South Africa is an elegant and exclusive country located at the southernmost tip of Africa. Ker & Downey services the country via our Splendors of the Cape tour.
The Republic of South Africa is a country located on the southernmost tip of the African continent. Known most recently for the clashes caused by the country’s rigid segregationist system, South Africa has rebounded to become one of the continent’s most developed countries.
In 1487, the colonial explorer Bartolomeu Dias reached the southern tip of Africa, becoming the first European to do so. In 1652, a Dutch explorer established a refreshment station there for ships traveling past the Cape of Good Hope on their way to Africa. In 1795, the British took over Cape Town to use as an interim port for the long voyages merchants took on their way to India. In 1806 they annexed the colony and began to push its borders further east. Over the next 100 years, the British controlled the colony, instilling a rigid caste system separating the colonists from the Dutch whites and the Africans.
When South Africa achieved its independence, the system of segregation, known to the world as apartheid, became far more rigid as the Europeans who chose to stay in Africa flaunted their new-found preeminence. From this period, South Africa’s most recognized citizen, Nelson Mandela rose to prominence. Mandela was a leader of the African National Congress and has received more than 100 awards in his lifetime, including the Nobel Peace Prize. His struggle to free South Africa’s black population brought worldwide attention to the country and the struggle of the native Africans.
Today, Robben Island- where Mandela was held- attracts visitors from around the world. Just off the western coast of the country, Robben Island was used as a prison colony by Europeans for nearly 500 years. Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on the island, today his prison cell is visited by nearly 1800 people per day.
Of great note, there is a UNESCO World Heritage site called the Cradle of Humankind just northwest of Johannesburg named such for the large number of human fossils found there. South African travel site, SouthAfrica.net describes the Cradle of Humankind saying:
In the province of Gauteng straddling neighbouring North West Province, lies one of the world’s richest depositories of hominid fossils, a treasure trove of clues about our early ancestors. Trapped in a case of dolomite hundreds of years old, these fossils have yielded so much data that the area has been dubbed the Cradle of Humankind, and UNESCO has proclaimed it a World Heritage Site.
A fascinating cast of characters has emerged from the Cradle, all pre-dating modern man. There’s the grand old dame, Mrs Ples, the skull of a 2 million-year-old Australopithecus africanus, and the 3 million-year-old Little Foot, a near-complete skeleton still under excavation. In 2005 this site was extended to include the Taung Skull Fossil Site in North West province, thereby bringing the Taung Child, another skull thought to have belonged to a three-year-old, into the family.
In suggesting a common ancestry for humanity in this cradle of mankind, South Africa links all nations and suggests an African heritage can be claimed by all.
If you plan on traveling in southern Africa, South Africa is a great place to start. Because it is one of the most stable countries in Africa, those on a travel adventure often find themselves landing in South Africa before voyaging to the rest of the continent. Because of its status as a central destination on the continent, South Africa operates several tourism offices in European, Asian, and North American countries.
If you wish to see South Africa in all it’s historic majesty consider contacting our travel experts to customize your own luxury vacation.