What Should I Get up to in South Africa?

Beaches in Coffee Bay, South Africa

It’s been a while since I’ve announced a trip, my last one being Montenegro in September. So, it’s about time I hit you all with my next destination.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might already know that I’m going to South Africa for two weeks over New Year.

Durban, Coffee Bay, Driving in South Africa, South African scenery

Why South Africa?

Aside from falling in love with the country back in 2008 when I first visited, this year I have also had the fortune of falling in love with someone who was born in South Africa. Said someone’s family still live there, so we will be making the trip to visit them whilst escaping the cold and depressing shift from December to January in England.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to go back and explore more of the country that gave me the travel bug. Back when I was 18, I travelled the Garden Route from Durban to Cape Town, soaking up the beautiful landscape, meeting fascinating people, and trying ridiculous new things (like the highest bungee jump in the world). This time, I’ll be based just outside of Pretoria in the small town of Broederstroom, and will get to explore further inland with people who know the country extremely well.

I already have a small list of trips I want to take whilst there, including a visit to the arty town of Clarens and a drive through the incredible Drakensburg Mountains. The boyfriend’s parents will also be arranging some activities and taking us to the places they love, too.

Beaches in Coffee Bay, South Africa

I want to be working at the same pace as this guy… (i.e. not at all)

A totally different pace

My previous trip to South Africa was a go-go-go kind of trip; we were changing location every couple of days, trying to get the most out of our time there. I’d spend my days hiking, safari-ing, zip-wiring, and all manner of other energetic activities, and spend my evenings putting up my tent, eating, enjoying one (or two or three) drinks around the campfire, and dressing up as a hobbit.

This time, I imagine (and hope) that the pace will be a lot slower. As we will have a base (with a proper bed – yay!), we will mostly be taking day trips and visiting attractions in the surrounding areas. There will be no camping (unless this is forced upon me), no changing of locations every day, and certainly no ridiculously high bungee jumps. In fact, I’m looking forward to spending a couple of days on the beach, taking a few leisurely walks, and simply enjoying being in such a beautiful country without flopping into bed exhausted at the end of the day.

Beach in South Africa

I’m scared because…

It’s going to be very, very hot. Almost as hot as the sun. And heat and I don’t get on too well. Last time I went it was winter in South Africa and I still managed to get hideously sunburnt. This time, it’s going to be about twenty or so degrees hotter so it’s a given that I’ll be rocking the lobster look. I was, however, pleased to find out that the boyfriend’s parents have a swimming pool so if you need me, I’ll be there (I’ll be the one with the big red face). Edit: Just found out there’s a bush baby sanctuary near where I’m staying, so you can find me there instead (I’ll still be the one with the big red face).  

Bungee Jumping, South Africa, Adrenalin activities south africa, bucketlist

Ridiculously high bungee jump that I won’t be doing again

To plan or not to plan?

I’ll be staying at the boyfriend’s parents house just outside of Pretoria, so I haven’t needed to sort accommodation. And you know what? It’ll be bloody lovely not having to arrange much. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep or how I’m going to get from place to place. It’ll be nice just following the lead of the locals and discovering the country from an insiders’ point of view.

In terms of flights, I will be writing a whole other post on this topic as I’ve never encountered so much hassle or so many scams when booking a journey in my life. Jesus. At one point I was ready to sack it all in and spend New Year’s drowning my sorrows in bitterly cold Brighton.

Flying at the time of year that I am is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination (in fact, some might say that it’s very, very expensive and only rich people or idiots should travel at this time), but we managed to find reasonable flights with Ethiopian airlines that include a short change-over in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian Airlines have recently opened a number of new routes through Africa at a lower cost than many other carriers. I’ll let you know what it’s like. I’m not holding out much hope. It was almost half the price of other journeys.

Hogsback, South Africa, Lord of the Rings

I need your help

Just because I’m basing myself in one place and essentially being ‘shown around’ by the boyfriend and his parents doesn’t mean that I don’t want you guys’ input. I would love to hear what you enjoyed most about South Africa if you’ve been, or what your itinerary would look like if you were to go, or what measures you take to stay alive when it’s as hot as the sun.

Is there anything I shouldn’t miss? Any must-know hotspots or activities that I need to try out? I don’t care how crazy the ideas are, I want to know! So, hit me with what I should get up to in South Africa! 

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Lizzie Davey

Lizzie is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer who's written for big-name brands like National Geographic Traveller, Cheapflights, LateRooms and more. After quitting her job in August 2014, she had one month to get her business in order and off the ground. Somehow, she did it (magic, maybe?!), and now she runs Wanderful World, a place for creative freelancers to congregate and learn how to grow their kick-ass businesses and travel more. Join along for the ride!

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8 Discussion to this post

  1. Frank says:

    Hi Lizzie – I just published today the first of a series of South Africa posts written by a South African friend: http://bbqboy.net/top-highlights-around-cape-town-south-africa/.
    He’s actually from George, on the Garden route and I’ll soon have a bunch more posts that you might find helpful.
    I’ve never been myself but lived in Zambia and Zimbabwe a few years as a kid. Once you’ve been to Africa it gets in your blog. I’m also hoping to visit South Africa in the near future.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      Hi Frank – great comprehensive post on Cape Town! I’m not sure I’ll make it there this time but I’m sure I’ll make it there on various visits in the future. Last time I was in Cape Town, I didn’t leave enough time to fully explore it so I would love to go back and really get under its skin.

      I’ll be keeping an eye out for the upcoming posts on South Africa – they couldn’t have come at a better time for me! 🙂 Thanks for bringing my attention to them!

  2. Hi Lizzie – very jealous of your planned trip! I would definitely recommend Clarens, we were there a few months ago and just loved it. Given your position near Pretoria you could also explore Mpumalanga (God’s window etc) for some breathtaking scenery. Although, perhaps not the best at that time of year because it will be baking hot out there. I’d say the same for Kruger and northern KZN – both spectacular places but very hot in January. At least if you aim for northern KZN you have the sea to relax in if it gets too hot. Happy planning you lucky thing!

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      Clarens is a definite! The boyfriend is a massive fan and when we knew we’d be going to South Africa, this was his first recommendation. Thanks so much for the other recommendations – haven’t heard these ones yet so definitely going to do a bit of research 🙂 It’s (kind of) a shame it’ll be so hot as, like you say, we’ll probably have to miss out a fair bit for fear of melting, but at least it will be a welcome change from the bitter cold English winter! Just had a look at your blog and see you have been to Namibia and Botswana, too (two places I desperately want to visit) so will be checking out all your stories from there 🙂

  3. What a great way to experience South Africa! Can’t wait to see what you get up to there.

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