Backpacking South Africa

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Travel Guide – South Africa

I recently spent more than a month on the South African continent, got an incredible charge of emotions, a pleasure that will last for many months. During this time, I managed to surf, scuba dive, go trekking, rock climbing and kayak through miles of fast-flowing rivers. The incredible topography is simply mesmerizing, the coastline seems to be. will never end. Most of all, I was surprised that the locals are friendly to tourists and willingly answer questions.

Compared to the rest of the continent, this Africa is easier to explore and closer to civilization. This is felt in the variety of amenities and services that correspond to the level of the Western and European world, adjusted for the local flavor, of course. There is infrastructure, roads on which you can drive a four-wheel drive car, even relatively comfortably.

If you're up for a truly challenging adventure, then it's worth heading out to explore the wilds away from the Western Cape. If you are interested in local color and authentic culture, then you can go to the Xhosa or Zulu people.

There is an appropriate adventure for every taste. If you like difficult transitions, you can walk through the Drakenberg mountains. The local waves are just born for surfing, and just off the map you will find the world's highest commercial bridge, from which you can jump with a rope. Dozens of stunning beaches are at the service of those who like to comprehend nature alone. And gourmets will enjoy a trip to the Western Cape and its wineries.

For lovers of nature and animals, there are two collections here at once. You can see the largest land predators and herbivores of the world, as well as the great white and southern white whales, it's worth it!

Why go here?

This vast country is divided into diverse regions. A good route for the traveler starts in the Garden Route, runs through the western and eastern Cape. Here you will find an influx of tourists, sometimes there are even too many of them, which only exacerbates the rather harsh climate.

Ideal if you have a full month to visit, but you can manage in a couple of weeks if you limit yourself to the main attractions. In Cape Town, you can stop for a couple of days, walk through the local gardens, and get acquainted with the local fauna. I recommend Kruger Park, or Hluhluwe. Slightly less impressive is the Addo Elephant Park.

Another option for 2 weeks involves the passage of the garden path and the exploration of the Wild Coast. During the same time, you should visit the KZN region, where wildlife blooms in all its glory, from rivers overflowing with crocodiles to stunning ocean creatures.

Famous objects are passed in a couple of weeks, but it will take several months for a really eventful trip. During this time, you can visit several regions at once to enjoy the contrast. A month is usually enough for one region, but with a fairly tight schedule. Personally, I have already walked through this country by several routes, two of which I want to describe in more detail.

Both of them are off the beaten path, in particular, encompassing incredible local parks to the east and north.

garden route

Takes 2-4 weeks.

Can head to Johannesburg

The Garden Route is a must-see destination, reminiscent of the California coast. But keep in mind that this is a really popular destination, so there can be a lot of people at strongholds and cities. This is especially felt during the high season, from December to January.

A good starting point is the local highway H2, which runs along the coastline. On the way, it is easy to get to Hermanus Bay or Betty Bay, where you can see whales. Further Wilderness, from where you can get to the bay with excellent surfing. There are already other representatives of cetaceans – dolphins.

Next is Knysna, which is a fairly developed town organized around the beach. East on H2 Storm River and Nature Valley.

You can return to Cape Town by H62. There are even more picturesque towns here, you can get to the Winelands if you move to the P62 highway. In general, there are most of all events and significant events on the Garden Route, this is another reason for its popularity. Thrill-seekers can dive in a shark cage. An hour and a half from Cape Town, local penguins live. I recommend going east to Betty Bay, there is a more popular direction, but it's still the same hordes of tourists.

There are wineries along all H62, which also become a place of annual pilgrimage for vacationers. Here nearby and jump with a rope from the bridge, and there is also a farm with ostriches where you can ride them.

Wild coast

Duration 2-3 weeks.

This is the second most important, but not the most impressive, route in the South African expanses. It is much wilder and filled with the spirit of adventure in its original form. It is worth starting from Port Elizabeth and to the east. The first stop is Coffee Bay, which has everything a backpacker needs, including plenty of well-trodden trails to explore the area. There are especially many surfers, as the price tag is very reasonable here.

This area is considered too wild to build a normal road here, so getting here on wheels will not be easy. It is wiser to walk, but keep in mind that there will be whole miles to the nearest city, and you will not be able to quickly overcome them. Another great path is the Dragon Mountains, which are located in the depths of the region.

Then be sure to go to Durban, because it is the 3rd largest city on the continent. From here it is good to head east to get into the best of the local national parks. This place can be the starting point for a trip to the reef, which is definitely worth a visit. You can get acquainted with the local fauna within the Hlyuhluwe and Isimangaliso park. But be careful, because this is home to some rather dangerous rhinos and all the big cats that Africa has sheltered.

You can end the trip with a long walk to Kruger Park, and from there you can head to Johannesburg Airport to fly home.

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