Categorized | South Africa, Travel Africa

Travel South Africa: Colleen of Write Around The World

Travel South Africa

TraveLinkSites is very excited to talk to Colleen of Write Around The World today. Born and bred in South Africa this lady is a bonafide expert and shares with us all the things she loves about a country she keeps going back to. Kiri and Will have always wanted to go here, so notepads at the ready!

1.Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in South Africa?

Sure, my name is Colleen.  Last year, after getting ill with stress and burnout, I gave up my corporate job, sold all my possessions and decided that travelling the world was a better use of my time.

I am the creator, editor, writer, photographer and general tea maker for Write Around The World which shares travel stories, costs, tips and tricks from my travels around the world.

I was born and grew up in South Africa.  Even though I spend my time travelling around the world now, I somehow always return.  I have been on safaris, dived with sharks, jumped off cliffs, eaten crocodile, stroked lion cubs, abseiled off mountains, avoided snakes and generally travelled around the country quite extensively.

2. What made you choose this country and what were your first impressions?

I didn’t choose it, it chose me!  I was born in Johannesburg way back in the 1970’s.  I left in 1997 and now return roughly every 2 years to eat the steak and biltong, dive in the sea, eat bunny chow, get a quick suntan, wiggle my toes in south african beach sand and generally catch up with my family.

Travel South Africa

3. How much money can someone travel around South Africa for? What are the greatest expenses? What things are relatively cheap?

Travel in South Africa is still quite cheap but you do have to shop around because the prices have increased a lot in the last 10 years.  Good deals can still be found so make sure you do your research.

Steak, alcohol, diving, adventure activities and food are cheap.  Eating seafood at places such as ‘Simply Fish’ or ‘Ocean Basket’ is an absolute bargain.  They often have deal such as “Eat as many prawns as you want” for just €12.

Travel South Africa

Gold and hostels are cheap (starting at €10 per night…uhm, the hostels, not the gold).
Organised safaris, flying within the country and some clothing shops are expensive, e.g. Edgars, Truworths.  Find cheaper clothes outlets such as Mr Price and you’ll pick up real bargains which would be worth taking an empty suitcase for.

Most public transport is not really recommended so hire yourself a car but remember to shop around first.

4. What is the local cuisine like? 

I love the food of South Africa.  It is a real mixture of cultures.  You can eat ‘pap and sous’ which has an Afrikaans influence. It’s like a thick floury mashed potato-like corn meal with tomato/onion gravy eaten with barbecues (or braais as they are called there); you can eat bunny chow which comes from the Indian influence which is half a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with spicy beef or vegetable curry and then eaten with your fingers; you can eat milktart which has an Afrikaans influence and could be likened to some kind of milk custard tart; you can eat ‘samp and beans’ which has a Zulu influence and is dried corn kernels and beans which have been soaked, cooked and made into a stodgy, yummy meal (it’s best when curried).  On the beachfronts, you can often buy chunks of pineapple dusted with curry powder – try it, it’s awesome.

If you enjoy the outdoors, you can eat braais almost everywhere you go and it’s a wonderful social event. Lots of drinking, laughing and eating.

Try the dried raw meat called biltong; the hard biscuit-like rusks for dunking in your coffee or tea; the dried pressed fruit pieces covered in sugar; the dried sausage… Argh!! The list goes on and on, I’m starting to get hungry.

I tend not to pine for foods when in other countries.  I love trying new foods and dishes wherever I go.  Just last month, I tried pigs intestine sausage in France (I wouldn’t recommend it!)

Travel South Africa

5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling in South Africa and why?

If you are a runner, the Comrades Marathon is VERY well supported in South Africa.  Think 90km of ascents and descents, running either from Durban on the coast to Pietermaritzburg inland or the other way around (they alternate every year).  Supporters line the streets with portable barbecues, shout their encouragement armed with beers and other refreshments and loads of parties happen afterwards (although I’m sure runners are all too tired to take part). It’s a really great atmosphere.  Sadly, I haven’t run the race but have taken part in the support as often as I could. Amazingly the first runner comes in at just over 5 hours!

The Gunston 500 surfing contest, which is now called the ‘Mr Price Pro’, has moved from Durban’s North Beach to Ballito. This is held annually and is a great beach event. Sunshine, ice-cream, tanned guys and girls and parties on the beach are always a good thing, right?

One of the country’s main horse-racing events, The Durban July, is held at Greyville Race Course every July. It is South Africa’s attempt at a British Ascot.  Fast horses, money exchanges, beautiful dresses and crazy hats. Bet if you dare…

The Reed Dance in Swaziland is quite a spectacle.  It is a dance to symbolise the virgins dancing for the Swaziland King.

