Right from its southern tip to enchanting Swaziland and Zambia, this picturesque continent is a traveller’s paradise, writes Sakshi Manchanda

Cape Town is surrounded by the picture-postcard scenery of the Table Mountain, wine lands,
Cape Town is surrounded by the picture-postcard scenery of the Table Mountain, wine lands, 
historic working harbour and the yacht bay

The sun-burnt land of Namaqualand springs to life from August to October as millions of wild flowers blossom in autumn
The sun-burnt land of Namaqualand springs to life
from August to October as millions of wild flowers blossom in autumn

THE southern tip of Africa is one of the most exotic travel destinations having an abundance of natural marvels like the Victoria Falls, Ezulwini Valley, Table Mountains and many beautiful beaches and waterfronts. Its picturesque surroundings and preserved natural landscape provide an ideal place to relax and feel close to the natural elements.

The southern part of Africa has some wonderful countries that are a must visit on any travel connoisseur’s itinerary. Right at its tip is South Africa, an exciting amalgamation of natural beauty and modern marvels. Then there is the enchanting Swaziland and Zambia — the home of the Victoria Falls.

South Africa, the most developed country of the African continent, is a treasure chest of unforgettable scenery. From its lofty mountains to sun-baked deserts, lovely coastlines, washed by the Atlantic and Indian oceans, this beautiful country provides an unforgettable experience to any visitor.

With Table Mountain, looming large in the backdrop and surrounded by the Atlantic, Cape Town can be dubbed as one of the world’s most picturesque cities. It offers some of the best South African wine in the vineyards of Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch famous for their fertile valleys, imposing crags and graceful Cape Dutch manor-houses.

Cape Town’s fabulous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is also the address of the majestic Table Bay Hotel. Originally a trade port, the Table Bay Hotel is a perfect restoration of the dramatic ambience of its nautical past.

Surrounded by the picture-postcard scenery of the Table Mountain, the wine lands, the historic working harbour and the yacht bay, Cape Town also offers varied options for the more adventurous travelers, including mountaineering, shark diving and other water sports.

Upward north of Cape Town is the spectacular Namaqualand. This sun-burnt land springs to life from August to October as millions of wildflowers blossom. Inland it offers the moving battlefield sites of the famous Anglo-Boer war. Here too rise the Drakensberg Mountains where vultures fly over deep green valleys and jagged peaks.

Johannesburg, by far the most vibrant of the country’s cities with a rich cultural heritage, has many excellent museums . Some of the must-visit places are the Market Theatre, Museum Africa, and the Museum of South African Rock Art. To the east is the Kruger National Park where the thorny bush harbours the ‘big five’ animals — the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino — as well as many other fascinating animals and birds.

In the northwestern province, some two hours from Johannesburg, is the Sun City Resort near the Pilanesberg National Park, where elephants, rhinos, lions and antelope roam freely.

Switzerland of Africa

The tiny mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland, sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique, has been dubbed the ‘Switzerland of Africa’. Culture and tradition flourish here alongside some modern luxury hotels and excellent wildlife reserves. Among the country’s main attractions are Mlilwane, a well-established game sanctuary; the magnificent Mantenga Falls; the casino resort of Piggs Peak; and the annual ceremony of the reed dances at the Royal Kraal in Lebombo on the country’s eastern border. It’s also one of the best places in southern Africa to spot the elusive and near-extinct black rhino in the wild.

The capital, Mbabane, lies at the northern end of the lush Ezulwini Valley: a small, unpretentious town that caters well for tourists. Swaziland is also known for its exquisite arts and crafts and its breathtaking scenery, especially in the western highlands, which rise to more than 6,000 feet, with abundant rivers, waterfalls and forested gorges.

Adventure hub

The big, beautiful country of Zambia is situated in the heart of the African sub-continent. Vast lakes, rich wetlands and breathtaking African sunsets contribute to Zambia’s scenic splendor. A land blessed with 17 waterfalls, including the spectacular Victoria Falls, the country attracts nature lovers and thrill seekers alike and has earned the reputation of being the ‘adventure centre’ of the continent.

Accommodation for tourists is plentiful though one of the most luxurious is Royal Livingstone. It is a colonial style hotel with guestrooms overlooking the Victoria Falls.Another must visit is the Zambezi Sun, a resort steeped in ethnic African cultural influences, located in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Wildlife Park. For the adventurous there is bungee jumping as well as whitewater rafting. Micro light or helicopter flights over the Victoria Falls are also available. The resort also offers a host of game viewing activities, including game drives and elephant back safaris in national parks.

Chief among the parks is South Luangwa National Park, centred on the most intact major river system in Africa, which hosts a huge concentration of game. The legendary ‘Zambian walking safari’ originated in this park and still offers one of the finest ways to experience the African wilderness.

Indeed, these three countries in southern Africa are a beautiful mosaic of varied landscapes and cultures and any visitor, who has experienced their delights, is bound to agree. —NF