In my 71 days on the road, I have constantly been searching for great places. Places that consists of the following things:
- Safety: Crime is an issue in South Africa and can make your life very uncomfortable, and I’m not even mentioning violent crimes. It would be quite unpleasant if my cellphone or laptop were to be stolen. A safe area is a place I would visit over and over again until proved wrong.
- People: It is not difficult to see when someone is welcoming, genuine and polite. I should add that every town has its good and bad characters, but when you meet 5 people and the majority of them are making you feel like you don’t belong, you wouldn’t have any intention to return to this place. So yes, friendly, interesting, warm people will make me go back to a town, without a doubt.
- Character: To me this is found in the structures in a town, the hustle that makes the town a town. It is found in small innovative businesses, quality farm-stalls, markets, and the odd old building that carries more stories than the people in town could ever tell you.
- Innovation and action: I have been to places that basically accepted their fate and refuse to get off their sorry asses and start doing something and doing it properly. What really saddens me is that this mentality rubs off on an entire community and it is easy to see. Take Chrissiesmeer in Mpumalanga. I get it, there is not a lot going on in town, is that a reason to serve me fries that was made in pre historic oil? Is that an excuse to not sweep your floors? Why not make an amazing farm stall, with quality food and a nice atmosphere? The customers WILL follow. Then you think of a small town named Sabie, not too far from Chrissiesmeer. This town is thriving!!! One person woke up and decided to be innovative and creative, and the rest followed. How hard can it be?
- Pretty scenery: Not all towns or areas are blessed with pretty things around them, but luckily this is not the only thing on my list, so go ahead and hustle!
- Do not rip me off: Some places in South Africa are overconfident when it comes to its scenery and facilities. Two places in particular jumps to mind, Sodwana and St Lucia. Do you like going to the beach? Yes, me too! At Sodwana you pay a minimum charge of R90 to go to the beach. That is R45 for your vehicle and R45 per person. This excludes a permit to launch your boat. So the average family of four works out to R225 per day, to visit an extremely boring beach. Get this though, if you decide to walk there, you don’t pay a cent, once again it pays to be healthy. St Lucia, on the other hand has a minimum charge of R520 per day for a campsite. Yes, you heard right, you camp, for the same rate that you pay for a 4star Bed & Breakfast per person per night. The R520, does accommodate 4 people, so as a family, it makes sense- almost. Lesson to learn from this? Don’t be like Sodwana or St Lucia. Be realistic, honest and true to your product or service.
I have come across some incredible towns and my shortlist includes: Sabie, Steytlerville, De Rust, Hondeklipbaai and Haenertsburg. I’d recommend these towns to anyone at any time and I know they will have an amazing time there. I feel I am very objective and rational when making these assumptions, as I’m not traveling with someone who may or may not influence my views.
I think I should add that traveling South Africa is not very easy. Beautiful places are often inaccessible, simply because of safety. In North West, Nature reserves have been privatized because of safety issues in the past. This is great news for the common places people visit in SA, but it kinda sucks for the guy like me who wants to explore new areas. South African travel is far from perfect. But hey, it’s pretty cool! 🙂
Komatiepoort, Mpumalanga, © Dirk Moggee 2016
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