Visiting Cape Town was always on my to-do list, however I never thought that the rest of the country would be as interesting as it turned out to be. I briefly visited Johannesburg in 2010, but didn’t enjoy it that much at the time. When I finally managed to land in Cape Town in 2012 (as the result of a love affair) – I fell in love at first sight!
Over the few months I spent living in South Africa I managed to visit various towns on the Garden Route as well as the Capital. I also survived a safari and discovered the daily life of Cape Town.
Whether you are interested in backpacking, extreme sports, luxurious safaris or simply delicious food, South Africa is definitely a place you should visit…
Here are just some of the reasons why:
When in Africa you cannot miss interacting with wildlife, which is why in my opinion a visit to the Kruger National Park is a must! The park, which is over 20,000km² (that covers two thirds of the Netherlands!), offers various private and group safari tours. If you’re lucky you can spot the Big Five – the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinocerous. If you’re not so lucky, then at least you’d find yourself surrounded by warthogs (aka Pumbaas because of The Lion King), giraffes and elephants. If you’re not into safaris, you can meet friendly penguins on the beach (try Boulder’s Beach or Stony Point Penguins Colony in Betty’s Bay) or spot some whales along the coast from the Cape up to St Lucia (Hermanus and Cape Agulhas are especially great).
2. Extreme Sports
One could say that South Africa is the adventure capital of the world and I would definitely agree with that statement. I’ve managed to do things in SA like shark cage diving, ostrich riding, bungee jumping, and cave explorations.
South Africa is famous for its wine, which in my opinion is the best wine in the world (sorry France!). There are plenty of beautiful wineries to visit with different types of wine and lots of tasting sessions.
South Africa offers a huge variety when it comes to food. Its cuisine has some of the tastiest exotic meats in the world, cooked on a traditional braai (aka barbecue).
5. History of Apartheid
When visiting South Africa it’s impossible not to mention Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom. Various museums around Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria can easily educate tourists about apartheid. I highly recommend a trip to Robben Island prison where you can be guided by one of the ex-prisoners.
6. Table Mountain
Table Mountain is an icon. It is even more beautiful to witness in real life than all the spectacular photos you’ve ever looked at. To sit at Camp’s Bay in the evening and have the mountain on one side and the sun setting on the other is a dream. And even better than seeing the mountain every day (sometimes with a cloud like a tablecloth on top of it), is to go to the top of the mountain and see that view! You can get up by hiking or cable car.
7. Budget Friendly Destination with Luxurious Options
South Africa is cheap – you can afford to travel around if you’re on a budget. However if you’d like to treat yourself with some luxurious accommodation, food and methods of traveling – South Africa also gives you that option.
There are plenty of beautiful beaches in South Africa, with Cape Town still holding the title for the best beaches in the country (although the sea is icy cold). Cape Town offers some fashionable beaches like Camps Bay, youthful beaches like Clifton, or even beaches with penguins like Boulder’s Beach.
9. The People
South Africans are one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. They will go out of their way to help you and make you feel at home.
10. Ease of Travel
South Africa offers great infrastructure that allows visitors to travel easily. Thanks to great highways and plenty of car rental agencies it’s easy to organise self-drive holidays. If you’re only backpacking you can simply take a regular bus line or sign up for organised tours or bus trips.