Last year I promised myself that I would make at least one big international trip a year. South Africa had been on my wish list since the 2010 World Cup and again when Nelson Mandela died in December 2013. Days later, travel photographer Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere.com announced his third annual travel photography tour would take place in South Africa in May. Gary is a G Adventures Wanderer in Residence, and I had been following his blog for a few years. I felt the universe was speaking to me!
I immediately begin to making plans to attend starting with my budget and the gear I would need. (I posted my gear and packing list on my tumblr page). From what I heard from friends and my own research I knew South Africa was a great place to make good on my promise for several reasons.
- Budget wise, once you get there prices are affordable as the USD to rand was at least 1:9 when I went. I even found the airfare reasonable (under $1300 USD).
- South Africa is a multiethnic society with 11 recognized languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. Most South Africans are multilingual often with English being the third or fourth language. I figured with English being prominent in the areas I was visiting the language gap would be minimal.
- Traveling in May meant that the climate would be their winter (May-July). A common misnomer is that Africa is hot all the time. South Africa’s average May temperature has 66°F highs and 48°F lows. That’s similar to the early spring weather in Maryland. And of course the temperatures vary depending on where you are in the country.
- And most importantly I WANTED TO VISIT THE MOTHERLAND! If I go nowhere else in my lifetime I was going to Africa.