5 Reasons Why You Should Visit South Africa
I lived in America for 11 years before I got the chance to explores South Africa. I was born and raised in Swaziland but never spent much time in South Africa. Sure, I had been to Johannesburg when I was younger but I don't really count it since I don't remember much. While planning my trip home (Swaziland), I had originally planned on staying two weeks then returning back to the States for work. Then I realized, it took me 11 years to return home, I will spend as much time as I can in Southern Africa. That time went from two weeks to three months, two of those months in South Africa. With little to no research prior to my trip, I looked around for places to work a few hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation. As expected, I focused my search between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban since they were cities I sought of knew about. Weeks went by with no luck because South Africa is filled with heaps of backpackers looking for work exchange as well. I got a little worried, thinking maybe I should spend a lot less time than that. I then found an awesome place in Wilderness which is in the Western Cape, and it ended up being one of the best weeks ever. I spent a little over four weeks in Wilderness before making my way to Cape Town and Johannesburg. I got to experience so much greatness in South Africa, from the food, the culture, music, landscape and much more, I felt at home. I loved this country so much, I hope to live there in the near future, and by near I mean, VERY soon. I know there are a lot more reasons why you should visit South Africa, but I'll show you the most important ones, or at least what I thought made me want to live there.
1. The Garden Route
The Garden Route stretches from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape of South Africa. Offering some of the best coastal views. I like to compare the Garden Route to California's PCH or the PNW. Besides the beautiful views, the Garden has many stops worth exploring for a day or two, making it a must when visiting South Africa. Most backpackers usually started their trip in Cape Town and ending in Johannesburg. Some of the best stops are too along the way include Wilderness, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
In Wilderness, stop activities like, kayaking, paragliding(cheaper than Cape Town), canyoning(kloofing) and much more. When leaving Wilderness, you will pass by Sedgefield, if passing on a Saturday, stop by for the Wild Oats farmers market for great food, baked goods and sometimes live music.
Knysna is about an hour drive from Wilderness, here you can enjoy swimming, a trip to Mitchell's brewery and a castles on the beach in Noetzie(pictured above).
I only spent a day in Plettenberg Bay a.k.a Plett, but got to go on the most beautiful hike on the coast. The Robberg Nature Reserve cost about R40 per person.
2. The Beaches
Since South Africa is mostly surrounded by water, you can only imagine how beautiful the beaches are. I didn't get a chance to visit Durban, but I did get to see a couple of other beaches in Cape Town and the Garden Route. The only beach I visited in Cape Town was Camps Bay, which was nothing short of beautiful. Making South Africa a perfect destination for all the beach bums out there.
I'm a huge foodie, I'm sure you knew I would include food on this list. South Africans love their meat, and absolutely nothing tastes better than braai meat and pap. If you visit SA without eating braai, where you really there.? You can find it anywhere, in any city. When in Johannesburg and want a great Pan-Africa experience, Sanza Sandile in Yoeville is a magician in the kitchen. This private experience was organized by Curiocity Backpackers. Sanza, a Swazi native not only prepared South African cuisine but also Mozambican and Nigerian.
There's an abundance of farmers markets in South Africa, and I got a chance to go to a few of them. Johannesburg had the best ones, in my opinion, Arts on Main and Neighbourgoods(which is also in Cape Town). Another market I enjoyed and went to every Saturday while I was in Wilderness, is Wild Oats in Sedgefield.
I may be a bit biased when it comes to South African music/artist. Simply because I grew up listening to it, especially the genre called kwaito. Just like in other countries, anyone can find their type of music here, from rap to jazz, to traditional and much more. In cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, some restaurants and weekend markets have amazing live bands.
South Africa is home to some of the best safaris in the world, and there are many of them. Kruger National Park is probably the most popular, but there are other parks just as good if not better and cheaper. Some of these are Addo Elephant National Park in Addo, Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Park in KwaZulu-Natal.
South Africa has heaps and heaps of activities you can do in every city. Whether you hike in Plett, bungee jump in Tsitsikamma or paraglide in Wilderness, you will find everything here. Besides hiking, I got the chance to paraglide in Wilderness( much cheaper than Cape Town), with spectacular ocean and river views.
If all these reasons haven't convinced you to visit South Africa, maybe this one will. It's affordable for a lot of people. While I was there, the USD was 14 times the Rand. Hostels were averaging around $12/night, a meal was around $5, beer $1.20.
Have you been to South Africa? Did I miss something you liked about it?