The best ways to experience South Africa from the sofa

Inspiration seeking and future holiday planning, is top-of-mind more than ever for travellers across Australia and New Zealand. And with recent research from Google showcasing a significant increase in the number of Australians searching for virtual experiences*, South African Tourism introduces its top virtual wanderlust list – to bring South Africa to the sofa and spark excitement to #meetsouthafricaLATER.

Across culture, entertainment, food & wine and the wonderful wildlife for which South Africa is famed, from this month there are now over 20 new and interactive ways to enjoy the riches that the country has to offer without needing to leave the house.

Mandela Museum & Art at Home

A true journey into South African history, world-famous Robben Island Museum (RIM) – the former prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated – is a must-see for those visiting South Africa and now, for the first time, is hosting virtual experiences where guests can wander at leisure through the World Heritage Site from the comfort of their sofa.

Johannesburg’s ABSA Art Gallery shines the spotlight on the works of young African artists as well as pioneering art masters, and from this month can be experienced through special 3D tours. Breath-taking pieces in the gallery include a colourful marvel by artist Karel Nel, titled ‘Place of Nature’ and six-storey tall tuft carpet banners by Norman Catherine — hand-woven by rural men plus an 11-metre tall Walter Oltmann wire sculpture depicting replicas of carved African chairs that weigh half a ton. 

And South Africa’s first contemporary art museum – The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – has 3D virtual tours as well as a collection of audio tours across the museum’s temporary and permanent exhibitions.

Live DJ’s and Sistahood Sessions

While making plans to travel to South Africa later holiday-goers can now immerse themselves in the melodic tunes and escape to the Cape with famed DJ Black Coffee. Known for his soulful sounds, he hits the decks via his Facebook page – Australian and New Zealand music-lovers can tune in early on Sunday mornings or enjoy on playback anytime.

For those looking for an education on the country’s music and theatre scenes, lead singer,  Zolani Mahola, of Afro-fusion band Freshlyground – one of the most acclaimed and successful bands to emerge from South Africa in recent years –performs daily sets featuring some of the country’s most esteemed artists and performers.

The Sistahood Sessions is another set not to be missed, with a different female DJ hitting the decks every Saturday.

Cooking at Home with South African chefs

Chef and restaurateur, Cheyne Morrisby, hosts Facebook Live cooking demonstrations each night to support his team of staff. Cheyne has over 35 years’ experience cooking for celebrities and politicians such as Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams.

Whilst duo Brett Nussey & Jody O’Connor from Cape Town based cooking school, Stir Crazy, are cooking up a storm with their live online cooking classes. Each 2-hour class costs around $29 and all participants need is a computer, internet connection, chopping board and a knife. With a list of ingredients then shared ahead of class.

Meanwhile, Peter Goffe-Wood, esteemed MasterChef SA judge, is currently hosting an Instagram live cooking series called ‘Recipes for Disaster’ which uses recipe suggestions from his audience based on what ingredients they have at home -including how to make fresh pasta and sauce.

Plus, popular South African news channel, eNCA, has partnered with chefs around South Africa to inspire those at home with daily cooking shows. Viewers can tune in daily at 7:00pm AEST, or use the recipes available online to recreate the dishes anytime.

Not to be missed, South African-born chef and food editor, Warren Mendes, and South African Tourism have come together to create a series of virtual cooking classes, each showcasing a different South African dish, including Bunny Chow and Malva Pudding, offering a taste of South Africa from home to whet appetites for future travel to the destination. The how-to series will play out across South African Tourism’s Facebook pages throughout May and June and the audience are encouraged to share their own creations for a chance to win an isolation care pack filled with South African wines, treats and ingredients to create their own South African masterpieces at home.

Wonderful Wildlife with the Family

To provide further inspiration for the whole family for future travels and provide kids with some education from home on the majesty of nature and wildlife, would-be travellers can now catch a glimpse of some of the biggest attractions thanks to a host of leading game and private reserves launching live streams and interactive game drives. Bordering Kruger National Park, Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private game reserve (whose name means roar of the lion) are not to be missed. The live sunrise safari from 2.00pm AEST will take safari-seekers on an interactive game drive, with guides answering questions from the virtual audience. Recent highlights have included viewers witnessing a pride of lions, leopards, hyenas and elephants.

Safari-seekers can now experience the vast beauty and diversity of South Africa’s National Parks (SANParks) through the Webcams that are located in Addo Elephant National Park and Kruger National Park – offering viewers the chance for a close encounter with the Big 5.

Over at Singita in Sabi Sands, renowned for its high concentration of big game and frequent leopard sightings, a local photographer and safari guide takes viewers on a live safari through 45,000 hectares tracking lions, leopards, elephants and more along the way.

 For those game for an early rise, tune in on VirginLimitedEdition to journey through Ulusaba private game reserve where lucky viewers might spot two leopard cubs in their den, the reserve’s resident lion pride and baby elephants.

With a plethora of virtual experiences bringing the sights, sounds and even tastes of South Africa to wanderlusters’ homes, it has never been as interactive or exciting for travel-seekers to plan their next adventure #meetsouthafricaLATER.


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