Travelling in South Africa
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.