People who never visited South Africa don’t always understand my endless love for this country. They don’t understand the hankering I feel to always go back there. “But you have seen it already, right? Why don’t you go and explore the mountains of Mongolia, visit Washington DC or go and smoke cigars and drive around in oldtimer cars in Havana (Cuba)?”
In this new category ’20 reasons why I love South Africa’ I will explain you in 4 blog posts – 5 reasons each time – why South Africa is the country of countries, the “Miss Universe” of all beauties, the Rolls Royce of holiday destinations, and the best feeling of all. I will try to explain why it’s a place on earth you always want to come back to, over and over again, not just to tick off your travel bucket list, but just to be there again. To feel, smell, taste, touch, hear, see and experience this country again. My home from home. “My” South Africa.
Reason 10: Whales
There’s a lot in the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean and it’s huge. South Africa has sea all around her, so there are many places in the country (or more specific: at the coast line) to experience a little bit of this whole different (sea) world. While you will never see me cage diving with Great White Sharks, or swimming with seals or penguins (both too smelly), I love to watch whales and dolphins. Preferably safe and sound from the coast line, but with exceptions on a boat. Between July and October (winter) the change is the best to see these big, beautiful animals. They come every year to the waters around Cape Town, Hermanus, Gansbaai, Gordon’s Bay etc. to give birth to their babies. Somewhere in November, early December they move back to the waters around Antartica. Because of the huge climate changing, it’s not too sure for how long whales, dolphins and other big sealife will be visible so well from the coast line of South Africa. If you have never seen this big beauties, don’t hesitate and book a winter stay in the Cape! It’s a lovely time too, but make sure you look for places with a cosy fireplace. And if you stay near Hermanus, together with Gansbaai the Whale Capital of South Africa, make sure you also spend a day wine tasting in the Hemel and Aarde Valley.
Reason 9: Mountains
While the Netherlands, together with many other countries in the world, is flatter than flat, South Africa has serious mountains! Besides the fact that those mountains are breathtaking, they are ideal for hiking, walking, mountain biking, breakfast view points or proposal Champagne moments. Before I lived in South Africa, I most enjoyed my walks to the fridge and back. But since 2011 I became a sporty person! Really! That all has to do with being outside, walk and hike in African’s nature. A gym session is boring, being outside in nature isn’t! Read more about several of my favourite hikes in South Africa here, here, here, here and here. Don’t forget about my experiences at Berg River Dam, in my opinion better for cycling or walking. And what about the whole Panorama Route near Hazyview, Mpumalanga province. All these examples and blog posts I wrote about them earlier, are mountain-related. South Africa = Mountains. And you’ll love it.
Reason 8: Farm Markets
Social weekend farm and village markets in South Africa are just the best. Both locals and tourists come together and enjoy a slow start of the day; coffee and pancakes, live music, a glass of bubbly or beer, an egg or boerewors roll for breakfast, buy fresh vegetables and fruits and shop some presents or souvenirs for others. I always enjoyed the markets in South Africa a lot. While in Italy, France and Spain the markets are only for grocery shopping (including fresh fish, olives, soap, meats, chickens and mustard) in South Africa it’s more a social thing. A few great markets are: Neighbourhood’s Good Market at the Old Biscuit Mill (Cape Town), or the Neighbourhood’s Good Market in downtown Johannesburg, the Oranjezicht City Farm Market (Cape Town), Oude Libertas Market (Stellenbosch), Bay Market (Hout Bay), Franschhoek Village Market (have a Terbodore coffee and a pancake from the sweet old aged couple), and last but not least: the fun Saturday morning Food Market at Hermanuspieterfontein, before you go wine tasting in the Hemel-En-Aarde-Valley.
Reason 7: Top class restaurants
Beautiful dish with langoustine at Test Kitchen, Woodstock, Cape Town.
Very tasty fish lunch at Bosman’s @ Grande Roche, Paarl.
South Africa a developing nation? Yes, maybe. But regarding food it’s already quite sorted here! The South Africans know how to cook, make wine, serve it all in a creative, tasty and fun way. In a beautiful restaurant at a stunning location. Think: Test Kitchen, La Colombe, Rust & Vrede, Pappa Grappa, Jordan, Chef’s Warehouse, Mano’s or La Petite Ferme. Or the whole gourmet street Bree Street in Cape Town. South Africa doesn’t really have a Michelin, but they have eat out – the annual magazine with the top 10 and 20 restaurants in the country. Make sure you get one before you travel, and (more important): make sure you get a reservation. My favourite place for fine dining is Test Kitchen, Chef’s Warehouse or La Colombe (both Cape Town), and for more simple food Pappa Grappa (near Paarl), sushi at Willoughby’s, a lunch at Mano’s (Cape Town) and peri-peri prawns at Mo-Zam-Bik (Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal). So, my wishes for you: have fun, eat well, travel often…..
Reason 6: The Seasons
Although South Africa has lots and lots of sun hours in the year, it still has seasons too! In the Western Cape more than in provinces as Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, but as I lived in Franschhoek (Cape Winelands) for many years I experienced the different seasons and did enjoy them all. I sometimes – if it’s rainy and gloomy in Amsterdam – can say that I could do with summer always, all day every day. But that isn’t true. I love the changing of the seasons, and could not live permanently on a tropical Island like Hawaii, or The Maldives. Then I rather prefer the Cape’s beautiful four seasons, including hot days and braai & pool parties during winter (of course). Okay, winter (july-august) is maybe a bit wet (sometimes) and cold, thanks to the lack of central heating and proper isolation in the South African houses. But fall is absolutely gorgeous, my favourite season in the Cape! Read here why.
Click here to read the first five, and here for the second five reasons why I’m hooked to South Africa.
&Stay tuned…. for 5 more reasons why one can easily fall in love with South Africa
*Note: I have not been asked paid or invited to write about South Africa. It was my own idea. All images are mine.