Since living in Ireland, the small talk when meeting new people often leads to a conversation about whether they have visited my home country, South Africa. 7 of 10 people will say they have been to Cape Town, for the other 3, they have been fortunate to explore Kruger National Park.
It always kinda annoys me that everyone heads to Cape Town without really looking at everything South Africa can offer a tourist. Truthfully, there is so much more! South Africa really has it all: mountains, beaches, good food, the best weather and the people are by far the friendliest! We proud Saffa’s love being super modest about how awesome South Africa is, but truthfully, our country is our best kept secret! Maybe we don’t talk about it enough because we like to keep it all to ourselves?
So I thought I would let you in a few of my FAVE places in South Africa, and why you need to make a detour (or Sho’t Left as we Saffa’s would say) and try visit these places. Yes of course by all means go and see Table Mountain, but open your mind and expand your horizons that South Africa has a lot more to offer you.
Keen for a bit of outdoor adventure, some hiking and hitting the trails? Then you need to visit the Drakensberg. The pic above is from a place called Thendele which has great views of the Amphitheatre . My most favourite place in the Drakensberg is Injusiti. It will always hold a special place in my heart because that is where Rob proposed to me. If you are looking for a limited cell phone reception, great hiking trails, splendid views and stories around the campfire. You need to visit the ‘berg, as we locals like to call it.
Another one of our fave holidays was actually last year, when we went to Blyder River Canyon, Bourke’s Potholes, God’s Window, The Pinnacle, The Three Rondavels, and Pilgrim’s Rest. All these stop-off sights have the varying terrain, with endless views. It has the perfect spots for panoramic 360 shots to make your friends back home jealous.
Looking for cheap thrills:
Bit of a daredevil? Like to live life to the full? You could head to Bloukrans Bridge to bungy jump (you will not find me there). You could also head to the midlands in KZN and do the Karkloof Canopy Tours, which admittedly, was super fun even though I had my eyes closed for most of it. Rob’s sister and hubby have jumped off the Soweto cooling towers (see pic below), I have bravely run past them (what? 21km is a tough run!).
You will find adventure of all types all over South Africa, just please don’t be that person who goes shark cage diving. Similar to riding elephants, or feeding lions, it makes my skin crawl that we humans like to taunt animals for pleasure – don’t. just don’t.
Let’s go on “Safari”:
So you are keen to tick the big five off your bucket list? What better place than travelling to Africa to go on Safari. Firstly, when visiting South Africa, you can’t call it “Africa”. Africa is the whole continent, and South Africa is one of 54 countries in Africa (and it is miles away from Cameroon – totally FYI). Secondly: we don’t call it a safari, we call it a game drive. And although I will admit that I have not had the fortune to explore the Kruger – there are a ton of other game reserves that you can explore. Some of my personal faves are actually in the Eastern Cape; at the start of my honours year my class went to Lalibela for our orientation. Also while studying, I met a few friends who worked at Shamwari Game Reserve too. Another under estimated game reserve is actually the Pilanesberg, which is just a short drive out of Joburg (near to Sun City).
Hit the beach, bro:
Instead of heading to the over priced and over crowded beaches around Camps Bay (plus the water there is freezing!) My personal fave beach growing up was Cintsa: rolling dunes, vast open beaches, and back in the day – the best place to collect sea shells. More recently, we went on honeymoon to Coffee Bay, and Hole in the Wall. Not only is it affordable to visit, it has some great beaches. It truly is a slice of South Africa that is still, for the most part, untouched.
Wine and dine:
You came for the wine and cheese. I hear you! If I am completely honest, you may have got me on this one – Western Cape has all the wine farms you could ever want. It really is a treat to wine farm hop along the garden route. However, two of my fave foodie towns are actually Knysna and wait for it… Johannesburg.
Joburg has a massive foodie scene. Great restaurants like: Marble, DW11-13, Licorish, Wombles, to name a few. Heck, you should even go to Thundergun, which has the best ribs in South Africa! I could go on but it is making me hungry and I am already craving a good piece of steak. I haven’t even talked up the food markets in Maboneng and Braamies. If you are looking for good food, trust me, Jozi is the place to visit. And if you do, let me know, I can send you a list of all our faves.
While I could go on and on about how wonderful South Africa is, I hope this post has showed you that there is more to South Africa than just visiting Cape Town and Kruger. South Africa is filled with everything you could ever want, it has deep history and great lessons on the power and resilience of it’s people. This post has actually awoken a bit of sadness as I am yet to find a place that is as good as home sounds right now.
So, when are you planning on visiting South Africa? and for the locals – where is your fave place to take tourists?
Unlock the simple life,
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