Our OUP-UK friends Helen Eaton, Assistant Commissioning Editor, Academic Science and Dewi Jackson, Publishing Editor, Higher Education, recently went on a trip to South Africa. In honor of our 2009 Place of the Year selection they have shared their experience with us and some stunning photos. Be sure to check out other “Place of the Year” contributions here
We recently spent 20 days in South Africa split between Cape Town, the Garden Route, and Kruger National Park.
Cape Town is a beautiful and unique city filled with plenty of things to do and see whatever your taste. It is watched over by Table Mountain – an imposing 1000m rocky mountain that fills every vista. The views of the city and surrounding sea from the top are incredible – you can either hike up it or take the easy cable car option (as we did). Day trips to Cape Point (the site of many shipwrecks) and inland to the famous Cape Winelands are highly recommended. We certainly enjoyed eating and drinking in the ‘Mother City’!
The Garden Route is a verdant strip of coast stretching east from Cape Town. Its towns are small and friendly and its beaches pristine. South Africa is famous for having some of the best whale watching in the world and it didn’t disappoint. The whales swim so close to land that you can easily watch them from the shore, but we took the boat option and got within feet of 18m long Southern Right Whales. Just inland from here we visited Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo, the home of ostrich farming, where we saw, rode, and ate the largest bird in the world.
You can drive yourself around National Parks and Game Reserves in South Africa – in a VW Polo in our case – making for a more personal experience. Be aware, however, that this means if you get into trouble there may be no one around to help you, as we found when trapped between a lone elephant bull walking down the road towards us and a large herd crossing behind. We’ve never wanted a Humvee more.
In the Kruger National Park we were lucky enough to see the Big Five (Africa’s ‘trophy’ animals) – Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino. But there’s much more to the Kruger experience – its smaller creatures and bird life, the views, the unique sounds of the African bush at night, and cooking an enormous steak on your braai make it truly memorable.
South Africa is a worthy winner of ‘Place of the Year’. Nowhere else in the world can you experience beautiful landscapes and incredible wildlife at the same time as eating in exquisite restaurants and relaxing on empty beaches. We had a wonderful holiday there and I’m sure that anyone who visits after reading this will do too!
1. Table Mountain viewed from Cape Town harbour. Photo by Dewi Jackson
2. Growing wine outside Cape Town. Photo by Dewi Jackson
3. Ostriches in the Little Karoo. Photo by Helen Eaton
4. Spectacular scenery on the Garden Route. Photo by Helen Eaton
5. Buffalo in the Kruger Park. Photo by Dewi Jackson
6. Lions in the Kruger Park. Photo by Helen Eaton