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May 29, 2014

There are so many places in Southern Africa that easily fall into the category of “paradise.” Not just a safari destination, although adventure can be quite addicting, there are so many places to experience in Southern Africa where visitors can truly just unwind and relax and enjoy paradise found.

When you imagine island-hopping, we bet you didn’t think of Southern Africa right off the bat… but you should. Why do you think the royal couple, Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, affectionately known as Kate, spent their honeymoon in Seychelles, just off the eastern coast of Southern Africa? Because Southern Africa is home to these African islands that are worthy of just such an island-hopping vacation.

Seychelles  The Seychelles can truly be described, without exaggeration, as paradise on Earth. This spectacular necklace of 41 granite and 74 coral islands in the Indian Ocean is a land of perpetual summer, and is renowned for some of the best beaches in the world. This African island has World Heritage sites, proud national monuments, exquisitely beautiful national reserves, beaches, and marine parks just waiting to be explored.

Pristine and uncrowded, the beaches of Seychelles offer powder-soft sands and sapphire waters teeming with a dizzying display of marine life. Visitors will have a thousand opportunities for glass-bottom boating, swimming, water sports, snorkeling, sailing or surfing, or for finding the true meaning of healing relaxation.

Here, there is also golf, horseback riding, and guided nature tours, on which you one could encounter some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world. And perhaps its greatest asset, Seychelles’ is home to a multi-ethnic society in which harmony is a way of life.

Two beaches that can be singled out among the hundreds of picture-perfect beaches are the Anse Lazio on Praslin Island and the Anse Source d’ Argent on La Dique Island.

The Anse Lazio can claim to be the perfect tropical paradise beach and is often listed among the world’s top ten beaches. Perfectly framed by granite rocks, the soft white sands of this dream beach lead you down to calm clear water ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

The Anse Source d’Argent is reputed to be the most photographed beach in the world. With its soft white sand, turquoise water, and huge granite boulders sculpted by time itself, it is not difficult to see why photographers and film makers love to come here.

One could enjoy island-hopping in the Seychelles alone between the 16 islands currently offering accommodation, which ranges from sumptuous 5-star resorts to rustic island lodges and cozy beachside bungalows, or head down to our next destination… Mauritius!

Mauritius  Mauritius will enchant visitors, uplift their spirits, and make them feel that they belong to the chosen few. The island is set in a turquoise sea and is an oasis of peace and tranquility. It is a land of blue lagoons, scenic streams, and exotic coral reefs, all fringed by undulating stretches of pure white sand dotted with clusters of casuarina trees and coconut palms.

In fact, the entire coastline of the lush island is powdered with pure white, soft sand, inviting visitors to luxuriate in lazy inactivity or take leisurely strolls, tempting them into the balmy, azure waters. In this heavenly setting, there are ample opportunities to explore the mysteries of the marine world by means of snorkeling, scuba diving, and “undersea strolls,” or to participate in water sports such as kayaking, jet skiing, motor boating, parasailing, and much more. Or one could simply take a slow trip in a glass-bottomed boat providing clear glimpses of the marine life and corals below.

Windsurfing is also popular with adventure enthusiasts, who take advantage of the near perfect conditions of Mauritian waters to get their adrenaline pumping. Or visitors could go sailing, as conditions are always near perfect, and charter a small sailing dinghy or a yacht.

Forming a luxurious backdrop to the exquisite beauty of the island are the world-renowned Mauritius hotels, each of them offering opulent accommodation and scrumptious tropical cuisine, making this the most idyllic destination imaginable.

Some of the most popular beaches of Mauritius are the Baie du Tamarin, Flic-en Flac, Cap Malheureux, Blue Bay and the Belle Mare.

Madagascar The island of Madagascar is like no other place on Earth. Ifaty is located north of the capital of Tuléar, and is composed of several Vezo villages. The coral reef bordering the coastline is nearly 100 kilometers long and forms the ideal setting for a plethora of aquatic sports. It is easily accessible, and visitors could spend long balmy days frolicking in the crystal clear water washing onto long beaches of fine white sand. Choose between fun in dug-out canoes, snorkeling, or diving along the reef, or simply relaxing. Avid divers will have the opportunity to explore unchartered reef here.

Explore a whole new universe off the Malagasy shores: set sails towards an untouched environment, the beauty of which has been preserved from excessive tourism. Enjoy the sandy beaches and turquoise water, take a moment to inhale the fresh air of the sea and discover the unexpected around the islands.

