Author: Team Now

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was instantly mesmerized by the beauty and the unique spirit of this wonderful country. It was my deepest pleasure and honour to travel for 14 days through South Africa with Integrity Tours. We visited Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

In Soweto, our group went to Vilakazi street, the only street in the world, where two Nobel Peace prize winners once lived, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Mandela's House

We had an outstanding guide who was born and raised in Soweto, he was extremely knowledgeable and insightful in his commentary. We visited many museums including the Apartheid Museum, Constitutional Hill, Freedom Park and Robben Island – each one of these places gave us more insights into the struggle against the apartheid regime. Some days we laughed, some days we cried, other days there was just silent reflection.

We realized in a very profound way that South Africa has emerged with such resilience and strength from its turbulent past.

Lioness in GrassEach day the experience became sweeter with more discoveries of the hidden treasures of South Africa. On our safari drive we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras and impalas – the cats were illusive but we managed to see them at the Lion Park. The natural beauty of Cape Town was unbelievable from Table Mountain to Cape Point. We were struck by the hospitality of the people, the extraordinary food and wine and the first rate infrastructure (roads, banks, hotels). Our accommodations were fantastic and each morning we were treated to a delicious and large buffet breakfast.

Off the beaten track, we visited a township where we were treated to a delicious “braii” (BBQ) of lamb chops, sausages and chicken served with the African staple of “pup” (cornmeal) and “chakalaka” (sauce). We danced to “kwaito” music under the afternoon sun. Our visit would not have been complete without a stop at a church in Cape Town where we were again welcomed by the Pastor and congregation.

I will never forget what I learned in South Africa. It is the African concept of “Ubuntu”, humanity towards others – “I am what I am because of who we all are”.

South Africa has inspired me to be a better person. I’m truly grateful for the experience.

Thanks to Ramie from Integrity Tours for taking care of us and offering insights that could only come from a proud South African!

By Belinda B.

Lekker is South African slang and means tasty or pleasurable or very excellent. Originally referred to food, but used widely to describe any excellent or pleasurable thing.

Any good traveller knows that eating at local establishments is a must! I always look for places where locals eat and the prices are just right. There’s only so much wining and dining one can do, so a little meandering can go along way.

Akhalwaya’s Fast Foods

Akhalwaya’s Chip RollA great spot to visit in Johannesburg is Akhalwaya’s Fast Foods in Fordsburg for awesome burgers, pizzas and fish and chips. My all-time favourite is the Chip Roll, a simple roll filled with fresh chips (French fries) sprinkled with masala and ketchup. Sounds like carbs on carbs, but trust me it tastes amazing and hits the spot every time. They also have AK47 sandwiches which is filled with different types of meats and cheese. Although they are a fast food joint, all their foods are made fresh to order and have a just the right hint of spice.

Mzoli’s Meat

Just a little outside of Cape Town, there is a township called Guguletu (affectionately known as Gugs) where you’ll find the famous Mzoli’s. Make your way there on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to get a true township braii (bbq) experience. The place has a great vibe: dejays are blasting South African house-music, street vendors are selling their wares, there’s lots of young African fashionistas and tourists mixing and mingling. Get there early because the line-ups get longer as the afternoon progresses. You simply choose you lamb, boerwors, chicken or beef from the meat counter – make sure you ask for the special sauce! Your meat will be put in an enamel bowl and you’ll be given a number, at which time you can head out to the make-shift dining room. You can buy wine or beer at the local shops while you wait for your cooked meat. Suddenly your bowl will appear with scrumptious-looking, tasty meat. You can get a side dish of pap, a local staple…just dig in – it’s fine to use your hands! No cutlery provided.

Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists, provided they take basic common-sense precautions e.g. not walking alone in deserted areas at night, not flashing photographic equipment or jewellery and, in traffic, maintaining a safe following distance. Most major cities run organized crime prevention programmes and Basic Safety Tip guidelines are available at hotels and tourism information offices. If you are in doubt as to the safety of a particular area or attraction, contact the National Tourism Information and Safety Line on 083 123 2345. This number may also be used for assistance in replacing lost documents or reporting incidents.

