Why You Should Visit South Africa in 2023

Why You Should Visit South Africa in 2023

South Africa has long been featured across the most credible travel publications as being one of the best destinations. The likes of Condé Nast, Forbes, Airbnb and CNN have listed the country and/or its cities as must-visits.

No matter what type of traveller you are, South Africa brings you the best of everything, making it a country you should place high on your bucket list.

Foodie?
There is so much diversity in cultures across South Africa, that you will have the opportunity to try a wide range of cuisines. Cape Town is undoubtedly the culinary capital. Within this cosmopolitan city, you’ll find everything from Cape Malay, African soul food, traditional boerekos (Afrikaner dishes), and international fusions. Chef Delayn, head chef at our Vida Nova Retreat Eco-hotel’s restaurant, is passionate about incorporating the best of South African and Cape ingredients into his dishes. Just along the road from the hotel is Hout Bay’s waterfront, famous for its deliciously fresh seafood.
Foodie

The Karoo region is famed for its succulent, locally-raised lamb and ostrich meats. Ostrich is particularly favoured by the health-conscious for being lean, yet still moreish. The lamb is some of the best you’ll find in the world, owing to its unique flavour that derives from the indigenous, aromatic flora the sheep graze on. Both the ostrich and lamb here are free-range, adding to their appeal. Our Klaarstroom Hotel chef is particularly fond of incorporating these two meats in dishes offered in the restaurant.

 

Dine on sumptuous foods and superior venison, with a twist of Khoisan and Zulu influence, in the vicinity of the Kruger National Park. Of course, the meats taste even better when they’re cooked in the traditional method, over the coals of a braai. The chef at our Vida Nova Kruger Eco-lodge is an avid braaier and often experiments with venison in her dishes. Look out for her game sushi.

With incredibly diverse landscapes and impressive natural beauty, South Africa is a haven for adventure enthusiasts. Hike the dozens of trails in and around Cape Town, including several within Table Mountain National Park, which offer breathtaking views of the mother city.
The city and its surrounds also provide adrenaline-fueling adventures, such as skydiving, ziplining, paragliding, bungee jumping, quad biking, helicopter flips, sand surfing, laser tag and more. Kruger National Park is known as one of the best safari parks in the world, but you don’t have to explore the park only in a game vehicle. There are hiking trails and bike trails in and around the reserve, and you can even game spot from a helicopter or private plane.
Bikers will appreciate a motorcycle tour of South Africa’s famous Route 62 into the Karoo. Soak up the panoramic vistas while driving by the charming farming villages, through the rugged mountainscapes, and along the arid semidesert.
Thalassophile?
With 2,500 km of coastline, ocean fanatics will be in their element. The beaches and waters around South Africa are beautiful and teaming with life. If you enjoy encountering ocean animals, there’s an opportunity to snorkel with seals, mingle with endangered penguins, watch whales from a boat, and cage dive with Great White Sharks.
For more adventures on the deep blue, you can hire kayaks, standup paddleboards, SCUBA gear, surfboards and jet skis. If you like the taste of what the ocean has to offer, you might appreciate joining a fishing expedition to try and catch your own dinner.
Wildlife enthusiast?
The wildlife encounters don’t get any more thrilling than an open 4×4 safari in Kruger National Park. The park boasts around 20,000 km2 of unfenced wilderness, making it one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. It is certainly the most eminent, no doubt due to the fact that almost every type of African animal species can be found within the reserve.

If the Big Five are on your buck list, here, you’ll find thousands of lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos. The park is also home to 10s of thousands of giraffes, zebras and antelopes.

Bird lovers will be thrilled to know that there are over 500 bird species in Kruger National Park, including over 20 endangered species. Some of the bucket list birds to look out for are the racket-tailed roller, Dickinson’s kestrel, Böhm’s spinetail, pennant-winged nightjar, and Senegal coucal.

Music Fan?

South Africa is the home of legendary musicians and the cities provide a vibrant music scene. The broad range of genres and styles will satisfy any music lover.

 

If you enjoy classical music, you’ll be excited to read that for the first time in history, the internationally acclaimed Viennese Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra are travelling across the country with their Concert Tour for Turtles.

The unique concert venues include both small, intimate venues and larger, public venues. Some of the highlights are below, but check the website for the full itinerary of the concerts across Southern Africa.

 

VIP Private Events:

  • Vida Nova Kruger eco-lodge on the boundary of the wondrous Kruger National Park.
  • Vida Nova Retreat eco-hotel’s lawn, on the Southern slopes of the iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town.
  • Klaarstroom Hotel’s gardens, set under the twinkling, endless constellations of the Karoo’s clear night skies.

Public events:

  • Van Zyl Hall at Cango Caves: an immense, ancient cave with natural acoustics.
  • Sani Pass Premier Hotel & Resort in Underberg at the foot of the renowned 4X4 trail into Lesotho.

And, if you hadn’t guessed from the title, it’s all in aid of raising money for endangered turtles through Fire Island Conservation. So you can savour a symphony with a feel-good factor while enjoying a wonderful stay at one of our nearby eco retreats.

Eco Traveller?

Times are changing and many of us are more conscious of our carbon footprint while travelling. Responsible vacations, even overseas, are possible. You just need to be very selective about the destinations, operators and accommodations you book. 