There are many excursions by boat available via sailboat, speedboat, catamaran, a regular boat, and even a traditional pirogue. Malagasy waters are also among the finest diving spots on the planet. An endless array of colorful fish with exotic names continuously weaves their underwater ballet, in a landscape of shells and corals with indescribable shapes.

The southern arch, with its lost fishing villages and its waves will please surfers and windsurfers, and diving will offer unforgettable excursions under the sea, complete with its own authentic wreck beneath the waves.

Two major sites singled out for whale watching are Baie d’Antongil, which constitutes an important breeding area, and the Island of Sainte Marie where commercial observation is thoroughly regulated. And Malagasy waters also have a well-deserved reputation for sport fishing. Depending on the tide, visitors can practice handline, trolling, and cast fishing in a single day.

All these aspects make the island of Madagascar, a perfect destination for discovery and relaxation.

If starting your journey in Seychelles, the main international airport is on the island of Mahé. All flights within the Seychelles arrive and depart from here. The best way to get to the other islands is via air. From Seychelles, the national carrier, Air Seychelles, will get visitors where they want to go, along with other commercial carriers as well.

 For more information about RETOSA, go to www.retosa.co.za

Source: RETOSA



Cultural tourism is fast becoming a major factor that motivates travelers to choose their destinations while on holiday, and so countries that are fortunate to have areas that are on the UNESCO World Heritage sites list become favorite places to visit.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks toencourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage is both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

The Southern Africa (SADC) region has an abundance of natural wonders and treasures. It is the proud home of 38 World Heritage Sites in 12 countries. Among these 38 are National Parks, Rock Art sites, Mountains, Hills, National Monuments, Water Falls, Rain Forests and Islands.
If traveling from abroad, a stop-off to explore these authentic and pleasurable sites should be the starting point. This will not only give tourists insights into the culture and heritage of the local communities in the region, but also enrich and reward their travel experiences.

Of course, one simply cannot see and experience them all in one trip. As a result, we will touch on a few, starting with the World Heritages Sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as our primary destination.

With five UNESCO biospheres listed as World Heritage sites, whole ecosystems of teeming wildlife and huge untapped mineral capacity, the DRC has a huge tourism potential that is nothing short of spectacular.

Virunga National Park

This national park is the oldest, most beautiful, and most diverse national park on the African continent that boasts savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, forests, active volcanoes and the ice fields of the Rwenzori Mountains. The park provides a home to numerous species of wildlife, including 200 of the world's critically-endangered mountain gorillas and a small population of eastern lowland gorillas.

For years the political situation in Congo prevented tourists from visiting Virunga. Now that the Democratic Republic of Congo is ruled by an elected government and is at peace with her neighbors, the park has been re-opened to tourists and the world is re-discovering one of its most treasured places.

Kahuzi-Biega National Park

The Kahuzi-Biega is a vast area of primarily tropical forest dominated by two spectacular extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi and Biega. It has a diverse and abundant fauna, with one of the last groups of eastern lowland gorillas calling this forest home. The park contains flora and fauna of exceptional diversity, making it one of the most important sites in the Rift Albertine Valley, and it is also one of the ecologically richest regions of Africa and worldwide.

Garamba National Park

Garamba National Park is one of Africa's oldest national parks and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. Garamba is home to the world's last known wild population of Northern White Rhinos, and due to poaching of the rhinos within the park, it was added to the list of World Heritage sites in Danger in 1996. The park is also well known for its African elephant domestication program started in the 1960s.

Salonga National Park

This national park is located in the Congo River basin and is Africa's largest tropical rainforest reserve. Animals in the park include bonobos, Salonga monkeys, Tshuapa red colobus, Congo Peafowl, forest elephants, and African slender-snouted crocodiles. Most of the park is accessible only via river.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is situated in the Ituri Forest and covers approximately one fifth of the area of the forest. The Nepoko, Ituri and Epulu rivers flow through the reserve, and the imposing Mbiya Mountain overlooks the Epulu village. The reserve is home to many animals including the okapi, elephants, leopards, chimpanzees, crocodiles, forest buffalo, water chevrotain, and forest elephants. The reserve has over 300 species of bird, and is one of the most important sites for bird conservation in mainland Africa. Nomadic Mbuti pygmies and indigenous Bantu farmers also live within the reserve.

And there’s more…

After visiting any of these World Heritage sites, it would make sense to add on visits to other World Heritage sites of bordering countries, like Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania.

The well-known Victoria Falls located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe would be a wonderful place to start, followed by Lake Malawi National Park and the Chongoni Rock-Art area in the country of Malawi. Tanzania has a multitude of World Heritage sites to choose from during a visit, from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara. As far as parks and reserves go, there is the Serengeti National Park, Selous Game Reserve, and Kilimanjaro National Park. And to round out the list of World Heritage sites there is the unique Stone Town of Zanzibar and the Kondoa Rock-Art sites.

