South African Blogger Picks: Top Destinations for 2015

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Where are you planning on adventuring to over the next 12 months? Will you be travelling to far off exotic locals or doing some digging and uncovering a few gems closer to home?

We asked a selection of our favourite SA travel bloggers to let you in on the destinations, both at home and overseas, they’re most looking forward to exploring in 2015.

Search flights to Turkey

Lauren and Vaughan at The Travel Manuel

Originally from Cape Town, the travel writing and photographic duo of Vaughan and Lauren want to inspire everyone to leave their homes and explore the corners of our beautiful planet.

Top International Destination: Malaysia

While Thailand and Turkey have definitely captured the hearts of SA travellers for the past few years due to the great specials and beauty within each country, we encourage travellers to head a bit further south to Malaysia.

Have stayed here for the past few months we have come to realise just how spectacular and diverse Malaysia is.

Like Thailand, it also has tropical islands perfect for diving, snorkeling, kayaking and SUPPing; big cities such as Kuala Lumpur for those looking to shop and two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Malacca and Penang. Foodies can feast in the food capital of Penang which has attracted the world’s attention for its Chinese, Malay, Indian and Baba Nyonya delights. A short flight will take you to Borneo in East Malaysia where photographers and animal lovers can marvel the indigenous animals found only in these rainforests such as the orangutan, proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants.

Top SA Destination: Wild Coast

There is no place quite like the Wild Coast – particularly Coffee Bay, Bulungula and Cintsa – where time seems to have stood still and where untouched beaches, rural living and a traditional way of life has been kept in tact. Take some time out and roadtrip in a strong car ( if possible, a 4×4) and head off the beaten track. You’ll be met with the warmest of welcomes from the locals, watch the sunset from hills where livestock roam and float down cool rivers leading all the way to the untamed ocean. We can’t wait to go back and fall in love with that wild part of our country.

Atop a #coffeebay hill…#southafrica #SAroadtrip A photo posted by Lauren (@thetravelmanuel) on

Sam at Drizzle and Dip

7 years ago, Sam left the corporate world behind to focus her life on food creativity. Her photography blog focuses on recipes, food and travel and her first cookbook will be published in March 2015.

Top International Destinations: Italy, Spain, France, Vietnam, Japan, Mexico, Thailand

I was difficult to pick just one as I adore the cuisines of all these countries and food adventuring is one of the most important parts of travel to me. But if I was forced to choose – I would have to say San Sebastian in Spain as it’s currently one of the world’s hottest culinary destinations.

Foodie heaven in San Sebastian, Spain. Photo by Pug Girl
Foodie heaven in San Sebastian, Spain. Photo by Pug Girl

Top SA Destination: Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and has so much to offer any traveller. From wild outdoor adventure types, to the sophisticated who are looking for top quality food, wine and luxury.

A little slide show of my Phone pics of Cape Town

A video posted by Sam Linsell (@drizzleanddip) on

Colleen at colleenblaine.co.za

Colleen is a bush loving, ocean living, wine drinking, olive eating travel writer sharing the world through her words and photography.

Top International Destination: Turkey

Aside from its visual beauty, cultural depth and general affordability, in Turkey you will eat some of the best food (and olives) you’ve ever tasted. The weather is beautiful and the shopping is colourful and unique.

Cart of olives in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Frank Kovalchek
Cart of olives in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Frank Kovalchek

Top SA Destination: Karoo

The Karoo has to be on every South African’s must visit list. Too many of us just drive through and only ever stop over but to go and spend some time, either in the Great Karoo or the Klein Karoo will awaken your soul. Big sky, vast landscapes, quaint tidy towns full of friendly, creative people and surprising culinary delights will make you consider packing up and moving there permanently, but mainly because the Karoo is a truly South African destination.

Homeward bound @Kuilsfontein farm cottages Colesburg. Definitely worth a visit! #travelsouthafrica #meetsouthafrica #karoo A photo posted by Colleen Blaine (@colleenblaine) on

Dawn at The Incidental Tourist

Based between Cape Town and Winelands, Dawn covers both local and international travel, visiting 2-3 new countries each year, and continuing to explore her much-loved Africa.

