25 Jan

South Africa Part I - a David Attenborough series in one country

Each year, we pick 12 'Destinations to Watch' for our Travel Trends report. In this blog series ABTA staff talk through their personal highlights and experiences of the destinations they've been to. In this blog, Vicki Wolf shares her experience of South Africa, read the first part of her blog below on Cape Town and the Addo Elephant park and the second part here.

Explore all our 12 ‘Destinations to watch’ here.

South Africa is experiencing a boom in tourism and it is not hard to see why. There are regular flights from the UK, and no jetlag to deal with when you get there. Combine this with the vast array on offer, the beauty of the country and the very competitive exchange rate and you can see why it’s such an attractive destination.

I lived in South Africa for many years and I never visit without seeing the elephants at Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape. Addo, the third largest national park in South Africa, is about 40 minutes drive from Port Elizabeth, which is at the start of the beautiful Garden Route. You can stay either in the Park itself or at one of the many nearby game lodges. You can also find the big five a number of nearby private game reserves. The rugged, unspoilt Wild Coast is also worth a visit where you can experience a number of award winning eco-tourism lodges and community based projects. If theatre is your thing then you might consider visiting the Eastern Cape during the National Arts Festival, which takes place every year in Grahamstown in the first week of July. This is a vibrant festival, which transforms this sleepy University town into a hive of activity. The Eastern Cape is malaria free so worth considering, particularly if you are travelling with small children.

Cape Town and the neighbouring winelands are usually high on the list of places to see in South Africa. Cape Town truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. No trip would be complete without a trip up the impressive Table Mountain. Be sure to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent most of his incarceration. The Slave Lodge Museum is also worth a visit as are the beautiful coloured houses of the BoKaap area of Cape Town, where many of the descendants of slaves still reside. Visiting the surrounding Winelands of Cape Town and Stellenbosch is a must for lovers of the grape and gastronomy fans. This beautiful area is speckled with historic Cape Dutch Manor houses. There are a number of wine festivals and events throughout the year so look out for these on your visit.

For the more active think about booking a place on one of South Africa’s beautiful, and challenging, hiking trails. One of the most popular is the Otter Trail, a physically demanding 5 day hike that takes you along the coast on the Garden Route. A (less taxing) alternative to this is the Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail which takes you through the forest. The Blyderivierspoort hiking trail in the stunning Mpumalanga Province and the Magoebaskloof hiking trail in Limpopo are two other trails I would highly recommend. Of course, you can do segments of most of the hiking trails if you are tight for time.