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South Africa Travel: Beach Edition

The world-class beaches in the southernmost African nation should be on the bucket list of any traveler who likes to soak up the sun, surf, snorkel, or scuba dive. Here are a few of the best beach spots, along with suggestions for things to do and places to stay.

Cape Town

cape-town-beaches

This coastal city’s beaches are generally regarded as the best in South Africa. Llandudno is low-key with pristine water. There is very little commercialization, creating a relaxed atmosphere that doesn’t feel touristy at all. It is located near Hout Bay, off the beaten track of mass travel in a cozy corner of the cape.

Boulders Beach, three dozen kilometers south of Cape Town, is home to endangered African penguins. Unfortunately, a variety of factors have eroded their numbers over many years. These unique birds are probably the best reason to choose Boulders Beach over others. This is a great way to mix some wildlife education and environmental preservation into a beach trip for youngsters.

Tintswalo Atlantic in Hout Bay has earned a reputation for quality service and good views.

Noordhoek Beach offers a wonderful panoramic viewing, with the sprawling ocean on one side and the majestic Chapman’s Peak on the other. The surrounding wetlands complete the picture, making it worth visiting for the Instagram-worthy shots alone. Head over to Cape Point Vineyards to relax with a glass of South African wine and review all the photos you’ll use to turn your friends green with envy.

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth

Sardinia Bay Beach is highly rated. It is generally not crowded and the sand dunes are worth seeing. The Grass Roof Farm Stall is a hip joint with tons of vegan options. The staff even grows produce on the roof.

Knysna

Noetzie Beach is a spectacular beach, accessible only by a gravel road. A unique feature of this beach is the historic castles erected in the early 20th century. Pezula Hotel and The Mount Knysa are two options for stay. Although a bit pricey, you get what you pay for with great service to go with the stunning scenery. For high-end seafood dining, check out Tapas and Oysters.

Brenton on Sea is a top destination for paragliders, in addition to the regular beach-goers. After relaxing in the sun, check out Butterfly Blue for lunch or dinner.

These are just a few of the countless beaches in South Africa that warrant a day trip or longer.

Travel in South Africa: Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Among the many reasons to visit South Africa is its physical attractions. The nation at the southern tip of Africa features mountains, oceans, savannahs, and more – all easily accessible. You can find many parks and wildlife reserves where South Africa’s beautiful plant and animal life remains basically untouched.

Kruger National Park is definitely worth visiting. It is an enormous space, just less than 20,000 square kilometers, located in the northeast corner of the country close to the border with Mozambique. The fastest way to access the park is via Kruger Park Gateway Airport. Other options include Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport or Eastgate Airport. Once on the ground, you can rent a vehicle from Skukuza Rest Camp and drive into the park.

Where to Stay

There are a variety of places to stay in Kruger National Park. Rest camps include Skukuza Rest Camp (the biggest), Satara, and Lower Sabie. You can also opt for pricier private lodges like Singita Boulders or Rhino Post Safari Lodge. The options for stay range from backpacker-friendly budget tents to 5-star resorts.

The big-mammal wildlife is breathtaking, incomparable to other regions of the world. In Kruger National Park, you can expect to see giraffes, hippos, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, all kind of other big cats, and more. Safaris are an excellent way to spend time in Kruger National Park and take in all the sights on offer. There are two ways to safari in the park: self-guided and guided.

Tours Available

Guided tours are best suited for visitors unfamiliar with the terrain in the park and for anyone concerned about safety issues. In case of inclement weather, it is also helpful to have the benefit of an experienced guide to avoid any problems. Guided tours can also provide more opportunities for spotting wildlife, as the guides will know the places to find the animals.

Self-guided tours allow more flexibility and time to go where you please. 4-wheel drive vehicles suitable for off-roading can be rented from many vendors in and around the park.

On the resorts, many activities are available including spa treatments, golf, and more. You can also take a hot-air balloon ride over the park, which offers some fantastic views from above.

Overall, for the nature enthusiast or just the casual tourist, Kruger National Park should be on your can’t-miss list to visit while you are in South Africa. It is truly one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.

 

 

South Africa: Top Destinations in Cape Town

Cape Town

Cape Town is perhaps South Africa’s best-known city, located on the western coast. There are many attractive options for exploration. Here are a few of them.

  1. District Six Museum

This museum is dedicated to the struggle for racial justice. It is built in a structure that formerly served as a Methodist Church in an area of Cape Town that experienced massive racial upheaval in the 1960s and 1970s. Visitors can explore the troubled history of South Africa, most notably its apartheid policy of separation between blacks and whites. This museum is great for the education of young people who might not be aware of the storied South African past.

  1. Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art

Cape Town is a world-renowned art powerhouse, for artists and connoisseurs alike. The Zeitz Museum is one of the most prestigious galleries to find art uniquely featuring the many crafts of African people. The Zeitz Museum enjoys the distinction of being the largest museum for contemporary African art anywhere in the world.

  1. Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain overlooks Cape Town, named so because of the flat top of the mountain which looks like a table in the sky. The Table Mountain Aerial Cable Car is a great way to explore the mountain in style, floating over the top, suspended by a cable, taking in all the amazing sights.