The Prickly Pear festival, held in Uitenhage, is usually held end of Feb or early March.  You can enjoy traditional food such as (ginger beer, pancakes, jams, a spit roast, potjiekos (food cooked in a cast iron pot), bunny chow and other delights.

There is a Jazz Festival in Cape Town during March.

Splashy Fen is South Africa’s version of Woodstock and happens in the Drakensburg around April each year. (Although saying that, there is another festival called The Woodstock Festival in September)

The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June is the biggest and most well-known festival.  Usually around 10 days of theatre, music, dancing, song, film and more.

Various wine festivals take place throughout the year.

The Hermanus Whale festival in September celebrates the journey of the Southern Right Whale to the Cape south coast to calf in the bays.

There are just too many to mention them all.

Travel South Africa

Colleen jumping off Oribi Gorge Canyon! Brave soul...

6. What is your favourite thing about travelling this country? What is your least favourite thing?

My favourite thing about travelling in South Africa is the scenery.  The wide open spaces, the towering mountain ranges, the blue sea and their gorgeous bays make travelling an absolute pleasure.  The people are friendly and helpful.

I also love the fact that you are never far from seeing some amazing wildlife.  South Africa is full of wildlife parks and while they won’t all have the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion), they will have enough to keep you entertained.

My least favourite thing is the lack of motorside stops.  They do have them but they are quite far apart so this means you have to drive off into towns and villages if you need to refuel or get a bite to eat (this could be a good or a bad thing!) 

Oh, and mosquitos are a pain .

Travel South Africa

7. What things do you focus on most when you blog about this country? Why do you choose these things?

I try to focus on the positives.  The country has been through a lot and in a lot of ways, still has a long way to go.  But good changes can be seen every time I go back and they are mostly encouraging.  I would blog about how the new South Africa looks, how it acts, the great food you can eat, the activities you can take part it and show others what a truly great country it can be to visit.

8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around South Africa without?

Mosquito repellant!!!  Not because of malaria (although you do have to watch yourself in the North Eastern side of the country) but just because mosquitos love the taste of me and the bites turn really nasty.  Not everyone has this problem though…

Can I add another one?  Please?  My camera just HAS to go everywhere with me too. 

9. What kind of response have you had to your blogs about South Africa? What post had the most interest?

By far the post with the most hits was when I jumped off Oribi Gorge cliff for a bungee/swing. It’s classed as the highest gorge swing in the world and was easily the most frightening thing I have ever done…but I absolutely loved it.  It was a pretty scenic drive to get there, exciting to get kitted up and view the jump, terrifying to jump and then just stunningly beautiful when I was hoisted back up and got to view the gorge from a unique perspective.  (I also got wet when the wind changed direction and the waterfall cascaded over me, but I still loved it).

Because South Africa has a lot of outdoor activities, I think the adventure here appealed to a lot of people and hopefully I convinced a few to experience it for themselves.  

10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone told you before you started travelling in South Africa what would it be?

Since I grew up there, my message to others would be “Don’t be afraid, get out there and experience it for yourself.  Be wise and careful and you’ll be just fine.” 

A huge thank you to Colleen for a real in-depth interview! We now want to travel South Africa even more…

Go over to Write Around The World for more from Colleen and say hello to her on Twitter too.

If you’d like an interview, contact us

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4 Responses to “Travel South Africa: Colleen of Write Around The World”

  1. Johan Horak says:

    Well I am a South African living in Cape Town at a small and historical village called Simon’s Town. I have been around South Africa and southern Africa. I just love the place.

    But if I were a non South African planning a trip to South Africa and I had to read what Colleen had to say then I’ll book a long holiday.

    Well done Colleen on taking a great leap of faith. I am impressed.

    Well done to travel-link-sites for the great interview. You asked great and relevant questions.

    Have fun
    Johan Horak recently posted..Why Choose Cape Town in South Africa as a holiday destination?My Profile

    • Colleen says:

      Hi Johan
      I’m so sorry, for some reason I have only just read your reply now. Thank you so much for your kind comments.

      I’m actually living in Thailand right now but guess what? I’m heading back to South Africa AGAIN this March and April :-)

      Hope you’re doing ok there in Simon’s Town :-)
      Colleen recently posted..Getting to know Hat YaiMy Profile


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  2. […] Colleen, great to have you back again!  For those who didn’t read your first interview, could you briefly introduce yourself and your […]

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