How to use our Dreamliner city as a spring board to the rest of South Africa
Fly one of Kenya Airways’ new Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Johannesburg and you not only arrive in style at the commercial hub of South Africa but – thanks to our new codeshare with Kulula – you can hop on another flight to Cape Town, Durban, George, Port Elizabeth or East London. Need an excuse to head south? Read on for our top 15 things to see and do…
Fly KQ to Johannesburg
Formerly home to such revered figures as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu, Soweto is the most famous of the ‘black townships’ created by the apartheid regime. Today it is usually explored on an organised tour, taking in Walter Sisulu Square, where 3000 representatives of various resistance organisations drew up the Freedom Charter in 1955, and the Hector Pieterson Museum, named for the 13-year-old boy who was mown down in the first wave of police fire during the anti-apartheid Soweto uprisings of 1976.
2 Newtown Precinct
Set in an inner city suburb, Newtown Precinct emerged as a centre of artistic creativity and anti-apartheid activism in the 1970s, when its old vegetable market was converted into the non-racial Market Theatre (which still specialises in contemporary South African drama today). Other key Newtown landmarks include Museum Africa and a superb live music venue called The Bassline.
3 Gold Reef City
The last relic of Johannesburg’s goldrush era, this theme park is situated above a shaft that yielded 1.4 million kilograms of gold prior to its closure in 1971. Guided tours involve a 220m descent in a metal lift, watching molten gold being poured into ingot moulds, and performances of the Isicathulo ‘gumboot dance’ associated with migrant mine workers. For children, there is a selection of around two-dozen ‘thrill rides’.
4 Cradle of Humankind
This paleontological treasure trove has yielded fossils representing a uniquely comprehensive record of the last three million years of human evolution. The focal point is the innovative Maropeng Visitors Centre, where tours start with an exciting boat ride through a subterranean waterway that mimics the volatile conditions that shaped earth. Nearby, Sterkfontein Cave is where the 2.5-million-year-old fossil that confirmed Darwin’s theory that humans evolved in Africa was found in 1947.
Top 3 Museums in Johannesburg
• Apartheid Museum – This Jo’burg museum has an exhaustive collection of photographs, newsreels and displays documenting the apartheid era.
• Origins Centre – Opened in Jo’burg in 2006, this state-of-the-art museum is a superb primer for the Cradle of Humankind.
• Mandela House – Home of Nelson Mandela in Soweto prior to his imprisonment in 1962.
Fly Kulula to Durban
5 Durban Highlights
The Golden Mile, a wide golden beach sweeping 5km alongside Durban, has long been its most alluring attraction. One of its newer highlights is the 108m adrenalin-inducing bungee swing from the arch atop Moses Mabhida Stadium. If you’d like the view without the fall, the football stadium’s funicular Sky Car is for you. The nearby Kings Park Stadium offers up excitement without elevation – take in a Sharks match in SupeRugby, the most prestigious rugby league in the southern hemisphere. uShaka Marine World – one of the world’s largest aquariums – is full of shark fans too, though of a rather different variety.
6 Sardine Run
The coastal waters of KwaZulu-Natal come truly alive between May and July, when seething shoals of sardines, up to 7km long, 1.5km wide and 30m deep, take part in one of Earth’s greatest mass migrations. Schools of common dolphins, up to 1000 individuals strong, join the fray to feed on the billions of fish, pushing them towards the surface and into the range of the diving gannets. Sharks and whales are often seen feeding too. The ‘moveable feast’ follows the KZN coast northwards and eventually into Mozambican waters.
Stretching some 200km along the border with Lesotho, this mountain range is easily the most striking in all of southern Africa. Besides its obvious allure to hikers in search of day trips (aim for the staggeringly beautiful Cathedral Peak) or multi-day adventures, the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with over 500 ancient rock art sites. Visit the Kamberg Nature Reserve for a hike to the ‘Rosetta Stone’, a painting in Game Pass Shelter that led scholars to understand the shamanistic symbolism of this ancient art.
