Traveling in South Africa
South Africa is a very popular destination in Africa because of the country’s amazing landscapes, beautiful cities, and exotic wildlife. The tourist infrastructure is among the best in the continent so getting around is very easy. Most Africans I met from other countries compare South Africa to Europe, because of its higher standards and cleaner cities. South Africa also has a very large population of whites that are mostly decedents of Dutch and British, and make up almost 20% of the country’s population. Many unique activities are available in South Africa such as shark diving, skiing in the winter, and of course a safari.
Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city by far. It unfortunately comes with a bad reputation because it has some of the highest recorded crime rates in the world. When I spent the night here, some people I had met told me that there had been gunshots outside the hostel a week earlier. This didn’t come as a surprise to me, since after all Jo’burg is often called the most dangerous city in the world, as it has the highest rate of violent crime among cities who aren’t at war. Foreigners aren’t specifically targeted, so if you can not stand out as a tourist and use common sense you can enjoy the city. I met many travelers who have stayed here for weeks and enjoyed every day of it without any problems.
I once met a South African when I was in Russia who told me that Cape Town isn’t South Africa, and South Africa isn’t Africa. After visiting Cape Town I understood what he meant, that Cape Town is so different than the rest of the country, you feel like you’ve left the country. Out of all the cities I’ve ever been to, I have to say that I think Cape Town is the most beautiful. Above is Cape Town seen in front of Table Mountain.
Some very nice real estate is built right along the coast in Cape Town, only a few hundred feet from the water itself. Above is what I found to be one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, very scenic and close to the downtown area.
Capetown overall is a very clean city with a modern infrastructure. On the left, a highway passes right through the tall buildings in the downtown area. On the right is a typical street in Cape Town, reminds me of southern California.
Right in the middle of Cape Town is their City Hall built in 1905. This was one of the more unique government buildings in the country. On the right is a view of the city at night, taken from the top of Table Mountain.
There are lots of things to do in Cape Town since the city is right on the Atlantic Ocean. On the upper left is a kid body boarding, on the right is a lady taking a nap on the beach. Great white sharks are very common in Cape Town, so this is one of the best places in the world to do cage diving while great whites swim around you.
Natural beauty isn’t just limited to Cape Town. Near by is an area called Simons town which has one of the most beautiful coasts and homes I have ever seen! This must definitely be one of the most beautiful places in all Africa. Below are some more photos of some of South Africa’s natural beauty found in different parts of the Cape Town area.
Many parts of South Africa get lots of snow in the winter time, and enough of it to maintain ski resorts. The western part of South Africa is a more desert like area with vast areas of nothing but rocks. As you continue farther south you’ll start to see some green mixed in, like in the upper right picture. On the left is a picture of the car I rented in the north eastern part of the country, as you can see its got frost built up on the windshield from the freezing night.
I didn’t visit any of South Africa’s unknown cities and stuck to the tourist parts on this trip, but I did drive through plenty of small villages. The two photos above are what most of the villages looked like, made up of tiny small houses and large mobs of people. Looking back, some of the roads I drove down I’m not sure if they get frequent visitors, but all the people I came across were nice. One regret I have is not taking a photo of are the several ‘hijacking hot spot’ signs that warn of people stealing cars. I’ve heard several stories of creative ways of people stealing cars in South Africa, some range from using guns and violence, while others do things like throwing glue on your windshield and after you turn your wipers on it smears forcing you to pull over since you can’t see.
While South Africa’s crime spreads across most of the country, so does its natural beauty. Starting in the south, Cape Town Peninsula is home to many species of birds. The large rock on the ocean on the lower left has hundreds of cormorants on it. Cape town peninsula is also famous for its penguin population. The penguin on the lower right actually has its eyes closed, but the color of its feathers makes it seem like it has some strange eyes. Not too far from Cape Town is West Coast National park. This park is a bird watchers paradise, as it has a huge variety of birds and tens of thousands come from northern Russia every year. On the right is a picture of some flamingos seen in West Coast National Park.
These surrounding photos were also taken from West Coast National Park. There are dangerous animals in this area so people visiting are free to walk around and do not have to worry about being attacked by lions or other animals. The largest animal in West Coast National Park is probably the ostrich seen on the upper left. I saw dozens of both ostriches and tortoises while in the park. The sunbird on the top right and the lower left mongoose are probably rare.
Almost all parts of South Africa are very scenic. One of my favorite places was Blyde River Canyon which is where the three surrounding photos were taken from. There is a hiking trail that passes through Blyde River Canyon but for the most part people just drive along the highway and stop along the viewpoints. The top left photo was taken from my favorite viewpoint, unfortunately I was facing the sun which washed out all the colors in the picture so you can’t see how green everything really was. Directly above is a picture of the colorful rocks along the cliffs of the canyon. The strong yellow color seemed to be common throughout the cliffs. On the left is another place along Blyde River Canyon that is called the potholes that was created by rushing water carving out the circular holes.
The Cape rock-thrush bird and Vervet monkey you see here were animals I saw while hiking around Blyde River Canyon. While I drove through the country side I came across many monkeys crossing the highways and almost ran over a few. Monkeys and baboons here were, as common as deer in the US.
The Tsessebe and gazelle you see above are from Kruger National Park. Kruger is South Africa’s largest park, only because the Transfrontier park which is much larger carries into Botswana as well. What’s different about this place from many other parks in Africa is that here you can drive your own personal car through the park and do not need to hire a guide. Kruger is great for wildlife and has many types of animals in including the big 5.
Unfortunately I didn’t come across any lions while in South Africa, but I did find some zebras and plenty of elephants. I think the Elephant on the right was getting pissed at me taking it’s photo. He didn’t do anything but I kinda got the vibe if I had stayed in my car longer right in front of him he would have gotten confrontational. Always take a rental car to Kruger National Park!
Giraffes are very common in Kruger National park. The photo on the right shows some small birds who feed on small parasites that live in the giraffes fur.
Both of these animals can be very dangerous if approached on foot. You can drive yourself around Kruger National park but some people who parked their cars and left on foot were killed by wildlife. The large crocodile and the hippopotamus are always found in large bodies of water and never venture far off.
Some large birds I came across where the hawk on the upper left and the ground bird on the right. I’m not sure of the exact species yet but will have to update that later.