Mpumalanga_Mac Mac Falls

Malaria is found only in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga (incl. the Kruger National Park), Limpopo (north-eastern areas and near the Zimbabwean and Mozambican borders) and on the Maputaland coast of KwaZulu-Natal (north-east as far south as the Tugela River). Malaria risk is highest October-May. Although the incidence of malaria is rare, it would be best to take adequate precautions if you choose to visit these areas. In addition to malaria prophylaxis, insect repellents and mosquito nets can be effective. Check with your doctor or a travel clinic before you leave to make sure you get proper medical advice. South Africa has a large network of hospitals offer excellent service, but make sure you have adequate health insurance.

Traditional Village in Mpumalanga
South Africa’s tap water is potable and of the safest and cleanest in the world. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation are generally top-notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks — a good thing, too, after a day on the beach or in the bush. Tap water undergoes treatment which ensures it is free of harmful micro-organisms and contaminants. In some areas, South African drinking water is rich in minerals, and may involve a bit of getting used to. Avoid, however, drinking water from streams and rivers, especially in areas where there is human habitation. These may carry water-borne diseases. But if you encounter an unpolluted mountain steam, a drink should be most refreshing.

From the moment I stepped off the plane, South Africa inspired me, humbled me, excited me and floored me! I travelled with an incredible group of people who seemed to share all my emotions, that was truly a highlight – travelling with like-minded people. If I ever got separated from the group all I had to do was listen out for loud laughter and there they were, lol! Loved it!

I went through a wide range of emotions and feelings during the two weeks. I was awestruck by the natural beauty – Blyde’s Canyon, Table Mountain, Cape Point and the list goes on.

I felt overwhelming happiness at how far this country has come and conversely, overwhelming sadness at what it has gone through.

I learned so much about the struggle that Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa endured to get freedom. It was very educational and certainly humbling.

Our guides and drivers were professional and our bus was comfortable and always on time. We sipped fine wines, saw an incredible range of wildlife, visited a township, savoured the barbequed meat at a local Braii (BBQ) and met local South Africans. The infrastructure is incredible in South Africa and we felt welcome wherever we went.

By Kendria H.

South Africa boasts world-class transport infrastructure, telecommunications, banking, medical and tourism facilities. Accommodation caters for all needs and is accredited by the national Tourism Grading Council, which upholds very high standards. Most hotels accommodations include a full and delicious breakfasts. Whether you’re looking for a comfortable room and clean shower or a small boutique intimate hotel, there are hundreds of options. And if you want a luxury, off-the-chart, spectacular hotel, South Africa has many of those to. In fact, a few of South Africa’s hotels are almost always featured in top 50 best hotels in the world.

Nelson Mandela Street Art 3

If you like shopping, South Africa will not disappoint. Modern shopping malls, arts & crafts routes and markets, flea markets and informal vendors offer a wide variety of goods, curios, and shopping experiences. South Africa’s fashion, gold and diamond jewelry, and art are sought-after. As are the traditional handcrafted items such as Zulu beadwork; carved chessboards; painted ostrich eggs; colourful woven baskets, handbags and soft furnishings; mohair or sisal rugs; traditional wooden masks and carvings; pottery and leather items. And don’t forget the world-renowned Cape wines, exotic fruit liqueurs, brandy, rooibos tea, dried fruit, biltong (dried meat snacks) and chutney. Most major shopping centres and malls operate 7 days a week, but small town shops are often closed on Sunday.

Processed with Rookie Cam
Processed with Rookie Cam

Sir Richard Branson’s South African Hotel and Vineyard

During a recent visit to South Africa, we had an opportunity to visit the stunning Mont Rochelle Hotel and Vineyard in Franschhoek.

First of all, Franschhoek has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s no wonder that Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group set up one of his properties here. Wines have been cultivated in Franschhoek since the 18th century by the French Huguenots who fled to the Cape to escape religious persecution in France. This idyllic setting is surrounded by mountains with beautiful valleys perfect for wine making and considered to be the food and wine capital of South Africa.

