Why South Africa is the ultimate travel playground

By Tyson Mayr

Tyson Mayr says travelling to South Africa will be one of the best trips you ever do. Photo / Tyson Mayr
Tyson Mayr says travelling to South Africa will be one of the best trips you ever do. Photo / Tyson Mayr

So what does it take for a destination to be considered the Ultimate Travel Playground? I mean a destination that truly has something for everyone.

Adrenaline pumping adventure, culture, cities that never sleep, surrounded by breathtaking nature, filled with wildlife. A place where you can spend your time deep in the jungle on safari, or by a beach filled with penguins, sipping back a cold beer.

Here are 10 reasons why you need to head to South Africa.

1. SAFARI

You can see elephants just two hours north of Johannesburg. Photo / Tyson Mayr
You can see elephants just two hours north of Johannesburg. Photo / Tyson Mayr

There is no picture or word that will ever describe the feeling you have, when metres away from an elephant, lion or leopard in the wild. Kruger National Park is just two hours north of the city Johannesburg, and one of the best places in all of Africa to spot the Big Five.

2. SWIM WITH SHARKS

Who wouldn't want to be face-to-face, centimetres away from a great white?! The town Gansbaii is located just two hours drive from Cape Town, and is home to the most densely populated great white shark region in the world. This is actually a very surreal and majestic experience, once you overcome being centimetres away from a shark!

3. PENGUIN BEACH

It's hard not to fall in love with these little guys. Photo / Tyson Mayr
It's hard not to fall in love with these little guys. Photo / Tyson Mayr

What else do I really need to say - a white sandy beach, filled with penguins? Who wouldn't want to be here! Just 40 minutes south of Cape Town, along an absolutely stunning drive, you will find a beach called Boulders Beach, which is filled with penguins! If you are after a unique, coastal experience, rent yourself a BnB on the beach and wake up to the sound of penguins flapping around.

4. JUNGLE TREE HOUSE

tay in a jungle tree house and fall asleep to sounds of the wildlife. Photo / Tyson Mayr
tay in a jungle tree house and fall asleep to sounds of the wildlife. Photo / Tyson Mayr

Where else in the world can you fall asleep to the sound of Africa beneath you, in the comfort of a luxury, enchanted tree house? Like a safari wasn't enough, this is a place where you can wake up to the sights of elephants directly underneath you. Don't want to sleep under the stars? You also have the option of stopping by for a catered lunch and beer between game drives. To stay here you are looking at $600 per night, which includes catering, champagne and all of the alcohol you can handle.

5. CAPE TOWN

It's easy to see why this city is one of the world's most liveable. Photo / Tyson Mayr
It's easy to see why this city is one of the world's most liveable. Photo / Tyson Mayr

There is good reason why this is called on of the most liveable cities in the world. Cape Town is a coastal city, surrounded by pristine beaches, with a mountain range through the middle of it, that makes for one of the most picturesque back drops in the world.

Whether you are exploring the colourful neighbourhoods of Bo'kaap, having a night out on Long Street or finding hidden caves in one of the many hikes, Cape Town truly is a vibrant city with something for everyone.

6. WINE TIME

You can find a very nice tipple in the wine regions near Cape Town. Photo / Tyson Mayr
You can find a very nice tipple in the wine regions near Cape Town. Photo / Tyson Mayr

The Winelands are just one hour away from Cape Town, making it the perfect distance for a road trip away. The Western Cape of South Africa is one of the most biodiverse regions on this planet, so even if you are not a wine fan, the drive out here is stunning. It's also home to some of the country's best restaurants and small luxury inns, so make a trip of it.

7. ICE CREAM CONE COFFEE

Ice cream cone coffee is a perfect cure for jet lag. Photo / Tyson Mayr
Ice cream cone coffee is a perfect cure for jet lag. Photo / Tyson Mayr

Johannesburg is home to a cafe that serves you delicious coffee, in a chocolate, lined ice cream cone. This was my first city of arrival after my flight in, making this the perfect jet-lag-killer spot!

8. QUAD BIKES

Get a real taste of South African culture by touring Soweto. Photo / Tyson Mayr
Get a real taste of South African culture by touring Soweto. Photo / Tyson Mayr

Soweto is a township in the city of Johannesburg, rich in history that drastically helped shape South Africa as we know it today. What was once considered a slum, which many Africans were forced to live, Soweto is now a vibrant, energetic hub where you can truly get a taste of South African culture.

It starts at the famous Soweto Towers (which you can also bungee jump from) and finishes at a Shebeen (hidden backyard bar) which is located just metres away from the home Nelson Mandela once lived. This is a tour that will warm your heart, as you race through the township, being chased along the way by the big smiles of the local children.

9. WORLD'S HIGHEST BRIDGE JUMP

Would you dare to try the world's highest bridge jump? Photo / Tyson Mayr
Would you dare to try the world's highest bridge jump? Photo / Tyson Mayr

The Garden Route is one of the most stunning road trips you can find. Where you will travel along world famous surf breaks one minute, then up breath taking mountain ranges the next. It is also home to the world's highest bridge jump.

10. GET LOCAL

Making friends with local kids was a highlight of Tyson's trip. Photo / Tyson Mayr
Making friends with local kids was a highlight of Tyson's trip. Photo / Tyson Mayr

My last recommendation is don't be afraid to get local. The people of South Africa are what truly make this one of the most enjoyable destinations in the world. Everywhere you go you will be greeted with a friendly smile, so don't be afraid to get off the beaten path and mingle with the locals.

Is it safe? Heck yes! South Africa's biggest enemy is the international media who represent all 46 African countries as a single entity. Never once did I feel unsafe, however like any trip I do - travel insurance is recommended.

South Africa is a safe and budget-friendly destination. Photo / Tyson Mayr
South Africa is a safe and budget-friendly destination. Photo / Tyson Mayr

Is it expensive? Heck no! Like any destination, you will pay for certain experiences, such as your safari. However cost of living is cheap. Pay $10 for incredible food in a fancy restaurant and $1-2 for a beer.

South Africa is a melting pot of many different cultures, which over time, has cooked up a country that is an absolute delight to all of the senses. Travel with respect and use the obvious caution you would anywhere else, and I guarantee this will be one of the best trips you ever do.

Tyson Mayr travelled to South Africa courtesy of CoverMore travel insurance.

- news.com.au

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