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Why South Africa Should Be on Your Trip List

Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa

Dramatic coastlines, epic wildlife and culture-packed cities – we’re talking about the mighty South Africa of course. And this incredible country is not only full of things to see, do and experience (especially if you like wine and safari), but it’s just an 11.5-hour jaunt away. Best of all, it looks set to be one of the best bang-for-your-buck destinations to book in 2021. We caught up with Craig van Rooyen, from our in-destination partner Tour D’Afrique, to find out how the country has changed throughout the pandemic…

Craig van Rooyen

Craig van Rooyen

How different is travel in South Africa now?

Well first of all the number of travellers has decreased tremendously, so – right now – there’s very little chance of feeling overcrowded in the destination. It’s almost a once in a lifetime experience to travel to South Africa and pretty much have it to yourself, especially as we have plenty of wide-open spaces, great food and wine and, currently, it’s our summer.

What have hotels and operators been doing to become “COVID-safe”?

South Africa has been at the forefront of setting COVID-19 safety protocols for our industry because tourism is such a big part of our economy. All hotels require a questionnaire to be filled in with all contact details, recent travel history and some simple heath questions. Resorts will also take your temperature daily and hand sanitisers are located throughout the properties. Rooms are left open for 24 hours after clients have left to completely sanitise the space, and all staff wear face masks. Safety is of paramount importance to keep our tourists safe.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

What can holidaymakers expect from a South Africa holiday during coronavirus?

As mentioned, there has been a big reduction in travellers, so you’ll basically have the destination to yourself! The restaurants are limited to 50% occupancy but are otherwise fully operational, and all activities are running, such as city tours, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway and all the wine tours. So, even though we have protocols in place to protect tourists, you still have full freedom to enjoy the destination and activities we have to offer.

Why should travellers visit South Africa on their next holiday?

I have this analogy that, due to the safety measures that our tourism industry has implemented, it’s actually safer to go on a holiday to South Africa than walk your own streets at home! The UK pound is also extremely strong against our currency right now, meaning a typical meal and bottle of good South African wine will cost you no more than £25 in an upmarket restaurant. Spending your money here goes a long way.

The Table Mountain Cableway

The Table Mountain Cableway

What are your top tips for visiting South Africa in 2021/22?

The new Lekkerwater Beach Lodge in the De Hoop Nature Reserve is my top accommodation recommendation at the moment, it’s a real hidden gem. It’s located around three hours’ drive from Cape Town.

As for grape lovers, tourists tend to go to Stellenbosch or Franschhoek for their wine experiences, but I would recommend the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. It’s just before Hermanus and produces some of the best wines in the country, being particularly famous for its Pinot Noir. I would highly recommend having lunch at Creation Wines.

Safari is naturally one of the best activities here, and in the Eastern Cape we have the famous Shamwari Reserve and their brand-new lodge Sindile, which is also really special.

What do you love most about South Africa?

I think – besides the scenic beauty that we offer – as a country we are incredibly welcoming and friendly to international travellers. It’s what makes coming to South Africa so special. Many travellers that come here keep coming back, usually a number of times, because they feel so welcome and enjoy the beauty of the country. There aren’t many destinations that get the repeat visitor numbers that we get from the UK.

De Hoop National Reserve

De Hoop National Reserve

What, if any, travel trends are you seeing in South Africa right now?

Who knows what travel trends we can follow in the new COVID-19 era! That being said, I would say that our destination lends itself to travel as the weather is great, we’ve got wide-open spaces and unrivalled hospitality. I know some people aren’t keen to travel in the current climate, but our government has made it as easy as possible to visit, with only a negative PCR test required to enter the country. Thus, from a travel trend point of view, the countries that make it as easy as possible to travel to – within safety constraints – will benefit as must-visit destinations… and we are one of them!

Where can people expect to see the best deals?

I see 2021/22 as having the best deals of the century. Undoubtedly you won’t see prices like this again, purely due to the lack of demand versus previous years and the fact that some people are still fearful of travelling prior to a full vaccine rollout. Have a look at the Flight Centre specials as I predict there will be many available!

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

Who is a South Africa holiday best suited to?

South Africa is unique in that it caters for a wide variety of travellers: families, honeymooners, adventure seekers, nature lovers and holidaymakers that are just looking for a relaxing getaway. We have more to offer within South Africa than any other destination and thus we really do cater for all segments of the tourism market.

Anything else?

We are travel-ready for all UK visitors!

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

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