South Africa is said to be the most beautiful country in the world. At the very least, it’s the most beautiful place in Africa, however, the dark cloud of Apartheid meant many people were unwilling to visit the country until the breakdown of the system when Nelson Mandela came into power in 1994. Although it is now integrated, social and economic differences are still rife amongst the ethnic groups.

The most beautiful aspect of South Africa is the ever – changing and breathtaking scenery. There are historic Cape Dutch vineyards where you can take a tour and sample world famous wines. Along the coastline are fantastic beaches where surfing is probably the most popular pastime, track lions in the great velds (grasslands) of Kruger National Park or sample a taste of traditional African life in the Transkei, the homeland of Nelson Mandela where the sky is endless. The awe inspiring Rift Valley that stretches through East Africa starts up in the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains which are well worth a visit for the fabulous scenery.

Lesotho, the ‘Kingdom of the Sky’, is also part of these mountainous ranges, a small country totally surrounded by South Africa. There is good hiking here or pony treks through the region. The unique part of visiting Lesotho is the opportunity to meet and stay with people living traditional lifestyles, or you can indulge in more luxurious accommodation in the capital Maseru. The Lesothan people are far more self – assured as they are not suffering the after effects of Apartheid and are a very open and friendly people. This is the ideal place for those who enjoy spectacular views and challenges such as climbing Thaba – Boisu (Mountain at Night).

Swaziland is similar to Lesotho in that there is little animosity between the races and the people are relaxed about hostility between races. Outside of the capital Mbabane, the country is very rural and walking is still a feasible way of getting around for the visitor. This is also a good place for fans of extreme sports as there are a range of bungee jumps and other activities to thrill the biggest thrill seekers. Swaziland is still a monarchy and this is evident in cultural celebrations such as Incwala and Umhlanga (Reed) dances that are in evidence.

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