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Knysna stands out on South Africa's famed Garden Route thanks to the sandstone cliffs that dramatically separate its tranquil lagoon from the pounding surf of the Indian Ocean. It's also home to the country's largest indigenous forest. Hop aboard a ferry for a ride through the scenic highlights. The Millwood Mines at Jubilee Creek, site of a major gold rush in 1885, provide a picturesque spot for a picnic. Be sure to try some local oysters during the renowned annual festival.
The caves of Plettenberg Bay are wrinkles in time, lined with ancient artifacts that date to the Middle Stone Age. Under the sun, Robberg, Central and Lookout beaches are pristine stretches of white sand, magnets for tourists, seagulls and dolphins, who bob playfully just off shore. Wildlife lovers will delight at the Birds of Eden aviary and Monkeyland. (How can you not have fun in a place called Monkeyland?)
South Africa’s most popular tourist destination offers the urban thrills of Cape Town, its adjacent wine country and an aura of the rich political history of South Africa. The Overberg's perfect whale-watching perches provide excitement of a different nature. The Garden Route's lakes and forests and the Klein Karoo's ostrich-farming towns and vineyards present another take on the Cape. For extra kicks, try bungee jumping or cage-diving among Great Whites.
Cape Town glistens at the southern toe of the African continent. Tourist brochure-views at Blaauwberg Beach and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are within easy driving distance of "The Mother City." The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve provides sweeping sea vistas, hiking trails and wildlife encounters. On a more somber note, travellers can visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years.
One of Islam’s most holy cities, Medina, is a sprawl of minarets and shops wrapped around the landmark, the Prophet’s Mosque. Like the rest of central Medina, it’s for Muslims only and is surrounded by plenty of hotels and eateries to welcome the pilgrimage crowd.
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