South Africa, popular on almost every traveller’s bucket list, is a great place to visit at any time of the year but this September promises to be particularly special.  Beyond iconic experiences like the Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, and the Durban beaches, there’s a whole lot more going on in September.

A big focus for the month is Heritage Weekend – it’s a long weekend from Saturday, 23 September, to Monday, 25 September.  South Africa celebrates the cultural diversity of the nation on Heritage Day, a public holiday on 24 September, and there are loads of special activities scheduled for this year’s Heritage Weekend.

Big on the 2017 calendar is the scheduled public opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (the Zeitz Mocca) from 22 to 25 September, the first significant museum in Africa to focus on contemporary art.  Says Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager for Protea Hotels by Marriott® and African Pride Hotels, “For art lovers the world over, this is hugely important – a facility dedicated to the art of the continent that will rival the world’s best art museums.  And its location alone will astound, with its exciting, innovative architectural design reflecting the conversion of the museum building from a disused grain silo in Cape Town’s adored Waterfront, to the backdrop of stunning Table Mountain and ocean views to thrill the eye, a visit to the Museum is a must. It’s a great opportunity to appreciate the little-known artistic and contemporary design talent from Africa.”

Another great cultural experience to stimulate your senses is food.  Learn how to prepare Cape Malay cuisine at one of the many cookery experiences on offer in the Bo Kaap area of Cape Town (see https://youtu.be/VDHceOVlWMI).

And, if you’re passionate about meat, share your enthusiasm with two Cape Town locals who’ll teach you how to barbecue in the traditional way – see https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/1312.
For tastes that are uniquely African, savour the distinctive flavours of the African menu offered by Protea Hotels Fire & Ice! by Marriott in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. “Now’s the chance to push your boundaries,” Mabombo explains, “and get into the heart of African food.  Try something you haven’t eaten before – tripe or traditional South African boerewors sausages – and you could be won over completely.”

Heritage Month is also the time for a focus on the country’s wonderfully diverse natural history.  Coastal attractions, an incredible animal and floral kingdom, and the beauty of the semi-desert regions can be enjoyed by all during the special weather of springtime in September.

Unique experiences are the wild flowers that pop up naturally all over the South-Western Cape at this time of the year and the whales that visit the shores of the country to calve during the August to October period. A visit to the West Coast National Park near Saldanha Bay is a treat.  “Capture special moments there against the backdrop of the stunning wild flowers, enjoy a traditional barbecue (or braai, as it’s known locally), and you may even spot a Southern Right Whale in the bay,” Mabombo recommends.

Whale-watching has become an attraction all on its own and, while the most popular spots are on the Cape Coast, these giants of the deep can also be spotted along the Garden Route and Kwa-Zulu Natal.  See the Southern Rights to the south, and the Humpbacked species in the sub-tropical regions further north and east. Hermanus, the most well-known of the whale-sightings spots, holds its annual Whale Festival from 29 September to 1 October, and you’re bound to spot whales and beautiful spring flowers at Cape Point too, which offers some of the most spectacular views of the ocean.

It’s definitely time to pack your bags and book your tickets to the best experiences on offer anywhere on the globe this September!

This article was first published by TTG on 4 September 2017.