Despite the fact that South Africans have been through a tumultuous year, with load shedding, a plummeting Rand, political unrest, and now a crippling drought – we clearly have not lost our wanderlust and thirst for adventure. South Africans have a penchant for hopping into their cars and exploring different towns and cities, and they are particularly enamoured with the country’s unique coastal towns and seaside destinations. As research done by SafariNow, a leading travel booking and e-commerce company, has revealed, many South Africans enjoy traveling on a whim – taking short road trips over 2-3 days, with little advance planning.
“The local market clearly prefers self-driving holidays, as it allows people to be spontaneous and flexible, and it also enables travelers to discover new corners of their own country (at affordable prices),” explains Tom Williams, COO at SafariNow.
He points out that people from Gauteng are the most active travelers across all provinces, making up 80% of the visitors to KwaZulu-Natal alone. People from the Western Cape come in at a distant second, and tend to stay closer to home – favouring Hermanus, Langebaan and Wilderness.
According to Williams, people are undoubtedly looking to keep costs down and are opting for more affordable and family-friendly destinations this December. He notes that 18 out of the top 20 most popular towns are on the coast, with the only non-coastal towns being Bela Bela in Limpopo and Hazyview in Mpumalanga (a popular access point to the Kruger National Park).
Topping the list is Margate on the South coast, followed by Ballito and Umhlanga on the North coast. Proving that cost is indeed a deciding factor, Margate is by far the cheapest option, with an average price per person/per night of R357. Ballito and Umhlanga are more expensive options with an average per person/per night price of R720 and R790 respectively. Unsurprisingly, Margate and Ballito are five times more popular than Camps Bay – which has an average per person/per night price topping R1000. Local travelers also love to visit Knysna, Mossel Bay, Blouberg and Plettenberg Bay – underscoring the fact that the Western Cape is a true traveler’s haven and one of the country’s most beautiful regions. Looking beyond our borders, Ponta do Ouro in Mozambique and Swakopmund in Namibia are popular self-driving destinations for adventure-hungry South Africans.
“While our research highlights that most South Africans are willing to pile into their cars and explore the countryside over December, I believe that, on the whole, we are still quite cautious (and perhaps lazy) during the rest of the year,” says Williams. “Despite the fact that most people openly state they would like to travel more frequently, they pass up on opportunities to discover new towns and cities over weekends and public holidays.”
Indeed, many families tend to plan and save up for one big holiday at year-end, overlooking the fact that short and inexpensive trips are also a great way to unwind and see what the country has on offer.
“Most South Africans are just a few hours away from diverse and breathtaking landscapes – so why not take advantage and satisfy that wanderlust more often?”