Once in a lifetime

Nine of the Best Things to See and do in South Africa

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If you’re not quite ready to begin your college years, taking a break may be a good way to clear your head and sharpen your focus. There are a lot of beautiful places to see in this world, but of all your choices, taking a gap year in South Africa may be your best. South Africa is full of amazing sites and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, some of which you’ll read about here.

Tee it Up

The country of South Africa has some of the planet’s best golf courses, all of which are surprisingly affordable. Nowhere else can you play 18 holes alongside ostriches and crocodiles! If you don’t want to spend all your time on the course, many of South Africa’s golf resorts have opulent spa facilities.

Ride an Ostrich

In this dry area of South Africa, you can try your hand at riding one of these gangly flightless birds. There are countless ostrich farms in the semi-desert area of Oudtshoorn, and if you’re feeling super-confident, you can even race on an ostrich! Once you’re done for the day, you can dine on delicious ostrich-containing dishes such as pate or biltong.

Sleep in a Tree House

Gap year lodging in a tree house is both eco-friendly and cost-effective. There are several choices, such as Teniqua Treetops, Sycamore Avenue, and Pezulu Tree House Game Lodge. All tree house lodging will allow you to get back to nature, and perhaps come face-to-face with a giraffe.

Surf the South African Coastline

The coast of South Africa is dotted with bays and points, and as all surfers know, they make great places to catch a few waves. The quality of surf depends heavily on swell size and wind direction, and for that very reason, the Cape Peninsula provides great surfing opportunities every day of the year. Don’t just hit the Cape, though- South Africa is home to plenty of other great spots.

Hike on the Wild Coast

The Eastern Cape Region is one of the most isolated and beautiful regions on earth, and much of it can only be accessed on foot. A hike here will allow you to see pristine beaches, forests, rivers and waterfalls; it will also allow you to learn more about indigenous cultures such as the Xhosa.

Soak up the Luxury

As a tourist destination, South Africa is ideally suited to pamper guests. Most small hotels and game lodges offer some spa amenities, some in beautiful outdoor settings. The spas are so nice there, you may not be able to tear yourself away for the next game tour!

Get Close to the Wildlife

There’s a small public area at Boulders Beach near Cape Town, separated by a fence from the resident colony of penguins. The birds largely ignore the fence, though, and are likely to come up to you freely. There is also a boardwalk around the dunes, so visitors can observe the entire colony. More adventurous types can try cage-diving with great white sharks. This is a relatively new sport in South Africa, and there are several tour companies offering cage-diving packages.

Ride the Rails

Before finishing in South Africa, there are several train rides you should consider. The most well-known is the Blue Train, which has a route between Pretoria and Cape Town. One way, the journey is 27 hours, but that time will be spent in luxury while you enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Blue Train
Take a River Ride

Canoeing and rafting is best during the spring (which lasts from the middle of August to the middle of September), when the desert areas around the rivers come alive in colorful wildflower blooms. Take a trip down the Orange River, which starts in the Drakensberg Mountains and makes its way toward the Atlantic. There are many tour companies offering canoeing and rafting expeditions down the Orange river, most operating out of Richtersveld National Park.

South Africa has a lot of amazing sights to see and great things to do, but you don’t have to end your adventure there. After you’ve had your African adventure, continue your gap year in Sri Lanka and India, then move on to other Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia. Enjoying your year before college in this part of the world is an experience you will never forget!

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Sport Lived who can help students and young people choose a gap year holiday in South Africa or  Sri Lanka

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