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Why South Africa Needs to Be on Your 2018 Travel Bucket List

13th December 2017

Well, it’s that time of year again. When everyone starts making New Year’s resolutions and talking about what’s on their bucket list. Instead of making your resolution about going to the gym every week, or reading however many books, (though those are probably worthwhile too) why not promise yourself the travel experience of a lifetime? Africa is a continent so ingrained in our history, yet until recent years, rarely on the travel radar of many Australians. A recent surge in decent food offerings, cultural experiences and accommodation options geared toward international visitors, there are plenty of reasons to make South Africa top of your bucket list for 2018.

Image: Vicki Fletcher

Wildlife

If you’re planning a trip to Africa, a stint in a game reserve has to be top of the list. There’s nothing quite like witnessing some of the world’s largest and most wild animals in their natural habitat. The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest, covering over 19,000 square kilometres, and home to all of the continent’s game animals. There are a few other reserves worth a visit, such as the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, which, because it only cover 572 square kilometres, means your chances of seeing the big five are increased.

Image: Vicki Fletcher

It’s not just about the big wild land animals however. Along the coastline near Cape Town, the waters are abundant with sea life. At Boulders Beach you’ll see lots of black and white suited African Penguins, in the turquoise waters of Hout Bay it’s common to spot sea lions, while shark diving is also a favourite activity!

Image: Vicki Fletcher


Affordable luxury

Thanks to a very favourable exchange rate, Australians can generally splurge on a little more luxury in Africa than we can at home. Private game lodges, complete with plush outdoor lounges, swimming pools overlooking the savannah, and cocktails served to your lounger, come part and parcel of an African holiday. Hospitality and service standards are high here too, so you’re made to feel welcome wherever you wine, dine and stay.

Food

Quality of food in South Africa is excellent. Everywhere from the meal served at your game reserve resort to a corner cafe in Cape Town, the way the South Africans user their ingredients is impressive. You’ll find traditional fare, including a host of game meats on offer in stews, steaks and spaghettis, as well as a decent offering of modern cuisine from young, experimental chefs. From some of the freshest seafood and flavourful pizza, to trying kudu and impala, you’re bound to go on a flavour journey in Africa.

Culture

Let me tell you, no one can dance like they do in Africa. In the middle of the Victoria and Albert waterfront in Cape Town you’ll find buskers playing traditional music, surrounded by a group of locals shaking everything they’ve got to the beat. You’ll likely find a similar situation on the beach in Camps Bay, or in the heart of Sandton in Johannesburg. But it’s not just about the music and dancing. Africa’s complex pattern of tribes and cultures weave into the food, dress, lifestyle and more.

In Cape Town, you can experience the full range of flavours from around the African continent at Gold restaurant. A set 14 course menu is a taste safari that serves dishes from the top to the bottom of the continent, all accompanied by traditional entertainment. North of Durban, aha Shakaland is a living monument to traditional Zulu culture, where you can stay in traditional thatched accommodation, sample authentic Zulu dishes, and embark on a 3-hour cultural tour.

Image: Vicki Fletcher

Spectacular scenery

Whether you’re rambling through dense scrub in the north of the country, or winding along a narrow road down to the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa certainly has no shortage of breathtaking views. Drive up the mountain pass to Lesotho for a windswept view you didn’t expect. Admire the contrast of lush vineyards and rocky mountain outcrops over your glass of Pinotage in Stellenbosch. See Johannesburg blanketed in jacarandas in Springtime. Drive the Chapman’s Peak road from Cape Town down to Scarborough for unmistakable views, and equally memorable pizza. Wherever you’re headed in South Africa, be sure to pack your camera!


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