South Africa: Lively Cities and Safari
The cities of South Africa are always animated and buzzing… Cape Town instils vigor in you…as do the cheerful locals; the nightlife is fantastic and this cosmopolitan jewel will keep you wanting more. The Cape of Good Hope--the southernmost point of the African continent, which Bartholomew Diaz sailed around over 500 years ago--still retains all its mystery and beauty.
Overlooking Cape Town, Table Mountain, so-called because when clouds come in over the city, they spread across the top of the mountain like a tablecloth, can be seen by air or land long before you hit the city. A trip to South Africa wouldn't be complete without a safari in Kruger National Park, a world-renowned sanctuary of wild nature. And Drakensberg, close to Lesotho, provides some of the most magnificent vistas on the planet.
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- Population: 48,601,098
- Capital: Pretoria
- Language: English, and many native languages
- Location: At the southern tip of Africa
- Coastline: 2,798km
- Climate: Mostly semiarid, subtropical along the east coast; sunny days, cool nights
- Country Code: 27
- Time Zone: GMT+2
Most people visit Cape Town, South Africa’s Mother City, for the breezy beaches, decadent vineyards, and picture-postcard views of Table Mountain. The appeal is easy to see. But if you focus your stay solely on Cape Town, you risk missing out on all the secret attractions along the scenic Cape Peninsula, stretching out to the south of the city.
On December 8, 1852, the people of the French city of Lyon lit candles in their windows to celebrate the raising of a statue of the Virgin Mary on the city’s Fourvière Hill. Now, more than 160 years later, this tradition has grown into the annual Festival of Lights, which sees the streets of Lyon lit up by more than 70 artistic light displays from December 5 to December 8. Millions of visitors arrive during the festival to take in these ornate, creative works, as the windows, fountains, and trees of Lyon light up with every color imaginable.
September is a special time in the South African town of Hermanus. The end of this month heralds the arrival of giants just offshore, as the southern right whales return to mate and reproduce. You can get amazing views of these 50-ton behemoths from your hotel room, or catch one of the many chartered boats for an even closer look. Right whales are famously friendly and will often approach boats…a trait that made them an attractive target for the whalers of old. The waters off Hermanus are home to another, more terrifying denizen of the deep: the great white shark. And this is one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with this awesome predator…from the safety of a cage, of course. For around $110, you can even get a cameraman to ﬁlm your dive for you.
Begin the month in Scotland’s Spey Valley where, as part of “Whisky Month,” the Spirit of Speyside Festival runs from May 1 to 5. Tastings, workshops, and even a guide on how to properly photograph a “wee dram” of whisky are all on the schedule.
Not the safest religious tradition we’ve ever heard of, but the Fire Wheel Festival in Sinca Noua, located near the city of Brasov, Romania, does sound like quite a sight. Celebrating the start of Orthodox Lent on March 3, the village asks its young men to roll hay wheels to the top of a local hill before each wheel is set alight. What follows is a true feast with music, drinking, and dancing.
Imagine living in Europe, Africa, or Australia and earning a living while traveling around and discovering the continent. Sounds too good to be true? Well this is exactly what I have been doing for about six years now. I started off in Africa because I had always wanted to go on a safari but could never afford it.
Winter is nigh in North America. Bitter cold, ice storms, flurries, and blizzards are on their way. These are the months spent indoors, staring out at grey skies, pining for spring. But there are places where the sun is shining right now, temperatures are going up, and it’s already beach season.
I love to travel. And I try to live like a local when I visit new places. Of course, it takes time to discover how the locals live. Some people are really good at doing research before they arrive. I prefer to scout out my new neighborhood and figure things out as I go along. One trick that makes this both fun and rewarding is to carry a camera. Putting the camera up to my eye slows me down and helps me see the details.
If you’re looking for a laidback lifestyle in a tropical paradise then Roatan, the largest of the Honduran Bay Islands, fits the bill. Just a two-hour direct flight from Houston or Miami it’s the kind of place where dressing up means wearing flip flops.
In South Africa last month I spent more than 26 hours on safari, took more than 700 pictures and gained 10 pounds. I’ve always liked photography as a hobby because it’s active.
It’s probably one of the last places most North Americans would think about investing, but the single best investment you make for the next decade could be to buy Africa. There are important reasons why African stocks are set to richly reward buy-and-hold-style investors. But the main reason is simply this: Africa is where the growth is. The continent’s economy has been growing at about 6% over the last decade. And it is expected to match that pace over the next several years.
Nestling under Table Mountain’s massive sandstone bulk, often draped in a wispy “tablecloth” of cloud, Cape Town is South Africa’s most attractive city, enjoying a Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and cooler winters.
We’ve got worldcup fever and are celebrating the diversity of this truly world sporting event on our Facebook page.
Snow, sleigh-bells, mistletoe—or the beach? Christmas doesn’t always have to mean a gaggle of relatives, too much eggnog, and bulky winter coats. This year, why not relax in a hammock, with a cocktail and the soothing sun?
This month’s Globetrotting tales…
To protect your portfolio from today’s “falling dollar,” you should diversify into assets like foreign currencies and precious metals. Here’s why this makes sense.
The world’s longest man-made structure—stretching more than 4,000 miles—China’s Great Wall also ranks among the World’s 100 Most Endangered Sites. Beyond its restored areas—those that are most-visited by tourists—hundreds of miles lie in disrepair. Volunteer vacationers are sought to help clean and rebuild sections of the wall where restoration projects are already underway.
In this issue we present our annual Quality of Life Index. The U.S. looks like a pretty good choice for retirees. That’s good news, now that the collapsing dollar makes the rest of the world so much more expensive. Still, Vicki and I choose to live abroad. We’re Americans, but since 1981 (except for brief periods in Austin, Texas and in Las Vegas in the 1990s), we’ve lived overseas. Why? We have a spirit of adventure, the key to a quality retired life abroad.
A selection of tempting food festivals from around the globe.
Why look at Africa as an investment destination? Because it’s the last remaining emerging market investment frontier. If you missed investing in the Philippines in the 1980s and the Southeast Asian “Tiger economies” in the 1990s, this might just be your last chance to get in on a ground-floor opportunity.
Learn how to produce mouth watering culinary delights with our selection of cookery schools from around the globe.
Six of the most stunning drives from around the world as selected by International Living
South Africa is known for its world-famous safaris, but in Cape Town, you’ll find a fun-filled roster of activities for the more active or extreme. Join Laura Sheridan as she takes you through Four Extreme Adventures In Cape Town.
The world according to International Living: Where should you be thinking about spending your time and your money right now? Following are the top 25 places on our radar screen: