The following article is written by Danja. Julian got to know her during her internship while studying. Together with her friend, she decided to follow her passion and get on the road traveling. To be precise: Backpacking in South Africa was their first stop of the world trip ahead. In this article, Danja wants to share her impressions with you…
After I and my friend finished our studies in August we decided to travel the world. One semester abroad was the beginning and we got infected by “wanderlust” and we started to plan. A couple of months prior to our trip we booked our flights and saved through this a lot of money for getting around. The official start for our “Backpacking in South Africa” trip was August 30th.
Backpacking in South Africa – First Stop
We started our six-months-journey in South Africa and in the end we knew, that we would have loved to stay longer than just 14 days. South Africa is no backpacker hotspot such as Thailand or Australia but surpassed our expectations by far.
As soon as we arrived in Cape Town our Uber driver welcomed us warmly and brought us straight to our already booked Airbnb. Tip number 1 at this point: There are numerous great Airbnb’s for a good price. So definitely check that in advance! In our case it wasn’t worth it to book a hotel.
Prior to our trip we informed us a lot on South Africa and soon we started to get worried, as many sources claim how unsafe the country is. That’s why we got ourselves a fake credit card, a spare mobile phone, and no name clothing and felt that we were prepared for everything. Just after arriving we questioned all this and saw that Cape Town was a metropolis like any other. No criminality insight. Certainly you should avoid some districts and perhaps it wouldn’t be the wisest decision to go with your camera through townships, but other than that we felt fine.
What we especially loved was the friendly and open-minded mindset of the locals. As soon as we faced any problems we received help from everywhere, which made the start of our trip very easy going and uncomplicated.
Other than that we soon found out that South Africa is, compared to Germany very cheap. Even low-budget backpacker as we were, hardly needed to cook thanks to the great restaurants and cafés with tasty and affordable food. As a side note here: The country has culinary a lot to offer. Treating animals nicely is very important to the farmers here and thus the quality of the meet is great. Next tip: South Africa is famous for Ostrich meat and it tastes great! Definitely try it!
Backpacking in South Africa – Our highlight
The highlight of our trip definitely was the Garden Route! Within six days we drove from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and back. Here we saw marvelous landscapes.
Our guide was Charlene Pepler and our whole group consisted of 12 people. We made ourselves comfortable in our minivan and enjoyed the long ride along the coast through beautiful national parks.
Day 1 – Cape Aghulhas
We spent the first night in Cape Agulhas, a small village at the south coast. Here we watched countless penguins toddling around and walked to the most southern lookout of South Africa. We spent the night in a quaint backpacker hostel in Cape Agulhas. While we had dinner with locals we learned a lot about the South African culture and listened their interesting stories. We felt home!
Day 2 – Marloth Nature Reserve
The next day we continued our trip through the Marloth Nature Reserve to the Ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn and had dinner a great wine tasting in one of the many wineries.
Day 3 – Canoeing in Touws Rivers
The third day was all about canoeing along the Touws Rivers in George. In the coastal city Wilderness we hiked after a two-hour canoe trip on a waterfall and enjoyed the refreshing, crystal clear water.
A huge picnic gave us the necessary power for the long hike back and then we drove further in direction of Knysna. We enjoyed the breath-taking views again and then continued to our next hostel. Totally exhausted we went to bed and digested all the great impressions from the last couple of days.
Day 4 – Bungee on Bloukrans bridge
On day four our alarm woke us up pretty early in order to drive to the Bloukrans bridge. This bridge is the highest commercial operated bungee jumping bride in the world. Here we the opportunity to jump from 216 meters! After the adrenaline kick, we continued our journey towards the Tsitsikamma National Park, where we spent a couple of relaxed hours. Arrived in Port Elizabeth we had dinner together and looked forward to the next day.
Day 5 – Addo Elephant National Park
The last highlight on our trip was a morning safari. Wrapped in thick winter jackets and blankets we started the Safari-Jeep-Tour through the Addo Elephant National Park at 5am. You should know that September still can be really really cold, especially in the early morning hours. After the two hour safari and some exciting wild animals we started our trip back to Cape Town.
On our way back Charlene showed us some “secret spots” and ensure a good mood at all times. (Unpaid)Tip: Visit www.earthstompers.com – Here you can book the tour. The organisation is great and definitely recommended. We had a great time!
Backpacking in South Africa – Top 5 Travel Tips
No. 1 – Tsitsikamma National Park
We were stunned by the Tsitsikamma National Park inside the Sarah Bartmann District, one of the stops on the Garden Route. Here you will find beautiful sceneries. Reaching from green mountains to powdery, white sand beaches with crystal clear water, here, you will find everything. The park offers some great hiking trials with mind-blowing views. We have been lucky enough to spot whales and dolphins. This was definitely our personal highlight of the Garden Route in South Africa.
No. 2 – Addo Elephant National Park
While in South Africa, you should definitely not miss out on a safari! We decided to visit the Addo Elephant National Park and still rave of encounters with elephants, zebras, rhinos, ostriches, warthogs, meerkats, dung beetles and many other wild animals.
No. 3 – Knysna
While on the Garden Route you will pass the city Knysna. It’s nature blew our mind and that the most expensive property can be found there, didn’t surprise us a lot.
No. 4 – Lion’s Head
The Lion’s Head is beside the Table Mountain a great lookout. In contrast to the Table Mountain the Lion’s Head is not overcrowded with tourists and has some great opportunities to do some sports. The 360 degree view is definitely worth the trip up!
No. 5 – Signal Hill
You will find “The Signal Hill” located directly beside the Lion’s Head. It is the perfect location for a sundowner picnic. You will have a view on the ocean, so get a bottle of South African wine and enjoy the sunset.
After 14 days of pure adventure, adrenalin and a lot of new impressions, we can tell that this definitely was not our last trip to South Africa.