South Africa

South Africa is perhaps the most beautiful trip on the African continent. The menu is complete: adventure, nature, food and culture intermingle to form the rainbow dear to Mandela

 
In this beauty pageant, it’s true, this country has many assets. Big beasts with teeth and horns, suns lying on the sea, waves for surfing, mountains and forests… It’s a country with a thousand facets, South Africa is really the land of rainbow colours.
Great wealth, great misery, pure, insolent beauty and desolation. Violence and hope rub shoulders every day, hatred and fraternity too, not always easy to find one’s way around.
 

Hallo, my naam is Christine, ek is Frans, bly om jou te ontmoet! Molo, igama lam nguChristine, ndingumFrentshi, ndonwabile ukudibana nawe! Hi South Africa!

 

In South Africa, the journey balances between light and darkness continuously

 
You will find an inventory of what there is to see in South Africa in any guide, but not here. The list is too long!  I’m talking mostly about what I felt there. Wonderful landscapes, incandescent light on the wind-beaten beaches, furious waves, dazzling sunshine. But also, townships filled like garbage dumps, hands stretched out, fear and sometimes threat in the eyes.
This is one of the reasons why tourists travel there in organized tours, well-oiled and monitored tourism programs.
 

In South Africa, the travel can also be improvised but with prudence

 
Making the mythical Garden Route, jumping from city to city, finding refuge in hostels for tourists whose entrance is besieged by the locals is part of the adventure of the trip. In South Africa it is difficult to travel by local minibus, it is better to take the big companies like Greyhund or taxis. With a bit of luck, it will be possible to share the road with other travellers who have rented a car.
Most tourists plan their trip. Everything is organized: transportation, hotels, visits to parks.
Travelling on your own is much less simple, but it allows you to make nice encounters and see something other than what South Africa is famous for.
 

There is only one city like Cape Town in Africa: the city is extraordinarily lively and beautiful

 
My long stay in the fabulous city of Cape Town leaves me with an imperishable memory. Its extraordinary theatre, the Fugard, the eccentric Charly’s Bakery, the fabulous Victoria Road. Clifton Beach and its grey rocks, Long Street and its superbly preserved Dutch architecture. There is an incredible cheerfulness and energy in this city.
In Cape Town, the galleries abound with magnificent works of art, the bars are trendy, the atmosphere is festive and dynamic. Music is everywhere, the streets are overflowing with terraces and balconies where you can have a drink. The gastronomy is extremely diversified, the youth is joyful and confident.

 

Cape Town could be the ideal city, if only it were not haunted by the misery lurking in its suburbs
 
It is hard not to deplore the fact that this beauty is not shared by all. It’s always a bit like that when you walk around South Africa, the joy of being here and tasting the fabulous beauty of this country is often tinged with bitterness.
I regret not having enriched this discovery enough by more meetings with native Africans. Unfortunately, despite many attempts, it is not as easy to meet them outside organized, often fake, tours.
In what I see is hidden a past or present suffering, an terrible injustice, cold inequality. For the problems facing the country are deep: apartheid is no longer just racial, it is also social.

South Africa has its own system, you have to understand it before you can make up your own mind

 

In this country heavily marked by the violence of history, the whites are afraid of the blacks and the blacks are afraid of the whites

 

Here, men and women are separated according to their skin colour, social status and ethnic origin. It takes time to understand this mechanism. Sometimes it’s tricky to think outside the box. While my steps are rarely guided by fear, in South Africa you have to follow strictly the rules and not do anything stupid. At each destination, it is always advisable to inquire about safety. This quickly becomes a habit. My stubbornness fighting segregation has found some limits here: it is impossible to go to the townships without a guide. We were simply refused entry because we wanted to go alone. 

Begging in South Africa can be aggressive, violent. Travellers lock themselves up in secure areas and leave the popular neighbourhoods. Neither the township residents nor the travelers can be blamed for this

 

Reality catches up with us at every step and it’s especially the South Africans who warn us: “don’t walk home, even for 200 metres, don’t go to this neighbourhood, take a taxi“.
We often think, It’s intoxicating, it’s not that dangerous but, alas, there is always a story of an armed robbery at a traficlight by a 10-year-old kid, a stupid 10$ mugging to traveller. The fruit of the robbery will not benefit the thief and the traveller will be deeply traumatized.
We have to stick to reality, but this should not lead to a generalization. For there are also other stories of brotherhood and exchange to which we must give value. 

South Africa is home to fascinating wildlife

 

South Africa offers a dive in the wild territories inhabited by the Big Five: elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, buffalos… (but where is the giraffe? Too small?).
A single expedition in the Kruger Park is like ordering the whole safari in one: 20000km² reserved for wildlife, there is enough to enjoy the show!
That said, if the goal of the trip is to see something big, it would be a shame not to stop the car to observe the countless colorful birds.
The encounter with a herd of zebras, majestic Kudus, a delicate Dik-dik hidden in the tall grass and the crazy dance of the weaversbirds in the trees are worth the trip alone.

The landscapes and nature are not to be outdone either: giant trees lost in the plain, wild hills inhabited by leopards, rivers populated by waders and crocodiles: the menu is complete, from the sunset that sets the panorama ablaze to the cobalt velvet sky filled with stars.

On the menu in South Africa: barbecue!

 

The gastronomy is festive, Braaï, African barbecue on which boerewors are gilded is unavoidable.

 

It is so popular that it is almost impossible to run out of coal. The precious fuel is on sale everywhere, 24 hours a day. Everybody has one at home, and so do the motorway service stations! Here you can taste biltongs (dried meat sausages) of antelope or wildebeest, a gratin of Bobotie, Pap and of course wine from the new world.

South Africa is multicoloured and balances between extremes

 

South Africa is dragging us into the turmoil of history, which is gripping us with dread and sorrow.
Settling the past while looking to the future, South Africa has great challenges ahead. This country is a diamond in the rough that shines for all the men and women who live there. Mandela whispers in our ears that anything is possible, that we can make a difference, that we have to believe in it.

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika ! Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo ! Baie dankie, totsiens! Ndiyabulela, kuhle kuwe, ndikubone kungekudala!

 

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Next travel: why not a trip to Namibia?

Etosha National Park is well worth Kruger Park, it is full of wild animals. But Namibia has a specificity, in Windhoek or Swakopmund, it almost feels like in Germany!