Traveling South Africa
What we loved…
Nature – If you are you looking for unique wildlife and diverse landscapes, then traveling South Africa is your answer. Hike up majestic mountains, or surf in warm waves. Seek out exotic animals on safari, then spot migrating whales along the gorgeous garden route. Kayak through breathtaking canyons, or cage dive with great white sharks. Explore massive caves, then ride an ostrich. Enjoy waterfalls and blowholes along the rugged wild coast, then sip wine in lush vineyards surrounded by wildflowers and rocky cliffs. South Africa’s stunning nature offers endless landscapes and infinite adventures.
Food / Wine / Beer – This is a food, wine, and beer lovers playground. Craft breweries are scattered across the country, wonderful local wines come from beautiful wineries near Cape Town, and delicious foods represent the melting pot of races that call South Africa home. From Indian roti and bunny chow to Portuguese chicken and shrimp doused in peri peri sauce. From Cape Malay bobotie to Mozambique chicken livers and sausage. And let’s not forget all the local wild game like warthog, springbok, kudu, ostrich, and crocodile. Plus Cape Town is riddled with 4 and 5 star restaurants at 2 star prices. You can eat at a different restaurant for every meal over 2 weeks and you’ll just begin to dent the long list of their delicious restaurants on offer.
Overall Value – One you get there, traveling South Africa is unbelievably affordable. Everything is cheap. Kruger National Park’s self drive safari is just about the cheapest way to encounter Africa’s wild kingdom. The excellent food, wine, and beer are all highly affordable. Accommodation is super reasonable, and if you’re like us, most places let you pitch your own tent on their lawn to do it even cheaper. Even getting around is cheap. In-country flights, the hop-on hop-off baz bus, or renting a car and paying for gas are all truly affordable. Activity prices are about what you would expect, but with everything else you’re saving on, you have the extra room in your budget. This is your chance to try shark diving, walking with cheetahs, or perhaps bungee jumping.
What we didn’t love…
Crime – Have you ever seen the movie Chappie? Ok, that’s not fair. Chappie is a sensationalized depiction of Johannesburg crime, loosely based on truth. South Africa has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world, Johannesburg and it’s surrounding townships in particular. Murder, carjacking, rape, theft – they have it all. And the pickpocketing rings are hard at work in Cape Town. It really does put a damper on any trip to feel unsafe, and it can ruin a trip to have your phone, wallet, passport, or camera stolen. So be aware, be cautious, and try not to put yourself in harm’s way.
Racism – This is clearly an issue worldwide, it just happens to be very prevalent and obvious in South Africa. Apartheid, an absurd legal system of dividing the races, was in effect up until 1994. So the mixing of races is still very new in this country. There’s a lot of leftover hate, and a lot of deep-rooted stereotypes being passed down through the generations. This only adds to the uneducated bigotry. Opportunities still aren’t equal, and cities are still divided. It’s depressing, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. It will take a long time to fix the problems Apartheid created, but they’re getting there.
Insane Driving Customs – Traveling South Africa in your own vehicle is the way to go, unless you’re skittish. They have some insanely dangerous driving customs. You are absolutely expected to pull over, drive in the shoulder, and let people pass. They do not wait to pass safely. So, know that oncoming traffic is doing the same thing. This means that at any given time, you could be driving in the shoulder with a car passing you, while 2 cars are barreling down at you. This is all happening in a total of 2 lanes. Yep 4 cars in 2 lanes – it’s not fun!