Thinking of going to South Africa? If your friends and acquaintances are anything like mine, you will get loads of opinions about where to go and what to do. I dismissed 95% of the advice i got. It makes me sound like a snob but i had a good reason. My closest circle of friends, when i went to SA, had never been anywhere beyond London. And some of their input was border-line stupid (go to that place, you know, the one the song is about. Really?)
Let me start by saying it’s critical that you spend at least two weeks in South Africa. From the states, it will take two days of vacation time getting there/back. That’s a long flight. Why rush your return?
Starting by planning your safari. Everyone around me was like, “just do three days, that’s plenty of time. It’s only wildlife.” Wrong. Going on a safari, can truly change how you look at globalization and conservation. If that doesn’t motivate you, totally fine with me. I will say, it’s important to remember that animals don’t show up on command. You can easily spend five days walking or driving around your park in search of “the big five.” Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. I wanted my safari to be the highlight of my trip and spent eight days at Phinda. It was phenomenal and i highly recommend it. However, you can probably have a great time on a five-day safari was well.
Next, decide where your “home base” will be. By home base i mean, where is the largest city, and surrounding areas, you want to most of your time. Typically, it’s Cape Town. It’s a better jumping off point for Stellenbosch, the Cape of Good Hope and in general is safer than other major cities. I recommend 3-4 days in Cape Town. Again, people will steer you to a shorter stay here. Don’t be fooled, Cape Town offers a lot and you don’t want to regret missing something.
While in Cape Town, spend a day climbing Table Mountain. Spend a day just exploring the waterfront and being lazy. Finally, spend a day or two visiting Kirstenbosch Gardens and/or Robbins Island and take some deep-sea diving. To this day, i am beyond bummed that i skipped this. I think it’s why ‘cage diving’ is the number to thing on my life list.
Finally, spend at few days in Stellenbosch, enjoy the scenery and wine. I did a whirlwind tour and it wasn’t enough so i strongly recommend 2-3 days here. You won’t regret it!
PS: Can i get some props for sticking to my commitment to focus on my blog? Two posts this week! And, my SA series is officially done. That means i’ll be sharing Trek Across Maine adventures soon!