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South Africa

Overview

Located on the southern-most tip of the continent and surrounded on three sides by the ocean, South Africa is a riveting melting pot of diverse cultures, languages, and religions.  With huge landmass equivalent to five times the size of UK, its savannah, plateau, desert, and coastline encompass the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa and endless options for the culturally-inquisitive.  One such site, the Cradle of Humankind, is where human history can be sensed within limestone caves with rich archeological finds, including the world's oldest hominid fossils.

Catch a ferry from Cape Town to Robben Island, well-known for the 18 years Nelson Mandela spent imprisoned here.  His sparse cell is open for viewing, but perhaps the most poignant experience might be the compelling narratives shared by former political prisoners leading the tours of the facilities.  Drop by the numerous family-run vineyards and try your hand at grape picking and stomping, or join the cellar tour to appreciate the process of producing world-class wine.  Tastings are de rigueur, and you might be lucky to come across a uniquely South African variety, pinotage, a cross between pinot noir and cinsaut.

Soak in the bustle of vendors, tantalizing scent of roasting corn, and energy of Kwaito musicians as you walk, bike, or tuk-tuk in Soweto, the biggest, oldest township that was the scene of numerous civil unrest during the Apartheid regime but more recently the host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.  Hungry yet?  Culinary offerings reflect the multicultural tapestry of this vibrant country with braai, peri-peri chicken, and bunny chow (loaf of bread filled with curry, a Durban specialty!) among many that will tempt your palate.

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