South Africa is often described as the world in one country. This is no idle boast, it truly is.
As we sit at home with the Covid-19 lockdown, our wanderlust quelled and travel wings clipped, spare a thought for those in the travel and hospitality industries that have all but shut down.
Not much we can do now, but plan. This won’t last forever and when it does end let’s use the opportunity to visit all those places we have been meaning to get to.
Our country has much to offer. From oceans to deserts, mountains to the bushveld and, in between, the little dorps with tales to tell and experiences to be had. Here are a few ideas to kickstart your planning.
Walk among the giants
There are stretches of indigenous forest with towering trees throughout the country from the Magaliesberg to Tsitsikamma. These areas are ideal if you want to get back to nature, even if it is just for a day.
You can follow a self-guided trail, do some birding, and for the more adventurous there are canopy tours ranging from zip-lines to boardwalks. This is an ideal way of seeing the forests from a new perspective.
Head for the hills
South Africa has its fair share of mountains, each with its own character and atmosphere and all have well-developed tourist facilities. South Africa’s interior sits on an elevated area called the Great Plateau and as you head to the coast, in almost any direction, you will encounter the leading edge of the plateau which takes the form of mountain ranges which stretch from the Cape in the south to Mpumalanga in the east.
The best-known section is the Drakensberg where you will find the Amphitheatre, Giants Castle, Champagne Castle and Cathedral Peak.
In the Cape, the edge of the escarpment offers travellers some of the most spectacular drives along the many mountain passes like Bainskloof, Franschhoek, Du Toitskloof, and through the very beautiful Hex River valley.
In the east travellers will marvel at the dramatic vistas provided at the edge of the escarpment overlooking the Blyde River Canyon, said to be the third-largest in the world. This area is called the panorama route for good reason and God’s Window is no exaggeration.
Explore the Dorps
There are names like Nieu Bethesda, Putsonderwater, Victoria West and Barrydale which either evoke feelings of romance or are the butt of a joke. Whichever it is for you, next time you are travelling consider one of these towns as a destination, rather than a pit-stop along the way. You will be surprised and rewarded as they have much to offer. Some are famous for a single thing, Nieu Bethesda has the Owl House, the town of Richmond is South Africa’s biggest bookshop, and Calitzdorp is our Port capital.
These little towns are geared up for tourists, indeed, many rely on the tourist trade. You will find a variety of eateries, galleries showing work by local artists, and a variety of activities in the surrounding areas.
If you look carefully enough you might even spot a celebrity or two as many have settled in the dorps away from the hustle and bustle of city life.