Call2Call’s top five student gap year destinations. No.1 - South Africa.
If you’ve got a love of adventure, it makes sense to head to South Africa for your student gap year. It’s one of the most diverse countries on the planet. From modern, sophisticated, westernised cities, to vast, sprawling wildernesses, South Africa has something for everyone.
In most cases, UK residents will not require a visa to visit South Africa if their stay is less than 90 days. Full details of visa and entry requirements can be found here. You’ll also find information on how to minimise the risk of being a victim of crime – something that has given South Africa a degree of notoriety in the past few years.
South Africa is a great winter sun destination. As it’s only 1 – 2 hours ahead of the UK, you can get straight to having fun without worrying about jet lag.
A direct flight from London to Johannesburg takes around 12 hours and a return will set you back anywhere between £500 to £750 – you’ll be able to find a bargain if you’re prepared to shop around online. The time of year will also influence the price, with peak seasons being Christmas and Easter.
The Kruger National Park is home to a stunning array of wildlife, including the ‘Big Five’: rhino, leopard, buffalo, elephant and lion. It’s one thing seeing them staring at David Attenborough on TV or from behind bars in a zoo, but to see these majestic beasts in the wild is something that will stay with you forever.
But the wildlife isn’t just on land. If you’re partial to dipping your toe in the water, head out to see the great white sharks. Diving with these magnificent creatures is truly exhilarating – just make sure you’re in a cage when you do it!
The natural beauty of the wildlife park is contrasted by the modern, bustling, cosmopolitan city of Cape Town. With a backdrop formed by the magnificent Table Mountain, this city is surrounded by stunning, sun drenched beaches. But as modern as the city is, there’s still plenty of history to dig into, from ancient tribal settlements to the recent troubles of apartheid.
Here are a few of the things you should do before you leave the city:
• Visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.
• Tour the townships to gain a good insight into how most of the population of South Africa lives.
• Relax in the glorious Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
• Soak up the sun in Camps Bay, one of Cape Town’s favourite beaches.
• Hike to the top of Table Mountain for an awe-inspiring view.
Indulge your wild side.
If you are looking for something a little bit wacky, how about a spot of ostrich riding? These birds thrive in South Africa’s semi-desert and weighing an average of 120kg, they are more than capable of carrying your average student. Find out how you can take part in this strange avian sport here. They can sprint at up to 43mph though, so hold on tight!
For those of you with a head for heights, why not try sport climbing amongst South Africa’s pristine cliffs and rock faces? And for those of you with a desire for the biggest thrill of all, check out the tallest bungee jumping site in the world, Bloukrans Bridge!
Giving something back.
There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in South Africa; it is your chance to give something back. Whether you’re working on wildlife conservation projects or helping disadvantaged children, it’s your chance to make your stay even more worthwhile. If this is something that you feel passionate about, take a look here.
I think you’ll agree, whatever you’re into, you’ll find something to do in South Africa.