Redefining Vacations: Experience South Africa

When we hear the words “vacation” or “holiday trip”, we often think of the same things—island beach hopping, hiking on a trail a few hours away from home, or going to the nearest city to unwind. Don’t get me wrong. Those are really good ideas, but there are more amazing vacation ideas to try out. Consider South Africa.

Table Mountain and Cape Town city centre
Table Mountain and Cape Town city centre

South Africa gives you elephant waterholes instead of beaches, mountain ranges instead of hills, and natural wildlife and environments instead of malls. The southernmost country in the African continent is slowly rising to international fame. In 2015 and 2017, it was featured in the World’s Top 15 Cities of the New York-based magazine Travel and Leisure. South Africa ranked ninth and eighth, respectively. Meanwhile, in 2016, Cape Town, South Africa took the spotlight as the Best City in Africa and the Middle East in the same magazine. The country is also being highlighted in major media platforms like Buzzfeed and the Telegraph.


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World Heritage and culture combined

Majority of the geography of South Africa is unexploited. Thus, most of the places are untouched by urbanization. The local way of life is best seen in the decorated houses of Drakensberg. The culture in the country is very pure, and some of the most important artworks in the outer regions are thousands of years old of cave paintings and archeological finds.

Ostriches
Ostriches

The attractions in the region are mostly centered on eco-tourism and wildlife. South Africa is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and boasts of attractions like the Kruger National Park, and the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lions at game reserve- photo courtesy SA Tourism
Lions at game reserve- photo courtesy SA Tourism

Another well-known Heritage Site in the country is the Cradle of Humankind, which is a geologic wonder as it is a rich archeological site as well. Bordered by rocks and mountain ranges from afar, even ordinary people with no knowledge on archeology will fall in love with this place.



Rustic cities

Besides having unspoiled environments, South Africa also has its urbanized sides. One of most famous tourist destination of this sort is Cape Town, a coastal city with a relaxing atmosphere. Not only is it home to the forever blue Clifton Beach, it is also neighbor to Table Mountain, a hiking destination that overlooks the city.

Cape Town City View
Cape Town City View

Meanwhile, Johannesburg is an adventure-filled city. It is one of the 50 largest urban cities in the world. Some of the must-see sights here include the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the cityscape of Hillbrow from the Hillbrow Tower, and the crowds of shoppers at Nelson Mandela Square. Spending a day here might not suffice.

Exotic Food

South African cuisine is commonly meat-based and features a heavy use of fruits, herbs, and nuts. One of the most famous dishes in the region is the Potjiekos. The dish consists of meat and vegetables and is cooked with little water and without stirring. It is like the South African version of the hotpot. Another local favorite is the Bunny Chow, a hollow loaf of bread with a curry filling.

Cape Malay rice dish
Cape Malay rice dish
Grapes and wine
Grapes and wine

Of course, the locals also have grilled meat dishes. The Braai is the general term used for grilled pieces of meat, and are usually partnered with the country’s special low-alcohol beer. Beer is a central part of the local culture. Cape Town, in particular, has some of the best wineries in the country.

Beauty without golden price tag

Accommodation is not a problem here in South Africa. The highest rated luxury hotels cost just about Php 7,600 (USD 150) per night. Cape Town Marriott Crystal Towers Hotel (hotel info), one of the most well-known hotels in the country, is one of these. One of its strongest selling points is its location near eco-tourism attractions, while at the same time offering an elegant stay.

Redefining Vacations: South Africa
Cape Town Marriott Crystal Towers Hotel exterior -Redefining Vacations: South Africa

Commodities are also fairly affordable for countries with strong currencies. Meals in fine dining restaurants cost around Php 900 (USD 18), while transportation in the form of taxis cost just around Php 40 (USD 0.75). Going on a road trip here won’t cost a fortune.

The climate in the country is generally warm all-year round, making any adventure or walking—or hiking—tour doable.

The entire country of South Africa is one of the lesser-known destinations in the world. There’s so much more to see and experience here. Most of the sights here are not the typical beaches or malls that we all imagine on a vacation trip, and it’s best if you see South Africa’s wonders for yourself.

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