South Africa is an amazing country with so much to offer the visitor. Everyone I know who has visited has absolutely loved it and they return again and again. If you are considering booking a visit to “a world in one country” then read on as I am going to give you 10 reasons to visit South Africa!
IT REALLY IS A WORLD IN ONE COUNTRY
South Africa has so much to offer…from the cosmopolitan bustle that is Cape Town…. to the beauty of the Drakensburg mountains…. to the wildlife (elephant, rhino, lions, leopard, zebra, giraffe etc.) you can spot in the Kruger National Park or one of the many private game reserves in South Africa. Beaches, stunning scenery, amazing wildlife, fabulous wines and a wonderful climate are all there for you to experience.
Read more – An insider’s guide to Cape Town
To me there is nothing in the world as exciting as sitting in a Land Rover with a massive bull elephant about a foot away from you or hearing the roar of lions in the wild (I do get a little bit scared when I see big cats though and once leapt across 3 people to change sides when a leopard sidled up to our jeep!) There are many parks around the country with Kruger National Park being the second largest game reserve in Africa. It spans 360 km from north to south and 65 km from east to west and is bordered by Zimbabwe to the north.
Kruger is found in the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the north-east of the country. There are lots of private game reserves and lodges to stay in. One of these is Klaserie River Safari Lodge which forms part of the Jubulani Private Nature Reserve within Kruger National park. Read more about Klaserie River Safari Lodge.
From the age of eight Cape Town -well Table Mountain to be precise -was the number 1 destination my bucket list (shared with the Golden Gate Bridge). I have been very lucky to have visited numerous times and it still remains one of my favourite cities in the world. There is so much to do and see in Cape Town and surrounds – fantastic sights, beautiful beaches, great restaurants and hotels, shopping opportunities. If you love botanical gardens then you need to head to Kirstenbosch which are beautiful gardens set in the shadow of Table Mountain.
In the meantime here are a few photos to wet your appetite!
Cape Point – and a few baboons on the way!
THE GARDEN ROUTE
The Garden Route lies between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth (technically Mossel Bay to Plettenburg Bay)and is an extremely scenic 150 mile drive which will take you along the coast and through some must-see towns such as Knysna, Plettenburg Bay itself (look out for whales in spring), George and Wilderness. There are a variety of ecosystems (fynbos – the heathland vegetation- is unique to the Cape) and lots of wildlife, flowers and birds to spot. The area is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you want to see ostriches then Oudttshoon – it is the ostrich breeding capital of the world- is the place to go! Driving the route you will find beautiful beaches along the coast with hills, lakes and ancient forests further inland.
The Drakensburgs (meaning dragon mountains in English) is the main mountain range in South Africa and runs parallel to the south eastern coastline for about 700 miles. It extends to Mpumalanga/Limpopo provinces in the north to the Eastern Cape in the south. It passes through the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the country of Lesotho – also known as the Kingdom in the Sky because of its high altitude. One area in the Drakensburgs to visit is Cathedral Peak. The beautiful chapel found at the Cathedral Peak Hotel is absolutely stunning – look at those views. The area has lots of beautiful walks to enjoy. The Maloti-Drakensburg Park which is composed of 2 National Parks – uKhahlamba Drakensburg National Park in SA and the Sehlathebe National Park in Lesotho is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you like wine then you are going to be spoilt. There are many fabulous wine producing areas in South Africa with the largest concentration situated in the Western Cape. In and around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek you can discover some of the larger estates. Wineries offer wine tastings and some also gourmet food and accommodation. On a visit to one of the smaller wineries a few years ago I was able to purchase some wine named ‘Dominique’ which is my daughter’s name. We still have the bottles! Due to the weakness of the Rand at the minute costs are extremely reasonable with wines costing as little at £3 a bottle.
From the national dish of bobotie to the fantastic seafood South Africa is a food lovers paradise. If you are invited to a braai (BBQ) you will most certainly get the chance to try boerewors which is a seasoned sausage and very tasty. Biltong (air dried meat) is probably South Africa’s most well known food and I love the fact that this is now available in the UK – this can be made from beef, ostrich or game and if you haven’t tried it before your visit be sure to try some when you are there. South Africa has a bounty of wonderful foods – game, fruit, vegetables and seafood and there are no shortage of fabulous restaurants to visit.
I also hear that if – like me – you love milkshakes Kota Joe’s roadhouses in Johannesburg are a must visit. With flavours such as Peanut Butter and Banana, Nutella, and Coco Pops I will definitely be having some next time I am in South Africa!
NO JETLAG (IF YOU FLY FROM EUROPE)
If you are flying from the UK the average flying time is around 10 hours. South Africa is GMT 2 so the time difference is minimal which means no jet-lag. Sorry if you are from the USA! But even a little jet lag is worth it to spend time in SA!
The currency in South Africa is the Rand (divided into 100 cents). The exchange rate has become extremely favourable if you have a strong currency. Even with the recent drop in the £ the rate is still stronger than it was a few years ago. In 2010 the rate was approximately 10R to £1 it is now around 16R to £1 though has been as high as 24 (2015). This makes South Africa a very affordable destination.
If you love golf or are into more extreme sports then South Africa is a perfect destination. There are beautiful golf courses across the country . Sun City’s Gary Player Golf course is one of the most well known with the Million Dollar Challenge (now the Nedbank Golf Challenge) held there. Sun City itself is certainly worth a visit (the afternoon tea at the Lost Palace Hotel is fabulous). It also borders the Pilanesburg National Game Park so you can go for a game drive too. If you like your sport a bit more adrenaline inducing then there are plenty of opportunities for abseiling, paragliding, bungee jumping, surfing and diving along the coast.
If you would like to read more about African travels you may be interested in my other posts
PIN FOR LATER – REASONS TO VISIT SOUTH AFRICA
10 reasons to visit South Africa
Have you been to South Africa? What were the highlights for you? A bonus 11th reason to visit South Africa is the little guy in the picture! Bet you didn’t know there were penguins in South Africa?