10 Things to Know: Visiting South Africa

Apr 18, 2015

Heading to South Africa? Here are 10 things to know before you go:

1. You can’t miss Table Mountain in Cape Town. Ride a cable car up 3000 feet and get glorious views of the whole city. The cable car ride is scary because it rotates as it is going up to the top of the mountain. If you are adventurous or want a workout, you can also hike up to Table Mountain. They have an easy path that takes about two hours and a more difficult path that can take three hours or longer.

2. Be sure to check out a safari while in South Africa. Look for the Big Five -- the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant. The Big Five are the most dangerous land animals to hunt. The average stay on safari is two days.

3. Check out the wineries. Constantia Valley is on the other side of Table Mountain. I would also recommend traveling to the other wineries about 45 minutes outside of Cape Town. The cute collegiate town of Stellenbosch also is home to a ton of wineries. A farther drive, but a scenic one, is the Franschhoek area, which also has wineries open to the public.

4. Drive around the Cape of Good Hope. It is the most southwestern point in Africa as well as the point where the Atlantic and the Indian oceans meet. Check out Boulders Beach or Simon’s Town for penguins.

5. Robben Island is the Alcatraz of South Africa. Take a ferry to visit the jail where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 of his 27 years imprisoned. The tour of the jail is given by former prisoners. While there, take in great views of Table Bay.

6. Victoria Wharf is touristy but still a must see. All the shops and restaurants are here. Dine al fresco by the water with a view of Table Mountain and watch the sunset.

7. If you want to be part of the in-crowd, go to Camps Bay; it's where the beautiful hang out at all hours of the night. It’s South Beach and French Riviera mixed into one.

8. Try some Cape Malay cuisine with its Malaysian influence and sweet aromatic curry.

9. Be sure to try Amarula Cream Liquor. This is made from the berries of Amarula trees that elephants like to eat. Sometimes you’ll notice them stumbling because they are drunk off the Amarula liqueur!

10. If locals are giving you directions and they say to "turn right at the robot," it’s not because there are a bunch of robots wandering around, it's what a streetlight is called in the country.

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