If basic and undeveloped are words you associate with South Africa, you’ll need to think again, fast. With reliable efficient transport links, top-class hotels and world-renowned Universities, South Africa is anything but. Its levels of modernisation and development are impressive enough, but even more so when you consider the size of the country. If you combined Spain with France, you’d only just be replicating the size of the country.
Due to its complex history, South Africa is often on and in the News. The reasons vary, but the key to remember is that the South Africa of today is very different place. So, keep up-to-date on local and national happenings, events and goings-on. But don’t allow your view of the country to be clouded by its past. South Africans don’t want your sympathy or your pity- they are a proud bunch, and for good reason. Their country is a magnificent, majestic, beautiful and colourful one. Why do so many people head to South Africa for travel adventures. For each of these adjectives and so much more.
The most popular tourist destination that South Africa boasts is Cape Town. You’ll probably have heard of a few National Parks in your life. Maybe you’ve even been to some. But the Table Mountain National Park will likely stand far above anything you’ve experienced before. Table Mountain- named for its shape- stands high above the city. The park gets a whopping 24 million visitors each year, which isn’t bad at all. There is a cable car that can take you up there, but if you’re feeling energized, hiking is an option. The official site warns that you should always be prepared for hiking, just in case the cable cars are closed when you come back down. Thankfully, walking down is much easier than walking up!
Table Mountain National Park gets a lot of the credit, and rightly so. But there are also multiple other parks and nature areas worthy of your attention. Take the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Open all year round, a recent addition of a tree-top walkway allows you to take in the gardens from up above. You can get an idea of the scale of the place by considering that of the 22,000 plant species grown in SA, 9,000 of them grow here. If you can plan your trip for a Sunday afternoon between March and November, you can also take in one of the concerts performed here!
So, that’s the natural beauty of Cape Town discussed. You can see why that alone is enough of a pull for tourists and travel lovers. But we’ve not even mentioned the vibrant man-made culture of Cape Town! Food is incredible and varied. The nightlife is buzzing, and you can find bars and clubs with a frenetic vibe right down to a laid-back one. The shopping is also sublime, with multiple shopping areas dotted across the city. V&A Waterfront Mall has over 450 shops, cafes and restaurants!
Another destination worthy of your travel, time and attention is Johannesburg. It is actually bigger that Cape Town, and the biggest city in all of South Africa. While it might not have the ceiling of Table Mountain, it has more than enough to compensate. Far more commonly know as Jo’burg, it is known as a super friendly place. There is a rapidly developing arts scene here, with some fantastic theatres in places like Newtown. There is also some fantastic opportunities to soak up a real history lesson or two here also. Melville is home to the Apartheid Museum, while there is also the museum at the historic Constitution Hill. For more light hearted fun, there are also attractions like a zoo, a theme park and casinos. There is even a beer museum, for those who would like some new knowledge and insight of a different kind.
An ideal travel adventure for many incorporates a trip to both Cape Town and Jo’burg. After all, only a 2-hour flight separates them (or a 13-hour drive). Doing so allows for a really authentic insight into South Africa.
While not as famous or big, there are also other places in South Africa that savvy travellers love. Head to Soweto for adrenaline-filled activities, like bungee jumping. Or Pretoria if historical and cultural monuments are your thing. Meanwhile, you can go whale watching or even shark watching in places like Plettenberg Bay and Hermanus. As we’ve already mentioned, South Africa is a big place. Some of these places are pretty spread out. But, isn’t that just a great excuse to stay for longer…. Or go back again!?