South African Tourism Highlights What to Watch in 2019

South Africa celebrates 25 years of freedom and democracy in 2019—which is just one of many reasons to keep an eye on the country this upcoming year. South African Tourism is encouraging travelers to make 2019 the year they discover everything that the country has to offer from its wildlife, natural beauty and coastlines to its world-class restaurants, art galleries and culture.

South African Tourism says the 25th anniversary is a good time to reflect and acknowledge the country’s socio-economic progress since the end of apartheid and its journey to becoming one of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations. Here’s what to expect in 2019:

Reviving Cape Town

Thanks to innovative solutions put in place earlier this year to combat the drought in Cape Town, the city is open for business and looks towards a positive 2019 with water levels stabilizing and significant efforts continuing to play a key role in conversation. The city’s diverse range of landscapes, cultural experiences, food and wine, art, marine life, nature and more will help it return to the spotlight in 2019, South African Tourism says. 

New Activity Offerings

Photo by BassanK/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Robben Island Museum, is now offering tours to visitors upon request. Also worth checking out: A new exhibit at the Mayibuye History Centre at the University of the Western Cape comprising multimedia collections depicting images of the resistance and freedom struggles caused by Apartheid. The two historical exhibits offer visitors the ability to experience, learn and pay respects to South Africa's history and better understand the forward momentum the country has made.

Boosting Family Travel

South Africa is becoming more accessible for traveling families through updated regulations. The Department of Home Affairs announced on December 1, that it is relaxing some of the regulations for children traveling to South Africa. Updates include:

  • As visas are not required for American and Canadian travelers visiting for fewer than 90 days, generally, children (under 18) traveling with both parents will experience no additional questioning and will not be requested to provide any additional documents other than a valid passport.
  • However, if it may appear that you are not the parents of the child for any reason, documentation may be requested. It is suggested that you consider carrying a birth certificate which includes the details of the parent or parents, or other documentation that might assist to prove the parental relationship such as a marriage certificate or adoption certificate.

News from the Bush

Located in the Kapama Private Game Reserve, the Relais & Chateaux safari lodge, Camp Jabulani, is opening “Little Jabu” in October 2019. It will have 12 suites—seven are Jabulani Suites, ideal for couples, and five are Little Jabu Family Suites, well-suited for families with up to two children. Camp Jabulani is known for guided bush walks and "Big Five" game drives, as well as the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, a leading private research and breeding facility for endangered species in the country.

In the Eastern Cape, the Shamwari Private Game Reserve has finalized the first phase of its extensive $25 million refurbishment of the Eagles Crag Lodge and the Riverdene Family Lodge. The second phase, due to complete November 2019, will see a new, flagship luxury tented camp, and the renovation of the historic Long Lee Manor, which has 18 private luxury suites. Here, visitors have the opportunity to participate in the conservancy’s volunteering efforts and environmental regeneration projects.

The Farmstead

The Farmstead // Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Weill Associates

The Royal Portfolio announced that the The Farmstead will open May 1, 2019. This property will be an exclusive lodge at Royal Malewane, just 10 minutes south, and stand as The Royal Portfolio's first property in South Africa's Greater Kruger National Park. Accommodations will be provided in a main lodge, as well as luxury villas and suites with rates inclusive of accommodation, meals, drinks, game drives and bush walks. It provides a completely different design style than the existing safari lodges in South Africa with light oak, tin roofs, wrought iron and hues of blue and white.

Welcoming New Urban Retreats

Newmark Hotels, Residences, Reserves & Lodges, known for the opening of Hallmark House in Johannesburg's trendy Maboneng Precinct, is opening Stock Exchange, an eclectic city hotel in Cape Town’s up-and-coming Woodstock region. Set to open March 2019, it will have 33 apartment-style rooms with kitchens, as well as a restaurant, swimming pool, gym and shops. All furniture and decorations in the rooms will be pinpointed on a “design map” of Woodstock, allowing guests to purchase similar items to support the region’s artists.

Gorgeous George Hotel

Gorgeous George Hotel    

Placed on the only tree-lined and fully pedestrianized avenue in Cape Town is Gorgeous George, a new hotel set to open early 2019. The new structure is the first hotel in the area to be a member of Design Hotels. Located between St. George’s Mall and Green Market Square, the goal of the hotel is to be a new cultural hub that reflects South Africa's design scene.

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