Few countries in the world can offer the diversity of wildlife and culture that travelling in South Africa allows. The southernmost country in the African continent and with a population of almost 60 million people, South Africa has something to satisfy any type of traveller.
South Africa Safari
A safari to South Africa is the most common type of holiday to the country. As safari destinations go, South Africa has it all and the country offers visitors the ‘big five’. These are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo. Many of the lodges in South Africa allow you the chance to view these five iconic species but being wildlife, nothing is ever guaranteed.
It is said that the term “Big Five” comes from the old safari hunting days. Many people assume that the name is derived from the size of the animals but this is not true. Rather, these five animals proved to be the most difficult to hunt. These days the hunting is done with cameras and zoom lens.
When considering the different lodges and regions for your safari to South Africa, whether the lodge offers the Big Five is a major consideration. Do not just use these criteria though. Certain areas are much better for rhino. Kruger National Park, and specifically Southern Kruger, is renowned for white rhino. In fact, this park has the largest population of rhino in Africa. Consider what you want to view as this will then direct where you will be travelling in South Africa.
Make a list of the animals and rate them in order of preference. You can then check off what lodges and parks will best meet your needs. A safari to South Africa is often a once in a lifetime experience, so make sure you plan what you want to do.
There are many local tour operators that will gladly share their experience and expertise with you. Many of these local safari operators will be based in the National Parks or at the safari lodges, so have excellent first-hand knowledge of the area. They can also tell you the best time of year to travel and what the wildlife viewing will be like then. Of course, at Our Local Tour, our local travel experts can assist you with this process.
There is more to travelling in South Africa than a Big Five safari. South Africa has a vibrant food and drink scene and a rich and disturbing history to explore.
The Garden Route
For a first time traveller to South Africa, the Garden route is the ideal introduction. Travelling from Cape Town in the west to Port Elizabeth in the east this is a popular self-drive holiday. As well as self-drive, there are bus companies offering regular services along the route and many and shop in quaint towns. Sample fresh oysters or if you are lucky you may get to watch southern right whales at play.
The adventurous can take a boat trip and dive with the mighty Great White shark off the coast of Gansbaai. The Garden route is a great introduction to the country and should be seriously considered by anyone looking at travelling in South Africa.
South African wines are famous throughout the world. For those more interested in the food and drink of the country, then the South African wine lands should be your first port of call. Jump in a car or take an escorted tour just one hour east of Cape Town and you are in South Africa’s Winelands. The town names here read like a ‘best of’ wine collection; Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl create a holy trinity of wine producing regions for you to explore.
There is a wide selection of vineyards here offering guided tours from boutique wineries to sprawling estates. Many of these also offer a wine tasting and food pairing experience with onsite restaurants offering the best of South African produce. If you like to burn off a few of the calories as you are going, then there choose to tour the winelands on bike! Indulge your taste buds with extraordinary tastings and wine pairings and enjoy the beauty of the sprawling vineyards as you pedal your way between farms.
South African History Tours
Travelling in South Africa you will find that the history of the country is hard to miss. The must visit locations such as Robin Island are still raw with the recent past. Led by a local resident, take a tour in one of the townships. They will help you understand the history of the people and you will be supporting people who are seeking to create real change.
Heading further back in history, explore the Zulu battlefields and the infamous Rorke’s Drift. Enhance your experience and bring these historical sites to life by taking a tour led by a local historian. Standing on the wide open plains you can imagine the sight of thousands of Zulu warriors bearing down on your position. The heroic defence of Rorke’s Drift Mission Station was preceded by the massacre at Isandlwana and this is depicted in the film Zulu Dawn starring Burt Lancaster and Peter O’Toole as Lord Chelmsford.
If you plan to continue travelling in South Africa, then leave the plains behind, and head to the coast and the city of Durban. The third most populous city in South Africa, Durban is often referred to as South Africa’s Miami Beach. Relax on the beach, enjoy shopping in the many malls or take part in the many activities available locally.
A safari to South Africa is most people main reason for visiting the country but there is so much more to see and do. Contact Our Local Tour who can help you plan and offer you insights and ideas you would never normally consider.
Active Holidays and Tours
One of the most popular forms of travel is now the Active Holidays section. If you are one of those people who cannot just spend their days laid out on the beach, then you are certainly not alone. There is a growing market for holidays that get you up and about, from horse riding on the plains of Mongolia to yoga with a guru on the banks of the Ganges and everything else in between.
Here we list some of the most popular types of active holidays as well as some of the less well known options that you may not have heard about.
Hiking, Walking and Trekking Holidays
When you ask about the different types of active holidays, these are what most people instantly think of. Even within this sub-section of the genre, there are many different types of hikes, walks and treks to consider. From companies that offer you the chance to climb Mount Everest, to ‘slow holidays’ that take you on walking trips through beautiful French countryside, there will be a hiking, walking or trekking holiday for you.