Once you are in Southern Africa, visitors would be wise to take an extended vacation exploring more than one country and more than one destination. With so many beautiful and awe-inspiring World Heritage sites to choose from, it will be a natural that travelers will create memorable experiences to last a lifetime. Until the next trip, that is, to another Southern Africa destination!

About Southern Africa

The Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) is a Southern African Development Community (SADC) institution responsible for tourism growth and development. In part, the aims of RETOSA are to increase tourist arrivals to the region through sustainable development initiatives, improved regional competitiveness, and effective destination marketing. The organization works together with Member States’ Tourism Ministries, Tourism Boards, and private sector partners. For more information about RETOSA, go to www.retosa.co.za

Source: RETOSA




Imagine falling asleep to the sounds of the bush, the roar of the hungry lion, or the high-pitched giggle of a hyena echoing in your ears.   Lazing by the azure blue waters of a tropical island paradise. Even better, exploring the hustle and bustle of a traditional market, where cultures long gone live on in the customs of today. Experiencing some of the wonders of the world or visiting some world heritage sites. 


Welcome to Southern Africa!  One of the most beautiful, exotic and diverse destinations in the world where you can do all this and more. Whether your interest lies in adventure, animals, culture or cuisine, the Southern African region, with its varied tapestry of landscapes, has something for every traveller. The Southern African region comprising of Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, offers unbeatable holiday experiences. From indulging in mountains of peri-peri prawns on a golden Mozambican beach to trailing gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


From diving in the depths of Lake Malawi to conquering Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, you can be sure that a holiday in Southern Africa is one you won’t forget. Discover the secrets of ancient cultures in Lesotho and Swaziland, watch the sun set from an Angolan beach bar, or bathe in the romance of Mauritius and Madagascar palm-fringed beaches. If a safari is more your style, you will be spoilt for choice – why not track the Big Five on an elephant – back safari in Botswana, or safari in the sky with a hot air balloon in South Africa? Need more action? Namibia’s desert is a must for those keen to try sand boarding or dune buggy boarding, or even for those who simply want to take in one of the world’s most starkly beautiful landscapes. Whether in Zambia or Zimbabwe, you will be absorbed by one of the most spectacular wonders of the world – Victoria Falls. Wherever you decide to go, you will encounter the warmth and spirit of the African people. Let your journey begin…


Southern Africa offers a diversity of travel destinations - with everything from the definitive safari to exquisite hospitality, adrenalin-pumping adventure and unique cuisine. The 15 countries on show at RETOSA offer the best of Africa.



We're proud to say that Africa Travel AssociatIon (ATA was a founding member of RETOSA. Southern Africa offers a diversity of travel destinations - with everything from the definitive safari to exquisite hospitality, adrenalin-pumping adventure and unique cuisine. RETOSA covers 14 diverse and exciting countries which include the legendary wildlife covered plains of Tanzania, the Coral Coastlines of Mocambique, the vineyards, bustling cities and big game reserves of South Africa. Explore Botswana's Okavango Delta - the jewel of Africa, or the grand mountains of Lesotho. Visit the unparralleled Victoria Falls shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe or enjoy the tropical beaches of the Seychelles and Mauritius. http://www.retosa.co.za/

North American Tourism Market Study
News Release

The regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (Retosa) has undertaken an in-depth tourism study in North America on behalf of Southern Africa. This focused study is a result of the noted increase in the number of visitors from North America to Southern Africa. North America offers Southern Africa two particular tourist source markets i.e. United States of America and Canada. Each has their own unique wealth sectors and demographics for separate studies.

The Retosa tourism study aims to bring about information pertaining to these lucrative markets. It will deliver detailed analysis of surveys conducted in the US and Canada. It will investigate tourism trends, volume and growth and their impact on the SADC.

A five-year marketing and promotional programme will be implemented by RETOSA for the Northern American Market once the research results have been analysed to ensure that trend capitalisation takes place to grow the economy of Southern Africa

Contact RETOSA on telephone (011) 315 2420 for further information or visit
www.retosa.co.za or www.retosa.org

Released on behalf of RETOSA by Next Generation Communication

AFTA and ATA invite you to an evening where you will find ...



If you type in “Madagascar” into a search engine and click on images, you will likely see pictures of the country and also images from the animated movie “Madagascar” – a popular movie, with four delightful main characters; Alex the African lion; Marty the zebra, Florrie the hippo, and Melman the giraffe.


