For my vast blog following (which I believe now numbers about 12) a few final thoughts about our month’s holiday in Africa:
- Stunning variety of beautiful scenery and flora/fauna in both countries.
- Spring is a nice time to travel – it was comfortable throughout our trip (it was sunny almost every day, and we only had one partially rainy day).
- The food we ate was exceptional, particularly in SA – great value and quality – it coastal regions, the seafood and wine was some of the best we’ve ever had – a good bottle of SA wine was in the $10-$15 CDN range and would have cost 3 or 4X as much in Canada
- We were fortunate enough to have stayed in relatively “high end” accommodations throughout the trip which obviously made a difference – the service was generally excellent as were the accommodations.
- The roads in SA were excellent and probably better than many highways in Canada, however the driving varied between poor and dangerous in many areas and you need to be a confident and good driver to do a lot of driving (we did about 3,000 km in total) – tailgating in particular was a problem with people driving up to within a few feet of your bumper for absolutely no reason (often at high speed).
- There is a huge gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” – cities like Jo’burg and Cape Town have areas that are vibrant, safe and beautiful and comparable to the best in the world (e.g. Vancouver, London etc.), but on the outskirts of many towns and cities have kilometres of shanty towns and exhibit extreme poverty. There is huge unemployment in the country and violent crime is a major problem (40,000 reported rapes last year in SA, which is probably low).
- Family and friends warned us about the high crime rate and the need to be vigilent – these warning definitely need to be taken seriously – hotel staff were also very helpful and honest about the risks of visiting certain areas or the need to avoid other areas. Personal safety is definitely not something to be taken lightly.
- We’re not big shoppers, but virtually anything you can get in Canada, you can also get here – lots of malls and all the big brands are here.
In summary, it was a great region to visit, but we were insulated by travelling on a relatively high end budget and benefitted from good advice from friends and family – it is probably one of the most beautiful parts of the world and definitely worth a visit if you can organize it.