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17 reasons why you should visit South Africa

South Africa is one of those countries that is, for now, relatively unknown as a tourist destination. The World Cup in 2010 served as its international début and since then more and more visitors have started exploring this vast and beautiful country. If you're wondering what the appeal is, we think we can answer that with these 17 reasons why you should visit South Africa:

1. The wilderness

Many parts of South Africa are completely wild. Untamed. There are vast expanses with nothing but spectacular scenes as far as the eye can see, which makes it the perfect place to get away and enjoy some serenity.

2. The weather

South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, which means its seasons are the opposite of those in the UK. This makes it a great winter getaway, but even if you visit in our summer, their winter is mild (although the locals disagree!)

3. The wildlife

South Africa is known for safaris, where you'll see a variety of incredible wildlife from the beautiful to the bizarre. Even in the cities though, you'll spot guinea fowls darting crazily across highways, penguins on beaches and the odd zebra or ostrich on the outskirts of suburbia.

4. The food

Come hungry, because the food that South Africa has to offer its visitors is world class. From street food to restaurants that appear in top 50 lists around the world, you'll experience fresh ingredients and incredible flavours every meal of the day.

5. The wine regions

South Africa is one of the biggest wine producing countries in the world, but the wine itself is almost overshadowed by the breathtaking beauty of Cape Town's wine regions, which feature lush rolling hills and awe-inspiring mountain ranges.

6. The people

Wherever you go, you'll be greeted with a smile. South Africans are a friendly bunch, and their hospitality will make sure you never want to leave.

7. The views

From the top of a mountain, the bottom of a valley or a wide, sweeping beach, the views you'll find all over South Africa are incredible. Bring your camera (and a spare memory card!)

8. The braais

Admittedly this could have fallen under number four, but to South Africans a braai (Afrikaans for barbecue) deserves a category of its own. Typical braai food is boerewors, a spiced sausage that is both delicious and addictive.

9. The mountains

The most famous of South Africa's mountains is undoubtedly Cape Town's Table Mountain, but it's certainly not the only one. All over the country you'll find spectacular mountain ranges such as the Drakensburg range in KwaZulu-Natal.

10. The culture

Street art, amazing music, local handicrafts, galleries, design,'ll find it all in South Africa.

11. The drives

If road trips are your thing, spend a few days meandering the famous Garden Route that winds along a stretch of the country's south-eastern coast. If you don't have the time for a long journey, spend a few hours driving to Chapman's Peak on the outskirts of Cape Town - you'll feel like you're miles from civilisation.

12. The adventure

If you're an adrenalin junkie, South Africa will feel like a giant playground. Hiking, surfing, mountain biking, road cycling, shark diving, abseiling and paragliding are just a few of the activities that you could fill your days with.

13. The beaches

No holiday destination is complete without some beautiful beaches, and South Africa is no exception. Port Elizabeth, Knysna, Durban, Mossel Bay and Cape Town are just a few of the destinations where you'll find white sandy beaches with brilliant blue water.

14. The cost

The current exchange rate means that, at the moment, South Africa is an incredibly affordable holiday destination for us Brits. It may cost a bit to get there, but once you've arrived you'll spend far less on food, drink and entertainment than you would in Europe or the USA.

15. The history

South Africa's history can be explored at many of the museums around the country. Two museums that should be added to your itinerary are Robben Island, once a prison off the Cape Town coast which was home to Nelson Mandela for almost 20 years, and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.

16. The shopping

Written by Elle Croft

When Elle is not travelling, she's blogging about it over at A Bird in the Hand Travel. She believes that you don't have to look like a backpacker to travel, and writes about the stylish side of wanderlust, from stylish destinations to packing tips.

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