Can you hear the call of wanderlust? Is your heart feeling an urge to set out for a beautiful land where nature unfolds at its own pace, the waves break at the golden shores, the wildlife roams around freely and the people greets with warmth? Then my friend, you surely need to take a break and set out for an adventure of a lifetime in South Africa.
Known as the 'Rainbow Nation', this country has a rich past and over the decades, it has grown to be one of the fastest developing countries in Africa. Off late, South Africa has become a favorite destination for gap year travelers, and in case you are still wondering why you should also visit this gorgeous country - here are 7 reasons to clear your doubts.
1. You're not like any other tourist - and that feeling would be worth enjoying
While everyone (we are talking about the other travelers) around you will have an itinerary and schedule to follow, trying to cover as much as they can within their travel span, you'll have the privilege of going slow, absorbing all that comes your way. That's one of the most amazing things of a gap year - you are not bound by time, and you can explore as much as wish to. Starting from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape, you can visit all the famous tourist spots and also the hidden gems of the country. Go for long drives and road trips on the Garden Route, go for hikes and stay in camps, attend cookery classes, volunteer and learn, go surfing - remember that this time is never gonna come back, so you must live to the fullest.
2. It'll be an incredible opportunity to do some meaningful social work
There can be nothing better than volunteering for a project in order to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged ones. South Africa, in spite of the recent developments, still has a huge chunk of people living under poor conditions and don't have access to the basic necessities of life - including education & healthcare. Being a volunteer, you can work in schools, childcare centers or medical clinics, providing as much help as you can so that these people can have a better life.
Not only will it give you an immense sense of satisfaction, but you'll also get to feel the warmth of the people as well as their unconditional love. Having an international work experience will also enhance your career and broaden your social network.
3. Work for the well being of the wildlife
To speak the truth, no journey to South Africa is complete without seeing all of the Big 5 – lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and rhinos. While anyone can take a wildlife safari at the Kruger National Park while traveling in South Africa, not many will get the opportunity to spend a considerable time there and work for the wildlife. It's only the backpackers and gap year travelers who don't stick to any agenda and can live amidst the wilderness, getting up close and personal with the animals while taking care of them.
Volunteering for the wildlife in South Africa has become a popular gap year activity and it'll be an absolutely enriching experience for you, as you'll get to learn more about the flora & fauna of the region, monitor the animals, carry out anti-poaching activities etc.
4. Pursue your passion for wildlife photography
A gap year is a perfect time for anyone to follow their heart and pursue their passion. If you have a zeal for photography and wish to learn the tricks and hacks to polish your skills, then there can be no better option other than going for a proper wildlife photography course during your journey in South Africa. Make the most of your time and walk through the wilderness of South Africa to hone in on your flair for photography.
5. Live your dreams and learn to surf
If 'learning how to surf' has been there on your checklist since forever, then you can just go for it and fulfill your dreams! South Africa has some world-class beaches providing ample opportunities to learn how to surf and remember, surfing isn't a leisure here - it's more than that. People take surfing very seriously, and if you join a course, be sure that you'll learn the skills like a pro! Learning the art of this water sport will also teach you certain life lessons - you'll know that the ocean doesn't care about you, and you that you can't fight with the force of nature. You'll learn to be patient and how to ride the waves efficiently.
6. Feel the chills which diving with sharks
Yeah, you read that right! Have you ever thought how amazing it would be to go for shark-cage diving? This is something that you just can't afford to miss! South Africa is undoubtedly the best place in the world to dive with sharks. The best place is Gansbaai, a town located at a distance of approx 160 km from Cape Town. Gansbaai is the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets the warmer Indian Ocean and it is the perfect launching point to dive with Great White Sharks. So gear up for the ultimate adventurous experience during your gap year in South Africa.
7. Go for a quick trip to Swaziland
This is perhaps one of the best things you'll get to do! Swaziland is a country that is often missed out by the tourists, in spite of being breathtakingly beautiful. A small landlocked country squeezed between Mozambique and South Africa, Swaziland has some lush green reserves with diverse wildlife and pristine valleys inhabited by the indigenous people. Go for white water rafting at the Usutu River, learn the Swazi language and work for a couple of weeks here with the community folks - you'll surely be touched by the generosity of the people, and learn how some societies are still far far away from the lights of modernity & development.
I'm sure that you are now thinking about being there at the beaches watching the sun set and wondering about the colors of dusk! If you’ve been to South Africa before, then you can share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
If there's anything more that you need to know about your gap year experience in South Africa or want more information about the tours & projects available there, you can drop us a mail at [email protected]