Rediscovering South Africa amidst a global pandemic

(South African Tourism, Corona Virus, Hidden Gems of KZN)

We tend to romanticise foreign lands instead of noticing the beauty that’s right in front of us.

Nomcebo Langa

I’ve travelled the world with a burning sense of wanderlust and although my country has so much to offer, I’ve yet to see it through the eyes of a tourist.

That is, until very recently.

South Africa is a uniquely beautiful country with vast mountain ranges, breathtaking coastlines and lush wine lands. The flora and fauna is second to none and I’m incredibly thankful that I get to call this place home.

All this being said, I can’t actually talk about South African tourism in 2020 without mentioning the elephant in the room. That’s right, I’m talking about Miss ‘Rona. The Corona Virus has wreaked havoc on pretty much everything and the tourism industry is no exception.

How Corona Virus has affected South African Tourism

With South Africa going into a nation-wide lockdown in March of this year, everything tourism related came to a halt.

Borders were closed, airlines were grounded, hotels were empty and restaurants were shut down. We’d all become shut-ins.

As we progressed through the various levels of lockdown, restrictions began to ease and establishments started opening back up again but not before the devastating effects of the closures were felt throughout the tourism industry.

Effects such as mass retrenchments from major companies, the complete shut down of small businesses all over the country and billions in losses reported for the industry as a whole.

We’ve finally gotten to a point where almost everything is operational in a very different way.

Tourism has undergone some changes to accommodate the new restrictions and regulations.

The border finally opened on the 1st of October and we’ve already welcomed the first of hopefully many international visitors for our summer season.

Hotels and restaurants are open to the public but have to adhere to strict health regulations such as wearing masks and social distancing.

In order to adhere to these changes employees have gone through intense training. Tour guides and travel agencies are up and running again too!

Throughout this transitional period, the government has tried to aid the industry through relief funds but will it be enough to help the industry recover and reach the ambitious goals they set out to reach? With all this doom and gloom, it’s no wonder my burning sense of wanderlust was barely a spark. I couldn’t go anywhere for what seemed like the longest time.

Hidden Gems of the South Coast of KZN

I’ve always known that South Africa is special but when everything it has to offer is readily available I tend to forget just how special my country is. I think everyone does this.

We tend to romanticise foreign lands instead of noticing the beauty that’s right in front of us.

So I guess one good thing that’s come of this whole pandemic is being able to rediscover the beauty of my land and explore the hidden gems and local treasures that South Africa has to offer.

I’m from a tiny coastal town on the south coast – the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province. I’m embarrassed to admit that even though I’ve lived here all my life, I’ve barely explored it. The pandemic really has given me a chance to fix that.

I’ve made a little “bucket list” of places I need to either revisit or visit for the first time here on the coast before jetting off to my next big adventure. Here are some of the hidden gems on the South Coast of KZN, South Africa.

Leopard Rock

This is one of my favourite spots on the coast. The restaurant at Leopard Rock is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9am to 4pm and they offer generous portions of delicious food at an affordable price, all with the breathtaking views of Oribi Gorge. Once you’re done with your meal, head out to the lookout point near the restaurant parking lot to enjoy the view one last time. This is also an epic photo spot!

Red Desert Nature Reserve

The smallest desert in the world is a stone’s throw away from Port Edward and I didn’t even know it existed until the pandemic hit. This is high on my list and it only costs R30 to visit this internationally protected heritage site!

Clearwater Trails

Near the Red Desert Nature Reserve are the Clearwater Trails which are perfect for an afternoon stroll. The nearby coffee shop offers coffee and treats perfect for a little afternoon tea. The granadilla cheesecake is my absolute favourite.

Wild 5 Adventures

For the adrenaline junkies, there’s the Wild 5 Adventures. Offering heart racing activities like Wild Abseiling, the Wild Swing, the Suspension bridge and even Wild Water rafting!

Kayak Tours

I can’t believe it took me flying 2 hours to a different part of the country to go on a kayak trip when I could literally drive 20 minutes to have the incredible experience.

There are quite a few lagoons along the coast that are perfect for kayak tours, canoeing and paddle boat rides. Kayak Port Shepstone offers kayak tours and Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP)! I can’t wait to spend summer days soaking up some sun out on the water.

Do see the pattern emerging? All my hidden gems are either outdoor activities or have a nature element to them and it’s probably because I’ve been stuck inside for months and it’s finally summer time and I’m allowed to go outside again! Yay! Travel has changed drastically and even though my sense of wanderlust went through a bit of a dip, the flame has been re-ignited at the possibilities that await me right here in my own province!

Nomcebo (Nomsi) Langa @nomadicnomsi

About Nomsi

Nomsi is a young South African Traveller from a small coastal town with big travel dreams. From mountains to deep blue seas – she wants to see it all.

Follow her instagram @nomadicnomsi for pictures to fuel your wanderlust and stop by her blog for helpful tips on how to make the most of your time away, travel itineraries, slow travel and more.


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