My wife celebrated a significant birthday recently and to celebrate we spent 11 days in South Africa travelling along the Garden Route from Cape Town.
I had so many concerns before going;
- Is it safe?
- Would we be robbed at gunpoint ?
- What are the roads like?
- What happens if we get lost?
- Are the South Africans friendly?
- Are we taking enough money?
I pestered our booking agent for months before we left with these questions and more and eventually the day came to go and we embarked on our 11 hour flight to Cape Town.
So why then should you choose South Africa?
Reason 1; The scenery is breathtaking.
If you’re an instagram fan then this is paradise for you. There are SO many shots to take you are spoiled for choice.
We hired a car to drive the Garden Route for most of the holiday and took shedloads of photos but looking at a two-dimensional snap doesn’t communicate in any way just how immense and spectacular some of the scenery like table Mountain and the national parks are. Table Mountain dominates the Cape Town skyline in a way that no other landmark could and just a few hours from Cape Town enormous granite cliffs stretch into the sky as far as the eye can see.
Reason 2; The wine is stunning
We are big fans of South African reds anyway, so to go to a place like this where Stellenbosch is on the doorstep is like a trip to Mecca. We booked a winelands tour with an independent guide , Hein Dornbrack of www.socialtrekking.co.za , who showed us around four of the vineyards near our hotel. To put this number into context, in the Stellenbosch area alone there are about 150 separate vineyards, all producing wines of the highest quality. We were forced to concede defeat at about 4.30 pm after tasting, and drinking, some of the best wines we’ve ever had.
Reason 3; It’s very inexpensive
When you live somewhere like the UK you become used to paying £5 for a pint, £6 for a glass of mediocre red and anything from £50 plus for a two-course meal. It’s a real eye-opener to sit and eat a delicious three-course meal in a restaurant with superb views and enjoy a bottle of great wine and to be charged only £30 ! We actually had to check the bills in several places thinking that they’d left something off.
Going out for a drink in the evening is £4 for a glass of wine AND a beer. To fill the car with petrol costs £35. Are you listening UK ? It can be done!
Reason 4; The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming
Well, this certainly put pay to my concerns over being mugged, shot, robbed etc ! I realise we were only seeing people in restaurants, hotels, bars and tourist attractions but you cannot feign that friendliness. Everyone we met, from taxi drivers to petrol station attendants were smiling and accommodating and willing to go the extra mile for us. What was also noteiceable was the pride they have in their country and the giant steps it has made since the days of apartheid. Everyone we spoke to was knowledgeable about the history, the habitat, the flora and fauna, the politics and wanted to share that knowledge with us.
Reason 5; The wildlife is unbelievable
We were fortunate to go on a few game drives on a private game reserve in Botlierskop during our stay so we were pretty much guaranteed to see a wide variety of wildlife and ticked off, lions, giraffe, hippos, zebras, rhinos and elephants during our tours.
But South Africa is teeming with wildlife everywhere you look. On our first afternoon in Cape Town we saw a seal taking a leisurely swim in the harbour at the V & A Waterfront, we saw a dassie ( a small dog sized animal) at the top of Table Mountain, we saw baboons on a rooftop of a restaurant on our way along the Garden Route, ostriches in a field alongside the road. sadly we were out of season for whale watching at Hermanus ( September – December) but can only imagine how breathtaking that must be.
South Africa is an immense country and we have merely scratched the surface but what we saw and experienced of the people, the scenery and the wildlife I think we can say with some certainty that we’ll be back.
Let me know your most memorable trips, or where to go in South Africa if you’ve already been.