Mandela’s South Africa – Celebrate his centenary on your trip

The year 2018 marks a major milestone in Nelson Mandela’s story – his centenary. Madiba would have turned 100 years old this year. To honour this, we’ve compiled a list of places to see on your trip to South Africa.

Chat to a Giltedge consultant to add these landmarks to your itinerary, and follow in Madiba’s mighty footsteps.

Cape Town

The Mother City is home to some of the most famous sights associated with Mandela like Robben Island – the island prison where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Take a ferry to the island from the V&A Waterfront and go on an educational guided tour.

Inside the Robben Island prison, photo by Cape Town Tourism

Afterwards, stroll to the nearby Nobel Square where life-size sculptures of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates can be found: Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, Desmond Tutu and Albert Luthuli. It’s a great place to take a selfie, and enjoy the shops and restaurants at the V&A Waterfront.

Only about a 15-minute drive from the Waterfront is the bustling Grand Parade and Cape Town’s City Hall. Not only is this 1905-building beautiful, but it’s also historically significant as Mandela stood on its balcony to address the thousands of people who’d come to hear him speak after his release.

Mandela delivers his first speech at the Grand Parade, Cape Town, 11 February 1990. Photo by Chris Ledochowski

DiscoverCTWC, the Leisure Tourism Unit for Cape Town and the Western Cape, has put together a great Cape Town Madiba itinerary for visitors. They have also partnered with actor John Kani to celebrate Madiba’s birthday on 18 July with the unveiling of the new Madiba statue at City Hall.

Lastly, these two spots are not tourist attractions but rather points of interest. Pollsmoor Prison near the Constantia winelands and Drakenstein Correctional Centre, close to Stellenbosch, are two other institutions where Mandela was also incarcerated. View the Mandela SA app for more information.

Johannesburg

South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg, is home to a different chapter in Mandela’s life. Liliesleaf Farm was a refuge for Apartheid struggle leaders who were forced to go underground in 1960. Nowadays it’s an impressive interactive museum that documents the history of the liberation struggle. Chat over a cup of coffee at the on-site restaurant afterwards.

Lilliesleaf Farm

The Apartheid Museum Johannesburg, Constitution Hill and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory are also well worth visiting in the CBD.

Another great spot is 8115 Vilakazi Street in the Soweto township which was Mandela’s modest home before his arrest. It still has the marks of Molotov cocktails and bullet holes – and has been turned into a museum. Vilakazi Street itself has a craft market, souvenirs and pavement restaurants.

Vilakazi Street in Soweto where you can visit Mandela’s former home, photo by Getaway

Head on to Maboneng Precinct in east Jozi for a cool vibe and the 40-meter high Madiba mural made by Freddy Sam. Its message is ‘You cannot be human all by yourself’. Stroll through the district with its trendy restaurants, art and flagship stores.

Its message is ‘You cannot be human all by yourself’.

Photo by DavidKrutProjects

Another spot that’s great but not as well-known is the Alexandra township where Nelson Mandela lived for a short time. Take a township tour with Tour2.0, and get to know the heart of the community and eat some traditional South African food.

Safari Lodges 

Shambala

Shambala Private Game Reserve in the Waterberg, close to Marakele National Park, is a 2.5-hour drive (or short helicopter transfer) from Johannesburg. Shambala’s owner Douw Steyn and ‘Tata’ became friends and Douw offered to build him a home on the property.

The lodge became Mandela’s sanctuary where he wrote his autobiography and South Africa’s interim constitution. (Read the full story here). It’s now been turned into the Nelson Mandela Villa with five luxury bedrooms and is open to bookings.

Londolozi

To recover from the hectic media exposure and his time in prison, Nelson Mandela spent a few days at Londolozi enjoying the serenity of nature, game drives and seeing the Big Five for the first time in his life! Londolozi is situated in the game-rich Sabi Sand Game Reserve, bordering the Kruger National Park.

Read the full story here.

Photo by Londolozi

KwaZulu-Natal province

If you’re near Pietermaritzburg in the KwaZulu-Natal province, stop off at the statue that was erected at Mandela’s capture site. Situated on a windy road outside the small town of Howick, this was where Nelson Mandela was arrested by Apartheid security police.

mandela south africa
The capture site statue in Howick

Resources

We recommend the Mandela South Africa app for visitors as well as the Nelson Mandela website for more info. While Nelson Mandela is associated with many places, we think these are some of the best to see on your first (or second) visit to South Africa.

Just email us if you have any questions!