In a word: Wow! Some of the imagery seems to be taken straight out of Jurassic Park.
Why go? To see the sights, go on a Safari, go to the beach or engage other outdoor activities or engage the culture. Our pix reflect that: landscapes and animals for the most part.
We spent 3 months there in 2015 and were honored to visit this beautiful country.
Here's the pro's and the con's.
Visually stunning. The confluence of sea, sky, and landscape are akin to Greece, but greener. Perhaps the difference is Greece is a peninsula with a collection of islands. The inland areas of South Africa are more diverse away from the Cape — deserts, plains, mountains and bush.
Climate. During the high season (December-February) temperatures span 75-90 degrees. Even during the winter, temps will be in the 70's during the day. Cool breezes blow day and night because of the proximity to two oceans. But the area has micro-climates: it can be hot on one side of a mountain and cool on the opposite side. There's no need for A/C here. This is a relief from our time in Southeast Asia. But we had a record 108° day here during our stay — an all time high.
Pace. Life is pretty easy here. The people are friendly. You won't see the “edge-i-ness” so prominent in some western countries.
Healthcare: first world and inexpensive. The total cost for X-Rays, Sonogram, an exam and treatment? $173. The total cost for an hour visit with an orthopedic surgeon: $32! Rotator cuff surgery is about $5000 cash. The cost in the States is $60,000 for the same procedure before the “insurance markdown”! An MRI: $932 cash — about the same as the States.
Houses: much cheaper than in the U.S (probably because the country is going “downhill” economically — see the cons below).
Outdoor activities: motorcycling (BMW's and Harley's are all over the place here), hangliding, kite surfing, boating, SCUBA, snorkeling, cage diving — the list is endless.
Rentals: lodging is reasonable in the off season — outta sight in the high season! We rented a 2-bedroom $400 per night penthouse apartment at a hotel with panoramic views of the ocean for about $50 per night off season. You have to know where and how to look. We'll talk about that on this site later on as we expand.
Load shedding (power brownouts): This stems from Governmental inefficiency, corruption, and desire to accommodate poor migrants from all over Africa in this rainbow nation. This won't bother most travelers. But those sticking around for a while will tire of it.
Internet: Wired? Horrible. A state run business controls everything. Wireless 4-G is the way to go @ $86 for 20GB. We spent a bit less than $400 for 3 months of data packages.
Food: can be tasteless at many restaurants. You have to know where to go. We had some good luck using Trip Advisor. See our reviews there.
Government: We rarely talk about Governments in our blogging. But the dissatisfaction with the Zuma Government is so widespread that it's worth a mention here. Those of all races we talked to had few, if any, positive comments about present Government leaders. How will this impact you as a tourist? You're likely not to notice it unless you stay for extended periods. Then some of the negatives we cite here will become glaring.
— Tom @ RoverTreks