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.
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.
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).
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.
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.