What happening in South African in October-December 2017

As South Africa welcomes an influx of UK holidaymakers to the sunny climes of its summer season, there’s a whole host of new openings, experiences and upcoming events for travellers to add to their must-do lists

Hot news

Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018: Be the Legacy
2018 is set to be a momentous year for South Africa with the Nelson Mandela Centenary marking what would have been 100 years since his birth.  In commemoration of this landmark year, South Africa will play host to a programme of special initiatives, projects and events that will strive to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela and what he has done for the country, and also complete and realise some of South Africa’s greatest advocate’s hopes and dreams. The programme will include a range of events and activities both in South Africa and the UK, ranging from education and the arts to exhibitions and sports.

Highlights in the UK will include a Nelson Mandela Exhibition in London running for two weeks in July 2018 and the unveiling of a statue of Madiba in Glasgow, a city with long connections to Mandela and the first UK city to give him the ‘Freedom of the City’.

World land speed record to be attempted in South Africa in 2018
2018 will also mark the year when South Africa’s Northern Cape is due to host an attempt to break the 1,000mph barrier and set a new world land speed record. Designed and constructed in the UK, BLOODHOUND SSC is the world’s most advanced straight-line racing car and will be driven for the first time at Cornwall Airport Newquay on 26th October 2017. The record attempt will take place in the second half of 2018 in Hakskeen Pan, a mud and salt pan in the Kalahari Desert, which provides the optimum conditions required.

Zeitz MoCAA: Africa’s First Major Museum of Contemporary Art
The September 2017 opening of Zeitz MoCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) at the V&A Waterfront is a moment of major cultural significance. This is the first museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art and is set to position Cape Town as a prominent arts and culture destination. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick’s Studio and situated with iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop, the museum is a leap forward for contemporary African art and is a major design feat – the galleries have been carved from the historic Grain Silo Complex to create a magnificent space.

Cape Town’s new Silo District
Thomas Heatherwick’s transformation of the old grain silos on Cape Town’s foreshore into the Zeitz MoCAA has developed the surrounding area into a cool new design-and-culture hub known as the Silo District. Part of the increasingly hip V&A Waterfront with its array of cafés, bars, restaurants and attractions, some highlights of the new district include; a new gallery, Southern Guild, whose highly curated exhibitions are redefining global perceptions of African design; a pop-up WallpaperSTORE*, open until December, bringing together exclusive pieces by young South African talent and designers; high-end design in hand-finished jewellery with a distinctive edge by Kirsten Goss; exotic leather handbags from designer Kat Van Duinen; hanging gardens, flowers and plant-related designs from botanical flower shop, Opus; and farm produce, local beer, gin and wine, healthy lunches and a Michelin-starred chef at restaurant, The Yard.

New experiences

Experience the annual wildflower displays of Namaquland with Africa Travel
Africa Travel has just announced a unique escorted tour, exploring the magnificent wild flowers and gardens of South Africa with BBC Gardener’s World presenter Carol Klein. The 14-night tour departs in August 2018 and has been timed to coincide with the magnificent annual wildflower displays of Namaquland – one of the natural wonders of the floral world. The trip will also include wine tasting and a visit to some of South Africa’s most iconic sights such as Table Mountain and the penguins of Boulders Beach. The tour departs the UK on 14 August 2018 and costs £3,995 per person.  To book, visit www.africatravel.com or call 020 7843 3500.

Safaris with a difference
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is offering guests the chance to learn to cook authentic South African ‘braais’ using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. As well as learning to expertly barbeque different types of local venison – such as impala, kudu, ostrich, warthog and gemsbok (vegetarian alternatives available) – guests are also taught about popular South African desserts such as Cape brandy pudding, malva doughnuts, melktert, hertzoggies and koeksisters. Three nights’ accommodation, traditional bush walks and game drives are also included, as well as the use of a private vehicle, guide and tracker. The Campfire Cooking package starts from R10,000 (approx. £600) for up to eight guests. To book, visit www.kwandwe.com, call +27 46 622 7897 or email reservations@kwandwe.co.za.

2by2 holidays is offering a 10-night South Africa: Wildlife & Culture of KwaZulu Natal trip starting from £2,995 per person, based on two people sharing. Designed with disabled travellers in mind, this beach safari holiday includes a visit to a Wild Cat sanctuary and an up-close encounter with African elephants. See sharks, turtles, dolphins and other marine life at uShaka Marine World in Durban and experience Zulu culture, before relaxing on the beach. English speaking guide, all transfers and park fees included. To book, visit www.2by2holidays.co.uk or call 01582 766122.

On Track Safaris is offering ten-day big five safari and artists workshops in South Africa in the company of international wildlife artist and tutor Kerry Newell, departing in February and March 2018. From beginners to seasoned artists, Kerry will teach and demonstrate her techniques and show guests how to create outstanding wildlife artwork. The safari will include accommodation at Rukiya Safari Lodge, Thornybush game reserve and Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve, and offer superb opportunities to see, sketch and photograph the prolific variety of indigenous wildlife that are found in this area.  For more information, visit www.ontracksafaris.co.uk.

Sunrise yoga with a view on Table Mountain
Satori Africa has partnered with Follow the Sun and Table Mountain Aerial Cableway to launch the Table Mountain Sunrise Yoga Experience. Class participants take the first cableway of the day before the crowds arrive and enjoy a yoga session with unparalleled views across Cape Town and Lion’s Head. The return cableway ticket allows the yogis to ride down again at their leisure, leaving them free to spend more time exploring the mountain, to join the free guided tour or simply enjoy the view. This experience can be booked via Africa Travel by visiting www.africatravel.com or calling 020 7843 3500.