  1. Winelands

Wine production is a huge industry in this region of South Africa. The outskirts of Cape Town are dotted with vineyards and wineries. Organized tours are available, or you can explore the vineyards yourself. Groot Constantia is probably the best-known vineyard in the region, and definitely worth checking out.

  1. Robben Island

Just off the shore of Cape Cod sits Robben Island, which served in a former time as a penal colony for political prisoners. Famously, Nelson Mandel spent time on the island while serving a sentence. Interestingly, former prisoners serve as tour guides. Ferries are available to take visitors to and from the island.

  1. Cage Diving

Experienced divers escort tourists to the underwater regions off the coast of Cape Town. The cage serves as a protection between the diver and the sharks which swarm the waters. This is definitely a unique experience for the more daring travelers.

 

Overall, there is a wide range of activities in Cape Town that can appeal to nearly every type of visitor.

 

 

South Africa Travel: Johannesburg

johannesburg

Johannesburg is a rich cultural South African city that, given the right precautions taken by visitors, can offer a lot to visitors who look past the sensational tabloid stories to discover the hidden beauty in the city.

Mandela House

This museum/historical site located in Soweto was the home of famed humanitarian icon Nelson Mandela for about two decades in the mid-20th century. It celebrates South Africa’s first black president, and its display pieces give the cultural context that led to this momentous event.

Most strikingly, perhaps, the house still features real bullet holes and damage from Molotov cocktails, highlighting the violence that Mandela faced for his activism.

Constitution Hill

Another important political landmark, Constitution Hill featured a former prison for political dissidents as well as, in modern times, the Constitutional Court, the highest judicial office in the land. Nelson Mandela, among many other freedom fighters in South Africa, was held in the notorious prison during the struggle for civil rights in the fledgling nation.

Maboneng Precinct

Maboneng an ultra-trendy hotspot for art enthusiasts, hipsters, collectors, and casual tourists looking for interesting nightlife. Carlton Centre is arguably the best destination for arts and crafts where sellers offer pieces unique to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Tours are available, but the district is also a great place to simply wander around on a lazy afternoon and take in the sights.

Melville

This is another trendy area northwest of Johannesburg, perhaps not as opulent or heavily trafficked as Maboneng Precinct. Melville has been described as “Bohemian” because of its low-key character and the famous unpretentiousness of the locals. Tourists are often surprised at how hospitable and welcoming the residents of this quaint town are, and how relaxing the entire vibe is.

44 Stanley

For upscale shopping, slick architecture, and great eateries, this converted mixed-use industrial space is a great place to take the family. The Salvation Café seems to receive tons of raving reviews from satisfied visitors, so after some window shopping head there for dinner.

Travel Tips for Johannesburg

The city’s reputation for crime, although greatly exaggerated, still has some merit. There are many poor people in the enormous population of 10 million, and offenses such as theft and robbery still remain possibilities, no matter how remote.

The best ways to avoid any issues are mostly common sense, such as to always have a clear plan, to know where you’re going, and to stay aware of your environment.

 

 

 

How to Prevent Homesickness When Living Overseas

Living abroad has always been a very appealing idea for many people. It presents a perfect opportunity to become part of a different society and culture that goes well beyond just being a tourist in a strange city. People get to experience how people live and behave, eat the real local cuisine and, finally, expand their minds in ways they never thought to be possible.

However, as many ‘pros’ as there may be to moving overseas, there is one massive ‘con’, and that is having to deal with homesickness. If you are planning on living abroad at some point in the future but you are concerned about getting homesick, here is some advice that could be very valuable to you.

Enjoy the Beauty of Where You Are

Wherever you are in the Globe, there is always going to be a site of natural beauty as well as some form of cultural heritage. In some places, it may be harder to find, but rest assured that it is there. Get out and see the sights and you may end up being lucky enough to witness some of the most stunning natural scenery on the planet. This can take your mind off your homesickness, even if only for a short while, but it can also help you in the long term.

Plan a Vacation

If you are working all the time, then it can be difficult for you to adjust to your new surroundings. Where possible, try to take some time off to get to relax and have some fun in your new home. This can mean taking in the local sights or maybe travelling further afield to see the best of what your host country has to offer.

Do the Things You Did Back Home

Humans are creatures of habit. Think of the many things back home you used to do and try to replicate them in your new place. Finding ways to add these little “traditions” to your new routine will help smooth things over in the homesick department. The important thing is that you remember that you can often find happiness even in the littlest of things. To help with this, take some items with you that will help to make your new home to feel more like your old home.

Make Friends

Leaving behind friends is one of the most daunting aspects of moving to a new country. It is understandable that you will miss them, but this shouldn’t stop you from making new friends as well. You are likely to meet new people in your new job, while you can also try finding clubs and groups for people just like yourself. Within a couple of weeks or two, you could have made friends with a whole group of new people to share your experiences with.

Keep in Touch

It is easier than ever before to keep in touch with friends and family. You don’t have to wait for letters and cards to go through the mail system as in the past. Instead, you can communicate instantly through email and social media. It is also now very affordable to call people on the other side of the world, and you can even have a chat face to face if you have a webcam.