South Africa has gone grossly underrated for far too long. Why aren’t more Aussies taking this detour on their way to or from Europe? Or just fucking Europe right off and going straight there for a standalone holiday? Given you need at least – at least – a fortnight to fit everything in, it’s not the shabbiest idea.
Why am I so sold on South Africa? Because I went there with a few varying personalities and can safely say it has something for everyone, which is one way to minimise the inevitable fights you have with mates on vacay.
So where do you start? Consider these locations below when mapping out your itinerary.
Given South Arica’s largest city, Johannesburg, is the landing spot for many coming from Oz or otherwise, it’s important to hang around for at least 24 hours and check out its offerings. You know, because you’re already there and you may as well and all of that.
You’ll find the township Soweto in Jo’burg, where you can visit Nelson Mandela House, ride around by quad bike, bungee jump off Orlando Towers, meet the locals and tuck into some braai.
For an early dinner or just a few dranks to finish up your day? Neighbourgoods Markets. If you haven’t heard of this one it’s a must – a food hall of sorts with the best kind of vibes as the sun goes down.
There’s an epic vintage offering on the rooftop, which is where you’ll also find the bar and some of the coolest human beings alive – seriously, real lewks are served.
Around a 1.5 hour flight from Jo’Burg you’ll find Jeffreys Bay, known to many as “J-Bay“. People come from all over the world to surf here, and yes, it is the same place where Mick Fanning escaped a shark attack. I’ll acknowledge that and like all other beaches throughout the world, you’ll be entering those waters at your own risk. If you’re a newbie, take a class with J-Bay Surf School.
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One of the most incredibly pink sunsets I’ve ever seen here in #jeffreysbay #southafrica as we were sandboarding its pristine sandy slopes… . . . #southafrica #southafricaza #alexhayes @alexhayess #travellerau #lonelyplanet #travelstoke #travelgram #southafricathroughmyeyes #southafricanskies #southafrica???????? #travelphotography #travelholic #travelling #traveling #beach #beachlife #surfing #surfinglife #sunset #meetsouthafrica
You can also sand board at Jeffreys Bay, which is essentially snowboarding on sand dunes. It’s fun, and I imagine it would be more fun if I had the woman balls to stand up instead of sitting down on the thing. This place dishes out some unbeatable pink skies and if you’ve got a crew, I’d highly recommend spending the night at Supertubes.
Did you know that South Africa is home to the highest commercial bridge bungee jump in the world? Now you do! It’s Blourkan’s Bungey (that’s how they spell it, not me) and it’s in Storms River. Even if you don’t want to do it yourself, don’t deny your crew the honour – you can still walk across the bridge and cop the view / pants-shitting going on up there.
Want something a lil’ more lowkey? Storms River is also super popular for kloofing – be warned, though, it’s still not for the faint-hearted, depending on how you view the adrenalin spectrum. There will be jumping from rocks, frosty-cold waters, zip lines, abseiling and super steep climbing. It’s damn fun, though.
While you’re in the area, also check out Storms River Mouth in Tsitsikamma National Park – a two-hour round hike with breathtaking views, waterfalls, swinging bridges and a species of animal that looks like an evil quokka, essentially.
Depending on where you stay, see if you can squeeze in a dinner at Marilyn’s 60s Diner on Darnell Street. It’s definitely full of naughty food, which you deserve on holiday, but they highly encourage dressing up to theme so you’re bound to have fun whether you’re in the mood or not. There’s vintage cars, checkered floors, cooked milkshakes – the lot.
No list of must-see destinations in South Africa would be complete without a Cape Town inclusion – seriously, you’d never hear the end of it if you didn’t visit, and for good reason. CAPE TOWN IS FUCKING STUNNING. It’s so damn cool, you guys – like maybe the best place I’ve ever been to in my life.
Abseil down Table Mountain, parasail over town, hike Lion’s Head for sunrise, drink at Signal Hill for sunset, get super lit at the plethora of sinking holes to choose from, surf, check out the street art – the options are endless.
Don’t leave without walking through the colourful houses that line the streets of Bo Kaap (Kiff Kombi Tours will take you there), though. Positioned under Table Mountain, the Muslim part of town used the colours to attract people to the area, and it’s 10/10 effective.
Even if you’re not one for heaps of activities, just taking in this place will amaze you, I promise. Hout Bay is also 30 mins away if you like to swim with seals.
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
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Popped my African safari cherry. Onslaught of wildlife photos ensue. Kruger NP, South Africa . . . #canon6dmarkii #canon #travellerau #southafricaza #southafrican #southafricathroughmyeyes #southafrica #travellerau #travelstoke #tablemountain #lonelyplanet #meetsouthafrica #krugernationalpark #kruger #krugerpark #krugerthroughmyeyes #wildlife #lionking #lion #africa #africansafari #africawildlife #big5 #bigfive #bigcat #bigcats #bigcatsofinstagram #natgeo #natgeoyourshot #natgeowild #natgeotravel
All the little birdies and the little monkeys! Seriously – whether it’s Kruger National Park, Godwana Game Reserve or elsewhere – doing safari is a decision that shouldn’t require a whole lot of thought. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
To get to Kruger National Park, you’ll need to get to Hoedspruit (it’s a one-hour flight from Cape Town) and then a transfer to your lodge. You honestly won’t do anything else here except game drives, eating and sleeping to the soothing sounds of animals fighting outside of your tent. Seriously. It’s wild (literally). I stayed at Honeyguide Khoka Moya and couldn’t fault it.
This writer travelled to South Africa as a guest of South Africa Tourism.Image: Instagram / @ladyandacat