Top International Destination: Turkey

With direct flights into Istanbul from both Cape Town and Johannesburg Turkey is a vibrant, colourful destination that offers a culture very different from ours, a rich history and an opportunity to be in both Asia and Europe in just one afternoon. There’s shopping, incredible food, beautiful people and culture, turquoise seas and impressive mountains as well as the recommended option of a professional guide to bring it all to life for you.

Top SA Destination: Johannesburg

I believe 2015 will be the year that turns Johannesburg, SA’s city of gold, into a recognised destination and not just a city for tourists to pass through. With urban regeneration, cool hip neighbourhoods, cycle tours in Soweto, artisan markets, roof top bars and street art and fashion to write home about. Getting to know this urban getaway is a must do.

Anje at Going Somewhere Slowly

After 3 years travelling and living abroad, Anje returned to South Africa, but the travel bug bit after just a few months and once again she is on the road.

Top International Destination: Malaysia

Malaysia is a country that most people often miss out on. Travellers usually start the famous banana pancake trail in Thailand and slowly make their way through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Malaysia is not one of the cheapest Southeast Asian countries, but you can still get more bang for your buck in Malaysia than in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea or Singapore.

Malaysia is a country of diversity where the influences from India, China and Indonesia can be seen in everything from food to rituals, architecture and religions. Malaysia has amazing beaches with crystal clear water (especially the islands on the east coast), beautiful highlands (Cameron and Genting), modern architecture (Kuala Lumpur) , historic architecture (Malacca), delectable delicacies (Penang), pristine rain forests (Borneo) and so much more!

One of the things that will attract me to Malaysia in 2015 is the new $150 flight pass from Malaysia’s #1 low cost carrier, Air Asia. With this pass you’ll be able to fly to 10 Destinations in Southeast Asia in one month for only $150. What a sweet deal!

Kapalai Dive Resort, Malaysia. Photo by CCFoodTravel.com
Kapalai Dive Resort, Malaysia. Photo by CCFoodTravel.com

Top SA Destination: Wild Coast

I think the Wild Coast should be one of the top destinations for 2015. When it comes to the Wild Coast it doesn’t matter if you’ve been to the Wild Coast ten times or if it’s your first time – you’ll always uncover something unique and new on the rugged, untamed eastern coastline of South Africa!

Besides the unspoiled nature, wildlife and surf spots; the culture on the Wild Coast is something that every South African should get the chance to experience.

Lubanzi, Wild Coast, South Africa. Photo by fabulousfabs
Lubanzi, Wild Coast, South Africa. Photo by fabulousfabs

Zaid at travpacker.com

After 9 years in the business world, Zaid chucked it all in to travel the world. He reviews destinations, accommodations and transport and gives tips on halal travel.

Top International Destination: Argentina

Even though South African Airways no longer offers direct flights to Argentina this destination remains an attractive option for South Africans who want to experience its bustling capital city and destinations with majestic mountains, glaciers, salt flats and waterfalls. The Argentine peso has devalued much against other currencies which makes Argentina very affordable.

Top SA Destination: Port St Johns

Approximately 4.5 hours drive away from both Durban and East London, Port St Johns (also known as the Jewel of the Wild Coast) offers a myriad of land and water based adventure activities; with plenty of rustic and luxurious accommodation options available. The best time to visit is from April to July if you want to experience the exhilarating Sardine Run, the Greatest Shoal on Earth.

How about that view for your morning coffee??? #southafrica #portstjohns #wildcoast A photo posted by teamizzie (@teamizzie) on

Beatrice at Mademoiselle Nomad

Currently in Cape Town, Beatrice left her home of Mauritius at the tender age of 21, ready to explore the world one country at a time. She is a fan of slow, sophisticated travelling.

Top International Destination: Istanbul

Istanbul offers a variety of beautiful things to discover and explore that are so uniquely enchanting and so different to South Africa. Think the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace to name a few and a tour on the Bosphorus by night will enthrall visitors and make them feel they have been transported to a truly magical world.

With the rand as currency, it’s worth to take a trip to Istanbul as it is close enough to Europe without the crazy exchange rate when one goes shopping. South Africans would be able to indulge in a shopping spree as well as try out the local cuisine without having to save a lifetime.

