1 South Africa
Soccer’s World Cup in South Africa in June and July marks a coming of age: It’s the first time an international sporting mega-event has been held on African soil.
But it’s also a chance to see game parks, Cape Town’s stunning coastline and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
Ticket sales are low so far, whether because of security fears, the global recession or doubts that an African nation can pull off the event. Half a million tickets recently went on sale.
About 41,000 police will be deployed during the World Cup, and Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble declared recently he was satisfied with security arrangements. About 120,000 extra domestic flights are planned during the tournament, according to the Airports Company South Africa.
The tournament offers the chance to combine a sports holiday with a game safari at Kruger National Park, South Africa’s best-known game reserve, or at one of the many national parks or private game reserves close to the nine host cities.
The Southern Hemisphere winter is the best time for game viewing, when the grass is low. But tourists may need to pack a varied wardrobe, from light summer gear (for Durban’s balmy winter) to raincoats (Cape Town and coastal towns) and warm fleeces (for inland cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Nelspruit and others). Winter days may be warm, but temperatures plunge at night.
In Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous state, the World Cup hosts are the crowded cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Tourists can take tours to Soweto, including historic sites of the struggle against apartheid.
Cape Town in the southwest is South Africa’s most scenic city, boasting Table Mountain. On Robben Island, just off Cape Town, visitors can see the cell where Mandela spent much of his prison term and even meet ex-prisoners.
Visas are not required for Americans. For info: https://www.southafrica.info/travel/documents/visas.htm
Tickets: Game tickets range from $80 to $900 for the final. The
FIFA site includes information on matches, venues and tickets: https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/index.html
Foreign climbers, for the first time, will be allowed to scale more than 100 high-altitude peaks this summer in the Himalayan state of Kashmir, Indian officials said. The move, they said, is an effort to boost the scenic region’s tourism industry, which has been hit by two decades of separatist rebellion.
3 United Arab Emirates
The observation deck of the world’s tallest skyscraper, known as Burj Khalifa, reopened April 4 in Dubai, two months after an elevator malfunction trapped visitors more than 120 stories above the ground and forced the deck to be closed. The reason for the malfunction remained unclear.
The iconic Little Mermaid statue left its perch in Copenhagen’s harbor March 25 en route to the Danish pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai, which is to open May 1. It was the first trip abroad for the statue, which honors Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.
A rare volcanic eruption in southern Iceland drew thousands of tourists and hikers to the region, said Vidir Reymissom, spokesman for the Civil Protection Department. Visitors were rewarded with spectacular views of lava flows from the volcano.
The State Department recently issued warnings or alerts for these areas:
Lebanon, because of safety and security concerns.
Philippines, because of terrorist and insurgent activities on the islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, and possible election-related violence.
Thailand, because of a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas following demonstrations by protestors.