When you plan your safari, you invariably find yourself having to spend one or two nights in South Africa on either end of it. Instead of spending those nights wishing time would go faster in a vacuum-packed-style airport hotel (spotlessly clean but largely characterless), why not add to the time you spend in South Africa’s urban jungle and actually explore a bit? You won’t be disappointed!
South Africa’s top cities are hip, trendy and largely cost-effective to boot. And can actually provide the perfect partnership for a bush adventure, whether you take advantage of them on the way in, so to speak, or on the way out!
Topping the list of South Africa’s top cities is the Mother City itself – Cape Town has become a legend in its own lifetime, thanks to an exquisite position at the southern tip of the continent, an iconic mountain and fantastic night-life, restaurants, shopping and social scenes.
An hour and 50 minutes by air from Johannesburg, or a leisurely 15-hour drive, this is the city which has attracted celebrities the world over to come and invest in the good life, buying their own “des res” overlooking some of the best views in the world.
Clifton, Camps Bay, and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront have become the ultimate in chic addresses and are some of the places to see and be seen in.
Cape Town has also become the gay capital of Africa, and pink tourism is booming as a result, with more and more gay couples choosing to holiday in the Mother City and sample her wares every year.
And with the Cape Winelands on its doorstep, Cape Town constantly attracts the world’s food and wine lovers in droves.
Gauteng’s City of Gold – Johannesburg – on the other hand, doesn’t have vineyards, or an imposing mountain. But what it does have is sassy style in abundance, and a growing assortment of outstanding, world-class tourism accoutrements.
Josies is definitely the shopping capital of South Africa, with its glitzy malls and arcades a definite must for any self-respecting urbanite.
Sandton City and Sandton Square are synonymous with cutting edge urban chic, whether you are buying it, or wearing it while sipping an iced mocca-java at one of the trendy restaurants and cafes.
Alongside the world’s established brands are a selection of chic local boutiques selling local designer garb from the likes of Marianne Fassler, David Tlale, Thula Sindi and Maya Prass.
The Joburg arts scene is also booming, with the newly revamped Newtown area fast becoming an art and culture Mecca. And an entertainment Mecca too, with hot nightspots, especially for music fans. Josies’s music scene is hot and happening, and it has some great museums, art galleries and theatres, which are the icing on the cake.
Durban, on the other hand, doesn’t need icing – it’s got spice!
The influence of the Indian culture on Durbs is found in its fabulous curries, in its bazaars and in its mosques and temples. The influence of the Indian Ocean is found in the city’s laid-back, surfer-boy vibe and it’s what makes Durban the great city destination it is.
Endless beaches, a marvelous climate all-year-round and a warm ocean all add up to some of the best night-life to be hand in South Africa. Some of Durban’s top restaurants are to be found on Florida Avenue in Morningside. Here you can find Italian legend Spiga D’Oro, as well as Cuban, fusion, Asian and seafood speciality eateries.
Durban has a special atmosphere all of its own, and is growing steadily in popularity with overseas visitors and South Africans alike. New waterfront developments such as Wilson’s Wharf and The Point only add its appeal – so, watch out, Cape Town!