Hi, I'm beginning to plan a trip to South Africa sometime next year, I have a few questions and tips to ask from you that know about travel there:
1. when is the best time to travel around SAfrica? is there a high tourist season there? or a good weather season?
2. is there any nightlife there? what is it like? I love to go to nightclubs, I love to eat in nice restaurants, I love 5 star hotels, is this all available?
3. how is the food there? what is a common SAfrican dish?
would love to hear your comments and tips
Magic that you've made a decision to visit our awesome country!!! Now to answer your questions:
1. Best time to visit?
Depends on what you want to do & see. SA is a big country so different parts experience different weather at different times of the year. eg July/August is best time of the year to visit Kruger & most other game parks - dry season so grass low & fewer waterholes so better chances of spotting elusive game. Cape Town - probably at her best in Jan & Feb - worst in Aug/Sept - windy & rainy seasons. Jo'burg - definitely Sept when spring is bursting (largest man-made forest in the world) - looks bleak & dried out in June/July - but that also has its own appeal. Peak season is generally end Sept - end Mar (higher prices, less availability). Another thing to bear in mind is school holidays - everything booked out far in advance & prices can triple or more - whole of December, first few weeks of Jan, week or two around Easter - look at http://www.saschools.co.za/calendar.htm for exact dates. Basic rule of thumb: If you want crowds & action - book in peak season but be prepared to pay the premium. If you want to sip & savour ... book in off-season & save!:
2. You need the big cities - Cape Town is more beautiful & touristy - Jo'burg is more African, alive & hectic - Durban is more chilled & casual. Very good night clubs - loads of excellent music - contemporary & ethnic & whateva!!! These big cities also have excellent cuisine - you'll also find wonderful gems in places like Franschhoek (Western Cape Winelands). To give you a sample - look at some of the top gig guides -
- what's hot & what's happening ...
There are loads of 5 Star hotels in the big cities - Sheratons, Hyatts, etc. Try some of the lesser known, but excellent groups eg http://www.africanpridehotels.com/home/index.html
The Last Word group of boutique hotels (in & around Cape Town) http://www.thelastword.co.za
http://www.tenbompas.com/ - Jo'burg
3. Food is pretty good & standards generally high. Usual fast-food joints - eg McDonalds & Wimpy. Saffers eat a lot of meat generally - so steaks, ribs, chops etc fairly standard - Italian food - but you can get almost anything. There are some favourite/unique treats like Carnivores in north western Jo'burg - specialising in game meats served on huge skewers http://www.restaurants.co.za/details.asp?resId=3213 There are lots of great eating hubs eg Greenside in Jo'burg, Franshhoek near Cape Town, V&A Waterfront - can give you more info or just ask the consierge at your hotel. Some good sites to try are : http://www.wininganddining.co.za/ - some forums/blogs also have great info http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php?t=124042 and http://blogs.thetimes.co.za/blogumists/index.php?tag=good_food
http://www.mothercityliving.co.za (Cape Town)
Hope that gives you some points of departure ... just shout if you'd like any more info or suggestions.
Best wishes, Alison
WOW, Alison, thanks a LOT for all your advice, I really appreciate your thorough tips and input. I'll be checking into all those links today.
We ate at La Colombe and loved it. It was very well priced (for a Canadian) and the food and service were excellent. It's a bit of a drive out of Cape Town so make sure to finish your wine early. Also, the V&A waterfront is quite nice. Have fun!