Guest Post: 7 Reasons To Holiday In South Africa
The nights are drawing in. The temperature is dropping. There is resentment in the air. Summer never arrived. As a result throngs of disgruntled Brits are marching on Heathrow. Destination holiday. But with so many countries to choose from, where do you buy a ticket to? Today Craig Patterson puts his humorous case forward for South Africa.
South Africa is a pretty amazing place; a country nicknamed the ‘Rainbow nation’ for its incredible cultural diversity and eclectic geography (as opposed to any parallels with the long running British children’s TV show featuring Geoffrey Hayes and a cast of rather off-beat puppet companions Zippy, Bungle and for some reason a camp hippo called George). South Africa is a vibrant and beautiful place that promises one of the most memorable and truly privileging experiences in the world. So let’s take a closer look at the seven reasons that make South Africa holidays so good.
1. ‘Damn Nature, You Scary!’ South Africa is home to some of the most iconic wildlife on the planet and nowhere else in Africa are you more likely to see the famous ‘Big Five’; like the fab four but considerably more toothy and considerably less Liverpudlian these were the animals once considered by colonial hunters as the most dangerous on the continent: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Chuck Norris…I mean buffaloes. The Kruger National Park in the North East of the country is widely regarded as one of the richest and most diverse game reserves in all of Africa boasting an abundance of wildlife, and even the occasional hippo; although I can’t promise they will be either as camp or as pink as George. Safari holidays are becoming more and more popular and a break to South Africa promises a truly exhilarating experience.
2. Language And Time. Okay, so it might take an eleven and a half hour flight to get there but let’s face it, that’s just like watching all three extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films back to back; peace of cake. One great thing about travelling to South Africa for Western European tourists in particular is that it’s almost entirely down hill and by that I mean you fly on essentially the same longitude the whole way; so despite jumping on a rather lengthy flight you will still arrive in Cape Town or Johannesburg only 1 or 2 hours ahead of GMT. Cash back! Also thanks to a lengthy colonial occupation a vast majority of South Africans speak English, which perhaps unfortunately for some renders ineffectual that old British holiday-making ritual of trying to make other nationalities comprehend you by pointing at something and then saying it louder and slower again in English. This also presents a great opportunity to perfect your beloved South African accent; the one that everyone says sounds Russian but you know is spot on.
3. The Weather’s Great…Usually. The weather in South Africa is quite similar to the climate in Britain in the same way that Blue Nun is quite similar to Dom Perignon. The country actually promises pleasant conditions throughout the year although there is a discernible seasonal shift around September and April. Thanks to the wizardry of astrophysics and the orbital tilt of the planet’s axis as a country in the Southern Hemisphere South Africa experiences apposite seasonal changes to its hemispherical counterparts ‘up north’ meaning that when it is British winter it is in fact South African summer. Not only does this assert the country as a great winter warmer destination, but the cooler drier period from June to September is actually the best time for game viewing and perfectly timed for a jolly summer holiday. All of this said South Africa is prone to its occasional climatic clanger and only as recently as this year many residents in the Eastern Cape awoke to a blanket of thick snow, maybe not so different eh?
4. Malaria Free. Unlike most other destinations in Southern Africa, South Africa is almost entirely malaria free with only the very north-eastern reaches moderately at risk. A lot of people presume that when they travel to South Africa they will have to prescribe to a cocktail of pills and drugs that Keith Richards would be proud of, but thanks to the geographical location of the country travellers and perhaps young children in particular needn’t worry about the effects of those infamous and much belied bloodsuckers, no not the HMRC, mosquitoes.
5. Nelson Says So. The Granddad that everyone wishes they had, Nelson Mandela, is an icon, not only in South Africa but across the globe. The former president was notoriously imprisoned for over 27 years for his role in the anti apartheid movement much of which he spent on Robben Island. To trace the history and evolution of modern South Africa is a wonderful thing and there are many museums and exhibits dedicated to the country’s colourful and undeniably tumultuous past. Mandela still epitomises the hope and spirit shared by millions of South Africans for a bright and fruitful future. He also looks just like Morgan Freeman who incidentally played him in 2009 biopic, Invictus – a little pub ammo for you.
6. Cape Town. Cape Town is a pretty hip and happening place and is the most visited destination within the most visited country in Africa. Originally established by the Dutch who stopped by for a smoke and a pancake in the mid 17th century and decided to stay, today Cape Town is a busy metropolis, although interestingly not the outright capital as South Africa actually has three – make up your minds guys. With such famous sights as the V&A waterfront, Table Mountain and the nearby Cape of Good Hope as well as a plethora (great word, just rolls off the tongue) of boutique shops restaurants and bars there will be something to keep everyone entertained.
7. Affordable. You might think that a holiday to South Africa would cost you an arm and a leg (I suppose it might depending upon how close you get to the lions) but in fact you don’t have to be the CEO of De Beers to afford even a relatively luxurious trip. The incredible variety of experiences on offer in South Africa means that whatever budget you have to work with you can still see the best of this country. OK, so you’re understandably going to have to fork out more than you would for a long weekend in Whitby but in a time when the purse strings are even tighter than usual you can still enjoy an ‘exotic’ break at a competitive price.