City Sightseeing launches new Winelands tour
City Sightseeing South Africa has launched the Cape Explorer Winelands tour, a full-day guided excursion to the picturesque Cape Winelands in a luxury air-conditioned coach. The tour leaves Cape Town in the morning and takes a scenic drive to Bloubergstrand for an iconic photo opportunity of the ocean and Table Mountain. Next stop is a cheese and wine tasting and cellar tour in Franschhoek, followed by a trip to Stellenbosch where guests can explore the town, enjoy lunch or indulge in an extra wine tasting. Guests will then enjoy a final wine tasting in Stellenbosch before heading back to Cape Town. Tickets cost R550 (£30) for adults (age 12+) and R275 (£15) for children aged 2-11.

Port Elizabeth completes upgrades to Campanile Memorial
Home to stunning beaches, fascinating museums and award-winning wildlife, a trip to Port Elizabeth is a must for visitors to the Eastern Cape. Now there’s even more reason to visit thanks to completed renovation works to one of the city’s iconic heritage landmarks – the Campanile Memorial – built in 1923 to honour the arrival of British Settlers in the 1820s. In addition to the existing 204-stair spiral staircase, a new lift has been installed in the 52m-tall tower which has been topped with a viewing portal where visitors can enjoy 180-degree views of Port Elizabeth harbour from the observation deck capsule. The now 25-bell carillon includes two new bells with inscriptions dedicated to the people of Nelson Mandela Bay and ghost bells underneath that light up during chiming or when visitors press keys on an interactive silver keyboard.

Upcoming Events

October events in the UK
From Monday 23rd October to Wednesday 25th October 2017, Chef Wilfred Mtshali from Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, South Africa (sabisabi.com) will be in residency at High Timber Restaurant, London (hightimber.com). Wilfred Mtshali will work with Chef Mircel McSween of High Timber and to share recipes, ideas and expertise which celebrate the finest contemporary African cuisine. Special collaborative dishes will feature throughout the week on both lunch and dinner menus, fusing tastes authentic to the African Bush with the finest contemporary dining. As a lasting testament to the Residency, Sabi Sabi inspired dishes will continue to be found on the High Timber menu into 2018. High Timber is open from Monday to Friday, 12pm to 3pm and 6.30pm to 10.30pm. To book a table during the Sabi Sabi Residency, please call 020 7248 1777 or email info@hightimber.com.

October events in South Africa
The Tusk Conservation Awards will be taking place in Africa for the first time since their inception in 2013 at a gala ceremony in Cape Town on 4th October. Supported by Prince William, the awards celebrate the extraordinary work that is being done to safeguard wildlife in Africa, and recognise lifetime achievement, emerging conservationists, and the dedication and bravery of field rangers. One of the finalists is Lucky Ndlovu who works at Kruger National Park in South Africa to combat poaching activity in the area.

The most anticipated photography event in South Africa, the Photo & Film Expo from 27th to 29th October in Johannesburg is Africa’s largest photographic event, presenting the latest software and techniques and a dedicated gallery area for independent photographers to display their work. Workshops are free to all attendees and available on a first come, first served basis. Tickets are priced from R80 (£4.50) per person.

Held in during the last three weeks of October, the Shembe Festival in KwaZulu-Natal is the culmination of weeks of endless rituals, dancing and prayers. Around 30,000 members of the Shembe Church gather here each year to meet their leader and celebrate their religion with prayer dances and displays of drumming.

November events in South Africa

Cape Town Bierfest is South Africa’s biggest beer festival, taking place this year on the weekend of 3rd to 4th November. Housed in a 4,000-seater Bavarian Brauhaus adorned with authentic décor, visitors can compare and taste more than 200 beers and many beer styles made by brewers from across the country and around the world.

Dubbed ‘The People’s Race’, the Soweto Marathon takes place on Sunday 5th November and sees around 25,000 runners racing a standard marathon, a half marathon or 10km. Spectators can enjoy the race as well as visiting places of tremendous historical significance, including the former homes of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, and the Hector Pieterson Museum.

Every year from November to January, visitors to the Maputaland coastline can go turtle-tracking to witness the rare loggerhead and leatherback turtles return to the beaches where they were born to nest and lay their eggs. The best place to observe this ancient ritual is at Rocktail Bay and Mabibi in KwaZulu-Natal, both blessed with coral reefs and fabulous lodgings. This experience can be booked through Cedarberg Africa by visiting www.cedarberg-travel.com/turtle-tracking-excursions or calling 0208 898 8533.

December events in South Africa

One of the most vibrant and exciting parties on Cape Town’s social calendar, Mother City Queer Project takes place this year on Saturday 16th December. This masked costume ball features some 10 dance zones and costumed teams celebrating Cape Town’s vibrant and creative gay culture.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens’ annual carol-singing and Nativity tableaux is a Cape Town institution, taking place this year from 14th to 17th December. The event draws crowds of families with their picnic baskets, with gates opening at 6pm and the singing kicking off at 7.45pm.

The Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival is a popular three-day celebration of bubbly sampling and gourmandizing in the Cape Winelands. A vast selection of local and French sparkling wine is on hand and the theme for this year’s festival – taking place from 2nd to 3rd December 2017 – is black and white.

For more about travel to South Africa visit www.southafrica.net