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Everything That Makes South Africa An Amazing Vacation Destination

South Africa is slowly but surely becoming one of the most vacation0-worthy countries in the world. 

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I think it’s safe to say that when most people start thinking about where to go on vacation, South Africa is not very high on their list! Trust me. The country is amazing and more and more people are starting to realize it. So get in on the fun and visit the country before the tourism gets completely out of hand!

Here are the best things South Africa has to offer.

THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE

If you can actually swing it, South Africa is best experienced by traveling to different areas of the country as it has all kinds of fascinatingly different landscapes and sights. Cape Town specifically offers crystal clear ocean waters and warm, sandy beaches, a bustling and exciting city, and breathtaking mountains just a short drive away. While the Kruger National Park offers more of a nature adventure with plenty of wild animals, wide plains, and even tropical forests.

HIKING TRAILS

If you’re an avid hiker, South Africa has to be on your must-visit list. The trails there are just incredible. Once again, Cape Town offers a bunch of great options that are easily accessible. But some of the other great hiking trails in South Africa include those at Lions Head and Table Mountain, which even has an awesome cable car that takes you to the top without the troubles of actually walking anywhere.

THE CLIMATE

More often than not, picking a vacation destination is all about climate. And I’m here to tell you, South Africa does not disappoint in that department! Not to mention, it has the massive bonus of being in the Southern Hemisphere. So it’s seasons are flipped from ours, making it the perfect place to escape any potentially brutal winter you may be subject to wherever you live.

But even the South African winter is pretty mild. For the most part, you’ll get to enjoy warm days and cool nights no matter what time of year you find yourself there.

THEY HAVE PENGUINS!

You heard me right. South Africa has penguins. Who doesn’t love penguins?! But so many people just assume you either have to go to a crowded zoo or to the dang North Pole to actually see some in person. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, people! There are literally wild penguins living on the beaches of Cape Town and you can literally swim with them. I mean… come on!

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

We already mentioned the beauty of Kruger National Park earlier in this article, but we’re going to mention it again. This park is really something to see. It’s actually the largest game reserve in the entire continent of Africa! The park itself covers roughly 7,500 square miles which, for reference, is bigger than New Jersey! You can see all kinds of amazing animals there too, including buffalo, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and lions.

PLENTY OF ACTIVITIES FOR ADRENALINE JUNKIES

South Africa is certainly more than just beautiful scenery and nice weather. There’s also plenty of amazing activities for the adrenaline junkie in you! You can do a little cage diving and swim the with sharks, go horseback riding in the beautiful wetlands, drop in for a little bungee jumping in Tsitsikamma, or hike the great Northern Drakensberg Traverse. Heck, I might need to go to South Africa more than a few times just get all this stuff in.

LUXURIOUS (AND AFFORDABLE) ACCOMMODATIONS

As tourism in South Africa has steadily increased over the last decade or so, plenty of new and amazing luxury hotels have gone up in Cape Town, among other cities. But here’s the great part: they’re not even that expensive! Mostly because the US dollar goes a long way in the country. The best cheap yet luxurious hotel in South Africa is easily 21 Nettleton. It sits up on a rolling hill so the views from every room’s balcony are truly incredible.

WINE COUNTRY 2.0

I know, I know… there’s only one wine country! And it’s in California. But I’m here to tell you: South Africa is a truly awesome vacation destination for wine lovers! They really make delicious wine there and it is incredibly cheap! You can get a really nice bottle for 4 or 5 bucks. California can’t beat those prices, people!

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Travel

“Shoulder Season” Is Officially In Effect

Here are some easy ways that you can take advantage of the sneakily travel-friendly season known as “shoulder season”.

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Look, Fall is nice and all, but I think we’re all mourning the end of Summer at least a little bit. Maybe it’s because we know Winter is right around the corner. But one thing many people ignore or at least forget about is… shoulder season! What’s shoulder season, you ask? Well, it’s that beautiful time every year where travel is cheap and the crowds are light. So basically… you have some extra shoulder room!

It’s really one of the best times of year to travel. Airlines and hotels will drop their prices to make sure they still are bringing in money. And many of the more popular tourist destinations see their lowest tourist population of the year. Here are some easy ways that you can take advantage of this sneakily travel-friendly season.

BUY THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS YOU’LL EVER BUY

Many travel experts have studied the trends, and the commonly accepted theory is that flights are so cheap this time of year because peak travel season has just ended as kids return to school and people start going into hiding so they can financially survive the holidays. Because of this, many airlines will lower their costs, sometimes dramatically, just to ensure their planes are full until travel picks up again around Christmas.

So, for example, you could get a roundtrip flight to Portland, Oregon for $300, one to Philadelphia for $350, or one to the quickly-growing-in-popularity Medellin, Columbia for $500. You’re not going to find better deals than that! Take advantage, people.

SPECIAL OFFERS AND HOTEL PACKAGES

For the same reasons airlines drop their prices to make sure their planes are full, many hotels and resorts will offer crazy packages and special offers to make sure as many of their rooms as possible are full of travelers. Beyond just the lowest rates of the year, this can include anything from free drinks, free spa services, and even free day excursions. Free stuff?! On vacation no less?! Where do I sign?

RENTALS BY OWNER ARE NO EXCEPTION

If you love to travel but prefer renting your accommodations through Air BnB or VRBO, then you’re in luck. Because they follow suit when it comes to shoulder season and often lower their rates as well. The same logic applies: they’d rather have someone renting out their place for a low rate than no one renting out their place at all. October is definitely the best month to find the lowest rates, but September can see them as well.

