Travel Series – Discovering South Africa

Given our history, beautiful beaches, wildlife and warm hospitality, South Africa is still not one of the top choices for travel destinations. Being proudly South African, I am going to give you a few reasons why you should definitely make South Africa your priority to see and experience!

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V&A Waterfront – Cape Town

The South African Market

South Africa is an emerging market that has some elements of a developed country or market. It has a mixed economy. South Africa is part of BRICS – an association of five major emerging national economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). South Africa is a popular tourist destination, generating a great revenue for the country. Comparatively, given our currency (Currency Rank 2-medium popularity), it is affordable to travel to and within South Africa. Accommodation, internal flights, traveling by bus or hiring a vehicle is relatively easy to find and you can identify with what suits your budget.

 

The Climate

The South African Climate can be described as mix between Mediterranean, subtropical and amazing! South Africa is surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian ocean on it’s shoreline which gives way to some wet winters and hot, humid summers. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights – the perfect blend to enjoy the outdoors during the day or night!

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Diaz Beach – Mossel Bay

The Beaches

South African beaches rival those you see in post cards! If you’re looking to catch some waves and surf, or lay in the sand and soak up the sun, you definitely have to visit our beaches. From the amazing beaches on the east coast with the warm Indian Ocean to the beautiful beaches on the west coast with the cool Atlantic Ocean. Indulge in water sports, the promenades with world-class restaurants, nature reserves with hiking trails along the beach as well as some pretty decent beach parties!

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Cape of Good Hope – Cape Peninsula
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Muizenburg Beach – Cape Town
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North Beach – Durban

The Mountains

South Africa is home to vast mountain ranges with scenic hiking trails and activities to keep you busy for hours. If you fancy the outdoors, you definitely want to see Amatola (densely forested mountains); Magaliesburg (amongst the oldest in the world); Cederberg (dramatic,  sandstone formations, and ancient San rock art); Table Mountain (most iconic mountain range) and the Drakensberg Mountains (highest mountain range in South Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site)

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Drakensberg Mountain Range
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Drakensberg Mountain Range
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View of the City from Table Mountain – Cape Town
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Table Mountain – Cape Town

The People

With a population of about 55 million, from diverse backgrounds, South Africa’s people are known as The Rainbow Nation. Due to South Africa’s colonial past, we have Afrikaners (Dutch Settlers); English (British colonization); South African Indians (initially brought as slaves from India) and Native Africans (Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho (South Sotho), Bapedi (North Sotho), Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi and Ndebele, all of which speak Bantu languages). The coloured population came about from mixed families (Black and Afrikaners or English). We also have around 5 million illegal immigrant from neighbouring countries).

South African people have great differences from each other, however there are 3 things we stand by: being proudly South Africa, our welcoming hospitality and our food!

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Diversity

The Food and Wine

We are serious about good food and wine! Our cuisine has emerged from such a diverse history, that it all blends together and is enjoyed by everyone. Indigenous cuisine was made with the use of a very wide range of foods including fruits, nuts, bulbs, leaves and other products gathered from wild plants and by the hunting of wild game – these have become more readily available. South African cuisine has influences of Dutch, German, British, French, Greek, Indo-Asian and Portuguese. A must try is Potjie-kos (small pot of food) which includes meat (usually beef or lamb – or can be omitted) with a wide array of veggies (carrots, potatoes, onions, butternut, peppers, gem-squash, patty pans and courgettes) and is cooked over a low heat on a cast iron 3-legged pot!

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Potjie-Kos over an open wood fire

Wine making dates back to 1659, in Constantia in Cape Town. The South African Wine Market has since then boomed and vineyards, wineries and production centers can be found predominantly in  Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester.  We have a successful wine industry and our wines reaches the likes of UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Finland, USA, China and Russia. Our vineyards and wine tasting in the Cape is a must do!

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Vineyard – Cape Town
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Stellenbosch Vineyard – Cape Town

We also have something called a Braai (barbeque) which we have adopted and improved upon, coupled with our amazing wine and music!

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Braai

The Wildlife

South Africa has a wide variety of wildlife – which all can be seen if you decide on a safari tour in different parts of the country. The Big Five consists of the lion, the leopard, the buffalo, the elephant and the rhinoceros – all of which are featured on South African bank notes. The Kruger National Park, the St. Lucia Game Reserve and Addo Elephant Park are the more popular safaris amongst locals.

Being on the shores of the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, the marine Big Five are the Southern Right Whale, The Great White Shark, The Cape Fur Seal, The African Penguin and Dolphins. There are major opportunities to view the marine life along the Garden Route to Cape Town.

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Leopard
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Rhinoceros
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Ostrich
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Elephants
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Hippopotamus
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Lion
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Zebra (Like Debra – not Zeeeebra)
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Buffalo
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Giraffe
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African Penguins at Boulders Beach – Cape Town

 

The Activities

With everything South Africa has to offer, activities are unlimited. From outdoor hiking trails, cycle routes, cable car rides up mountains to water sports such as surfing, fishing, jet skiing and paragliding to indoor actives such as playing a soccer match, going to the movies and malls or go-kart racing – South Africa has something for people of all ages to enjoy! The possibilities are endless!

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Kite Surfing

The Culture

South Africa is known for it’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Outside influences have combined with local, native influences to bring about the beauty of South Africa. Cultural heritage, languages and religious beliefs are held in high regard by South Africans.

Art and architecture have colonial influences as well as Bantu and Nguni people’s insights. We have 11 official national languages which are all spoken throughout South Africa by different tribes or groups of people. Our cinema is primarily foreign, however, recently South Africa is producing and showing our own local movies, showcasing our talent. The South African Music industry is large as it is diverse, with artists delving into Kwaito, Jazz, House, Pop, RnB and Hip-Hop as well as classical and traditional music.

