Top 5 Reasons to Visit South Africa
By Carolyn Tett
1. A year-round destination with a great climate. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east, South Africa enjoys a temperate climate, with some regional variation, but a very low annual rainfall overall, making it a destination for all seasons, and ideal for building a custom safari (with options for beach time, wine tasting, whale watching, and much more) around any dates you desire.
2. World-class wildlife viewing and private reserves perfect for families. South Africa’s Kruger National Park is a world-renowned wildlife destination, and the oldest national park in Africa. Sharing a border with Kruger, Mala Mala Game Reserve is a private reserve with exclusive game viewing areas and the highest land to guest ratio in the region. 90% of the reserve is strategically sandwiched between the 11 mile open boundary with the Kruger National Park and the Sand River. If you only visit Africa once, this is the place where you are most likely to see the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros). In addition, Mala Mala offers a Junior Ranger program with activities designed just for kids and teens.
3. Natural wonders in diverse settings. From the Kalahari Desert in the north to the mighty Drakensberg Mountains and a 1,836 mile coastline with stunning beaches, South Africa’s geographical diversity is a visual delight and home to some of the world’s most diverse animal and plant kingdoms. Some of this natural beauty can be best enjoyed in cosmopolitan Cape Town, where you can enjoy a view from iconic Table Mountain or visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, over 1,300 acres with 90 acres of cultivated gardens showcasing South Africa’s indigenous plants. If hiking and beaches are more your style, try Plettenberg Bay. Here mountains and gorges, rugged coastline and white sand beaches are connected by tall indigenous canopy forests. You can explore extensive hiking trails such as the 17km Dolphin Trail which starts at the Storms River Mouth and winds its way eastwards through natural fynbos and pristine forests, along the coast, and ends on the banks of the Sandrift River at The Fernery.
4. Fantastic food and wine. Delicious fruits and vegetables plus locally caught seafood and a range of exotic meat (springbok or ostrich, anyone?) are prepared in a range of styles from traditional African fare to Afrikaans dishes and served in beautiful settings. South Africa’s wine regions have been cited as among the world’s most beautiful. The Cape Winelands are a short drive from Cape Town and offer world-class wines and charming inns with breathtaking vineyard views.
5. Adventures for everyone. Beyond the allure of safaris in Kruger National Park and other parks like Madikwe Game Reserve, there are adventures-of-a-lifetime for all tastes. The Garden Route runs from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, with excellent whale watching on the way at Gansbaii. Nearby Cape Town, Seal Island offers great white shark viewing by boat, and cage viewing underwater for the more adventurous. For a little bit of everything, try a stay at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness a wilderness getaway for the whole family where you can enjoy game drives, hiking, biking, canoeing, fly fishing, and explore 130 unique Bushman rock art sites, some dating back 10,000 years.