South Africa is a large, diverse and incredibly beautiful country. The size of France and Spain combined, and roughly twice the size of Texas, it varies from the picturesque Garden Route towns of the Western Cape to the raw subtropical coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal, with the vast Karoo semi-desert across its heart and one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Kruger National Park, in the northeast. Many visitors are pleasantly surprised by South Africa’s excellent infrastructure, which draws a favourable comparison with countries such as Australia or the United States. Good air links and bus networks, excellent roads and a growing number of first-class B&Bs and guesthouses make South Africa a perfect touring country.
For those on a budget, mushrooming backpacker hostels and backpacker buses provide cost-efficient means of exploring the vast number of places to visit. To visit South Africa without learning about its tumultuous history is to miss a crucial part of the country’s identity. Museum visits, many of which include exhibits on the apartheid era, might not be lighthearted but will help you to understand the very fabric of South African society and to appreciate how far the country has come. Continue your history lesson with a visit to one of the townships, taking time to chat to locals and to learn that despite a heart-wrenching past, there is great pride here, and an immense sense of promise for the future.