When you think of South Africa, perhaps the first name that pops to mind is Nelson Mandela. But there are all kinds of well known people who hail from the country, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, basketball great Steve Nash, musician Dave Mathews, actress Charlize Theron…. The diversity of her people is a good metaphor for the country itself: It’s a nation rich with culture, history, and natural beauty, and it’s a destination that deserves to be at (or very near!) the top of your bucket list.
Planning a trip to South Africa is a little like visiting Canada or Europe. It’s huge and geographically diverse and really cannot be fully experienced in a single trip. So narrow your focus. If you’ve never been before, consider flying into Port Elizabeth on the shores of the Indian Ocean and driving the Garden Route, a safe, ridiculously scenic 800-ish kilometre jaunt to Cape Town.
The Garden Route gives you the chance to have a cross-section of authentic African adventures: go on safari, visit the southern-most tip of the continent where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet; eat delicious game and seafood; drink delicious (exceptionally priced!) wines. Plus, the Garden Route has some truly beautiful, welcoming guest homes, condos, and accommodations.
During your stay in Port Elizabeth, plan to visit Addo Elephant National Park, and treat yourself to a safari experience at the near-by Amakhala or Shamwari game reserves. Or, visit both by staying at Quatermain’s 1920’s Safari Camp: a truly unique and unforgettable safari experience. http://www.quatermainscamp.co.za/
If beaches and surfing are your thing, South Africa is a must-see. Plan to stop in Cape St. Francis, home of some of the country’s epic year-round surfing.
And even if you don’t surf, you can still stay within a surf-board’s length of the ocean.
A little further east on your journey, lies Pringle Bay. This is one of the few places on earth where you can see sharks, whales, and penguins all on the same day and all in their natural habitats. It’s also home to the Kogelberg Biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Settle in for some old fashioned hospitality and new world facilities at this charming guest house.
Of course, no visit to the Cape area would be complete without a day or three in wine country. Wine farms, as they are called in South Africa, dot much of the landscape around Cape Town, including Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Constantia. For maximum enjoyment, plan to spend at least a couple of nights, perhaps at this plush guest house in Somerset, while touring the vineyards, dining al fresco, and literally drinking in all the area has to offer.
Just on the fringe of Cape Town proper, you’ll find Camps Bay, famous for having some of the most expensive beachfront real estate in the world. So why not cap your once-in-a-lifetime South African adventure by staying in this once-in-a-lifetime vacation rental.
One thing is certain, no matter where the African wind takes you, you will discover friendly people, rugged beauty, and lifelong memories.