In real life, Madagascar is like no other place on Earth. A hundred and sixty-five million years ago, during the break-up of the prehistoric super-continent, the island of Madagascar was left isolated. This isolation allowed the island’s prehistoric fauna and flora to evolve in their own unique way. There is just something about this special island country and its fauna, not to mention its flora and inhabitants, that one finds naturally endearing.

Perhaps the most familiar of Madagascar’s endemic creatures are the lemurs, one of the first primate families to evolve and one that is now restricted to Madagascar. They display a range of interesting behaviors, from singing like a whale to sashaying across the sand like a ballet dancer. Lemur-watching tours take visitors to the very best wildlife reserves the island has to offer, such as Berenty, Isalo, Ranomafana and Andasibe.

The thriving capital of Antananarivo has caught up with modern times, while retaining its natural charms. The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga and the Queen’s Palace are but a few of the attractions worthy of a visit. There are incredible limestone landscape hikes in Tsingy de Bemaraha and canoeing along the spectacular canyon of the Manambolo River which is inhabited by rare and endangered species.

There are many reserves and parks to explore in Madagascar. The Ankarana Reserve is a small plateau with elevations exceeding 1,220 meters above sea level, and limestone up to 150 million years old. An ideal place to rest between lemur viewing and mountain hiking is Ifaty which is composed of several Vezo villages.

Madagascar boasts many World Heritage Sites from the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve to Ambohimanga, a hill topped by a traditional fortified royal city of the same name. The Rainforests of the Atsinanana became a World Heritage Site in 2007 and consists of 13 specific areas located within six national parks in the eastern part of Madagascar.

But let’s not stop there

It would be worth one’s while to plan a trip to Madagascar that includes other nearby Southern Africa countries, such as Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Just across the way is the eastern coastline of Mozambique, with Zimbabwe bordering Mozambique on the west.


Mozambique is fast becoming one of Southern Africa’s premier holiday destinations, and for very good reason. This country is home to thriving wildlife, and is a natural beauty with exquisite beaches and a historic heritage.

With its spectacular coastline, washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Mozambique offers beaches and pristine coral reefs with a wide range of activities from sailing to horse riding, snorkeling to diving. The white silky sands and balmy waters are teeming with exotic fish species, making it a definite favorite among divers from across the world.

On the Bazaruto Archipelago, small antelope roam the islands alongside fresh-water crocodiles and samango monkeys, while flamingo nest on the freshwater lakes. The islands are also home to over 240 species of birds. The entire archipelago forms part of the Bazaruto Marine Park, making this reserve one of the largest in the Indian Ocean. In addition to humpback whales, dolphins, manta rays, and five species of turtle, some 100 dugongs survive here.

Moving inland, the Gorongosa National Park stretches along the southern edge of the Great Rift Valley, covering vast areas of savannah, woodlands, and rainforest. Visitors are treated to sightings of lion, leopard, and other large cats, along with buffalo, elephant, warthog, zebra, hippo, crocodile, and a variety of antelope. The bird-life is also quite prolific, with over 200 species having been identified, including the rare green-headed oriole.


Keeping with the theme of creatures one may encounter on a vacation in Southern Africa, and hopping over to Zimbabwe, one cannot miss a visit to Hwange National Park - home to vast herds of elephant, buffalo, and zebra. It is also a haven for many endangered species, and the only area where gemsbok, brown hyena, and wild dog occur in reasonable numbers. . Here, visitors may view game by car or on walking or horseback safaris.

Dubbed as the world’s greatest animal kingdom, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park links the Manjinji Pan Sanctuary, Malipati Safari Area, and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, as well as two areas between Kruger and Gonarezhou – the Sengwe communal land in Zimbabwe, with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, along with the Makuleke region and Kruger National Park in South Africa. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park presently covers 35,000 square kilometers but will eventually expand to a staggering 100,000 square kilometers.

Getting from place to place

Any tourist from any nationality can enter Madagascar with an initial tourist visa if staying no longer than 30 days and if your passport does not expire within six months after your final date of stay. This type of visa can be obtained on arrival. Probably the simplest way to get to the island is via its national carrier, Air Madagascar, which provides long-haul flights from other countries as well as links with other airlines to the island.

All visitors, except citizens of Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius and Zambia will need a visa to then get into Zimbabwe, which can be obtained on arrival at some airports (Maputo, Vilankulo and Pemba), at some land borders and at Mozambican (and some British) embassies/high commissions/consulates. Again, the easiest way to get here is by plane with a number of airlines flying in from various places.

We're proud to say that Africa Travel AssociatIon (ATA was a founding member of RETOSA.