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Think Nelson Mandela, big game safaris, great white sharks, rugby, football and cricket. This nation of about 50 million is made up of people from diverse origins, cultures, languages, and religions.
While South Africa is considered a modern country, ethnic unrest is growing and many South Africans of European origins are migrating. There is a very high level of crime, including theft, carjacking, rape and murder, so ensure you get good advice and insurance before setting out on your journey.
Despite the above warning, South Africa is a warm and friendly country filled exciting opportunities. Billed as being inexpensive, most visitors want to see the 'big five' wild animals in their own natural habitat, but there are also lesser creatures like the entertaining meerkats as well as whales, penguins, wild dogs, over 600 bird species and even dung beetles, those little bugs that roll up animal dung in which to lay their eggs and in doing so help to fertilize the grasslands and support the wider animal population.
There are miles of great beaches and marine reserves along the east coast and Port Elizabeth is a central location to explore further.
About 500 kms inland from the coast, the booming city of Johannesburg with its gold mines, high security compounds and modern infrastructure (and the satellite city of 3 million of Soweto which was the seat of political change is becoming a middle class) makes a good base to begin exploring the inland gold region of the Northern Free State and the lands of the Kalahari and the San Bushmen, Golden Gate Highlands National Park or Kruger National Park. 25kms to the south is the town of Bethlehem and the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
From Jo-Burg you can also take trips into diamond mining district of Botswana or continue onto the deserts of Namibia.
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