8 Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
Dense populations of rhino, elephant and buffalo are happily homed in this 960 sq km reserve’s rolling hills, which all but ensures visitors an encounter with each. And with healthy numbers of lion and leopard present, rounding out the Big Five in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is a distinct possibility. But safaris should be about more than just spotting these iconic beasts, and this reserve has plenty of other species to captivate: nyala, giraffe, zebra, cheetah, bushpig, hyena, eland, tortoises and dozens of other animals.
Top 3 places to eat in Durban
• The Cargo Hold – Set in the bowels of the beached Phantom Ship, its massive glass wall allows you to enjoy your succulent seafood along with the sharks.
• Oyster Box – Although the name suggests otherwise, this 5-star hotel’s eatery is famous for its curry buffet (the oysters are pretty delectable too).
• Famous Fish Co – An institution with a great view and seafood dishes to match.
Fly Kulula to Cape Town
9 Table Mountain
Dominating the Cape Town skyline, Table Mountain is one giant crystal raining its energy down onto the city. At least that’s one esoteric theory; another is that it creates the perfect Feng Shui setting, balanced by water in the front and hemmed into a bowl by mountains behind. What’s certain is that Table Mountain provides the opportunity to be in a business meeting one minute and on the mountain the next, hiking, climbing, taking a four-minute ride up the cable car and abseiling or paragliding off. It’s the biggest ‘must-do’ in Cape Town.
10 Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch is a magnificent floral stage flanked by Table Mountain, and shows off southern Africa’s diverse plants in their utmost glory. Look into the heavy boughs along Camphor Tree Avenue and you might see large spotted eagle owls. Marvel at the cycad amphitheatre, knowing these species were around at the time of dinosaurs. Don’t miss the Sunday summer concerts starring renowned local and international artists (bring a blanket, picnic and friends).
Southern right whales are seen very close to shore when they come to mate and calve between July and November. Hermanus has some of the best land-based whale watching in the world. Further along the coast, De Hoop Nature Reserve is another renowned whale nursery.
Wine, food and terrain fit so well together that the Cape Winelands have six out of South Africa’s top 10 restaurants. Time should be given to the important pursuit of appreciating all things gourmet, while soaking in the glorious mountain scenery and the colonial history that created this indulgent pleasure.
Top 3 places to eat in Cape Town
• The Test Kitchen – Tapas and contemporary fusion food in Cape Town by chef Luke Dale-Roberts tops the list.
• The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais – With chef Margo Janse at the helm, this Franschhoek treat is consistently in South Africa’s top five.
• Jordan Restaurant – See chefs at work in the open kitchen of this superb Stellenbosch wine estate bistro.
Fly Kulula to Port Elizabeth
13 Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma protects 80km of wild, rugged coastline. Superb walks (lasting from a few hours to several days) explore waterfalls, deep ravines, rivers and forests of ancient trees. Endangered species such as the Cape clawless otter and the black oystercatcher are elusive, but baboons and small antelopes abound and whales and dolphins can be seen off the coast. A canopy tour through the indigenous forest is an eco-wilderness adventure.
14 Addo Elephant National park
Started in 1931 with just 16 elephants, Addo is now blessed with some 550. The park’s size has also blossomed over the years to almost half a million acres, now stretching from the dry Karoo in the north to a south coast marine reserve where the largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and African penguins can be found. Seeing elephants is almost guaranteed, with chances of spotting other animals too, such as lion, buffalo, black rhino, leopard and zebra. Addo is also home to the rare flightless dung beetle. With such a diversity of flora, fauna and landscapes, Addo is the Eastern Cape’s foremost destination.
15 Mountain Zebra National park
Here’s an opportunity to see one of the world’s rarest creatures, the mountain zebra. This national park, just 20km west of Cradock, has 350 of them along with black rhino, cheetah, plenty of different types of antelope and about 200 species of birds. The rolling grasslands of the park lie on the northern slopes of the Bankberg Range. Walking trails, ranging from just a few kilometres to a three-day hike where nights are spent in mountain huts, are on offer.
Top 3 beaches in Port Elizabeth
• Port Elizabeth – The Sunshine Coast has wide, sandy beaches and good surfing.
• Jeffrey’s Bay – One of the world’s top surfing destinations with superb beaches, too.
• Port Alfred – Huge sand dunes back these beaches at the mouth of the Kowie River.