by Rizel Delano

Tourism Routes

Getting the most out of your SA visit

Tourism Routes
Tourism Routes
Much of what makes any particular place interesting is the culture and history in which it is entrenched. South Africa has a rich and tumultuous history, much of which revolves around a heavy political discourse. Taking a tourism route is a truly exciting way to experience one of the country’s many regions. With knowledgeable and passionate people sharing their expertise and insights into the history of these areas as well as the lives of the communities that inhabit them, it will undoubtedly be the experience of a lifetime.

The Freedom Route
KwaZulu-Natal’s Freedom Route takes visitors on a journey into the history of South Africa’s struggle heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dr John Dube, Alan Paton, Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela. The route winds between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, visiting various ‘freedom nodes’, which include: Mahatma Gandhi's Phoenix Settlement home and printing press, which is now a museum; the Ohlange Institute, founded by Dr John Dube (the first president of the ANC), where Nelson Mandela cast his historic vote in South Africa’s first democratic elections; the KwaDukuza Museum in Stanger, which has a monument to the mighty Zulu king Shaka, and has displays on Zulu culture and early settler history; and the Nelson Mandela Capture Site near Howick, where on 5 August 1962, Nelson Mandela was caught after being on the run for 17 months.

The Diamond Route
From mopani woodland to riverine forest, bush, savannah, grassland and the dunes of the Kalahari, all these diverse habitats, as well as the 500 species of birds and 50 species of animals that call them home, can be enjoyed along the Diamond Route. The route extends right across northern South Africa, linking eight sites in the Northern Cape, North West, Gauteng and Limpopo, each significant to the country in terms of conservation and biodiversity (particularly as they have been rehabilitated after diamond mining activities).

The Panorama Route
From turn-of-the-century gold rush towns to breathtaking vistas and plunging waterfalls, the Panorama Route offers rich history and natural splendour. The small town of Graskop is the gateway to the Panorama Route and a short drive from the town is the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world. The road threads its way 800 metres above the canyon floor, and although spoiled for choice when it comes to viewing points, God’s Window puts all the others to shame. A thirty-minute drive from Graskop is the goldrush town of Pilgrim’s Rest, a national monument, which bloomed to life in 1873 when the area was declared a goldfield and people rushed to stake their claims, looking for alluvial gold. The town’s original architecture has remained largely unchanged, with many buildings set up as exhibits of how people lived back then.

Cape Route 62
Also known as the Mountain Route, Cape Route 62 winds through valleys, past towering cliffs, Karoo scrubland, over mountain passes, past vineyards and orchards, and alongside crystal clear streams linking small towns, wine farms and other attractions all the way from Cape Town in the Western Cape to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The route follows the longest wine route in the country with hundreds of family-owned vineyards clustered around small towns or nestled against mountain slopes open for wine tasting and buying. There are also game reserves, cultural tours, museums, hiking trails, 4x4 routes, fishing, hot springs and antique shopping, not to mention the many attractions unique to quaint towns such as Calitzdorp, Montagu, McGregor, Kareedouw and Oudtshoorn.

Mapungubwe Route
In the far north of South Africa in Limpopo Province, The Mapungubwe Route takes visitors through the ancient Kingdom of Mapungubwe, which existed in the 13th century. Gold artefacts and other treasures from the kingdom have been discovered here - evidence of a sophisticated civilisation that was the forerunner of the Great Zimbabwe one, and small wonder the Mapungubwe Landscape was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003. The route also leads to South Africa's new Mapungubwe National Park, which incorporates the World Heritage Site.

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