I came back from South Africa less than a month ago and I already want to go back! If you were unsure of where to go for the winter holidays, or just wanted a new destination to fantasise about, South Africa is definitely the place for you. Here are 15 reasons why you should start packing your bags and booking tickets!
1. Nelson Mandela
The birthplace of Nelson Mandela. The life of the former President is one that is written all over the landscape of the country. It is a truly enriching experience to visit the historic locations. Plus you will learn how to say his actual name, which isn’t actually Nelson!
Maboneng is a neighbourhood in Johannesburg, and hands down one of the coolest places I have ever been to. Between the graffiti that lines the walls to art spaces such as POPArt you’re not short of interesting and unique sights to take in.
3. Curiocity Backpackers
This fabulous backpackers is located in Maboneng on Fox Street. A cool, hip and happening place that draws in travellers and locals alike. The young team never takes itself to seriously and is always down for a fun night. Be sure to stop by, even if it is just for a drink at the bar.
While the weather just keeps getting colder and rainier in the Northern hemisphere, it’s getting to summer time in South Africa as it’s in the Southern hemisphere! Much better weather than London, which isn’t hard to do.
5. Rainbow Nation
Mandela’s dream of a rainbow nation is definitely well on its way. People of all different ethnic backgrounds live in South Africa, especially in the big cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town. Coming from London, I am always a fan of multiculturalism!
If you’re after local fare, you will never be too far from a restaurant that serves braai [BBQ] or some lovely hot pap. Plus, this is the birthplace of the almighty Nandos! However, if you were interested in other cuisines, you are more than spoilt for choice. While I was there I had Thai, Indian, Mexican and Italian amongst others. You definitely won’t be going hungry. Yay, rainbow nation!
7. Arts & Crafts
There are many things on offer to buy in the country. Traditional South African wares that can be bought from local shops and markets. You should always try to buy locally, H&M already gets your money back home. It’s definitely worth it, especially if the exchange rate is already on your side.
8. Garden Route
The scenic route from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape is absolutely amazing. Passing through Oudtshoorn, Tsitsikamma, Stellenbosch and taking in all they had to offer was truly amazing. It was along this route that I jumped off a bridge and held a snake!
South Africa has many national parks, but the most famous definitely has to be Kruger National Park. This behemoth is the size of The Netherlands and home to the big 5. Sleeping out in the bush at night and looking for animals during the day is something that has to be done at least once. How many times have you watched elephants casually crossing the road?
10. Friendly Locals
The locals of Cape Town and Johannesburg were very friendly. Both cities gave me the new nickname of “sis”. Everywhere I went was “Hey sis”, “How are you, sis?”, there is an openness with the locals that makes visiting the country that much better. Even the giant dogs are super friendly!
The most famous township in South Africa is also the place that two Nobel Peace Prize winners called home. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived just up the road from one another. While there is still a lot of poverty in the township, parts of it have been well built up. When I went Kliptown I met some amazing kids there. They were very excited to have their pictures taken!
12. Table Mountain
The mountain is simply breathtaking, and can be seen from all over Cape Town. And even from Robben Island!
13. Adventures Aplenty
As the exchange rate was working in my favour, I was able to let out my inner adrenaline junkie. Shark cage diving, bungee jumping and sky diving were some of the activities I was able to enjoy. I did take it easier at times, like when I went to the famous Cango Caves.
14. Awesome hairstyles
You can definitely get your hair done for a lot cheaper than I did. But the amazing hairstyles that I saw in South Africa made me envious, and I just had to get my hair done. Just a shame that I am no good at sitting still for that long!
If all that wasn’t enough reason to get you on your way, then please note that South Africa is cheaper than ever. When I arrived in South Africa, I got 20 rand for every £1. By the time I left, it had reached 21.3 rand for every GBP. So it would be best to seize the opportunity now, as your money will get you very far!