Away fro city life...
I met a European couple (the guy from the
Netherlands and the girl from UK) in Australia a
couple of years ago. They are now planning to come
visit South Africa later this year and I thought it
may be useful for European travellers to hear a
South African's opinion of a holiday in South
Firstly you need to understand that I'm an
outdoor man. Although I live in a city, everything I
do for pleasure will be to get away from city life.
While in Australia, I read somewhere that "If
you can't get lucky in Darwin, you should stop
trying". So if you're looking for big, busy cities
to party, don't follow my advice and if you want to
get lucky, go to Darwin.
Start in Cape Town
I believe anybody coming to visit South Africa
should try to spend a couple of days in Knysna and
the Drakensberg. Although there are many other
places worth visiting, these two are my favourites.
Most international flights in South Africa
arrive or depart in Johannesburg or Cape Town and I
would recommend you arriving in Cape Town and
departing from Jo'burg.
For a bit of wine tasting, do a 1 or 2 day wine
trip to Stellenbosch or something around Cape Town
and then head off to Mossel Bay (personally I would
spend 1-2 days in Hartenbos, just outside of Mossel
Mossel Bay & Knysna
Cape Town waters are pretty cold due to the
Atlantic ocean, so if you want to spend some time on
the beach, don't even bother before Mossel Bay.
However, I would save my beach-time for Plettenberg
bay and Jeffreys bay. Mossel Bay is around 400km
from Cape Town. From Mossel Bay, I'd go straight to
Knysna (+/- 120km), although there are a couple of
beautiful places along the way, so it depends on
your time and budget.
I grew up in Knysna and though it is a much
bigger and commercialised town now, it is still a
stunning place to visit. If you like hiking, spend
time in Knysna. When I was a little boy, our family
got lost on a hiking trail and at some point we had
to cut through an immensely dense fern growth. Being
too young to know the dangers, I thought it was the
most amazing thing because we were walking (or
crawling) on top of these ferns probably 1 meter or
so above the ground and ever so often I would see
our little fox terrier down on the ground looking up
The Knysna forest has an amazing variety of
plants and trees and on many of the hiking trails
you will constantly be covered by a huge tree-top
covering. In my opinion it is beautiful and I can
spend many hours just enjoying the beauty in a small
area. The town itself is now well developed and has
many activities for tourist. Many stunning
restaurants on the waterfront and make sure you have
a couple of drinks on a sun-downer trip on the
lagoon. Try to spend at least 2 days in Knysna.
Plettenberg Bay & Storms River
Your next stop must be Plettenberg Bay. It's
only about 60Kms from Knysna and with its stunning
beaches, Plettenberg (Plett) is one of my favourite
bird-watching destinations Those would be the
bikini-clad type of birds, of course. I must admit
that I only know Plett for its beaches, but just for
my love of beaches and "birds", I would gladly spend
2-3 days in Plett.
After Plett you may want to look into Storms
River mouth, but I've only been there twice many
years ago. There is a friggin big tree there in case
you're interested in seeing an 800 year-old
Outeniqua Yellowwood. It is also a beautiful area
for hiking similar to the Knysna forests.
Many year ago I used to go spear fishing in
Oyster Bay, +/- 120Kms from Plett and only a couple
of kilometers from Jeffrey's Bay (world famous
surfing destination) and recently I developed a
website for Oyster Bay Lodge. On my second visit to
Oyster Bay Lodge I arrived a couple of hours too
early, so I went for a walk on the beach and I was
reminded of what a beautiful area this is.
Cape Town; Knysna
While walking next to the water, I had a
seal following me for a long time in the
waves just meters from me. Okay, I know a
wild seal couldn't care less about some
human walking on dry land, but we must have
accidentally been moving at the same speed.
The beach just stretches on for miles
and miles. On the one side there are some
rocks for fishing and spear fishing, but to
the other side you just see kilometres of
sandy beach. After my walk on the beach I
went up to the lodge, but the owner had gone
out, so I went for another walk in the bush
on the lodge itself. I had only spent a
couple of hours there, but the impression I
get is that you can spend many hours of
hiking and not get bored. Oyster Bay is very
secluded and is ideal for people who really
want to get away into nature. It is,
however, only a couple of minutes drive from
Jeffrey's bay, St Francis and Humansdorp if
you're looking for shops or more people.
Your next move will depend on how much
you like the outdoors compared to cities.
Port Elizabeth is a fairly small city by
most standards and it's around 80 Kms from
Oyster Bay, so most places you'd want to
visit in the area can be reached from both
locations. Whichever way, make sure you
visit the Addo Elephant park and Shamwari
game reserve for a bit of a safari and the
Port Elizabeth, I would fly up to Jo'burg and head out of the country, or if
your time/budget allows, jump on a plane to
Durban and work your way up to Jo'burg.
As much as I loved Durban many years
ago, I personally would not spend any more
time there. Do your own research about
Durban. Beautiful beaches, hot waters and
hot weather almost all year long, but� I
would rather go up north for some scuba
diving in Sodwana.
Enough on that, from Durban I would rent
a car and travel up to Jo'burg, with a 3-5
day stop in the Drakensberg.
I spent a couple of days in the
Drakensberg with a friend once and on the
first morning I went for a walk before
sunrise. When I got back to the camp a
couple of hours later, my friend had woken
up and was standing at the side of the tent
and waved for me to be quiet. He was busy
taking photographs of a couple of guineafowl
and was amazed that we were so close to
"nature". I was amazed that he would be
impressed by something so small.
During my first walk I had sat on the
top of a little hill to watch the sunrise
and had a deer walking around a couple of
meters from me. I had also watched a falcon
gracefully flying around between the hills,
seen quite a few rabbits and "dassies"
(don't know their English name) and monkeys
and I had had a swim in a natural pool below
a fair-sized waterfall.
If you like waterfalls and little
mountain streams, the Drakensberg is a
must!! The world's second highest waterfall
can be found in the Drakensberg. The
Drakensberg is about halfway between
Johannesburg and Durban. Very roughly, it's
about 350KMs in either direction.
This is just one possible trip if you're
coming to visit South Africa. As I
mentioned, there are many other beautiful
and interesting places to visit in our
If your main objective is a safari and
seeing the big five, then look into the
Kruger National Park and surrounding game
If you want to go scuba diving there is
absolutely NO choice, go to Sodwana bay.