Pietermaritzburg , a Beautiful Old World Town in the middle of South Africa & Five Best Things To Do & See
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South Africa skyrocketed into the global headlines in 2010 when it became the first African country to host a Soccer World Cup. Suddenly thousands were flocking to the nation formally known for its controversial racial policies during the apartheid regime. This tainted past was enough to repel some soccer fans, but the majority that took the plunge and visited SA did not leave disappointed.
Cape Town is widely regarded as the tourist mecca of South Africa, but it is by no means the only place to see in this vibrant country. Take Pietermaritzburg (PMB) for instance: The capital of the KwaZulu-Natal province and one of the best-preserved Victorian cities in the world. As a long-time resident of this lesser-known little town, here is a list of the top five places I would take a visitor in the Sleepy Hollow.
The Midlands Meander
Nestled in the mountains and valleys just to the north of Pietermaritzburg is the well-recognised Midlands Meander tourist route. This 80-kilometer stretch from Rietvlei to Fort Nottingham offers over 160 places to drink, eat, sleep, shop and play. Life moves at a gentler pace here, and it is the warm hospitality of the local residents and the beautiful country surrounds that give the midlands a charming appeal. The Swissland Cheese Farm is certainly not to be missed and make sure that you check out some of the fantastic and diverse arts and crafts on offer.
Natal Botanical Gardens
The Natal Botanical Gardens is a 46-hectare conservation area dedicated to the preservation of rare and endangered indigenous plants. It was established in 1872 and offers visitors magnificent walks through bird-rich shaded paths and open patches of lush grass for picknicking. Be sure to take a look at the long avenue of plane trees near the entrance that leads to the bell taken from the HMS Princess in 1918.
Cumberland Nature Reserve
South Africa is renowned for its wildlife, and tourists from around the world flock to the country’s famous reserves to catch a glimpse of some of Africa’s wild animals. Pietermaritzburg might not be home to the Big Five, but it does offer quiet reserves where visitors can explore natural ecosystems on foot. Cumberland Nature Reserve is a 400ha private reserve situated to the east of PMB and boasts a lot of smaller game and birds, not to mention a collection of picnic sites that are definitely worth a visit.
Boasting one of the largest residential universities in the country, Maritzburg has a thriving student culture. So, if you’re not busy at lunchtime make sure you visit the eatery of choice for hungry scholars: Kara Nichas. This modest curry den offers meals at ridiculously low prices. The food is entirely vegetarian and at R5 (about 73 American cents) for a roti roll, it’s certainly not to be missed.
Tatham Art Gallery
Pietermaritzburg has some of the country’s most recognisable historical buildings. The City Hall is the largest all redbrick structure in the southern hemisphere and is a national monument. So why not blend a bit of the historical with a touch of the artistic and visit the Tatham Art Gallery. Situated in the Old Supreme Court building (built in 1871), it is one of the country’s top art galleries. Browse the impressive collection of British and French 19th and 20th century paintings and then relax with a cup of coffee and enjoy the gallery shop’s unusual décor.
About the writer:
Ian is a junior Publisher For Earth-Touch. Ian talks to trees and occasionally forages for berries, he also persistently refers to himself in the third person. :)
Learn more about him here: http://blog.earth-touch.com