08 December 2013

What to see on your Cape Town tour?


Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and almost every African safari holiday itinerary includes at least a few days in this lively place.

The best time to visit Cape Town is in summer (northern hemisphere winter). The cape looks like an enlarged Cote d’Azur with its blue sky, the rough coastline, the blue sea and the beautiful coastal vegetation. A sight you cannot miss in Cape Town is the Table Mountain. It dominates the area and is the one you see on every post card. You can visit the top of Table Mountain by foot or the more comfortable way with the cable car. The vistas are stunning. Only be early in the morning at the cable car station to avoid the huge queues later in the day.

Another landmark is Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years. It is one of the must-see sights and offers also a different vantage point on Cape Town.

Right at the waterfront is the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, the place to be for shopping and restaurants. Many hotels are located at the Waterfront and it is wise to stay in one of them as you can walk everything when you want to go out for dinner or shopping.

You can also use the hop-on hop-off busses to explore the city or use one of the scheduled city tours. Plan at least two full days in Cape Town to get a chance to see something of it and to enjoy its busy life.

And if that is not enough, the Winelands and the Cape Point are just an excursion away.

Happy Cape Town adventure travel!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Where can you find Mandela's spirit in Johannesburg?


All Johannesburg city tours somehow catch places where Mandela lived, worked or where his work and life had influence on. Most likely a new standard in the tours will be a drive by and maybe a short stop at Mandela’s house in Houghton. Houghton is a beautiful green residential suburb with in front of his house right now a sea of flowers. He spent the last years of his life there.

The house is not far away from Rivonia. The suburb gave its name to the Rivonia Trial where Mandela was sentenced for life in 1964. He and others were arrested on a farm in Rivonia where they hid from the apartheid government. Nowadays Rivonia is a residential suburb in Sandton, the business heart of Johannesburg with its well known Sandton City shopping mall.

Other sights like the Apartheid Museum are further on the southern outskirts of Johannesburg. But it actually does not need really sights to see and feel his spirit in the developing and growing city. All that is a result of what he stands for.

It is worth it to stay in Johannesburg at least for a day to explore the city. It is a very green place and offers lots of nice cafes and restaurants and of course also shops. Pretty much all
African safari itineraries for Southern Africa bring the visitor to Johannesburg and one got the chance to get a glimpse of this dynamic place.

Happy safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How can Pretoria be part of your African safari holiday?


Pretoria is not the first that comes to mind when planning an African safari. Johannesburg is the hub to African safari holidays in Southern Africa. But there is a very special way to travel in South Africa and that involves Pretoria.

Blue Train starts (or ends) in Pretoria. It offers a wonderful way of traveling and the journey from Pretoria to Cape Town takes about 27 hours with a bit of stopover sight seeing along the way. It could be an option to have a day or two in Pretoria with sight seeing of the traditional buildings, the purple blooming jacaranda trees in October and November and to make the experience complete stay at the Herbert Baker Hotel, named after the famous architect.

This version of a safari holiday is for the ones that have time. Photography lovers will not only be able to comfortably sit, view and shoot, but the train itself is a wonderful photographic subject as well.

Happy safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Where to find Mandela's footsteps in Pretoria?


Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, is only about an hour drive away from Johannesburg, but not that often part of an African safari holiday itinerary. However it played a main role in Mandela’s life.

The so-called Rivonia Trial where Mandela was sentenced for life took place in the Palace of Justice at Church Square. Only about a 10 minutes drive away from Church Square in the government buildings called Union Buildings, he was the first black president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. And now he is lying in state in the very same Union Buildings before a state funeral will be the closure of 10 days mourning.

Mandela’s footsteps in Pretoria are remarkable, from a life in prison, to president and honored in death. They tell the story of an extraordinary life and that all can turn to the best.

Think about doing a tour when being in South Africa for a safari. It is worth it.

Ute Sonnenberg for

Where did Nelson Mandela live in Soweto?


Today more than 90 world leaders came together to pay their respect to Nelson Mandela in Soweto, the place where he lived when he was a young man.

Soweto is on many itineraries of visitors before they carry on for their African safaris in Kruger Park. It is a large city with about 3 million people, a buzzing life, well known sights at the Hector Pieterson Museum, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (the third largest hospital in the world) and Soccer City (built for the Worldcup in 2010).

But the most visited place in Soweto and especially now is the former Mandela family home, a humble house in Orlando West, also called the Mandela Family Museum. It has a rather interesting collection of memorabilia of his life in the four inter-leading rooms. It is part of every Soweto Tour and although it is small, it gives a glimpse of the world leader and the private person he was.

It is worth seeing Soweto, its history, its diversity and what it achieved in recent years with restaurants, hotels and shops like modern places elsewhere in the world.

Happy traveling Mandela’s path!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How is safety on African safari?


When you travel you want to know that you are safe even on adventurous holidays like African safaris.

The safari lodges and camps have safety rules that are explained to you at arrival. They can include not walking by yourself at night in an unfenced camp, not leaving the walkway, not standing up in the open game vehicle at sightings and how to act in case of an emergency. Follow the rules; they are there for a reason.

The guides/rangers at the lodges and camps are usually well trained and professional, definitely at the higher end game reserves. Bush walks are conducted by armed guides/rangers and will aim to avoid confrontations with dangerous animals by providing at the same time a great experience.

In cases of force majeure like for example a flood after extremely heavy rains or a fire, emergency procedures are in place for the safe evacuation of the guests.

Has a guest an accident or falls ill, medical assistance is available and guests can be flown out to the hospital for appropriate medical care.

In general all is done to secure the guests safety and if something unforeseen happens the staff is well trained and prepared to deal with the situation. The guest can help to be safe by following the rules and being conscious that he/she is in the bush with free roaming wild animals.

Happy safe safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for