You can take a cycling holiday in almost any country in the world. It can be as simple as jumping on your bike and setting off from home or you can join a group as they travel Africa from north to south. To make things as easy as possible, tour operators can arrange local bike hire, overnight accommodation and even your food and drink stops along the way. Many will accompany you with a back up vehicle in case of puncture or fatigue. Guided and self guided tours are available as are road cycling and mountain biking focussed tours. Whether you are a keen cyclist or just like the idea of exploring on two wheels, then a cycling holiday may be just what you need.
Have you ever been to a famous site but really wanted to know more about it? If so, a cultural holiday is what you need. Often accompanied by a specialist guide, you can explore ancient monuments, interact with local tribes or attend the opera at a famous opera house. Specialist local knowledge is often vital in creating these types of active holidays. Knowing when a local festival is taking place, how to get tickets for the hottest show in town and what the best local restaurant is to try that speciality you wanted, is what local tour operators do best. There are also various different ways you can take you cultural holiday. Private tailor-made holidays can give you the most exclusive and personal experiences, whilst travelling with a small group of like minded travellers, means that you may make friends for life. Just ask your local operator what they can do for you or check with our experienced team.
Winter Sports Holidays
One of the original ‘active holidays’, skiing is more popular than ever. For those with a thirst for the slopes and an unlimited budget, you can ski all year round. From the famous European resorts in the Alps to the southern hemisphere and Queenstown in New Zealand as well as the north American playgrounds, there is always somewhere you can ski. For newcomers, the sport can seem intimidating but there are many excellent operators who will advise you on the best places to learn as well as book you the lessons needed to get started.
Skiing is not the only winter sport holiday. Snowboarding is similar to skiing but you may also want to try alpine skiing, snow shoeing , dog sledding, ski biking and for the bravest of you, how about winter swimming!
Food and Drink Holidays
Spend time on a vineyard in France or learn to cook Vietnamese food in Hanoi. The wide range of food and drink holidays you can now take are a growing part of the active holidays market. Small local businesses in Italy are offering you the chance to learn to make pasta from an original family recipe. Stay in the courtyard of an ancient Belgium brewery as you learn the skills needed to brew your own perfect pint. To get the most out of this type of break, you need to make sure that you are learning directly from a local. Beware though. In recent times more ‘corporate’ events and activities have started to spring up, fitting as many people as possible into a sterile and uniform event prepared just for tourists.
Family Adventure Holidays
If you and the kids are bored after a couple of days by the pool, then you need to look at a family adventure holiday. Designed specifically for families, these holidays encompass the whole of the active holidays market, but adapt the overall experience to be suitable for families. As well as family holidays, you can choose to travel in groups with other like minded families or have the trip tailor-made to your own specification. Most family adventure tour operators are very specialist and have dedicated staff that look specifically after this market.
This is just a brief rundown of the various types of active holidays you can take. Search our Our Local Tour by activity to see if there is something active that you can do on your next trip. Alternatively, get in touch and speak to one of our team about the options available for you.
Tours to India
Are you looking for tours to India? If you have already been on to Google and searched for the phrase, the majority of results will be from tour operators based in the country you are based in. We suggest that you should deal with a local operator based in India or through a single agent that will assist you and do this on your behalf.
There are numerous benefits of arranging your tour to India in this way.
- You are dealing with an expert travel arranger who is based in the place that you are visiting. Their knowledge of local places, customs and culture will be second to none. If you want a true in depth tour of India, then you need to be dealing with a local tour operator.
- There are financial benefits to booking locally. The price that you pay will not have to included commissions and marketing fees from large agencies and outbound tour operators. You can be removing two or three layers of expense and administration that is not required when you book your holiday this way. You can also rest assured that the money you spend is being used to fund jobs in the local economy rather than paying shareholders their annual bonus.
- There is an extra degree of flexibility in your arrangements. You can tailor-make your holiday to exactly how you want. Visiting what you want, when you want and for however long that you want. The choice of hotels and lodges that you can stay at is not limited to the ones that your local agent or tour operator has contracts with. If you see a place you like, it can be booked for you. This is how tours to India should be arranged.
In its article entitled ‘14 Ways to Travel Purposefully & Responsibly’, the World Travel and Tourism Council suggests a number of ways of choosing a good tour operator and what you need to check. At Our Local Tour, we have already done this hard work for you, checking all of the credentials of our local operators. We only deal with locally based tour operators that meet our exacting standards and are also committed to travel being used as a force for good. This applies to tours to India as much as any other country in the world.
So what is the most popular type of tour to India?
For the first time visitor to India, the ‘Golden Triangle’ route is one of the most popular tours. This tourist circuit takes you from Delhi, the nation’s capital city, via Agra which is home to the Taj Mahal and on to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. The Golden Triangle is so called because of the shape that is formed by the locations when plotted on a map. If you are short on time, this is your first visit to India and you want to get a taste for all that the country offers, then this is a great start.
Of course, with a country as large and diverse as India, you are never going to see it all in one visit.
