After a horrid eighteen months, we’re finally starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Travel is finally back on the cards, and it’s time to plan a getaway. South Africa is the type of all-in-one country that delivers everything from haute cuisine to jaw-dropping natural scenery. Here is what to do when you visit Rainbow Nation.
#1 Must-Do: Go on a Safari
Every single guide covering South Africa will tell you one thing: going on a safari is mandatory. It would almost be criminal to leave the country without the experience. You’re going to want to spend at least several nights enjoying the most spectacular wildlife.
The main attraction is Kruger National Park, and it’s easy to see why. In a relatively small area, you’ll find a wide variety of wildlife. Yes, you’re almost guaranteed to see the so-called Big Five in living color. For the uninitiated, that’s lions, elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinos.
There’s the option of DIY and driving yourself, but it’s highly recommended that you use one of the local guides. Their experience will guide you through the natural habitats for minimal disruption, and they’ll be far better at seeing animals hidden amongst the bushes. Not only that, you’ll be supporting the local economy.
Experience the Garden Route
Get ready for the most beautiful 200km stretch you have ever experienced in your life. The Garden Route, unsurprisingly, offers scenery that you won’t believe isn’t CGI. It’s absolutely stunning, stretching all the way along from Mossel Bay to the Storms River.
This is a very popular driving route, which also gives you the booster of being relatively safe. The coastal towns are worth visiting, with many offering a pretty insight into local life. Knysa is a definite for your to-do list, with its gorgeously dense forests and a lagoon that’s perhaps even too good for Instagram.
This route is also great for those of you who are into a little bit of adventure. For example, bungee jumping and tours along the tree canopy are both available here.
South Africa isn’t necessarily known for it, but it offers a world-leading nightlife scene. There’s nothing New York has to offer that you won’t find here. Well, almost. Let’s just say you’ll have a heck of a time.
Restaurants, clubs, bars, you’ll find them all. Unique cocktails, shows that will leave your jaw on the floor, haute cuisine aplenty. Long Street in Cape Town is the home for revelers, with both big names and hidden gems to keep you occupied all night.
The country also offers a burgeoning casino scene. South Africa’s casino resorts are legendary, with people traveling far and wide to taste their luck at blackjack or roulette. The country also runs some of the continent’s most high-profile poker tournaments. And gambling is incredibly popular in South Africa, which explains their high-quality casino scene both in land-based and online casinos. Besides simply playing games, players can enjoy many benefits as well, for example, online casinos in South Africa offer real money no deposit bonus, which is something that many players will happily use. But if you’re on holiday, perhaps opt for the IRL option!
Stellenbosch, Western Cape
This town is arguably the most picturesque in the entire country. It is situated in an area of undoubted beauty, and it ranks as one of the best-preserved examples of Dutch architecture in South Africa. The Dutch East India Company didn’t exactly leave a glittering legacy, but it is difficult not to be taken in by this unique little town.
Stellenbosch today offers the typical vibrancy of a university town. It has a buzz about the place; not too busy, but not that small town quiet either. If you describe yourself as a foodie, you will feel right at home here. The place has the reputation for having some of the best restaurants in all of South Africa.
It’s also a great destination for those who appreciate taking a step back in time. We’ve already mentioned the architecture, but you also have the Stellenbosch Village Museum, which offers restored houses from the 18th-19th centuries.
Robben Island won’t exactly bring a smile to your face, but it is highly recommended that you visit to learn more about apartheid in South Africa. It’s very close to Cape Town, and very easy to access. Until 1996, Robben Island served as the country’s high-security prison, and it is where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for almost two decades.
Nowadays, Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and serves to remind us of the cruelty that humanity is capable of. The dire conditions will leave a lump in your throat; prisoners were often forced to work in grueling conditions in the nearby quarry, and they didn’t even have proper beds to sleep on.
The highlight, if you can call it that, is seeing Nelson Mandela’s cell. Expert tour guides will give you an emotive account of what it was like to be a prisoner at Robben Island during peak apartheid. Not to be missed.
All in all, South Africa sure is a place to put on your wish list. From the breathtaking natural scenery to rich culture, nightlife, and fun outdoor activities, it is all you need to keep your traveler's body, mind, and soul fed and satisfied.