South Africa is a remarkable country with a huge amount to offer visitors, from its diverse people, landscapes and wildlife to the remains of its fascinating past. Of course these days the globe is increasingly connected. Modern technology works really well to help travellers fit in visits to recommended restaurants, local sights and activities, and also to keep in touch with friends and family while away on holiday. Nevertheless, sometimes it is well worth taking a step back to connect in full with your surroundings. Here are some examples of moments where slowing down really does pay off!
Boulders at Beta Beach
Beta Beach is a series of tiny beaches in the popular Camps Bay, Cape Town. It features coves with attractive boulders that are perfect for sunbathing while enjoying views of Camps Bay, the majestic Twelve Apostles mountain range and Lion’s Head. Spending time here to absorb your surroundings, and some sun, with the gentle ocean lapping against the rocks, is a wonderful way to unwind. The sunsets are fantastic and, for the bold, a dip in the bracing Atlantic can make you feel really alive!
There are few cities in the world that can boast such beautiful gardens and forests on their doorstep as Cape Town. One of the best things about Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is the sudden change from city landscape to forested slopes and gardens, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Kirstenbosch is located on the eastern edge of Table Mountain, so you can perch yourself on the site’s slopes and enjoy one of the most amazing settings for a picnic. Spending just a few hours taking in this showcase of South Africa’s biodiversity somehow makes time stand still.
Whales in Walker Bay
Cliff Lodge, as its name suggests, boasts a marvellous view over ragged cliffs and onwards to Walker Bay. From June to November, the bay is a favoured breeding ground for the southern right whales for which this stretch of Western Cape coastline is renowned. The pastime of watching these peaceful creatures as they seemingly wave at you with their fins while you drink a perfectly prepared cup of coffee is hard to beat. Even without the presence of whales, this view of rocks, waves, mountains and sand is spectacular, constantly changing in mood.
Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains
The Drakensberg Mountains are the highest in Southern Africa. This World Heritage Site, which stretches along the eastern boundary of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, was once a home of the ancient San people. Their presence can be traced in the huge number of sandstone cave paintings. Hiking these mountains requires great care, as violent thunderstorms can build in an instant! However, at certain times of the year, low temperatures bring snow to the peaks and the mountains become breathtakingly beautiful. Taking time to appreciate these scenes, having to remind yourself that you are still in the same country, really endures.
Going on safari is one of the main draw cards for visitors to Africa, and in the private reserves of the Kruger National Park there is arguably some of the world’s most impressive Big Five game viewing. As tempting as it is to rush from sighting to sighting to see as many of the animals on your list as you can, there is a lot to be said for taking the slow road sometimes. You never know, you might come across a ‘crash’ of rhino on your way back to camp. If you wait long enough, you might witness the incredibly rare sight of these huge land mammals mating and doing their bit to help preserve this threatened species.
Julian Carter-Manning is a Co-founder and MD at Yellow Zebra Safaris.
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