The dining options at Mont Rochelle are superb at either the upscale Miko or the casual fare offered at the Country Kitchen. The property also has a superb wine cellar, so no worries about finding the exact match for your meal!

The 22 rooms are stylish and modern, with great views of the mountain and tons of privacy from your deck. Everything you would expect from a top-class hotel with great service as well. Lots of nooks and crannies throughout the property to read a book, enjoy a glass of wine or just take in the scenery.

Pool at Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard - Sir Richard Branson's South African Hotel & Vineyard

And of course, there’s always the heated pool, gym and the state of the art Hamman spa. They will even pack you a picnic lunch to enjoy on the 100 acre property. You’re never far away from wine tasting which is offered at the restaurants and bar. This is an ideal and intimate setting to celebrate a honeymoon, anniversary or just explore Franschhoek.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank for the wonderful way you organized, co-ordinated and facilitated my recent trip to South Africa. Your professionalism was unsurpassed. You went above and beyond what I expected and for that I am truly appreciative.

South Africa was a wonderful experience and a beautiful country. I learned so much about the country, the people and the culture. As a Canadian of Jamaican heritage this trip meant a lot to me as I always wanted to visit the motherland. There could not have been a better place to start than in South Africa.

I was especially moved by my visit to Robben Island and the Apartheid museum. I was equally impressed with the magnificence that is Table Mountain. I would be remised not to mention the visits we had to the wine vineyards. The wines of South Africa are just so delectable.

Kruger National Park was exciting and exhilarating. The abundance of wild life in their natural habitat can never be equalled by a trip to any zoo in the world.

I will be encouraging all my friends who are contemplating a vacation to someplace special to get in touch with you and Integrity Travels, as I know they will be looked after in the most hospitable way.

All the best and I wish you continued blessings as you provide excellent service and showcase your beautiful country of South Africa.

By Charles G.

Known to some as sunny South Africa, the country has a warm to hot climate, making it one of the best year-round destinations in the world. Most provinces enjoy a summer rainfall with occasional afternoon thunderstorms, which are spectacular to see. Snow sometimes occurs, especially on the mountain peaks. Some areas have such mild winters, that visitors will never guess it’s winter at all. Johannesburg can be pretty chilly during the evenings in July and August, but during the day, a light jacket is all you need.

Cape Town at Dawn

 

The population of South Africa is approximately 47.5 million, made up of diverse people and cultures. Groups include the majority Nguni (incl. Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi); Sotho-Tswana; Tsonga; Venda; Afrikaners; English; Coloureds; Indians; Khoi and San; and immigrants from Africa, Europe and Asia. The majority religion is Christian, but freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Constitution. There are 11 official languages, including English. Most South Africans are multi-lingual and English is fairly widely spoken, mostly in urban centres.

Processed with Rookie Cam
Processed with Rookie Cam

What a great experience it was to go to South Africa with Integrity Tours!

Everything was well organized and we had a wide variety of things to stimulate our senses: Jazz performances, English high tea, the mist and the roar of the ocean at the Cape of Good Hope, the peaceful rustle of the grass at sunrise as the Big Five animals moved about on the plains on our safaris, the spectacular views from Table Mountain in Cape Town, and a wide variety of traditional and exotic food!

The guides and drivers were friendly and knowledgeable about present day life and the history of South Africa and gave us personal perspectives. We learned a great deal about Mandela and apartheid by visiting museums and historical areas. We found the people to be genuinely happy and welcoming. The children, at the school that we visited, performed for us by singing and dancing, were quick to smile, and wanted to visit with us afterwards. Since we were in a small group, we were able to do some additional things with our guides during our free time.

Our accommodations were very good and my travelling companion and I went walking alone in Johannesburg and Cape Town during the day and felt very safe. There is so much more that I will treasure in my memories and I have only given you a taste of what I have experienced. I would highly recommend this trip!

By Louise B. | November 2015