If you are an outdoor person than you have probably thought about visiting South Africa at one point or another. The country is a land full of very diverse experiences. From Cape Town to Johannesburg a once in a lifetime opportunity awaits you. Familiarize yourself with South Africa in our newest edition of Bayou Travel Bucket List.
Background and History of South Africa
Aboriginal people have been living in South Africa for at least a millennium. Along with Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, South Africa is considered one of the most important centers for early human evolution. Multiple tribes made up the early history of the country and continue to call the country home today. There were two major periods of colonization, the Dutch first in the mid 1600’s, followed by the British in 1806.
During the colonial years immigrants from Europe, East Africa, the East Indies, China, and India made South Africa home. Due to this very varied ethnic diversity, the history of the country is rife with political struggle, wars, and turmoil. In 1910 South Africa gained independence but maintains membership in the British Commonwealth. The history of the 20th century in South Africa is largely dominated by the role of the apartheid system, or legalized discrimination against black South Africans. This remained in place until 1992.
What are 3 things you probably didn’t know about this country?
South Africa ranks in the top five nations in the world for mobile phone coverage.
The country has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.
There are 11 official languages in South Africa.
What are some must-visit sites?
Most international flights land in Johannesburg the capital and largest city. Like any large city there are plenty of museums and cultural sites. Most people rarely spend much time here. The number one reason most people visit South Africa is for the wildlife. Kruger National Park is the oldest and arguably the best wildlife park in the country. It is a five hour drive north of Johannesburg and the roads leading to it are well cared for. If you want to travel around this large country there are low-cost carriers that can fly you point to point.
Cape Town in the south of the country has beautiful beaches and is home to Table Mountain. If you’re after cultural diversity this is the place to go. If wine is your thing, then the region east of Cape Town should be on your list. Rent a car and drive around or sign up for one of many wine tasting tours.
Another beautiful natural site is the Drakensburg Mountains which stretch 600 miles. There are hundreds of hiking trails, as well as rivers to raft, bird watching, and 4×4 riding opportunities. Even if you’re not in peak physical condition there are trails for every fitness level. One of the most unique things to see here are the Bushmen Rock Art drawings. These drawings left behind by San Bushmen are about 800 years old and depict all types of animals and imagery.
Where can you see some hidden highlights of this country?
The Garden Route is a scenic drive along the south-eastern coast of South Africa. The ecological diversity and numerous lakes and lagoons are what gave it its name. There are dozens of activities – mostly outdoors – that are possible here.
Outside of Johannesburg you will find Soweto. This area under apartheid was home to the black population of the area. It has a long and interesting history. Taking a guided tour is the best way to learn and experience the area. The area covers over 90 square miles and is home to 3.5 million people.
On Dyer Island near Hermanus you can go cage diving with Great White Sharks or try whale watching from the safety of a ship deck.
Why this country should be on YOUR bucket list
South Africa boasts urban and rural splendor. From museums and top notch restaurants to game parks with wildlife to view there’s no shortage of things to do and see. The flight to South Africa can be long so plan plenty of time for your visit – chances are no matter how long you decide to stay it won’t be long enough!
Have you considered visiting South Africa? What would lure you to visit the area?