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  • "What should I know when planning a trip to South Africa?"

varun gupta

India

What should I know when planning a trip to South Africa?

I am planing a trip to South Africa next year. I need to know about the good places to visit and how is the environment over there.  Is there anything I need to know before I make a visit to one of the beautiful place on this planet?

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  • Yaniv Wainer

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    It all comes down to how long you'll be in South Africa - it's a very big country with beautiful landscapes, tons of wildlife and very interesting people and cultures. Also, it depends on what you like to do and see. I'll give you some recommendations based on 2 trips I did there, which we're in total 2 months.

    Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. When in Cape Town, I highly recommend these places/activities:

    • Soaking up the atmosphere at the Waterfront
    • Two Oceans Aquarium
    • Hiking up to Lion's Head
    • Chilling at one of Clifton's beaches (3rd is the best)
    • Hire a car and drive down to Cape Peninsula and Simon's Town to see some African Penguins.

    Clifton

    Simon's Town

    If starting you're trip in Cape Town (which I recommend you do) and you have at least a month, rent a car for the whole trip. You'll be free to go anywhere you like, whenever you like. South Africa is pretty safe for tourists (despite what you hear) - just use common sense when making decisions. After Cape Town, drive east towards Betty's Bay, Hermanus and Gansbaai for beautiful landscapes and spectacular whale watching.

    After that, you can do the Garden Route, which starts at Mossel Bay and ends before Port Elizabeth. Some personal recommendations are:

    Wilderness

    Near Port Elizabeth is Addo Elephant National Park which I heard is awesome, but if you plan on visiting Kruger National Park, I think you can skip it.

    From East London to Durban is the rightly named Wild Coast. Small Xhosa villages dot the landscape, which is very rugged and undeveloped. There are loads of great hikes, and if you're travelling between May and July, you might get a chance to see the Sardine Run. Some recommended places to go, see and chill at are Coffee Bay and Hole in The Wall.

    General Trippy Media

    From the Wild Coast, drive up to Durban, which is a nice city, but not very safe. You'd rather visit the Drakensberg Mountains, west of Durban.

    Drakensbergimage from thobareisen.de

    A day's drive northeast of Durban is iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which has great hiking, wildlife and the best scuba-diving South Africa has to offer in Sodwana Bay National Park. You can stay at Toad Tree Cabins, right outside the park. Actually, if scuba diving is your thing, head to Vilanculos and Tofo Beach in Mozambique, right across the border, but that adds another 2 weeks to your trip.

    Driving through or around Swaziland will get you to Mpumalanga. Head to Sabie and just drive around, doing short hikes, seeing waterfalls and lovely places like Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes and more. The small towns in Mpumalanga like Sabie are great bases for doing trips in Kruger National Park.

    Kruger National Park

    End your trip in Johannesburg. Nothing really to do here expect see the Cradle of Humankind (Maropeng).

    Some basic tips on travelling in South Africa:

    1. It's a big country - plan your driving accordingly.
    2. If arriving from/connecting in another African country, make sure you have a Yellow Fever vaccination. That's the only vaccine you need in SA.
    3. It's recommended to take anti-malaria tabs in Kruger NP.
    4. Regarding tips 2 and 3 - I'm no doctor. It's best to consult with a travel clinic before - they have the best info on what's recommended for you.
    5. Never, ever leave valuables in a parked car.
    6. Always park in designated parking lots, most time there will be someone who "takes care of your car". Be sure to tip him a few Rands.
    7. All big cities aren't safe at night. Make sure you know where you're going.
    8. Have fun!

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    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Cape Town (city)
    2. Lion's Head (attraction)
    3. Clifton (unknown)
    4. Cape Peninsula (unknown)
    5. Simon's Town (city)
    6. Betty's Bay (city)
    7. Hermanus (city)
    8. Gansbaai (city)
    9. Mossel Bay (attraction)
    10. Port Elizabeth (city)
    11. Wilderness (city)
    12. Knysna (city)
    13. Nature's Valley (city)
    14. Wild Spirit Lodge and Backpackers (hotel)
    15. Addo Elephant National Park (attraction)
    16. Kruger National Park (amusement park)
    17. East London (city)
    18. Durban (attraction)
    19. Coffee Bay (city)
    20. Hole in The Wall (attraction)
    21. Durban (attraction)
    22. Drakensberg (region)
    23. iSimangaliso Wetland Park (city)
    24. Sodwana Bay National Park (unknown)
    25. Vilanculos (city)
    26. Tofo Beach (city)
    27. Mpumalanga (state)
    28. Blyde River Canyon (unknown)
    29. Bourke's Luck Potholes (attraction)
    30. Sabie (city)
    31. Kruger National Park (amusement park)
    32. Johannesburg (city)
    33. Maropeng (attraction)

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