Sunday

Explore the rainbow nation on a budget


For foreign tourists in search of the ultimate safari vacation, South Africa’s currency now makes for very shiny prospects. Now, travellers’ dollars, Euros, and pounds will buy them so much more in South Africa. South Africa’s currency, called the rand, has gone into freefall. It has plummeted between 22% and 32% against major currencies over the past 12 months, and is tipped to remain on the back foot for some time to come according to financial experts.



Southern coastal view from Table Mountain, South Africa. Pic credit: rwozimek@flickr

Savvy travellers, who are always on the lookout for such prospects, are lapping up the opportunity to experience South Africa’s “world in one country” at an impressive discount. The cherry on the top is that the plunge has come at the most opportune time, as tourists can now visit Cape Town – named as the world’s top place to visit in 2014 by The New York Times – for the peak southern hemisphere summer season, armed with hard currency. So whatever it is that you fancy doing this summer on your vacation – clutching shopping bags, quaffing wine, or lounging on pristine beaches – a visit to South Africa definitely promises more value for your money.

Adding to South Africa’s value plan is that all your vacation cost will be in rands, rather than the U.S. dollars preferred by many other African countries. This means that, while South Africa has become cheaper due to its weakened currency, prices in neighbouring African countries like Botswana and Zambia have remained the same.

Precisely because of this reason, the recent Post Office Long Haul Report mentioned South Africa as the third best value destination – after Bali and Sri Lanka. And travellers are making the most of that extra value. The latest figures from South African Tourism – the country’s official tourism board – show that foreign tourists are spending on average two days longer in South Africa than they used to three years ago. Due to the rand’s devaluation, these “extra” two days are essentially for free because the tourists are spending the same amount of dollars or pounds as they used to three years ago.

Mandlakazi Skefile, CEO of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, affirms the increase in tourism, as she said, “Port Elizabeth, also known as The Bay or the Friendly City, is seeing increasing numbers of foreign visitors. These are incredible results indicating growth in the industry.”

For first time travellers, apart from being affordable, South Africa offers a plethora of diverse experiences. Go almost anywhere and you will find the Rainbow Nation celebrating all its African and immigrant cultures. For nature lovers, the country’s scenic wonders are legendary. From Table Mountain to God’s Window, the mountains, forests, coasts and deserts are most likely to feast your eye and lift your spirit.

The route between Cape Town and the Eastern Cape offers a huge variety of interesting diversions and adventurous excursions: from the coastline with its thickly-forested mountains, wild seas and picturesque towns, to the arty communities, fruit orchards and history-laden quirky villages of the dusty Karoo. Along the way, there are tree-top forest canopy tours, the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee jump, boutique wine farms and historical sites related to South Africa’s frontier wars and colonial-era settlers to explore.

With over 21 national parks, eight World Heritage Sites, 3,500 kilometres of pristine coastline, a phenomenal climate and awesome adventures ranging from shark-diving to surfing, historic trails to wine tasting, South Africa is one of the world’s top destinations for valiant travellers to discover everything they’re looking for and more.

How would you like to make the most of this favorable South Africa exchange rate?