So, you are planning to attend the various soccer matches around our beautiful land, but what else is there to see and do when you are visiting the various cities? We are going to highlight a few accessible features in each city as well as shopping areas, in case you need to get the odd souvenir or forgotten essential. Most of the attractions have websites so please google them for additional information.
Our mother city has many attractions, and I could probably write an entire article on them, but I’m only going to highlight the most well known and visible of these. First of all we have the V & A Waterfront, which sits in the heart of the City bowl. It is a large
complex comprising of shopping centre, hotels, marina and theatre and, attached to it, our world-famous Two Oceans Oceanarium with sea life from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. This entire complex is accessible and one can spend many hours partaking of its many diverse delights.
Table Mountain – our county’s most iconic natural resource – has upgraded the cable way station and cable cars, which are now accessible. Unfortunately, the pathways and paving at the top of the mountain are still uneven and not very accessible.
The Wine Route includes many great wineries (and many great wines!!) with accessible facilities, but please check first as some of the cellars are still not accessible.
DURBAN / ETHEKWENI
This tourist hot-spot boasts many attractions along its “Golden Mile” – a four kilometre stretch of promenades, hotels, beaches, restaurants, a casino and Mini Town, an accessible initiative of the Quadriplegic Association of KwaZulu-Natal.
Durban’s harbour area now includes restaurants, theatres and the UShaka Marine World, Africa’s largest marine theme park. As well as a dolphinarium, UShaka also has the fifth largest aquarium in the world. Swimmers can access the snorkeling lagoon in their wheelchairs for a close encouter of the shark kind but not all of the rides at their Wet ‘n Wild park are as accessible. A paved walkway stretches from UShaka to North Beach.
On the north coast, Umhlanga Rocks’ Gateway Centre – one of the best shopping centres in South Africa – is very wheelchair and family friendly.
Durban, being the pro-active city that it is, is developing a website to promote Durbs as THE accessible city of South Africa.
Egoli has so many attractions, but if the focus is our heritage, then the most accessible museum is the Apartheid Museum, next to the Gold Reef City amusement complex. Both of these are accessible and a must if you want to learn more about our gold mining heritage and freedom struggle.
You should not visit Jo’burg without experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a Soweto Shebeen. Shebeens used to be unlicenced township pubs but today’s Shebeens are upmarket African restaurants, where you can mix with locals and get a feel of yesteryear too.
Shopping complexes such as Eastgate, Northgate, Southgate, Sandton City and Cresta are all accessible, but enormous, so be prepared to shlep!
MANGAUNG / BLOEMFONTEIN
This city has a wealth of culture and history, reflected by its rich architecture, numerous museums and monuments. It is the only city with a game reserve within its city limits, the Naval Hill Complex, and also boasts the Lamont Hussey Observatory, that was recently converted into a theatre. The Orchid House is situated at the western foot of Naval Hill in Hamiltonpark. Near the orchid house is a fragrance garden for the visually impaired.
The new Loch Logan Waterfront, includes a cinema, fashion shops, flea market, coffee shops and restaurants allowing you to spend an entire day of stimulating all your senses.
NELSON MANDELA BAY / PORT ELIZABETH
The Boardwalk is located on the Port Elizabeth beach front in the exclusive suburb of Summerstrand. It has four hotels, several dining facilities and pubs, a 24 hour casino, stores, a cinema, an amphitheatre and children’s entertainment area.
Greenacres Shopping Centre, Port Elizabeth’s biggest shopping centre, is centrally located and has served the community for decades.
This gateway to Mpumalanga boasts a mall with an eight-theatre cinema complex, casino and entertainment centre.
The lowveld botanical gardens just outside of Nelspruit boasts a rare collection of plant species, the first man-made rain forests and are reasonably accessible (70%).
Meropa Casino and Entertainment World complex is situated 5 kilometres from Polokwane and although there is no integrated hotel, the nearby Town Lodge Hotel has 102 rooms including two accessible rooms. The Meropa complex offers Wild Thingz (a butterfly, bird and reptile reserve) as well as Go-Kart tracks, Adventure Golf, a kids playground, Cultural Fair and Market as well as an amphitheatre.
No visitor to this area should miss out on the multifaceted Sun City Resort – four hotels, casino and Entertainment Centre, the Valley of the Waves (an inland beach and wave pool), golf courses and watersports all nestled within an ancient volcanic crater next to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
TSHWANE / PRETORIA
The Freedom Park, with its Garden of Remembrance, is located on a 52- hectare site at Salvokop Hill as you enter Tshwane from Johannesburg in the south.
The uphill climbs and winding roads serve a symbolic purpose – a testimony to the arduous road that South Africans had to travel to reach their destination of humanity and freedom. Golf carts are available for the disabled and elderly.
Of the larger retail shopping centres, Brooklyn Mall and Menlyn Centre, Brooklyn Mall has the most facilities for persons with disabilities.
A list of accommodation websites, tour guides and companies who cater for persons with disabilities is available on request.
In the meantime, happy safe travels.