I intend to do a lot more travelling in South Africa in 2021. In fact, I have absolutely no intention to go across any borders this year. Here’s why…
I am not going anywhere outside my own borders this year! And thankfully, at the time of writing, we are still allowed to travel to other provinces in South Africa. Because that is exactly what I intend to do a lot of in 2021. Why? Here are my three (very good) reasons…
1. South Africa has everything that everyone else has and more
If you are looking for bushveld, we have it. If you want to go into the mountains, we have those. If you want to swim in the sea, we have oceans. If you want to go hiking in a forest, we have those too. Heck we even have snow if you want to make a snowman! From camping to glamping, rustic to 5-star, we have it all. WHY on earth are people hankering to go overseas for a holiday when we have all the coolest holiday spots right here? Plus there’s no visa requirements, no long flights (if you are worried about getting the virus, bear in mind that an airplane circulates the same air), no COVID19 test needed (more on that later) and no expensive foreign currency exchanges. What’s not to love?
I have my sights on KwaZulu-Natal (I love their lush vegetation) for a spot of snorkelling, turtle tracking and hippo spotting, along with a visit to the Drakensberg (do you know I have never been to the Drakensberg – gasp!) and The Kruger National Park as I haven’t been there for so many years. It holds a lot of childhood nostalgia for me. Then there’s The Free State – I still want to witness the vast fields of sunflowers and say that I have been to Parys! Plus there’s The Big Hole in Kimberley – it remains on my bucket list from years ago when I visited only to be told it was closed for renovations. Perhaps I will also go visit my friends in Gauteng (maybe even catch the Shosholoza Meyl) and see what they are up to there. So much to do and see and I am sure there’s a whole lot more I will find when I start looking.
2. Local guides, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels need you to survive
It’s no secret that tourism has taken a huge knock, thanks to to all the lockdowns and that overseas visitors have been reduced a dribble. The first time I really noticed this was a few months ago when I visit the V&A Waterfront. I had the whole of the aquarium to myself and was one of only three people on The Wheel. To be honest I thought I was on the set of Zombieland!
I am making an effort to go to a local restaurant at least once a week. I go to The Labia Theatre as often as I can (OK, I just like arty movies and they are my favourite movie house) and I am saving any “deals for locals” that I come across. There are plenty of places with special offers for us and now is the time to enjoy those offers. I will also be keeping you updated on a regular basis on any good deals that I come across…
I am not saying we all have to spend a fortune (not all of us have a fortune right now anyway), but now is the time to buy a coffee from a coffee vendor, take a free tour of the city centre, take your dog to your local restaurant for their breakfast special, indulge in High Tea, go camping, have a weekend away or embark on a roadtrip. You need the break and they need you more than ever.
3. The dratted COVID-19 test
To be honest, this was the reason I thought of writing this blog. I was lucky enough to have my mother visit from Zimbabwe for a few weeks which was wonderful. However, at the end of her stay I got to experience the test process first hand. Well, not really, I had to find somewhere to get the test and it was my mother who actually had to have it. And it wasn’t pleasant – for either of us!
Most countries require proof of a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before your flight. Some, like Zimbabwe, require one 48 hours before. If you are travelling anywhere else in Africa or abroad, please check the requirements. There was an elderly couple in the queue ahead of us who were told after over two hours of waiting that their test would be null and void as they were too “early” and that they would have to come back the next day. I almost cried for them.
The test for travellers is different from the rapid test, so don’t think you can just pop into Dischem. There are only a few places that do the test for travellers and the test will cost you R850 in cash (no card payments). Bear in mind that you also have to have this test on “the other side” so you can factor in an extra R2 000 to your travel costs. I would rather spend that money on a few nights stay in KZN quite frankly.
Most of these centres are drive-through’s, so be prepared to sit in your car for a LONG time! We arrived at Ampath in Parow at 10h00 and left at 12h25. I suggest you take a good book with you! Also, bear in mind that they can only see so many people a day and close the gate when they feel they’ve reached capacity. We only had 9 cars behind us, so if we had’ve arrived 15 minutes later, we wouldn’t have got through. So don’t don’t arrive 15 minutes before they close thinking you will breeze though – rather arrive 15 minutes after they open their doors. Plus there are no toilets so make sure you go to the loo before you head out.
If you need to get a COVID19 test for travelling, here’s a handy list of who to contact.
I am really looking forward to exploring my own neighbourhood, province and the rest of South Africa as much as I can this year. I hope you will too! There has never been a better time to embrace our magnificient country, our abundant wildlife, our beautiful open spaces, our delicious food and our amazing people.
Bear in mind that this blog was written with South Africans in mind, but if you are reading this from Australia, Scotland, Botswana or anywhere else in the world, the same applies to you. As we say over here… “local is lekker”!
Published January 2021