[Illustrated destination report] South Africa, land of contrasts, with Air Belgium

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© South African Tourism

South Africa is a new destination from Belgium since September 2022, when Air Belgium commenced flights from Brussels to Johannesburg and Cape Town. The country is a great destination, for business and for tourism.

South Africa offers tourists a wide variety of options, among others the picturesque natural landscape and game reserves, diverse cultural heritage and highly regarded wines. Some of the most popular destinations include several national parks, such as the expansive Kruger National Park in the north of the country, the coastlines and beaches of the KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces, and the major cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

Air Belgium and South African Tourism organised a press trip in September 2022 to discover some of the main touristic attractions and business centres of the country. Aviation24.be is presenting some of the highlights of that trip, hoping to inspire some future travellers.

Thursday, 15 September 2022: Soweto

Air Belgium flight KF2305 from Brussels, operated by a new Airbus A330neo registered OO-ABG, arrived at O.R. Tambo International Airport in the early morning. A trip report is available here. The brand-new aircraft and the new route, as well as the country, were presented at a special event in Brussels on 13 September reported here.

After a transfer to the hotel for luggage drop-off and a light snack, the day was devoted to a visit to the township of Soweto.

First, an interactive township cooking experience at Lebo’s Backpackers (participants prepare their own township lunch under the guidance of an experienced township chef).

© Maarten Van Den Driessche
Soweto Lebo’s Backpackers

After lunch, a short one-hour guided cycle tour of Soweto including the vibrant Vilikazi Street for a visit to the Nelson Mandela House Museum.

Soweto bicycle tour © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Soweto © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Nelson Mandela House Museum © A. Bailey https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30040041

The tour concluded with a local beer-drinking ceremony.

Dinner at Proud Mary at the Voco Rosebank Hotel Johannesburg and overnight at the hotel.

Friday, 16 September 2022: Cullinan & Tshwane

After breakfast at the hotel, a guide took the participants to the picturesque mining village of Cullinan for a guided surface diamond mine tour, followed by lunch at Harrie’s Pancakes, Cullinan Village.

Cullinan Premier Diamond Mine © Paul Parsons ([email protected]) https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19642746
Cullinan diamond mine © Maarten Van Den Driessche
The Aviation24.be representative during the visit of the Cullinan diamond mine © Maarten Van Den Driessche

Afterwards, the group proceeded to a visit to the Administrative Capital of South Africa, Tshwane (formerly known as Pretoria), which started with a tour of Freedom Park. The 52-hectare Freedom Park is an impressive memorial to South Africa’s history and heritage and is themed around humanity, freedom and healing. Visiting the site is a humbling experience as you get to appreciate the different struggles South Africa has faced along the path to democracy. The most striking of the many thought-provoking memorials spread through the park is the vast Wall of Names that lists the heroes and heroines who died in the struggle for freedom.

Tshwane Freedom Park © Leo za1 https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28756657
Tshwane Freedom Park
Tshwane Freedom Park © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Mandela statue © Maarten Van Den Driessche

Later, visit to the Union Buildings with its postcard views over the City of Tshwane, also known for its impressive 9-metre Mandela Statue in the Union Gardens.

Tshwane Union Buildings © By Davinci77 https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3709110

Dinner at Kream, followed by post-dinner drinks from the top of Maslow Hotel to view the night skyline of Tshwane and overnight at the hotel.

Saturday, 17 September 2022: Magaliesberg

After breakfast at the hotel and check out, departure for Harties in the North West Province.

Ascending to the top of the Magaliesberg by cable car enabled amazing bird-eye views over the fertile valleys of the North West Province. Follow the pathways for a circular walk on top of the Magaliesberg, one of the oldest mountain ranges in South Africa, a staggering 2 billion years old. A short stop at the Chameleon African Market for some authentic African souvenir shopping.

Hamerkop Kloof near Rustenburg, Magaliesberg, South Africa © Tracy Robb on Wikipedia
Magaliesberg
Magaliesberg © Maarten Van Den Driessche

Depart for a safari lodge located in the nearby Big Five Pilanesberg Game Reserve and check in at the Bakubung Bush Lodge.

Bakubung Bush Lodge

After lunch at the lodge, a private uniformed ranger drove the participants through the game reserve, with an early evening return to the lodge to freshen up and prepare for a bush braai dinner, and overnight at Bakubung Bush Lodge.

Sunday, 18 September 2022: Full-day safari lodge

Pilanesberg Game Reserve leopard

An early morning game drive with the ranger was followed by breakfast at the lodge. In the afternoon, another game drive in a safari vehicle with a private uniformed ranger. All meals were taken at the lodge, with another overnight at Bakubung Bush Lodge.

Pilanesberg Game Reserve © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Baby elephant in Pilanesberg Game Reserve © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Pilanesberg Game Reserve © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Very close baby elephant in Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Very close baby elephant in Pilanesberg Game Reserve © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Pilanesberg Game Reserve © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Pilanesberg Game Reserve © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Pilanesberg Game Reserve © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Pilanesberg Game Reserve © Maarten Van Den Driessche

Monday, 19 September 2022: Transfer to Cape Town

After an early morning game drive followed by breakfast at the lodge, the group departed for O.R. Tambo International Airport and checked in for the domestic flight Safair FA290 to Cape Town, operated by a Boeing 737-800.

Safair
Safair © Maarten Van Den Driessche

From Cape Town Airport, transfer to the Taj Hotel, followed by dinner at Gorgeous George Hotel GiGi’s Rooftop and overnight at Taj Hotel.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022: Cape Town

After breakfast at the hotel, the guide took the participants for a visit to Table Mountain, one of the seven wonders of the World, followed by a city tour and a visit to the Bo Kaap, known for its colourful Malay homes and rich history.

Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town with its distinctive pastel-coloured houses in the foreground, with the city centre to the left and Table Mountain in the background © SkyPixels https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50450153
Aerial cableway upper station and view over Cape Town
Aerial cableway upper station © Maarten Van Den Driessche
View from Table Mountain © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Bo-Kaap © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Cape Town © Maarten Van Den Driessche

Lunch was taken at one of the finest addresses in Cape Town, the Silo Hotel.

In the afternoon, exploration of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, followed by dinner at La Parada on the Waterfront and overnight at the Taj Hotel.

Table Mountain national park marine protected area © Maarten Van Den Driessche
Victoria & Albert Waterfront © Damien du Toit https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4314413
Victoria & Albert Waterfront at night © Maarten Van Den Driessche

Wednesday, 21 September 2022: Stellenbosch

After breakfast at the hotel, the guide met the group for a transfer to Stellenbosch for a tour of the wine-growing region followed by lunch at Lanzerac Wines.

Stellenbosch wine region © South African Tourism
Lunch at Lanzerac Wines © Maarten Van Den Driessche

And then it was time to return to Cape Town International Airport and to check in for the Air Belgium flight KF2306 to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport, continuing to Brussels, operated by the new Airbus A330-900neo registered OO-ABF.

Air Belgium Airbus A330neo – © Eric Magnan
Aviation24.be wishes to thank South African Tourism and Air Belgium for the opportunity to explore South Africa and report on this trip.

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