(First appeared in LatinTRENDS Magazine)
Photos by Alex Thomas
For anyone who has held the dream of touring South Africa since the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it’s time to make that travel dream come true.
Set aside as much time as possible in order to see as much as you can of this varied and magical country. If you picture yourself seaside, out in the open plains, partying it up in the city, or strolling along vineyards, it’s all here in South Africa.
Start your journey in Johannesburg
STAY in Maboneng, an up-and-coming neighborhood that caters to artists and entrepreneurs. The 12 Decades Johannesburg Art Hotel is a chronological visual manifestation of Johannesburg from 1886-2006 with each room offering a time stamp in decor and symbolism. Be sure to request a luxury suite since it’s not much more expensive than a regular room rate and the artistic experience makes it well worth it.
VISIT Soweto on a walking tour organized by Curiosity Backpackers Hostel just down the street from 12 Decades hotel. Get just a touch closer to the spirit of Nelson Mandela and learn about the struggles South Africans faced in the wake of apartheid by visiting the Apartheid Museum.
Move on to Durban
STAY at luxury hotels on city’s waterfront and hit up Florida Road when it’s time to change out of that swimsuit and into your party clothes. Florida Road is live yall!
EXPERIENCE a safari. Most tourists visit Kruger National Park for safaris, but Durban is a great destination point to another, and some say even more impressive game park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. You can set up overnight tours that take you to the St. Lucia Estuary and have a once-in-a-lifetime stay at the Hilltop Resort with monkeys scampering all about the premises.
Now for Capetown
TAKE the Garden Route down to Cape Town. You can rent a car and make overnight stops along the way, jump on a bus, take the train, or, if you are low on time, simply fly to Cape Town. The flights are incredibly affordable.
STAY at the sweetest guesthouses in Cape Town. Sweet Lemon, Sweet Orange, Sweet Olive, Sweet Berries and Sweet Ocean book quickly and it’s a great thing they offer so many options. The guesthouses include breakfast with your stay, very sweet accommodations and excellent locations.
TAKE a ferry ride to Robben Island and humble yourself in the very prison cell where Nelson Mandela was held.
CLIMB Table Mountain and have a picnic overlooking the coastal city.
SHOP at the Bay Harbour Market for the grandest delights in food, music, artisan crafts and fashion. The market is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am-4:00pm.
PARTY on Long Street! Enjoy live bands, great eats, exclusive bars, and rooftop views of the city.
VIBE at Mzoli’s in the Gugulethu neighborhood of Cape Town. But there are rule to this. First, expect to wait in line outside—but it’s worth it! When you reach the counter, select any kind of meat you would like barbequed, pay and wait, and wait. But while you’re waiting, dance dance dance! Mzoli’s features the freshest DJs playing only the best in booty shaking beats. Look out for Mr. Mzoli himself making sure your barbeque is tasty and everyone is smiling.
Rest in Franschhoek
TASTE gorgeous native wines like Pinotage in the small town of Franschhoek located in the Western Cape. Enjoy lunch at Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant, which is etched into the side of a mountain. Shop along the main street. Sample springbok pate with crackers. Go for a drive along the dramatic mountain range of the Franschhoek Pass. And don’t forget to hop on the wine tram and stay for the Cap Classique and Champagne Festival.
If you’re into novelas then you’ll love South African soap operas! Themes in the soap operas include polygamy (she has 2 husbands…que?), brujería, xenophobia and fluid bilingualism like Spanglish. A favorite TV drama in South Africa is “Generations.”