Continuing the theme of debunking the bad press that has plagued South Africa in recent years, and highlighting in fact how safe it is to travel in SA, let’s have a look at the Boomer market, and why South Africa and surrounding region is the perfect destination for comfort loving oldies with a hankering to touch the wild.
Ease of Travel
African travel in general can be a multi-layered experience with the roughest of rough travel rubbing shoulders with displays of ridiculous opulence and splendor. Tour packages are usually insulated from the seething poverty of the outside, and tourists rarely touch the quintessence of Africa. In South Africa this is also true, but the contrast does not seem so striking here.
On the surface South Africa is one of the most sophisticated societies in the world, with an industrial and communications infrastructure that is comparable with anywhere in the developed world. In keeping with this the tourist industry is highly developed, efficient and sophisticated. Not only are the most obvious sights and sounds of Africa showcased and made easily available to the visitor, but the entire spectrum of a nation that enjoys incredible cultural, social and ecological diversity is in some way or another packaged in a manner that is both accessible and affordable.
Africa is also a very expensive travel destination, with countries like Tanzania and Kenya charging enormous premiums on safaris and excisions into their national parks, and with a plethora of shady and largely unregulated dealers offering as little as possible for as much as they possibly can. South Africa is also not a cheap destination by global standards, but it is noticeably more rational in its price structures than many other destinations in the region, and without doubt you get a lot more bang for you buck here than anywhere else on the continent.
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Broadly speaking South Africa can be divided into two travel spheres: Nature & Culture.
Nature: South Africa has the largest concentration of wildlife parks and nature conservancies in the region. These range from the vast and iconic Kruger National Park to the many parks, arboretums and botanical gardens to be found in all of the major towns and cities. In combination with this are a large number of privately owned facilities offering either hunting or big game interaction in combination with carefully crated hospitality facilities and in the company of some of the best trained and most vocational wildlife guides and experts in the world.
The sub-divisions within this are enormous too. If, for example, your specific interest is in birding, butterflies, wildflowers or snakes you will find an expert with a field of possibilities and a variety of destinations to offer. If on the other hand you simply want to enjoy exposure to wild Africa with high standards of conveyance and accommodation, again the possibilities are almost endless.
South Africa also has enormous potential for hiking, hill walking and mountaineering with several parks, not least those attending the Drakensberg Mountains, which are safe and easily accessible. A high standard of spa and hotel accommodation can always be found, as can many guesthouses, B&Bs and backpackers lodges.
Culture: From Robben Island to the Apartheid Museum to the many battlegrounds and monuments scattered across the country, South Africa is a delight to the history/culture traveler, and again you never have to look very far to find an expert tour guide willing to share information and insights. The same is true for such unexpected options as the many wine routes of the Cape, the unique and diverse cuisine of the same region, and the amazing cultural and ethnic diversity the characteristics this region; and of course in each you will find a museum, guest houses and hostelries and many individual experts willing to guide and educate you on their particular aspect of South African history and culture.
Once again, with its extraordinary road and communications network, the South African regional diversity is no mystery, and every part of the country is easily accessible.
Wildlife: The big game and wildlife regions are the north and northeast, and the extreme west. The two main destinations here are Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi TransFrontier National Park, but several smaller, habitat specific options also exist, along with a diversity of private destination for high end and exclusive travel.
Coastal: The East and South Coasts of South Africa represent the semi-tropical image of coastal Africa, with a bit of a difference. While natural beaches and cultural tradition are easy to find, long swathes of well developed and sophisticated coastline offer almost every kind of associated facility and activity. Inland a landscape of wetlands and bushveld offer a unique visage of game country, while the heartland of mountains and cool hill country offer a version of South Africa hotel and accommodation culture, as well as cottage restaurants and hostelries, and a variety of genteel purist such as fly fishing, hill walking, birding and horse riding.
The Cape: Further south the Cape offers fantastic touring potential with the wine routes, the Garden Route, the dusty and charismatic hinterland, and of course the unparalleled sophistication of Cape Town Itself.
All of this is packaged in one country and offered in a diverse, safe and affordable tour industry that has a home for any style of taste. If this was not sufficient South Africa is also the perfect springboard for travel elsewhere in the local and wider region. South Africa has African travel sewn up, and if safety and reliability are your concern as a mature traveler, this is the destination for you. No one can claim to be a world traveler without visiting Africa, and South Africa is Africa for the discerning traveler.