As part of its “Adventurers Wanted” marketing campaign, South African Tourism invited me on a 3-week trip in May 2008. This was my first overseas experience and my first time in another country besides the US and Canada. I thought South Africa was a good place to have my passport stamped for the first time — it’s more wild and exotic than Europe, but it’s relatively safe compared to the rest of Africa. Compard to most other African nations, it’s more politically stable and wealthier, and has better infrastructure and more English-speaking residents, which makes it especially appealing those who want an adventurous-but-not-too-adventurous trip.
Being there for three weeks meant that I was able to squeeze in the equivalent of at least two, maybe even three, average trips to the country, i.e. most Americans will only visit for a 7-10 days before returning home. I was able to visit Johannesburg, Durban, the Garden Route (George and Knysna), Cape Town, and Kruger National Park. I was able to hike in the Drakensberg, complete the entire Otter Trail, go shark cage diving, run around Table Mountain, and watch elephants, rhinos, and a leopard from the backseat of a Land Cruiser. It was a very intense and diverse trip.
The highlight of the trip was definitely the Drakensberg, a 10,000-foot high escarpment wall that demarcates the boundary between South Africa and the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho for about 100 miles. I expect to return to South Africa at some point and walking the length of the Drakensberg will absolutely be on my list.