, and its importance as a place of cultural heritage.

The country will celebrate World Tourism Day on 27 September, and just days before that, on 24 September, we will celebrate National Heritage Day, where many of the nation’s attractions will be open to the public free of charge. Speaking at Euphoria Golf Estate in Limpopo in August, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom stressed the significance of cultural and heritage tourism, saying it “brings people together and promotes mutual understanding and a real sense of a common humanity, despite what are mostly quite artificial differences.”

He went on to quote prolific author and poet Maya Angelou, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

The country will be focusing its efforts on promoting domestic tourism, Hanekom went on to say. “It’s a time for us to encourage all South Africans to get on the road and explore this unique, beautiful land of ours…We are also launching our new Domestic Tourism marketing campaign, A Million New Experiences Are A Sho’t Left Away. This is our way of saying there is always a first time for everyone to discover and enjoy a new tourist experience, whether you are new to travelling or are a seasoned traveller.”

In 2014, tourism accounted for nearly 10% of all employed people in SA, and domestic trips increased by 11% to reach 28 million. The revenue generated by domestic tourism alone in 2014 was R26.8-billion. South Africa hopes to reach a target of 18 million domestic tourists by 2020.

Limpopo

With exceptional big game, birsding and untamed bush landscapes, Limpopo showcases the best of the ancient African kingdom at its best. It is the northern gateway to the Kruger National Park and is home to the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site and National Park where ancient civilizations can be discovered. Here, you can also discover how Amarula Cream liqueur is made and enjoy some extreme golf.

Gauteng

The urban powerhouse of South Africa, Gauteng is home to the business capital of Johannesburg and the judicial capital of Tshwane. Fast-paced and exciting, Gauteng is home to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, the Apartheid Museum, the National Zoological Gardens, and a host of art galleries, gourmet restaurants, Gold Reef City, and some fascinating cultural hotspots – from hipster-loving Maboneng Precinct to vibrant and colourful Soweto.

Western Cape

One of SA’s most popular tourism provinces, the Western Cape combines natural beauty and vibrant cultural experiences with vigour. Table Mountain’s splendour is a drawcard for many, as is Robben Island, but further afield one can enjoy world-class food and drink in the Winelands, watch whales in Hermanus, explore Cape Point Nature Reserve, or dig into a myriad museums and galleries – not to mention its fascinating cultural events such as First Thursdays, the Old Biscuit Mill and others.

Eastern Cape

This beautiful, untamed province is home to expanses of untouched beach, bush and forest. It is Nelson Madela’s home province and boasts exhilarating attractions, like Addo Elephant National park, the dramatic Wild Coast, and the sleepy seaside city of Port Elizabeth. From a visit to the Icamagu Institute to fossil hunting in the Karoo, the region has a wealth of natural and historical charms to explore.

Northern Cape

Known as ‘big sky country’ the Northern Cape is both the largest and the least populated province in SA. This semi-desert becomes a flurry of colours in springtime’s Namaqualand, and the mighty Augrabies Falls are a must-see. The Northern Cape also skirts Botswana, sharing the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with its neighbour, which is ideal for malaria-free safaris. Sutherland – in the starry Karoo – is home to the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) which now gives tours to those who love peering at the universe above. The capital of Kimberly is also known for its skating community, with annual skateboarding events drawing locals and internationals.

North West

The North West province, located along the northern border of SA, is the land of fun – quite literally. Not only is it a premier wildlife destination with Pilanesberg and Madikwe Game Reserves within its borders, but parts of two UNESCO World Heritage sites – the Vredefort Dome and the Taung Fossil Site – are also nearby. Perhaps its greatest attractions, however, are Sun City, a resort with enough activities to keep the whole family busy for weeks, and Haartbeesport Dam, renowned for its many water sports.

Free State

The heart of South Africa, the Free State is an agricultural province with scenic beauty, rural tranquillity. Abounding in natural attractions and charming ‘dorpies’ (little historical towns), the Free State is best known for the fascinating towns of Clarens and Parys, a delightful myriad of delicious food and wine, adventure sports and horse riding, and fascinating birding and asparagus tours.

KwaZulu-Natal

By far South Africa’s most popular destination for domestic tourism, Kwa-Zulu-Natal is where the fun happens. Home to the port city of Durban, KZN is a land of stunning natural beauty – from the Isimangaliso Wetland Park to Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg and miles and miles of pristine, blue flag beaches. Also known as The Zulu Kingdom, it is a place of South African cultural significance and many cultural villages, museums and attractions pay homage to this fact.

Mpumalanga

SA’s third smallest province, Mpumalanga means ‘the land of the rising sun’ in siSwati and Zulu. The southern gateway to the Kruger National Park, it is a place of big game, adventure and rich history. Pilgrim’s Rest is one of its enthralling small towns, while the Lisbon Falls and God’s Window just beg you to pack your bags and enjoy the captivating view. 


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