South Africa is one of the most beautiful, interesting countries in the world and it is no surprise that for many it is a gap year must. Whether you are hunting the Big Five (with a camera!), indulging in high adrenaline adventure sports, sampling some of the world’s finest food and wine or volunteering on a nature reserve, you are sure to fall in love with the Rainbow Nation. The iconic Table Mountain, Kruger National Park, idyllic Garden Route, wales, sharks, penguins and so much more await.
For a developed, westernised country, South Africa is also incredibly good value. In a post-Brexit world, South Africa is one country that still offers a lot of bang for a British buck.
For almost everyone who goes to South Africa, nature and wildlife are big motivating factors in their choice to visit. Whether your encounters with the natural world are limited to a day or two on safari, or stretch to an extended period of ecological or zoological volunteering, South Africa has a plethora of enticing options available.
Aside from volunteering with animals (working with lions is a popular choice), South Africa also has a large range of charities and NGOs whose aim is to help people. Much as South Africa is a modern country, many of the population live in poverty and medical and educational volunteering is a great way to help, be that in the cities, townships, orphanages or rural communities.
South Africa offers myriad opportunities to unwind, relax and enjoy yourself on a more hedonistic level, if the mood takes you. The vineyards of Stellenbosch, Swartland and Franschhoek, to name just three, will delight oenophiles. The brilliant restaurants and nightlife of Cape Town offer more ways to sample the local produce. South Africa also possesses all sorts of outdoor adventure activities, from bungee jumping, sky diving, shark diving and rafting (Blyde River in Mpumalanga is a great choice for the latter), while others prefer more sedate options such as trekking and sailing.
South Africa has a somewhat unfair reputation for high levels of crime but it remains a popular destination for Brits of all ages, which reflects the fact that most tourists experience a trouble-free visit. Avoiding ostentations displays of wealth and sticking to normal tourist destinations unless you have a qualified guide will go a long way to ensuring you remain safe.
Travelling in South Africa is easy, with almost everyone speaking English and a combination of good roads and cheap domestic airfares making the logistical aspect a doddle. What’s more, those entering on a UK passport can stay for business or tourism for 90 days. For full information, especially if you intend to stay longer, contact the South African High Commission.
In terms of medical requirements, certain vaccinations may be required and anti-malarial medication is also necessary in some areas. Contact your doctor or local travel clinic at least two months before travel for the latest advice. Visitors should also practice safe sex. This is highly advisable everywhere of course but it should also be noted that South Africa has the fourth highest prevalence of HIV in the world.