The flavours, spices and rich cultural aspect of the local cuisine will delight the most gourmet palate among foodies (I tried everything there, believe me!). To round off, I would add that the locals have captured my heart by their hospitable nature. They will make any visitor feel welcomed and don’t be surprised if you get invited for Turkish tea!

Sunset in Istanbul. Photo by Matthias Rhomberg
Sunset in Istanbul. Photo by Matthias Rhomberg

Top SA Destination: Cape Town

Cape Town is rich in many ways and appeals to all kinds of travellers.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie or thrill-seeker, you would definitely enjoy adventure sports such as kite-surfing, sand-boarding, para-gliding and hiking up Table Mountain. For those who like calmer activities, choose between wine tasting just an hour away from Cape Town, enjoy a sunset cruise along some of the world’s finest beaches such as Clifton and Camps Bay.

The central part of the city is edgy, hip and bustling in things to do, amazing eateries to eat at, places to shop, markets to visit. There’s a combination of beaches, mountains, wineries and forest, different types of vegetation (from lush green to fynbos) and different types of scenery (scenic drive along Chapman’s Peak for instance, so different from the colourful Bo-Kaap in the city centre).

Basically, this city offers a myriad of different types of holidays to those who enjoy discovering new, beautiful places. Maybe that’s why I haven’t left!

Sarah at Duff’s Suitcase

Sarah is a freelance travel writer and photographer from Cape Town, South Africa who has been travelling the world for a living for the past six years.

Top International Destination: Turkey

Turkey wins my vote for the top international destination for South Africans: flights are cheap at about R7000, visas are free and you can travel well on a budget. Turkey is amazingly diverse, with ancient ruins, a gorgeous coastline, beautiful mountains and cities full of culture. The people are friendly, the food is amazing and the country is steeped in thousands of years of fascinating history. What more could you want?

  This was definitely worth the 4am wake up!   A photo posted by Sarah Duff (@travellingduff) on

Top SA Destination: Northern Cape

The Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s least visited provinces but it has a lot to offer travellers, from the epic desert landscapes and wildlife of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, canoeing trips down the Orange River, the wide open spaces, charming dorpies and incredible night skies of the Karoo and the annual arts festival AfrikaBurn in April.

Rifqah, Imaan and Jihan at Suitcases and Lattes 

Three Capetonians discovering the best food and sights Cape Town has to offer, as well as documenting their travels around the country and the world.

Top International Destination: Croatia

Croatia gets our vote as it has the best of everything for the average SA Traveler. It has the beautiful turquoise ocean, the warm weather, the party night life, the history and culture we all love and the food in croatia is amazing (a combination of Mediterranean and Italian).

What we loved about Croatia is the fact that traveling around is so easy and it really feels like heaven on earth at an affordable price. With the exchange rate not doing so great, we must say that Croatia is a reasonable European retreat!

Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo by Remus Pereni
Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo by Remus Pereni

Top SA Destination: Cape Town

Born and based here, it makes our decision quite easy! Cape Town has the most beautiful mountain ranges, Atlantic and Indian ocean (best of both), the winelands and all around natural beauty. Cape Town is filled with a spirit that is creative, warm and happy.

Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Christopher Griner
Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Christopher Griner

Thithi at teeteeiswithme.com

Johannesburg-based blogger Thithi writes about all things beauty, fashion and travel.

Top International Destination: Prague

I recently travelled to Prague and it is my pick because: 1. The people are lovely, friendly an warm. 2. The tourist attractions are amazing, beautiful and even more breathtaking than in pictures. 3. The food is amazing! I had the best meals in Prague out of the four city European trip I did. It is also reasonably priced.

  Just arrived in Prague. View from our window #travel   A photo posted by Thithi Nteta (@teeteenteta) on

Top SA Destination: Drakensberg

Drakensberg around Didima is truly one of the most beautiful areas in our country and Didima Camp specifically is gorgeous, peaceful and you really appreciate the best of what South Africa has to offer.

Kate at IndiKate.net

Kate blogs about her travels in South Africa and across the world and all the food, wine, art and things to do she finds along the way.

Top International Destination: Reunion Island.

