South Africa is called the Rainbow Nation for its rich diversity of ancestry, cuisine, landscape and even languages. To help South Africans celebrate their heritage, September 24th is set aside annually to recognize all aspects of South African culture, including creative expression, historical inheritance, language, food, and the land in which they live.
National Heritage Day
The Parliament of South Africa allocated September 24th as National Heritage Day after the 1994 democratic election. An official public holiday, National Heritage Day was first celebrated throughout the country in 1995. In Kwazulu-Natal, the date was already known as Shaka Day in commemoration of Shaka Zulu, the legendary Zulu King who united the various Zulu clans.
Meet Lisa, our Communications Manager, based in our Corporate Headquarters in Sarasota, Florida. A voice-over artist and award-winning travel writer, Lisa has written, narrated and produced some of the Go Touch Down video’s you may have seen. She maintains our website, generates internal and external newsletters and correspondence, and works closely with our COO to create sales and marketing materials across multiple platforms.
Q: Where did you travel to last?
Lisa: This past May my husband and I went on a cruise from Italy to Croatia and through the Greek Islands. I had the opportunity to explore two of the cities on our new Go Touch Down Croatia tour – Split, and Dubrovnik. They were truly magical – our clients are in for a treat!
Meet Lucia Barnard, African Travel Specialist based in Sarasota. Lucia was born in South Africa and moved with her husband and two kids to the USA in 2009. After living in Atlanta for a year, they settled in Sarasota, Florida. This well-traveled and energetic Travel Professional has been in the Travel Industry since 1992.
Q: In your opinion, what are some of the must-sees on a first-time South African Tour?
Lucia: Nothing beats the African bush surrounded by an African sunset; however the Cape Town experience is filled with everything I want in a vacation… amazing food, culture, shopping, and exploring eco wildlife is a must-do.
Meet Shelly, Sales Director Asia-Pacific and African Travel Specialist, born in Cape Town and based in both Australia and Indonesia. We managed to steal a few minutes to chat with this vibrant citizen of the globe.
Q: What is it like living on three continents?
Shelly: It’s been years since I’ve been based purely in one country so, it’s normal to me, home is where the heart is anyway, and my heart goes wherever I go, and I am very lucky I can work from literally anywhere, provided there is internet of course. I do get a bit muddled up sometimes when there’s daylight savings, but all my apps tend to sync to whatever time zone I am in, so I rarely miss an appointment.
Meet Tarryn Kirby, Sales Manager and Specialist Travel Consultant at our Oakville, Ontario branch. A native South African and Canadian resident, she reflects on the differences between the two countries she calls home.
Q: What do you miss most about living in South Africa?
Tarryn:I guess the obvious things that I miss would be friends and family. The South African lifestyle is very social, from dining out at your favorite restaurants every weekend to a casual Braai at a friend’s house, there is always something to celebrate! Not spending weekends with familiar faces was an adjustment at first. The loss of a support structure that comes with that also took some getting used to, but thankfully technology today helps close the gap and the stretch across the Atlantic becomes a little shorter. Another obvious would be that fantastic year-round weather of course!! I miss spending my winter holidays on the beach! That has certainly changed!
The lure of the exotic; the mysteries of the unknown, the confluence of cultures… South Africa has a universal, seductive appeal. Here are just some of the reasons why.
1. Scenic splendor
South Africa has some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery in the world. Expect miles of golden beaches and unspoiled coastline; dramatic mountains and mountain passes; 19 national parks; game reserves teeming with big game and hundreds of birds; ancient forests; semi-deserts; oceans and rivers; rolling grasslands, and natural flower fields – all waiting to be explored.
While children in the northern hemisphere dream of a snowy white Christmas, in South Africa, it’s time for sun, sand and sea. Since it is summer in South Africa, the kids are out of school and families often flock to the beach or to peaceful nature reserves such as Kruger National Park.
Meet Taylor, our sunny Admin and Travel Assistant. Hers is the friendly voice you’ll likely hear when you call, as she deftly manages our switchboard for our North America offices – while entering client flight details, initiating the client contract process, researching travel trade shows across the country, monitoring our online chat… and more. A recent rural Michigan transplant, this country girl is literally both a hunter and a gatherer.
Q: You not only are an accomplished cook, but at times you have also had to hunt and fish for your dinner. Any favorite recipes to share?
Taylor: Yes, my family and I are always spending time together in the kitchen. While I often experiment with new recipe ideas, my best are always those prepared the same day as the catch or hunt. There’s nothing more rewarding than going through the entire process in one day and sharing with others after. My northern secret is my side of Morel Mushroom Ragout. Picking mushrooms from the forest is a great northern tradition, and sides with most wild caught meals perfectly!
Nothing says Christmas in South Africa like glazed gammon.
Since Christmas is a summertime holiday in the Southern Hemisphere, some South Africans prefer to braai (barbeque) steaks and sausages for Christmas. But many go the British colonial heritage route with glazed gammon, roast beef, turkey, lamb and even chicken, served with roasted potatoes, veggies and salad.
For the uninitiated, gammon is a British name for a ham cured in the same way as bacon, versus dry-cured or cooked. In South Africa it is generally not served any other time of year.