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A world within one country

Last update - Thursday, July 30, 2009, 12:52 By Charlie Johnson

With three capitals, 11 official languages, and an innumerable number of different cultures, a visit to South Africa for the average traveller is more like a trip around the world.

“There’s just about anything you could possibly want to do,” says Marjorie Dean of the South African Tourism Services Association. “It really is a world within one country.”
Since the end of apartheid and the dawn of democracy in 1994, South Africa has become a tourism hot spot, with over nine million visitors in 2007 alone. Many tourists flock to Cape Town, a popular destination for thrill-seekers.
Cage diving with sharks and crocodiles is available along the Cape Coast, and for true adrenaline junkies, the Cape Town-based Thunder City is the only civilian provider of supersonic flight, with tours capable of taking visitors high enough to see the curvature of the earth from the stratosphere.
For those looking for a little less excitement, South Africa’s famous game reserves and safaris are a must. Kruger National Park is the most famous of Africa’s game reserves, and at nearly the size of Israel, there is more to do and see there than there is time in the day. 
Table Mountain National Park and the Drakensberg range also provide visitors a chance to take in South Africa’s natural wonders. “It’s a land of big skies and real beauty,” says Dean.  “In the Drakensberg, especially, you could walk all day and never see another soul. It’s really amazing.”
For those interested in the history of South Africa’s long and frequently brutal struggle for equality – one that continues to this day – the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is both sobering and enlightening, while a visit to Robben Island cannot be missed.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the jail on Robben Island housed many political prisoners, including most famously Nelson Mandela, who is also commemorated by the three-location Nelson Mandela National Museum.
Of course, any trip to South Africa would be wasted without enjoying the wealth of different cultures and cuisines available.
“You can eat just about anything while you are here,” enthuses Marjorie Dean. “We have Indian food, Chinese food, African food. There are so many different cultures to explore.
“I’ll put it this way,” she adds. “I have lived here for decades, and I still haven’t seen it all.”

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