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It’s difficult to get lost in Cape Town because gorgeous Table Mountain looms above the city as a reference. For breathtaking views, ride the cable car to the top, or explore this urbane city on foot. Visit the fascinating South African Museum and Planetarium and the culturally significant St. George’s Cathedral.
With an average of 320 sunny days a year, Mossel Bay has the second mildest climate in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Enjoy walks along the beautiful beaches, horseback riding and whale and dolphin watching. Track big game on a thrilling safari or take a cruise to Seal Island, populated by over 2,500 Cape fur seals.
British colonial architecture prevails in Durban, yet natural beauty is what characterizes this charming city on the Indian Ocean. Its Golden Mile beach area attracts sunbathers, of course, but also shoppers and those who enjoy walking the promenade. The Juma Masjid deserves a visit, as it’s the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere.
Take an excursion to one of the nearby game reserves or simply gaze over the surrounding waters, where you might get a glimpse of dolphins, whales and kite-surfers. The best view is from the lookout point at Alkantstrand Beach. Richards Bay is a busy port and the myriad of specialized ships will intrigue marine buffs.
Intent on recapturing its former glamour, Maputo once again attracts the rich and famous, whom you may see while sipping a cocktail at the extravagant Hotel Polana. Maputo’s struggle for freedom from Portuguese colonialism is recounted in local museums.
While the other islands of the fragrant Comoros (known as the “Perfume Islands”) gained independence from France in 1975, Mayotte remained under French rule, and you’ll welcome the influence. The Petit Terre district boasts fine patisseries, boutiques and art galleries, and there’s a French flair everywhere.
Lying off the northern coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be (which means “Big Island” in Malagasy) contains seven volcanic lakes and is blanketed with fragrant flora such as ylang-ylang, frangipani and vanilla. Unusual wildlife flourishes here, as witnessed in Lokobe Nature Reserve, home to maki lemurs, chameleons and paradise flycatchers.
Gorgeous and romantic, the Seychelles define tropical beauty. A mountain range runs through the spine of Mahé, the largest island, and scenic national parks have sprung up around it, attracting hikers. Still, it’s the idyllic beaches that have immortalized Mahé and its laid-back capital of Victoria, where the Seychellois speak a mellifluous Creole patois.
As the capital of the low-lying, coral-bed Maldives, winsome Malé is surrounded by a sea wall, where you might watch the fishing dhonis return with the day’s catch. Also be sure to see Friday Mosque, a masterpiece of filigree-curved coral built in the mid-1600s, and the Mulee-aage Palace.
Enjoy the sights of this teeming city, visiting the many lovely Jain and Hindu temples, the Hanging Gardens, the Gandhi Memorial Museum and the magnificent Victoria Station. Take a harbor cruise from the Gateway of India or travel to lush Gharapuri Island to see the 7th century rock-cut temples of the Elephanta Caves. Shopping: Lovely silks, fine gold jewelry, ornate woodcarvings, personal altars, finely carved screens and antiques abound.