Since I moved to Arizona from South Africa 2.5 years ago, I have been asked many times, “How long does it take to travel from Phoenix to Cape Town?”. Well it takes a while – 20 hours if you fly via London. But take my word, it’s worth every minute of the trip for what you will see, eat and experience once you get there.
Since you might feel like I’m a little biased (this is my home country we’re talking about here), I’ve compiled a short list of 10 very good, very “Google-fit” reasons to make the trip and a visit to the incredible South Africa as number 1 on your “bucket list”.
Reason 1: As a “rainbow nation” that has embraced its eclectic mix of Africans and immigrants, South Africa is extremely diverse and offers a unique blend of culture, wildlife and beautiful scenery. It is one of the more developed countries in Africa, but despite the modern and western influences, it passionately retains a traditional African taste in its food, music and vibrant culture. This, combined with the wild African bush, and an abundance of untamed wildlife; makes South Africa and its people really special.
Reason 2: South Africans are extremely kind and proud of their country and how far it has come in its struggle for freedom over the years. We are very hospitable and love to talk about our history and variety of cultures. Ask us!
Reason 3: Bobotie, Amarula Cream, Porridge and Sous and Koeksisters. Good food is high on the priority list in South Africa and a very important part of social culture. Bobotie is often referred to as the national dish, but this shows how integrated the cultures have become as this is in fact a Malay dish (more than a traditional African dish). There are many delicious, exotic and interesting dishes to try while you are there, but make sure to include them on your list as well. P.S.The sushi on the Cape Town coast is also excellent!
Reason 4: Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the absolute best places in the world for viewing African wildlife. It is one of the largest in Africa at 7,523 square miles (about the size of New Jersey) and has an amazing variety of species, including 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 520 birds and 147 mammals, including the famous ‘big 5’ – the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.Heed this warning – watching wildlife is highly addictive! I can’t even count on my hands how many safaris I’ve taken, and I still never tire of watching a herd of elephants grazing, hippos wallowing, or feeling the excitement of seeing a lioness or a leopard chasing her prey until the moment of murder as it happens.
Reason 5: South Africa has a fantastic climate, especially in the spring and fall when the weather is moderate. Remember that because it is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to the US. So just as Arizonans come out from the blazing hot summer in September, Cape Town’s cool spring is with some rainfall (imagine how amazing that would be!)
Reason 6: This is the home of Nelson Mandela – a man who suffered greatly and sacrificed much for his people, then led South Africa to a peaceful democracy. He is the man who said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I love that! Some of the most moving sites relive the historical change from the old to the new.
Reason 7: Cape Town is an extraordinary city, but the provincial countryside also produces some of the best wines in the world. If you like that sort of thing, there are colonial-style vineyards galore, and even if you’re not a wine lover – the wine regions themselves are both beautiful and rich in the history of early modern South Africa.
Reason 8: South Africa has 8 World Heritage Sites, including the largest, oldest and most eroded meteor crater on Earth, which is over 2 billion years old and measures 120 miles in diameter.
Reason 9: There is no language barrier for American visitors. Yes, there are 11 official spoken languages in South Africa, but English is one of them and almost everyone speaks it.
Reason 10: The South African Rand is weak compared to the US dollar – currently at 10: 1. While this is bad for South Africans visiting the US, it’s great for Americans to visit South Africa because it gives you so much gives more purchasing power! Trust me, you will definitely want to pack light so you have enough space in your bag for all the memorabilia and gifts you want to buy.
There are so many more reasons to visit, but hopefully, these 10 will encourage you to seriously consider making the trip.
Join me on a personal “Cape Town to Kruger Park” tour in September 2013 or April 2014. Register now, as there is a maximum of 12 participants per group on this 12-day tour of South Africa.
During the trip, we will visit the historic and extraordinarily beautiful Cape Town (my hometown), including scenic coastal excursions followed by an exciting ocean tour to see the world-famous Breaking Great White Sharks, Cape Fur Seals, Dolphins, and Southern Right Whales, which occur in September each year lying in the bay to calve. Our tour ends with a grand finale as we travel north from Cape Town to the world-famous Kruger National Park for a 4-day luxury safari with a trained ranger to follow the African big five and many other incredible animals in their natural environment. view and photograph environment.