PUT IN A LITTLE WORK TO MAXIMIZE YOUR SAVINGS

While all these deals are out there and you can find some of them fairly easily, it’s still worth it to do some research, get creative, and maximize your savings by finding the best possible deals on anything and everything. Because despite how many places consider the Fall their slow season, there are still places out there that don’t see much of a dip during the Fall. So don’t assume you’re getting a deal on a hotel room just because you’re booking for October. Use multiple sources, compare prices, and be patient!

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Travel

How To Avoid Tourist Traps

Falling into tourist traps is easier than you might think and people all over the globe are more than happy to take your money. 

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Traveling isn’t rocket science, but it can get pretty complicated fast, so it’s best to be prepared for everything. Falling into tourist traps is easier than you might think and people all over the globe are more than happy to take your money. 

Tourist traps are ancillary businesses usually surrounding an already busy attraction that offer no actual insight or advantage. Basically, they are ways to con tourists into spending money they do not need to spend.

Avoiding these traps will make your vacation more enjoyable and save you money in the long run. Wasting money while on vacation is a bummer, so we devised this easy plan to avoid tourist traps.

RESEARCH

What’s the best defense against anything, research? I was a boy scout and we were taught to always be prepared and this lesson has served me well so far. Search the internet for the attractions and destinations you wish to visit and find out what you should and shouldn’t pay for. Always ask locals and your hotel concierge for recommendations, so you can avoid traps and touristy situations.

WHERE ARE THE LOCALS?

First thing I do when I get to an attraction is look for locals because they don’t get scammed and rarely fall for tourist traps. You just don’t see locals in Times Square in NY or at the Acropolis in Athens, they avoid these popular destinations like the plague. If you see locals at a restaurant, chances are the place is good, that is the perfect litmus test.

STAY AWAY FROM THE TOURIST ZONES

Where you book your accommodations will weigh heavily on your vacation experience. Touristy zones tend to be more expensive, have less overall charm and generally are not realistic examples of the city. Why stay in a tourist trap when you can experience the city like a local and truly get the most out of your travel?

This is why I love using shared economy services like Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) because they give you a more authentic adventure.

MULTIPLE TRANSLATIONS

If you see something advertised using multiple languages (more than 2) then chances are it is a trap. These are translated multiple times so it has the widest range of people that will see it. It’s like fishing, the more bait you put out, the better your chances are of attracting a bite.

BARKING DOGS BITE

I’m not talking about literal dogs, instead, I’m talking about people outside of attractions or restaurants barking or yelling to attract customers. Think about it, when you go to your favorite restaurant at home, s there a guy out front yelling about deals? Of course not, because that is a crazy thing and an obvious sign that you are falling into a trap.

COUNTRIES THAT RELY ON TOURISM

If a country solely relies on tourist dollars the chances of you getting an authentic experience are pretty low. These countries, usually Caribbean and Asian are quickly becoming tourist traps and losing their own identity. The global tourism economy is eroding countries character and uniqueness. 

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Destinations

5 Silver Lake Restaurants Every Food Lover Needs to Try

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Silver Lake, the aggressively cool hipster hideout a hop, skip, and a jump north of Downtown LA, is filled with things to see and do. There is any number of must-see landmarks, laid-back cafés, and trendy bars to explore. But for the food lover, the real draw of Silver Lake is the amazing selection of eateries it offers.

From casual and cozy spots to high-end establishments, there’s something for everyone here. Whether you’re in town for the weekend or a long-time Angeleno, one thing’s for sure, if you’re a food lover in Los Angeles, you won’t want to miss these restaurants.

1. Little Pine

Little Pine restaurant was once owned by Moby, and predictably, serves exclusively vegan fare. That doesn’t mean it’s boring though. You won’t find endless variations of raw salads and green juices on the menu here. Little pine is dedicated to serving up innovative and most of all hearty vegan food that even meat-eaters will love.

2. Boo’s Philly

If you’re looking for something that’s decidedly not vegan, but nonetheless delicious, then Boo’s Philly is definitely the place for you. Serving up a small menu of impressively large-sized subs, this causal little deli is a must-visit if you’re seeking the most authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks this side of the liberty bell. Their hoagies have to be seen to be believed, and luckily, you can check them out at this browse link.

3. Botanica Restaurant and Market

For something quintessentially Californian, it doesn’t get much better than Botanica Restaurant and Market. Owned by two former food critics, the plates are healthy, organic, locally-sourced, and beautifully prepared. Using only the finest produce, and with an impressive selection of natural wine, this laid-back spot is great for a casual brunch or dinner with friends.

4. Alimento

Alimento is a Silver Lake staple serving up some of the most delicious Italian food you’ve ever eaten. Headed up by James Beard-nominated chef Zach Pollack, Alimento is a quaint and cozy little bistro with amazing wines and pasta to die for. It’s one of the pricier options on this list, but we’re sure you’ll find it’s most definitely worth every cent.

5. Ceviche Project

Although slightly niche, Ceviche Project definitely deserves a place on a list of food to love in Silver Lake. This tiny little restaurant contains an extensive and inspiring menu of Latin American inspired seafood dishes. Critics and everyday patrons alike rave about the amazing flavor combinations and fresh ingredients produced by chef Octavio Olivas. A great choice for an intimate dinner or date night.

Food for the Food Lover

In order to fully explore all of the best food in Silver Lake, it would take much more than 500 words and a much longer list. Silver Lake’s many restaurants are characterized by their attention to detail, fresh ingredients, and creative menus. What we’re saying is, if you’re a food lover, it’s not a bad place to be.

For more reviews and tips on where to find the best food, check out the rest of our guides.

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