A recent visit to South Africa had some eerie similarities to favorite haunts in Northern California:
- Stunning, fog-draped city by the bay (Cape Town vs. San Francisco)
- Vibrant waterfront (Victoria & Albert vs. Fisherman’s Wharf & Ghirardelli);
- Former island prison and museum that are now popular tourist attractions (Robben Island/Apartheid Museum vs. Alcatraz);
- Internationally recognized wine industry (Winelands near Stellenbosch and Franschhoek Valleys vs. Napa Valley and Sonoma County);
- Beautiful coastline (California Coast vs. the “Garden Route” of the Eastern Cape).
But South Africa has at least two major differences from my home state.
First, the troubling history of apartheid, and the 20+ year journey since that system was abolished (I highly recommend the excellent apartheid museum in Johannesburg…).
Second major difference: the animals.
A short hop by plane from major international airports in Johannesburg or Cape Town (followed by a short drive) takes you to expansive game preserves (Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands, Mala Mala and more). On these reserves can see African animals roaming in freedom on thousands of square miles of protected land (poachers beware).
If you want to try going on “safari” but also want to experience culinary, coastal and wine destinations, here you go. (And please do go; South Africa is unlike anyplace else, even Northern California!)