In our “Five Reasons” blog series, we’ll list reasons you should love South Africa. Chances are, if we love a destination, you will too. Let’s get to it.
5) The Lodging
South Africa has a lot of things going for it. To be honest, we can’t believe we’ve limited ourselves to just five reasons. But we’re a bunch of travel nerds, so we absolutely have to list the lodging options in South Africa as one of them. And we don’t even feel bad about this choice; South Africa has some of the best hospitality game in the industry.
Safari lodges are the most popular way to experience South African hospitality. In the Sabi Sands conservancy neighboring Kruger National Park, lodges from the fantastically valued Elephant Plains Game Lodge, to the legendary Singita properties dot the landscape. These places bring hospitality into the one of the wildest places on earth, and the result is magical.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is tucked away in the Western Cape of the country, and is home to a lesser known, but perfect, lodge. A family has, piece by piece, bought the land around this lodge to create a private nature reserve in the heart of one of the world’s largest flower kingdoms. From hikes around the reserve, to trips down to the beach, this lodge is a great example of how South African citizens take their natural resources seriously.
4) The Wine
Casual wine drinkers may not immediately think of Africa as a wine destination, but anyone who’s sampled a wine from the Stellenbosch region knows that wine belongs on this list. The best part about wine in South Africa is how close this region is to Cape Town. In this, and many more ways, Cape Town reminds us of San Francisco, with the Napa Valley easily accessible. Day trips are definitely an option, but we recommend spending one or two nights at a winery.
With great vineyards comes great chefs. This universal rule continues here, and the gastronomic adventures to be had in Cape Town and Stellenbosch range from traditional southern African fare, to international cuisines.
3) The Beach
We’re southern Californians, and as much as we like to travel, we feel uncomfortable if we don’t feel an ocean near us. South Africa is perfect, because we can be on safari in the morning, and be on the beach in the afternoon. Cape Town has some beautiful coasts, but some of the best beach towns in the world are east, along the road known as the Garden Route.
Durban is the third largest city in South Africa, and serves as the urban center for a few other cities along the coast. The beach isn’t the only reason to come here. Durban is also home to the largest concentration of Indians outside of India, and the city has a unique Asian feel, with great Indian food included. It’s great to travel internationally, but it’s also a special treat to find a city that feels like home while abroad.
2) The Wildlife
We know, we know. This couldn’t be more obvious, but the wildlife South Africa has to offer just has to be near the top of this list. But rather than go on about the Big Five, the exciting savannah wildlife moments, the shark diving and the whale watching, we’ll concentrate on something else very dear to South Africa’s heart: conservation.
Everywhere you go in South Africa, the concentration on ecological sustainability is incredibly prevalent. Every lodge from the coast to Victoria Falls contributes to conservation efforts in South Africa. Every hospitality professional wears wrist bands supporting conservation of endangered wildlife, particularly rhino. The country is united on the important issue of combating poachers. We can’t help but fall in love with a country with such strong conviction.
1) The Diversity
Finally, we come to the real reason we love South Africa. It’s not just the wine, the lodges, the wildlife, the beaches, the culture, the extreme adventure activities, the food, the modern infrastructure, etc… It’s that all these wonderful things are in the same country, together. Seriously, South Africa is a big place, but finding these many reasons to visit a country is still impressive. It’s the ultimate country for someone who’s not sure what they want out of their vacation, because it provides a sample platter of every type of vacation available. We’re tempted to call it the best tourism destination in the world, but we don’t want to make all the other countries jealous.