There are magical frontiers, places with beauty beyond our imagination. Paradises that combine the majesty of the mountains, the solitude of the desert and the wonders of wildlife. In these destinations energy is in the air because their people are full of it, they go through this world with intensity and they know they have been blessed with a stunning land that they are fortunate to call home. This is South Africa one of the most fantastic destinations on earth, a place that have virtually everything. A country that went from being an unknown destination to be one of the most desirable trips for anyone.
South Africa has a peculiar history that is as colorful as its geography, but it is actually this multiplicity of facts what have created the nation that we can see today. People from virtually all corners of the world have found a home here, and it is actually not hard to feel welcome and to be infected with the happiness of the inhabitants.
South Africa offers some of the most impressive safari opportunities. But the country is even more than that. There is certainly a place for any taste, from the bustling of Johannesburg to the calm of the capital Pretoria or from the peace of the mountains in Cape Town to the festive ambiance of Durban. South Africa is a country for all peoples. Tourism is one of the most important income sources for the country, and the locals have understood this. Some of the most beautiful hotels on earth are in South Africa, but at the same time there are lodging possibilities for all budgets. If anyone wants to go splurge there is certainly no shortage of luxurious options but if someone wants just to enjoy the country on a budget I can assure that there will not be any deception in this regard.
It is hard to describe a trip to South Africa in just one post, certainly this is just kind of an introduction because the adventure resides not really in reading this post but in deciding to go to one of the most diverse and impressive nations on earth: Welcome to the Rainbow Nation.
Where to begin
For many South Africa may seem like a far away country, the truth is that there are several international airports that receive hundreds of daily flights from all over the world. South African airways is a world class airline that serves many destinations around the world. I firmly believe that a visit to South Africa has to start in Johannesburg, this is the biggest city and the financial and business center of the country. The international airport O.R. Tambo is the main hub and it was renamed in honor to one of the most important historical figures. The airport is easily connected to the city with a fast train. For those traveling to Pretoria it is possible as well to catch the train in the airport.
Every time I mention to someone about travelling to Johannesburg they seem to be scared, there has been a lot of rumors around about insecurity. It is true that Johannesburg is a big city, with problems like any other metropolis (sometime a little bit more than others) but this just recalls us to prudence, if one moves around in prudent hours and goes to the main tourist attractions nothing out of the common should happen, actually Johannesburg is a very interesting city with excellent hotels, huge shopping centers and very nice neighborhoods. The city is famous for the abundant number of trees, it is said that there are more than six million of them. The best way to go around not only in the city but to other destinations is renting a car, actually this is a very cheap option and traffic can be as hectic as in any other big city. With the world cup of soccer the city welcomed many progress and even areas like the inner city that were regarded as not nice now offers good restaurants and are in the process of modernization. There are some places not to miss in Johannesburg a good example are the botanical gardens or those places linked with the history of the country such as the Apartheid museum or the Mandela Museum. There are fantastic options for lodging one of the most amazing hotels is the Westcliff, situated in the mountain it actually has a rural feeling, but it is a city hotel, the hotel is an spectacular introduction to the safaris since it prepares one to the ambiance of the wild nature. Another affordable but very good option for lodging close to the airport is Genesis apartments, this is a self catering property, it has free parking and a supermarket on site.
As I said, from Johannesburg is easy to drive or take a train to Pretoria the capital, it is a very nice city, famous for the universities with many parks and trees, it is worthy to spend there a couple days and to enjoy the feeling of middle size city with a relaxed ambiance.
Around two hours from Jozy (as the locals call Johannesburg) is located Sun City, a integrated resort, with fantastic five stars hotels, casinos, excellent restaurants and water parks among many other attractions. It is expensive, especially the hotels are not in the cheap side, but it is very interesting place, it is good even for a day trip one just pay a fee for the entrance but if one is in the mood to be pampered and has deep pockets it is not a bad idea to spend there a couple days.
Seeing the country
There are many places where to go. Most of the visitors want to experience a safari and probably one of the best ways is to stay in one of the game lodges. These will range from tent camps to luxurious hotels. The prices can go to all the different kind of ranges so it is important to do the research before choosing the preferred option. There are safari possibilities in all the country. One of my preferred, affordable and authentic safaris experiences is the one in Kwa Mbili game lodge, this is a family run place and the owners will do everything possible to offer a fantastic holiday experience. You just need to plan your trip ahead since they only allow ten guests at any given time.
If you want to experience the combination of true luxury in a place of beauty without comparison you may want to go to Thanda Private Game Resort. This is one of the finest lodging alternatives to experience nature, wildlife and being pampered in the heart of South Africa.
Another excellent option is Cathedral peak, this is a first class resort located in Drakensberg mountain, it is 200 kilometers from Durban and 400 kilometers from Johannesburg. It offers excellent hospitality and one of the best values for money in the country, this is a place to rest, forget the worries of daily life and to reconnect with nature.
Durban: The alluring beach resort
It is located in the east coast of South Africa, it is one of the prime destinations for beach holidays. It has an international airport and it is connected with Johannesburg trough an excellent highway. Actually driving is a great experience since you can see the beauty of the country, especially when one descends from the mountains to the coast. There are as well daily trains from the main cities in South Africa, so there is not a shortage of options to arrive. Durban is a first class destination, with many good hotels and great restaurants. It hosts an excellent night life and is really the place to see and be seen in south Africa. One goes to Durban to hang out around the golden mile, it is the place with the best beaches and excellent surfing conditions. Durban offers all kind of water sports, very nice golf courses and even skydiving possibilities. One has to keep in mind that Durban is actually a big city with over three million people, so there are many things to do in a city this size. Nature in this area of the country is really amazing, so many tourist base themselves in Durban and from there they go and explore the country side and the most isolated beaches.
It is the second city in population in the country and one of the most multicultural ones of the world. Many travelers say that a trip to South Africa has to start there, others say that actually it has to end there. It does not matter the important thing is that Cape town is a city that cannot be missed. It is a very unique place, I do not know if it is the impressive mountains, or the fact of being so far south, the truth is that there is a certain feeling of not being bothered or worried by anything when one is in Cape Town. I have heard several times that once you have seen Cape Town you have seen the world. Maybe it is true because many of the travelers that arrive to this city are actually big league travelers. Cape town hosts some of the most appealing new years celebrations. It is as well a destination for the lovers of adventure sports and those who like to experience raw nature. These areas have incredibly amazing hotels. If going to Cape Town is already a great experience, nothing beats the fact of enjoying Cape Town with style and for that there is not better place than One and Only resort. It is an alluring urban resort with fantastic views of the Table mountain. Truly an experience in itself. If one is in the mood for good shopping and excellent restaurants, one should not miss the Victoria and Alfred Water front where some of the best venues of the city are located. The botanical garden is another great experience and if one is there during the summer it is a great idea to enjoy the beautiful beaches.
A country with so many colors
Only when one has been in South Africa does one understand why it is called the Rainbow nation. It is so hard to condense in one post the diversity and beauty of all the places that can be found in a trip to this corner of the world. What to say about the wine country and the beautiful view of mountains and valleys that seem to be straight out of a painting. Though tourism is quickly developing in South Africa, the good news is that the country has not lost its mysticism. It remains a place where one can see nature as it is.
Such a fantastic country deserves to be in the bucket list of any traveler. Many times I’ve heard people say that South Africa is at the end of the world, I actually disagree I think that South Africa is the beginning of the world, it is the door, the place that has everything and even more.