So after 40 days of my solo African adventure I am back home! It was an amazing trip visiting Republic of South Africa and Swaziland. I explored 21 cities, enjoyed winter temperatures from 5 to 30 degrees Celsius, had my birthday cake in the Kruger National Park, hiked to the most south-western point of the continent Cape of Good Hope, was awful at stand up paddle boarding, tried more than 25 samples of excellent South African wine in a day, helped giving food in the children’s soup kitchen in Chintsa, was the only female that entered Swaziland’s parliament in pants, biked around Durban, touched cheetah, unsuccessfully searched for the whales, eaten oysters and ostrich meat for the first time and I got to know culture, history and kind people of both countries!
But before sharing all the stories with you, I am sharing all the stops I made along the way! In South Africa I travelled with Baz Bus (read all about my experience here) and cached local mini buses in Swaziland.
Source: Google Maps
1 South Africa
This gorgeous city has so much to offer, from hiking Table Mountain (check out my guide here) to exploring Bo-Kaap, Kirstenbosch gardens, Camps Bay, V&A Waterfront, Green Point, Downtown and many more amazing spots. I spent 5 days exploring Cape Town and, as everyone before me, I fell in love with this city.
A perfect day tour from Cape Town to the Africa’s most south-western point – the Cape of Good Hope. With stops at the Hout Bay to see the seal colony, the Boulder’s Beach to admire African penguins and a short hike from the Old Lighthouse to the Cape of Good Hope with amazing views. Read all about it here.
Stellenbosch is the most famous wine-producing region in South Africa. Here you can visit many vineries, get to know the local wines, South African wine production, see the vineyards, pair wine with chocolate, cheese and other food. The best thing is that South African wine is excellent and affordable! Take a tour to Stellenbosch here.
This lovely seaside town is known for being the best for whale spotting directly from the beach. So I spend an afternoon walking its cliffs, seating on many benches and staring at the sea, unfortunately with no luck for seeing the whales.
I rented a bike to go to the Knysna’s Heads, stopped for a coffee with a view at East Head Café, ate delicious local oysters at the Waterfront, walked around the Thesen Islands and I let Knysna amaze me!
I chose Plettenberg Bay for my “day at the beach” relaxation, although its surroundings offer many attractive sites. I walked the two main beaches of this town and enjoyed sunny winter day with no crowds, because winter is the off season here. You can also get amazing seafood here in Plett.
Honestly, I did not particularly like Port Elizabeth, because when I visited the streets were empty and full of trash. However, the city has some interesting spots as the Donkin Reserve, the Fort Frederic and I went for a tasty lemon merengue & coffee to famous coffee place Vovo Telo.
Lovely seaside village with a river spilling into the Indian Ocean, full of waves, so you can imagine the sunsets here are worth waking up for. Besides swimming in the ocean and trying stand up paddle boarding on the Chintsa river, I went to the local township, helped with lunch for children at the Chintsa Soup Kitchen and got a traditional makeup.
This city is home to the largest Indian community outside India, which had a big impact on its architecture and culture. A must try here is an Indian dish bunny chow, you also have to visit the spice market! I rented a bike and ride along the Golden Mile and Moses Mabhida Stadium, visited Ushaka Marine World Aquarium, went to Whilson’s Wharf for some great seafood, and took a tour around interesting sugar terminal.
Even if you are not a hiker, a day at the Northern Drakensberg mountains is a great stop! I did a short hike around this beautiful landscape and went horseback riding for a great view of all the mountains.
Although it’s called the most dangerous city in the world, Joburg has it charms. I spend almost 6 days in this giant city, went to Apartheid Museum, Carlton Center, Soweto, SAB World of Beers with City Sightseeing Bus, explored suburbs Melville and Rosebank.
Kruger National Park
Seeing animals from up close in their natural environment is one of the best experience possible! In two days of safari we saw not only the Big 5 but more than 40 different animals! I took a 4-days Kruger Tour from Johannesburg, so we also visited Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre, where I was stroking a cheetah, and the Blyde River Canyon, the third biggest canyon in the world.
One of South Africa’s three capital cities, Pretoria hosts the country’s parliament in the second half of the year. So a visit to the Union Buildings with beautiful gardens and 9 meters high Nelson Mandela’s statue is a must. I also walked the city centre with Church Square, discovered the Freedom Park, Pretoria Art Museum and was lucky to visit the city on the Saturday that Market @ the Sheds was opened.
The capital of Swaziland is a small and hilly city, full of different stores and markets. It is not the most touristic site, but you can get a good feel about the locals and their everyday life here. A must visit is the Swazi Market, where you can buy handmade products, local crafts, traditional medicine, clothes etc.
Lobamba is called the spiritual and cultural capital of Swaziland, because here you can find the National Museum, King Sobhuza II Memorial Park and the Parliament. I visited all three and got an interesting insight into the culture, history and habits of Swazi people.
Mantenga Nature Reserve
In the hearth of Mantenga Nature Reserve there lies the Mantenga Cultural Village, where you can learn all about the Swazi way of life, their culture, traditions, beliefs, how the villages were once organized, you enter their typical house and end a visit with a performance of their traditional dances. Here you can also see the beautiful Mantenga waterfalls.