By Oliver Hyde
Been to Paris? Good for you. Visited New York? Perfect. Took a walk through Barcelona? Great. Those are all very fine destinations and every person needs to see them once in a lifetime, but what traveling is truly about is stepping outside of your comfort zone – taking a leap of fate and becoming a better version of yourself. And there is no better way of doing that than by taking the road less travelled. If your adventurous spirit is asleep, it is about time to wake it up and go to explore and discover all the wonders of South Africa. I would love to be in your skin right now, to be able to witness the magic of South Africa for the first time. I agree with Richard Mullin who said: “The only man I truly envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to”. At least allow me to be your guide, so you can see South Africa through my eyes and finally decide to visit.
You might think that getting around South Africa is a big problem. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Thanks to the friendly locals and the perfectly organized bus services, going from one place to another is quite a breeze. I would advise taking the Baz Bus, which is a great backpacker bus service, allowing you to hop on and off at just about any stop you want. There is even an option of picking you up or driving you to the hostel where you are staying. The best part about the Baz Bus is that you can meet a lot of young enthusiasts such as yourself.
Every place on your route in South Africa will change your perspective in some way and alter the way you see the world, so make sure you do not miss out on a single valuable experience. From the spectacular subtropical coastline of the Wild Coast to the unsurpassed variety of wildlife of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, there is no sight that will leave you indifferent. If you have the courage and the time, make sure you challenge yourself and climb the “Dragon Mountains” (The Drakensberg) and observe the rock art, high waterfalls and breathtaking panoramas. Addo Elephant National Park is the perfect place to bring a smile to your face. The wind on your face while standing on Africa’s most dramatic coastal location – Cape Point, will make you grateful for starting this journey.
Just make sure that, when you are visiting such locations, you have your camera on. Trust me, one can never take enough pictures of Storms River Mouth or De Hoop Nature Reserve. And the photos can never do justice to the actual scenes. That is why you should try to enhance their features with processing programs and share or even sell those photos later via photographer communities such as EyeEm. After all, not many people decide to take this road, so you should try to get the most out of it.
The most fascinating experiences will, however, happen with the people of South Africa. Try talking with as many of them as you can and you will discover just how different, and yet how the same we all are. Visit Cape Town’s most colorful and oldest residential area – The Bo-Kaap, and believe me that the locals are just as joyful as the buildings’ colors. Speaking of colors, the ideal souvenir to take is some of the traditional South African handcrafts. To enrich your spirit and knowledge of different cultures and sites of the region even more, visit Durban, the port which boasts a large Indian population, busy markets, zinging curries and brightly colored hindu temples. My personal favorite experience was the visit to Soweto, where I had the chance to see how the poorest of South Africa live. It is a good way to fight prejudice, because when you get the chance to talk with those people and play with kids, you realize that they are in fact, the richest and most giving people in the world.
Last, but not the least – the food. The cuisine of the country you will be spending some time in largely influences how you will feel and how far away from your comfort zone you will be. Luckily, South African cuisine is rather diverse, so you will surely find something that will please your taste buds. For me, the best tastes of South Africa can be found in Potjiekos (similar to a stew), Vetkoek (pastry with ground beef), Boerewors (sausage) and Frikkadel (meatballs).
Your comfort zone is where you are sitting now and outside is where all the wonders are. You just need to make a couple of steps to touch that magic. South Africa truly is a land out-of-this-world, yet you can visit it without having to leave Earth. Now, pack those bags and seize the adventure!
Discover more about contributor Oliver Hyde by following him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HydeROliver
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