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Top 5: South Africa Experiences

Picking just five experiences from a country as multi-faceted and fun-filled as South Africa is a bit like being asked to choose which powers you would have if you were a superhero...You’d want them to be memorable, cool, a little bit weird, and preferably require you to wear a caped costume. Taking these criteria into consideration, here are a few ideas for making your time here pretty damn super...
Image courtesy of Crystian Cruz

1. Cage Dive with Great Whites

This will very much satisfy the ‘memorable’ element of our criteria. The waters around South Africa are the ideal place for coming face-to-face with this perfect predator in its natural environment. If this is all a little bit too macho for you however, you might opt for a more chilled-out (but equally memorable) whale-watching trip. Annual migrations of southern right whales, humpbacks, and huge dolphin pods are sure to satisfy all your marine mammal needs (we hope).     

2. Big Five at Kruger

We can’t guarantee yours will match up to the famed ‘Battle at Kruger’ (see above), but if you’re a nature lover then you’ll definitely be wanting to get yourself to what is the largest National Park in South Africa to try your luck at spotting those Big 5. 

Image courtest of Arnold Goodway

3. Unique Eats

As mentioned, one of the main attractions to South Africa is its fusion of various cultural influences, and an unavoidable offshoot of this is the incredible array of weird and wonderful foods available, sometimes referred to as ‘rainbow food’. Due to the influx of so many nationalities during colonial rule, you will find everything from European to Malay, to Indian styles here. Not forgetting the traditional dishes of the indigenous African people. Some of the highlights include: Bunny Chow/Kota (a curry served in a hollowed loaf of bread. Indian influence); Babotie (baked spiced minced meat with an egg topping, often served with banana, coconut, rice and dried fruit. Most probably influenced by SA’s Cape Malay community); Melktert (a sweet milk tart); Walkie Talkies (boiled then fried chicken feet (walkie) & heads (talkie). Mmmmmmm

Image courtesy of Celso Flores

4. Learn to Love the Vuvuzela at the African Cup of Nations

South Africa is hosting next year’s AFCON having held its own putting on the World Cup back in 2010. Kicking-off in January, fans from all over the continent will be making the journey to support their team. This spectacle is not to be missed, whether you’re well into your football or not. Some cheeky half-time walkie-talkies will see you through to the final whistle.

Image courtesy of coda
5. Cape Town 

You’d be a fool to visit South Africa without checking what Cape Town has to offer. Firstly, its location is pretty unbeatable as far as cities go: surrounded by top-class beaches and towered-over by the iconic Table Mountain. These alone mean that possibilities for fun abound here, with watersports and general outdoor activities widely available and popular. Add to this the oldest vineyards outside of Europe, excellent nightlife, a truly multi-cultural population and some beautiful architecture, and you’ll want to stay for years.  

NB: All of the above can be done wearing a cape.

Of course it goes without saying that you should dedicate some of your time in South Africa to a spot of volunteering. Frontier offers a variety of options when it comes to doing something worthwhile and productive, from earning your FGASA Safari Field Guide qualification, to teaching on a whole host of sports coaching placements, there's bound to be something for you. You can check out all of the opportunities for gap year projects on the Frontier website.