ASK ANY SOUTH African expatriate who still gets goosebumps when hearing Johnny Clegg’s Scatterlings or who swells with pride when Ladysmith Black Mambazo bags yet another Grammy, and they’ll conﬁrm this inescapable truth. This country seeps into your blood and stays with you: its magnetic pull transcends borders and geographies. South Africans often tell me it’s only when you’ve left South Africa – be it for a week or several years – that you can truly appreciate what an incredible country it is. Touching down in Jo’burg or Cape Town to the sound of familiar accents and broad smiles is enough to make you walk out into the sunshine, take a deep breath of African air and think: It’s good to be home. To all the South African expats out there: we at South African Tourism invite you to come home and bring others with to be inspired – even if it’s just for a holiday. Your soul will thank you. If you need more convincing, here are a few nuggets of trivia that may sway you into booking that air ticket:
Sisa Ntshona is the chief executive offi cer of South African Tourism.
• South African landscapes are far more than just the three Bs – beach, bush and berg. From the starkly bewitching semi-desertscapes of the Karoo to a little-known natural rainforest with its exquisite orchid-dotted canopy near Nelspruit, from the tapestries of Namaqualand daisies of the Northern Cape to the famous Cape fynbos, our country’s natural diversity is staggering.
• The Big Five is so last century – we now offer the Big Seven. In addition to the majestic lion, rhino, elephant, leopard and buffalo which you can see in our many game parks, a wildlife-spotting safari isn’t complete without seeing the southern right whale and the great white shark.
• Did you know that the Kruger National Park, one of the world’s largest wildlife sanctuaries at 20 000km², is the same size as Israel and Wales? Come and enjoy wide-open spaces and unrivalled sunsets, sundowner in hand and chops on the braai, while you’re serenaded by an a cappella choir of chirping crickets.
• Our national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, was named the Best National Anthem in the World by The Economist last year. The publication said it has a “rousing tune to quicken the pulse, some pathos to moisten the eyes and that inexplicable something”.
• This year, 2018, marks what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. To celebrate our beloved Madiba’s life, we have a series of amazing events lined up. Take a walk in our home-grown global icon’s footsteps, from Vilakazi Street in Soweto and Constitution Hill to the Howick capture site and Robben Island.
• South African culture is second to none, and our local artists continue to blaze trails all over the world – from comedian Trevor Noah and Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu to Tony Award-winner John Kani, who is appearing alongside Beyoncé in Disney’s new Lion King remake. The wellspring of inspiration for our world-class music, dance, theatre, fashion and art is right here.
• Connect with your roots, in more ways than one, at Maropeng in Gauteng’s Cradle of Humankind heritage site. Venture into the Sterkfontein Caves, see fossils and tools dating back millions of years, and marvel at how our human ancestors took their ﬁ rst steps right here on this very soil. This is where it all began!
South Africa truly offers something for all tastes. We have a treasure trove of tourism gems for young and old, for adventure-seekers and leisure lovers, for culture vultures and shoppers. Make it your late New Year’s resolution to embark on a voyage of discovery – and self-discovery –to sensational South Africa this year. We’re waiting to welcome you home with open arms and a stiff shot of mampoeror unqombothi – or rooibos tea, if you’d prefer… Go to www.southafrica.net to get inspired