With its adventurous atmosphere, stunning wildlife, vibrant culture, rich heritage and a varied bouquet of scenic surroundings spanning all geographical landforms, South Africa is easily one of the most multi-sensory countries on the planet. You will feel the heartbeat of nature, hear the call of the wild, experience the touch of warm hospitality and connect with the pulse of the motherland. The country provides a perfect symphony of sights, sounds, flavours, textures and scents to engage you in a transformational experience…writes Puja Gupta.
To help you navigate the Rainbow Nation in the most fulfilling way, we’ve compiled the perfect guide that will delight your five senses — read on:
Bursting with colours, South Africa is one good looking country — a treat for the eyes! From the endless golden beaches in the east to the desert coasts of the west, from the beautiful winelands around Cape Town to the spectacular jagged peaks of the Drakensberg, South Africa has some amazing scenic sights. Two of the most scenic courses in the Rainbow Nation would have to be Chapman’s Peak and The Panorama Route.
Chapman’s Peak on Hout Bay makes for a scenic drive or hike and is famous for a road hacked out of the sheer side of the mountain. As you climb over the Atlantic Ocean, you will see that the cold waters from the west coast meet the warm waters from the east, producing an ever-changing assortment of the prettiest colours you can imagine. The landscape is truly special with deep valleys whose sides are covered with rows of rare plants species — many of them unique to the Cape region, including fynbos, South Africa’s national flower — the King Protea, as well as heathers, reeds and orchids of all shapes, colours and sizes.
Your visit to the Rainbow Nation would be incomplete without a drive along the Panorama route. With some of the most unique and breathtaking scenery, the highlight of the route is the Blyde River Canyon: one of the longest chasms in the world, consisting of spectacular geological shapes and the most stunning scenic views of the country.
Sounds of Serenity
Alive with carnivals, local markets, indigenous performances, enchanting music and global events all through the year, South Africa is filled with a plethora of distinctive sounds. You can hear and feel the thump of African drums reverberating through the air, as you participate in one of South Africa’s famous drum circles. Generally, drumming workshops take place outdoors and are especially enjoyable on warm summer evenings. Creating and sharing music with the locals is what will stay with you for a long time, making the trip truly memorable.
You will also appreciate the sounds of the nation even more when you wake up to the tune of the African Fish Eagle, often known as ‘the voice of Africa’.
Scents of the South African Bush
The musky wildlife scent of the South African bush will stay etched in your memory forever as it holds the promise of an adventurous day in the wild. Did you know that if you smell buttered popcorn, a leopard is probably close by? The scent, that is reminiscent of a movie theatre, signifies a warning sign to other intruders in their territory. On the other hand, swift African antelopes called Impalas, are said to smell like cheese.
Additionally, with scent of braais, curries and native fruits wafting through the streets, no two parts of South Africa smell exactly the same.
Experiencing and sharing-in the food of a different land is a very personal experience. Interestingly, South Africa’s delicious signature dish — the Bunny Chow, has Indian origins. Other delicacies include, traditional African food cooked over an open fire or in a three-legged pot (or potjie), morogo (type of wild spinach), chakalaka (a spicy relish served alongside a main course), and the ubiquitous boerewors roll (a variety of spicy sausage).
Vegetarians will find a wide range of appetizing food options such as veg bobotie (a national dish of South Africa, which is a delicious mixture of curried vegetables, spices, fruits and nuts with a creamy golden topping, that add to its complex flavour), pampoenkoekie (light, fluffy and literally melt in your mouth pumpkin fritters) and pap tart (Pap, also known as mieliepap, is the Afrikaans word for porridge, typically prepared with corn-maize).
South African food trails are hugely popular among visitors. In South Africa, a typical food trail would include a few must-have experiences like wine tasting, Bunny Chow sampling, coffee tasting at a local roaster, walking tours of food gardens, visits to ethical butcheries, spice shops and quaint chocolate factories.
Soak in Luxury and Wellness
South Africa is one of the top relaxation destinations. There are numerous spas and wellness centres in every Province that offer the ultimate unwinding experience for those looking to immerse themselves in luxury. Every wellness centre has a variety of unique spa treatments that include the incredible medicinal powers of indigenous plants, flowers and herbs in their restorative therapies. You will also have access to soothing massages, brightening facials, aromatherapy, mud baths and flotation tanks with healing salts.
Luxury safari lodges in the Rainbow Nation are especially are known for their impeccably opulent spas and peaceful wellness centres. Thanda Safari in Kwa-Zulu Natal is popular for its signature Marula balm massage. This treatment uses a mix of shea butter and African marula oil, that can be combined with a scrub for the full Thanda signature indulgence treatment.