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Dance

The History

Th history of South Africa is rich and filled with knowledge that makes you want to know more, and appreciate the country for how far we’ve come. Slavery, colonization, war, exploration, militarism and expansionism, the discovery of gold, apartheid and the republic makes up the history of South Africa which you can read from the books or go on tour to discover where everything took place in South Africa’s timeline.

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Landmark – Nelson Mandela Square

This is a first of many posts that I am going to write, showcasing South Africa as a hidden gem in Africa. This is a beautiful country with so much potential that I am unable to capture it in just one post!

 

Yeshi

 

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64 thoughts on “Travel Series – Discovering South Africa

  1. Woooow I love this article – it covers so many aspects and the pictures look amazing! Amazing how much there is to explore and such a variety! The beach in Cape Town with the colorful houses looks so nice. And all these animals!!! I hope I can make it there one day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very good read! I have never been to South Africa – it’s not even on my bucket list because I know so little about it! The hikining spots you mentioned are so nice especially Drakensberg Mountain Range – I think I would like to visit that one! And the wildlife is amazing!!
    I have a question – I read many bad things regarding safety, apparently South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries, especially big cities. How is it for you? I’m aware shouldn’t believe what media says yet once you hear something like that it stays somewhere in the back of your head…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely understand your concern. Our crime rates are higher than most countries because of our large population +- 55million, the high unemployment rate as well as the high poverty rate within the country. Illegal immigrants from neighboring countries (poorer than South Africa) accounts for 500 000 to 1 million of the population as well, which adds to the poverty bracket as they come in search of better opportunities, but get none.

      Our country has our fair share of robberies, muggings, car jackings and scams, just like other countries however, if you are vigilant, and a responsible tourist, you will be safe – like if someone advises you not to visit a particular town or suburb, you won’t deliberately go there.

      You should definitely visit because of everything else this country has to offer and you will not be disappointed! We have a lot of private security to assist our police force and this helps in the cities, if there is a problem, there is always fast, efficient response.

      I did have a problem once, in college – my cell phone was snatched from my backpack while I was enjoying an amazing burger – I chased the guy down, burger in hand while the security guard came to help!

      I really could go on telling stories! Haha!

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  3. Yes I agree, I need to visit South Africa right now. I mean look at those beaches and the wildlife! I do not know why I have not visited yet. I particularly love your picture of Muizenburg Beach, so colourful!

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  4. I’d think South Africa is one of the more popular destinations for visiting in Africa. I know it is for my friends and I. We all have South Africa as a place we want to visit. Still waiting on a flight deal that has dates that work with out schedules, but we definitely would love to travel to South Africa some day.

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  5. I agree with you when you say South Africa is not the most favourite of a destination for tourists, but we personally love the African continent specially the wildlife there. Your write up is rich in content and I shall look up your tips when we visit there in the coming year. Loved the white sandy beach with 🐧, call it my ignorance but I never knew one can find penguins in SA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is awesome, you will have an amazing time here and the experience will definitely be one in a million! Let me know if I can help in anyway with info for your trip!

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  6. We’re currently obsessed with Africa and where to go and what to see. It seems we absolutely must include a few weeks in South Africa! Do you have any recommendations on the best way to travel around? We looked into car rental and local buses so far! Awesome post and absolutely love those animal photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Car rentals and buses are the way to go here! They’re quite common even with the locals for trips as they are affordable. Buses run nationally and inter-city so it’s convenient. Domestic flights are also relatively cheap if you don’t want to spend time traveling from city to city! I definitely recommend a road trip from Durban (east coast) to Cape Town (west coast) – it’s beautiful!

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  7. Love, love, love your pictures! Great series, so interesting and informative. My folks went to Africa a few years ago and I’ve been itching to go since then. Your posts have just cemented the lust!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your pictures look amazing Yeshira! Beautiful landscape, wildlife, great wine, couldn’t ask for more 🙂 . This makes me really remember the invitation of a friend & former study colleague to come and visit him there… His parents and his Sister used to (or still?) work for the Krüger National Park, so… I guess I’d get an exclusive tour? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha Mario! I want to come on that exclusive tour too! You should definitely take your friend up on that offer and visit! We also have some scuba diving sites along our coast!

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  9. Witnessing the wild beasts play in their natural habitat has always been my reason to visit South Africa. But your post proves there is much more to explore in S.Africa beyond the wildlife and I’m truly delighted to know. Now I know what to do when I visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Africa is a great destination to be. I have visited this summer Zanzibar and it turns my reality for ever. South Africa Wow! The mountains look so enormous and beautiful and I am curious to see the wild life. Did you arrange some safari or how was your way to say hello to all African wild animals?
    Keep it cool! Nice post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been to some of the sanctuaries, nature reserves and safari. It’s the best way to see them in their natural habitats. We have wild monkeys and deer that I’ve seen up close (not in any safari or nature reserve). You should definitely visit South Africa!

      Like

  11. Wow! What an amazing photography gallery – I HAD to PIN some of your pictures! Super nice and inspiring article, I feel like going to SA, exploring the wildlife and the wine and the diversity of people! Thank you for sharing! Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. South Africa is definitely on our list! It has it all …. stunning mountain views, beautiful sandy beaches, wildlife, great food and wine and amazing people! Take me there now! Potjie-kos looks delicious – would love to try it! : )

    Liked by 1 person

  13. South Africa seems to have something for everyone. I am in love with penguins so I would definitely like to go and see them in the wild. In the same time, I am also a foodie so visiting vineyards, doing wine tasting and trying out local food is definitely a must.

    Liked by 1 person

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