Capital City Pretoria, Bloemfontein + Cape Town
Population: 54,000,000
Currency: South African rand (R)
Language: 11 languages, including English
Calling Code: +27

A gap year in South Africa holds a huge amount of possibilities. From the stunning natural beauty of the Kruger National Park, through to the vibrant cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, every day will be an adventure when travelling around the southern tip of the African continent. Of course, there’s no need to stick to the traditional South African backpacking trail though, as this country holds a treasure trove of undiscovered gems for the more adventurous visitor.

As most people know, South Africa is also a country with one of the most dramatic modern histories, and one that holds lots of unfounded assumptions for those who haven’t ever been there. The only way to truly understand the history and lives of the South African people is to immerse yourself in their country – something that will dispel a number of myths and illuminate your life forever.

So what would the highlight of this country be? While the people are fantastic and the scenery is stunning, it is something else that steals the limelight: the wildlife. You can’t visit South Africa without taking time to see the Big 5 – elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino – and coming home with a memory card full of spectacular pictures. The Kruger National Park is the most famous tourist destination to see these spectacular beasts in South Africa, but there are other lesser-known enclaves to explore if you want to get away from the tourist trail, such as the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Working in South Africa

Working while on a gap year in South Africa is certainly possible, if you are looking to replenish your finances or try something different. Teaching English is one popular choice for many, plus there’s also often the chance to train and work as a safari guide on one of South Africa’s many stunning game reserves. If getting paid isn’t your main motivation, there are also a huge number of volunteering opportunities in the country, from HIV awareness through to wildlife management.

Where Next?

South Africa isn’t always the first place on everyone’s list when it comes to a round the world trip, but it should be! After all, it is perfectly located between Australia and South America – two of the most popular gap year destinations – and has great air connections. Of course, there’s also the chance to do something a bit different too and head further into Africa, which will be an experience you will never forget. There’s no rush to move on though, as a gap year in South Africa has more than enough to keep you occupied for a long, long time!


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