South Africa is a country with a complicated history that still resonates in the daily lives of its people today. For nearly 50 years, the country was under Apartheid, a system of harsh, institutionalized racial segregation, that ended with the formation of a Democratic government in 1994. You can experience moments of the country’s history through museum visits and historic tours and see how it impacts citizens today through the vibrant art scene. Here are a few cultural experiences that you should check out on your next visit.

Robben Island 

Located just 4 miles West of Cape Town, Robben Island has a rich history dating back to the 1400s when South Africans were banished and imprisoned for resisting colonialism. Today, tours of the island include a visit to Nelson Mandela’s jail cell, where he spent 18 years of his 27 year sentence. Many tours are guided by a former political prisoner offering unique and first-hand insights into the history and experiences on the island. 

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Apartheid Museum

Johannesburg is home to the Apartheid Museum, the preeminent museum in the world dealing with 20th century South Africa. The museum houses numerous permanent exhibits including South Africa’s history with segregation, apartheid, political executions, and “The Rise of Black Consciousness.”

Deep House Music Clubs

South Africa has made its mark on the international house music scene with the rise in popularity, clubs, and DJs including Kyle Russouw, Weston & Engine, and Audiojerk. Although most of these clubs are underground, Reset is one of Cape Town’s most popular dance clubs dedicated to the many forms of EDM including electro, techno, and house. 

Check Out The Local Art Scene

No matter where you visit in South Africa, you will encounter street art and galleries showcasing local contemporary art with bold, powerful colors and imagery telling stories of the country’s complicated history as well as life today. The Keyes Art Mile in Johannesburg is a new art precinct offering galleries, design stores, and restaurants as a “creative hub for people to connect, experience, and share.”

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Visit Zululand

Zululand, located in the northeastern section of present-day KwaZulu-Natal, is home to the Zulu people. It is also home to South Africa’s best game reserves including Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Thanda Private Game Reserve and Thula Thula Private Game Reserve, where you can spend the afternoon on a safari mingling with South Africa’s exquisite wildlife.