Reunion Island has been promoted to South Africans heavily over the last year, and having visited myself, can attest to the magic this Indian Ocean Island has. It’s an easy, inexpensive flight and Reunion does not require South Africans to get a visa before visiting. General pricing of food and drinks, especially at supermarkets and local markets, are on par with South African prices and there are tons of interesting and affordable experiences to be had!

  Gorgeous spot outside of my hotel in St Gilles – La Recife. Pretty huh? #GoToReunion   A photo posted by Kate Els (@kate_els) on

Top SA Destination: Overberg

The entire Overberg region in the Western Cape is getting so popular. It offers so many beautiful small towns and countryside getaways coupled with excellent restaurants and artisan farms, that it would be sad not to visit before it gets even more popular. It has the charm of small town country, with all the gorgeous eateries and high-quality boutique hotels and guesthouses. It’s a pleasant drive out of Cape Town and is a great escape from South Africa’s busy cities.

Sunset at The Hermanus Yacht Club… #overberg

A photo posted by Rachel Robinson (@rachel_capetown) on

Fiona at Inspired Living

Based in Cape Town, Inspired Living as a magazine style lifestyle website focusing on Beauty, Decor, Fashion, Food and Travel.

Top International Destination: Turkey

Although I have not been yet myself, I have it on good authority that Turkey is one of the must visit places for 2015. Not only is there so much natural beauty to behold and so many interesting places to explore but it is also a much more affordable holiday destination for South Africans. This alone makes it a definite win in my book.

Top SA Destination: The Garden Route

This would have to be Cape Town and more specifically the Garden Route. The Garden Route is without a doubt one place I would recommend travelers visit when they come to SA! It is such a beautiful area, with lush forests and beautiful beaches; you simply cannot go wrong!

Views @Wilderness Garden Route A photo posted by Inspired Living South Africa (@inspiredlivingsa) on

Meruschka at Mzansi Girl

Meruschka is an African travel activist, experience seeker and tourism thinker. A passionate South African, she is obsessed with sharing everything awesome about her country.

Top International Destinations: Reunion Island, Zanzibar, India, Vietnam

This is a tough one. The SA rand has depreciated heavily against hard currencies this past year and is predicted to stay weak going forward. This will impact SA travellers pockets, and I see South Africans looking to more value for money destinations.

Regionally I think that Zanzibar offers great value for SA travellers, especially since low cost airlines such as Mango.

For long haul destinations I would pick India or Vietnam. However, my top international destination for South Africans for 2015 has to be Reunion Island. This little piece of France in the Indian ocean and only a 3 hour flight away. It is a paradise for adventure and nature lovers. The island has fantastic hiking and also it’s volcano Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active in the world. South Africans don’t know much about the island but Reunion Island Tourism has been investing heavily in the South African market this past year and there are now twice weekly with Air Austral that are much cheaper than they were previously.

Also, South Africans don’t need a visa anymore.

Top SA Destination: Northern Cape

I think that it’s time that South Africans go beyond their traditional destinations and get off the beaten track.

My pick for top SA destination for SA travellers in 2015 is the Northern Cape. Though it’s SA’s largest province, it is also the least visited mainly due to distance from source markets. in 2014, I was luckily to do two short trips to the province, and am convinced that it is one of SA’s hidden gems.

The landscapes, nature and big skies of the Kgalagadi are unparalleled. The Richtersveld stark landscapes are just beautiful, and rafting down the Orange River on the border of SA and Namibia should be on all South African’s bucket list.

Sarah at The South AfriKhan

Born in Canada, Sarah is a freelance writer based in Cape Town. She was previously an editor at Travel + Leisure and Gotham magazines in New York City

Top International Destination: Tanzania

With so many new lodges opening up in little-trafficked regions, Tanzania offers a wealth of new bush experiences even for veteran safari goers.

Top SA Destination: Durban

Durban has so much energy with the new Rivertown district and other neighborhood revival projects.

Playground #streetart in #Glenwood, #Durban   A photo posted by Sarah Khan (@bysarahkhan) on

Featured image by Esmar Abdul Hamid

South African Blogger Picks: Top Destinations for 2015 was last modified: September 7th, 2015 by Kara Segedin
Author: Kara Segedin (256 posts)

Writer, traveller, Tweeter, blogger and part-time adventurer. A kiwi living in London off to explore the world! I can never travel enough!