Ten great reasons why you should visit South Africa
We visited South Africa for the first time in August/September 2017 and soon followed up with a further visit when the opportunity arose in March 2018. The reputation of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ is often blighted by its past history but having experienced at first hand the wonderful scenery, the fabulous wildlife, great golf courses and warm welcome offered to tourists South Africa is definitely one for the Bucket List.
Travelling to South Africa is not that stressful
You may be daunted by the fact that South Africa is so far away but with overnight flights in both ways the 11 hour flight is not so daunting as you think. There are direct flights with British Airways, South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic to Johannesburg from London and also a daily service from London to Cape Town with British Airways. Less expensive options are available with a stopover with other airlines such as Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa and Swiss Air.
To make South Africa even more affordable Thomas Cook Airlines will also have direct flights from London Gatwick to Cape Town 3 times a week between December 2018 to March 2019. Check also for other flights with connections from London Heathrow and UK Regional airports throughout the year.
Visit South Africa without the Jet Lag
With the overnight flights and a time difference of only +1 hour compared to BST(+2 hours to GMT) South Africa is a long haul flight without the effects of jet lag experienced when flying to other destinations. It’s possible to have late Afternoon tea in London followed by Breakfast in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town or the centre of Johannesburg or Pretoria. If you cannot wait its Table Mountain for Lunch with spectacular views over Cape Town and out to Robben Island
South Africa is a safe country to visit
We have so often heard ‘we would love to visit South Africa but its not safe’. Yes there are places that it is not advisable to visit but taking the sensible steps like most other places in the UK and overseas and South Africa is a great place to visit.
Always keep your valuables in a secure place and make use of the safe in your hotel room or apartment. It is advisable not to carry too much money on you and keep just one debit/credit card on you when out. Cameras and personal jewelry should be discretely displayed to deter any opportunists to snatch possessions away from you.
It would not be advisable to visit places such as a township independently but there are many companies offering guided tours and your entrance fee often contributes to the development and improving the welfare of the townships and their inhabitants.
If you want to be independent and drive around then the great news is that South Africa drives on the same side of the road as the UK. It is best not to drive around at night especially in unlit and remote areas so always plan your journey, allow plenty of time to reach your destination and maintain your fuel level.
Cape Town is a must visit
For many the first sight of South Africa is flying into Cape Town early in the morning and depending on the inward flight Table Mountain towers majestically above the city.
Make sure that if you want to visit Table Mountain to check the weather forecast and if the sky is clear just go. The famous ‘Table Cloth’ can roll over the top of the mountain very quickly and cause suspension of the cable car ride. Much of the tourist interest is featured around the fabulous V&A Waterfront with its high quality hotels, shops and restaurants. From the Waterfront you can pick up many excursions such as helicopter rides and also pick up the ferry to Robben Island.
There are many options to get around Cape Town using the open top City Sightseeing buses which take you to most of the attractions such as Table Mountain(buy your Cable Car ticket on the bus to avoid the worst of the queues) and the outer reaches such as Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens and Camps Bay. You can also hop off the bus on the blue route for a guided tor of a local township.
For more information visit https://www.citysightseeing.co.za/cape-town/products/cape-town-open-top-bus-tours
The Big Five
Many will have heard the term the ‘Big Five’ and wonder what are they? The Big Five are defined as Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhino and to see all of them in one visit is something special.
We were recently privileged to travel on the Shongololo Express with Rovos Rail and the itinerary included visits to Hluhwewe-Imfolozi National Park north of Durban and the world renowned Kruger National Park where you are almost touching the wildlife from your jeep. As well as the ‘Big Five’ there are giraffe, Wildebeest and Ostrich to name but a few.
South Africa is one of the few countries where you can see Whales from the shoreline or from the comfort of your hotel room. The best time for Whale watching is normally July to November with September and October the peak months. One of the best places to see whales is Hermanus around 90 minutes by car from Cape Town.
South Africa is a great all year round destination with superb Summers through November to February and pleasant Winter temperatures ciate some of the stunning flora and fauna before the heat of the Summer takes effect.
While Cape Town has a Mediterranean style climate Durban and Natal is more sub tropical so be prepared for high humidity between November and April. As always the advice is to wear sensible clothing including a hat, make sure you have plenty of Water with you especially if you are on a Game Drive and top up the sun block regularly.
South Africa produces some of the best wine in the World and there are over 200 cellars to visit within 2-3 hours of Cape Town. There are four main wine regions to be found-Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Wellington- and there are regular escorted tours from Cape Town to take you to these fabulous areas to sample the local wines and enjoy the best of the Cape District.
Explore South Africa with Rovos Rail
We have the pleasure in September 2017 to travel with Rovos Rail on its 2 day journey from Cape Town to Pretoria and to experience train travel from a bygone age. From the moment you arrive at the private Terminal at Cape Town to the moment you step off at the private station in Pretoria you are treated like royalty and nothing is too much trouble for the dedicated onboard team. This is rail travel as it used to be at a more leisurely pace and guests have time to make new friends and engage in conversation with each other and not a mobile phone.
As well as the Cape Town-Pretoria route and the 14 day Shongololo Express Rovos Rail also operate the 9 and 10 day African Golf Safari and African Golf Collage taking some of the best golf courses in South Africa such as Fancourt , Pezula, Sun City, Leopards Creek and Champagne Sports Resort.
Golf in South Africa
South Africa is blessed with some stunning golf courses such as the 3 championship courses at Fancourt Estate, Pezula, Arabella and the renowned Legend Golf and Safari Resort with the ‘Extreme 19th’ challenge undertaken with the aid of a helicopter ride.
As a golf and holiday destination South Africa has so much to offer and we look forward to developing more fabulous itineraries to the ‘Rainbow Nation’