 

South Africa is no stranger to sustainability. There are many eco-hotels and lodges that operate with a low impact. Find a place to retreat and relax, that is considerate of the surrounding environment.

With its diverse ecosystems and vast wildlife sanctuaries, it’s easy to cultivate an appreciation of the country’s natural habitats while touring it. Skip the tourist traps and step off the beaten path to relish unique and authentic adventures.

 

Truly conscious destinations support communities and help their economies by employing and uplifting locals. Use the opportunity to immerse in authentic South African culture through local tours at your destination, where the money goes back into the community. Make sure they also take steps to preserve the local environment and biodiversity.

I’m sure you’ll realise it from our name, but each property or activity in our collection aims to keep its environmental impact to a minimum. Fire Island Eco Retreats also supports the NPO, Fire Island Conservation, by donating a percentage of proceeds to their community and conservation projects.

 

You can read more about how to travel ethically while keeping your environmental impact to a minimum, in our blog.

Oenophile?

It is well known that Cape Town and its surrounding areas boast some of the world’s most beautiful wine estates.

A short drive from Vida Nova Retreat, you’ll find the oldest winery in the Western Cape, Groot Constantia Wine Farm. This stunning winery was established in 1685 and visitors can relish the many different wines the estate produces. It is part of an exclusive wine route. In fact, the route is a South African first as it is a varietal-based wine route. Constantia Wine Route boasts a unique microclimate that celebrates the noble Sauvignon Blanc.

 

However, you don’t have to go as far as Constantia to appreciate a great Sauvignon Blanc. Even closer to the retreat is the family-owned Hout Bay Vineyards. Here, you can expect a more intimate experience than you receive at the larger wine farms, with tastings presented by the owners. For bubbly lovers, you’ll appreciate their delicious MCC. It was bubbly that started the family’s adventure into wine-making, and they have perfected their MCC over many years.

For wine adventures further afield, Spice Route is a lovely option for the whole family. Not only do they offer tastings of great wines, but also chocolate tasting, craft gin tasting, craft beer tasting, and a variety of eateries, including their raved-about wood-fired pizzas.

 

The lesser-known, but easily as impressive Babylonstoren wine estate, is like walking into the Garden of Eden. The road to the estate in the Drakenstein Valley is beautiful, but the farm itself is where the magic is. The historical Cape Dutch farm buildings emphasise the step back in time, while you browse the gardens, searching for strawberries and herbs to pick.

 

To really take in as many wine estates as possible, you can traverse the world’s longest wine route: Route 62. Start in Cape Town’s Winelands, into the beautiful Karoo, along the stunning Garden Route, and all the way to Port Elizabeth. There is an eclectic mix of award-winning and boutique wineries to discover on Route 62. You’ll also find olive and brandy-producing estates, as well as incredible scenery and wildlife.

Culture Lover?

There’s a reason that South Africa has earned the nickname of the Rainbow Nation.

 

Cape Town showcases the most diverse culture in the country, with its multiplex ethnic heritage. The culture has been influenced over the years by the Dutch, British and French, with the most significant influences coming from Malaysia. You’ll find popular Cape Malay dishes in many restaurants across the city.

There is a vast array of tours in the Mother City, where you can learn more about its vivid history. Or visit its many museums to soak up knowledge about its fascinating past.

A truly unique cultural experience begins in the mystical Drakensberg Mountains. Sani Pass is a legendary, breathtaking trail into the Eastern Highlands of Lesotho. Tick off your bucket list with a stop at the Highest Pub in Africa, before discovering authentic Basotho culture, and a taste of traditional beer and homemade bread.

Alongside deep culture, is rich history. And Lesotho has plenty of historical features. Absorb archaeological wonders including ancient rock paintings and awe-inspiring dinosaur footprints during a guided Sani Pass tour.
Luxury traveller?
There’s something to be said for travel that embraces both elegance and class. Envision days spent on private tours of elite wine cellars, or in the leather comforts of unparalleled classic cars while soaking up the sights. Or indeed, soaring over scenic wonders from the seat of a vintage aircraft. All followed up by an unwinding massage at a sumptuous spa.

Evenings involve dining at exceptional restaurants, tucking into aesthetically pleasing and delicious meals. Then returning to a room to soak in a hot tub with a glass of bubbly, before climbing into a bed with impeccable Egyptian cotton sheets.

 

First on the list is organising the journey and adventures along the way. This is where a personal travel team is a must-have to ensure a flawless vacation. No stone is left unturned for luxury travellers, and no request is impossible.

How to get there?

Cape Town is a firm favourite with travellers and you’ll often see it on ‘must-visit cities’ lists. It’s recently been racking up award nominations and is in the running for the World’s Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination and World’s Leading City Break Destination 2022 through The World Travel Awards.

 

But we digress… getting to Cape Town is easy from almost any country. Europe offers direct flights into Cape Town International Airport from six different countries and the USA, from three different states. There are also a number of direct flights from the UAE and North Africa. With elite and socially responsible operators flying into Cape Town, from Virgin Airlines, to Emirates, to Delta, to Eidelweiss Air, there are plenty of options.

You can also fly into Johannesburg from an even greater number of countries. From OR Tambo International Airport, there are internal flights to every other airport in South Africa.

 

We offer tours across Southern Africa, which offer you an opportunity to explore the highlights of this vast country and enjoy its unique nature and culture.

 

Explore our South African collection.

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