An increasingly popular activity is to take a tiger safari. There are many national parks in India where the tiger is protected and if lucky, you may get the chance to view in the wild. Tours that include visits to reserves such as Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve are now common. The reserves often have accommodation located within or on the perimeters of the park making it easier than ever to try and catch a glimpse of this elusive predator.
If you like a bit more activity on your holiday, then you need to consider some of the great trekking tours in India that are available. Trekking in the Indian Himalayas is an experience that few ever forget. If you are just a beginner or a seasoned trekker, you will find a route that suites your skill and fitness level. It shouldn’t need to be said, but when booking this type of tour you need to make sure that you are working with a highly experienced operator who knows the terrain and the weather patterns for the area you are visiting. India has many great trekking companies that have operated safely for many years and we are delighted to work with the best.
The other types of tours to India that have become main stream in the last few years are beach holidays. Previously the preserve of hippies and travellers, the beaches of southern India have now opened up to international travellers with large tour operators flying directly in. From the sleepy backwaters of Kerala to the busy tourist beaches of Goa, you can relax in five star luxury or cruise on your own private boat. There is of course more to these areas than the fly and flop holidays. At Our Local Tour, our expert travel advisors along with our local operators can create a unique holiday for you, unlike anything that can be found in the high street brochures.
A sailing holiday is one of the most popular activity holidays. Sail in crystal blue seas. Stop at little coves with nobody but you on the beach. It sounds idyllic and it really is.
Surprisingly, this type of holiday is not out of reach with a normal budget. Hiring a boat to sail around the Greek islands is not exclusive to millionaires. There are many small businesses that have been setup to meet the demand for adventurous holidaymakers. At Our Local Tour we know the best.
You do not even have to have any sailing qualifications. Local sailing operators can provide you with an experienced crew to help you learn the ropes as you sail.
There are plenty of options for the novice sailor. The most popular sailing holiday is the flotilla style. Many of these holidays are designed for the complete beginner and you can learn new skills in a fun and relaxed way.
Some sailing companies will also include accreditation with your holiday so that you come back with a new qualification. With an experienced skipper on board, learning the basics of sailing becomes a fun hands on part of the holiday.
You travel together in a group of sometimes 10-12 yachts, guided by a lead boat. The flotilla lead has a Skipper and often an engineer and hostess on board. It is the fun of the sailing holiday with novice sailor stress removed!
The more experienced sailor
For the more experienced sailor, there are also plenty of exciting options. You can chart your own yacht and set off in to the sunset.
Known as bareboat charter, this is the most flexible option and gives you complete freedom to explore. You can also hire a skipper, a chef and follow a fixed route. This is a sailing holiday that you control.
A skippered sailing holiday combines the freedom of the bareboat charter with the easy of the flotilla holidays. You can charter your yacht and include the skipper when you want.
This means you can have a skipper onboard to start the holiday, but after a few days as you grow in confidence, you take over and sail. There is the option to have a skipper for the full charter also.
Where to take a sailing holiday?
Put simply, you can take a sailing holiday anywhere that you can sail. The most popular destinations are in the Mediterranean, with Greece, Turkey, the Balearic Islands and Croatia all being in demand. With most of these destinations served by low cost airlines and a plentiful supply of yachts, prices are very competitive.
Local charter operators will know the best routes, special places to anchor and the best restaurants for the evening if in harbour.
For a more exotic sailing holiday, you can head to Thailand and Andaman Sea. Here you can sail in the beautiful waters and explore the islands off the Thai coast. You will also find world-class diving and snorkelling, excellent sport fishing and unspoilt beaches.
The welcome in Thailand is always a good one and the food excellent.
A worldwide sailing destination, the Caribbean has plenty of great sailing available. With many Caribbean islands having multiple sailing holiday operators, there is plenty of choice. Sail in the British Virgin Islands or Martinique and anchor off your own white sandy beach.
It won’t be a dream as you dive into warm turquoise seas to snorkel among the rainbow colours of a coral reef. Finish the day with a rum punch on the deck of your yacht. The Caribbean islands have a sophistication that few other places in the world can match.
Who takes a sailing holiday?
There are options for all when it comes to sailing holidays. If you are young you may want to look at the options to join a crew. A working holiday on a yacht sailing the Greek islands is a great addition to your CV.
For families, the time spent on board, working together to sail a ship is a fantastic way to for a family bond. Don’t worry too much about the routes and technicalities of sailing. Take a flotilla holiday or a skippered charter and the stress is taken away, allowing you to enjoy the time with your family.
If you are travelling solo or as a couple, there are many options depending on your confidence and experience. All of the above can be suitable and sailing holidays are a great way to meet new people and make lifelong friends.
As for experienced sailors, the world is truly your oyster. Bareboat charters allow you to sail the world, with a freedom that few other types of holiday offer. The challenges can be as tough as you wish, with options to join crews all over the world.
Sail in some of the most remote and demanding destinations possible from the Arctic to the South Pacific.
Whatever your interest in sailing holidays, Our Local Tour will have a local travel partner who can help you in putting together the dream holiday.