once more, this time a little deeper.
December 19, 2010 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Where should I go in South Africa? I was recently there for six months, so I'm looking for new recommendations, and perhaps something off the beaten (garden route) path.

My girlfriend and I are going for a two-week trip. She's never been, and so I'm trying to balance the highlights (definitely spending a few days in Cape Town) for her and finding some new experiences for me--I'm happy to go to some of the same places again, but would also like to work in something completely new.

I lived in Cape Town and pretty thoroughly explored the Western Cape (including a bit up north in West Coast and the Cederberg) and the coast from Cape Town to Durban. So the Garden Route isn't high on my list, but maybe something in the Karoo or the Drakensberg would be.

Any ideas of cool and interesting things to do? We've done safaris, so animals aren't a priority. On the other hand, I welcome suggestions relating to spending time in parks, hiking, and camping. I really enjoyed the time in the Cedarberg and staying at Bulungula.
posted by pollex to Travel & Transportation around South Africa (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I really enjoyed the Giant's Cup trail in the Drakensberg. It's 5 days, but each day is a really quite short so you could probably double up. It's hut camping, and the Parks guys come and unlock the hut for you each day to keep it from being wrecked from the baboons. It was really beautiful. I was there in early September, so early Spring, and there was almost no-one on the trail. I don't know how crowded it is in the Summer, but you have to book ahead to the parks guys know to come unlock the huts.

I came down Sani Pass from Lesotho, and if you have a good quickish way to get to Lesotho and back, that might be a good option. We did an overnight horseback ride/sleep in a village to the big waterfall there, starting I think from Semonkong. It was really beautiful and manageable as a non-rider, but I was REALLY sore the next day or two. The downside it that it's pretty far from Cape Town - I took the overnight bus to Bloemfoentain and then a series of buses and minibuses across the border. The travel will take a lot of time - similarly going from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg takes a while.

I also really enjoyed driving around Namaqualand through the desert. You're well after the rains and the wild-flowers, and it's pretty far north.

Obviously you guys will want to hike up Table Mountain, and Devil's Peak is also very worthwhile. 2 weeks isn't very long, though, for her to get a sense of the country and to do some hiking in the more remote areas, so think about the transit times. Have fun!
posted by foodmapper at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2010

By East London there is a place called Lion Park. Not much, but responsible for my fondest memories of SA. You can get really cuddly with lion cubs there, and, if lucky, other cats. There was also a cheetah and tigers, when I was there. I couldn't visit SA again, and not make that trip.

Otherwise, I'm a beach person, and the Transkai "Wild Coast" is to die for. But you said you knew the coast well, all the way to Durban. So maybe you'd do better to go north of Durban. There you will find Thonga Beach Resort. There you can take a brief course and do a supervised scuba dive in some wonderful water. We stayed there for my b-day a few years ago. Yes, it's pricey, but it's South Africa, so you get a LOT of luxury for your bucks.
posted by Goofyy at 1:40 AM on December 21, 2010

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