Ranging from beautiful coastal regions to its awe-inspiring geological formations and the opportunities it holds for world-class safaris, South Africa has to be one of the most breathtakingly diverse countries south of the Sahara.
Its home to a one-of-a-kind blend of cultures from African and Colonial descent and its people have faced some of the most gripping political transformations, duly qualifying the Rainbow Nation as a haven of cultural and natural indulgences, bound to steal your heart.
But here’s the catch: There are a few things you seriously need to know when planning a trip South (you know, for that long overdue African safari you’ve been daydreaming about).
5 Things You Might Not Have Known About South Africa
1. You Need To Sit Up and Pay Attention in SA
If you’re planning on visiting the big cities like Johannesburg and Durban, you’d better make sure that you know where you are and where you’re heading. There ARE a lot of bad neighborhoods in the bigger cities, just the same as you’d get in certain areas back home, so don’t go looking for trouble. If you plan on visiting the coastal regions, make sure you head down to SA’s blue flag beaches, and if you’re more of a safari lover at heart, you’re going to want to opt for something that has at least a 4-star grading. Stay out of the dodgy areas and you’re sure to stay perfectly safe and sound.
2. You Don’t Need a Bling Ring Here
That pretty ring and the necklace you got for x-mas last year? Leave it at home, or in the hotel safe, anywhere but on you while you’re out and about. You also don’t want to go around flashing your cash in the streets as you’re purchasing souvenirs from the local street vendors. Travel smart and you will travel safe, don’t make yourself a target!
3. You CAN Actually Use Your Cellphone, Almost Everywhere
South African carriers such as Vodacom and CellC offer rental cellphones for tourists, which can be rented on a long-or-short-term basis. They also have pretty great 3G coverage which can be used to call your loved ones back home.
4. Gear Up and Take a Hike
While the idea of renting that flashy convertible might seem like the perfect plan, the reality is that SA is just not the place to make that dream come true. Also, make sure you pack some good gear and then hike through the range of nature conservancies throughout the country. You’ll want to plan to bring a solid rain jacket/windbreaker as the climate can change quickly. You can also make use of public transport, which isn’t only cheap, but fast and relatively reliable as well.
5. Travelers Need To Go With the Flow
When heading to South Africa – and this might just be the most important point in this post – you’ll need to keep an open mind and be ready to go where the tide (or taxi) takes you. See that trail that leads off the beaten track? Take it, you won’t be sorry, and we promise they don’t have The Hills Have Eyes characters here!
With 11 official languages being spoken here and a myriad of cultures seemingly blending together to form the famous ‘Rainbow Nation’, South Africa is such an enticing country, but only if you know what to expect and what behavior to avoid altogether. We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and that it has armed you with all the information you’ll need to help you plan the trip of a lifetime to Sunny South Africa!
Contributor: Dan T
Dan is the Editor in Chief of True North Athletics. He is also an avid adventurer, digital nomad and traveler. Dan enjoys all types of outdoor sports, a good golf tan, and spontaneous weekend trips. Currently living in Brazil, he can be found frequently hiking the rain forest around his city!
Decent article, though saying there are a lot of bad neighbourhoods is not accurate. Furthermore, according to who? One person’s bad neighbourhood is another’s gateway to local culture. Be safe but also be open to possibilities, we have a lot to offer. Cheers.