So what is a “Sho’t Left” exactly?
According to South African Tourism Info, “SA Tourism’s Sho’t Left campaign aims to promote a culture of local holiday travel, targeting ordinary South Africans and their families who have a desire to see more of the country but don’t know where to go. “Sho’t Left” is derived from everyday South African “taxi lingo”. A commuter wanting a ride to a destination close by will say “Sho’t left, driva” – meaning, I want to jump off just around the corner.”
Sho’t Left is challenging South Africans to see their world differently, wherever they go…
Here are 25 reasons why you should take a Sho’t Left in South Africa.
#1 Unique Experiences
South Africa offers unique experiences that are affordable, cultural, educational and fun for the whole family! Go strawberry picking in George , blend and bottle your own wine on a beautiful wine estate in the Western Cape or
walk next to a mighty elephant just outside of Knysna.
Update: This blog post was written many moons ago during a time when I thought there was nothing wrong with animal interactions; thanks to dozens of conservation giants in South Africa I’ve had the opportunity to get educated (and shocked) – as I still do from day to day – to understand why walking, petting or interacting with wild animals should never be done. Don’t do what I did in the photo below, instead, read this: The Elephant in the Room, Hands off our Wildlife and Animal Rights in Tourism.
Wild animals are not their for our entertainment!
There are adventure related activities around every corner of every province. Go up a hot air balloon at Magaliesburg, or enjoy a beautiful view of Cape Town while paragliding, get your crazy on with
shark cage diving, bungee jumping at Bloukrans or swing like Tarzan from tree to tree on a canopy tour. Take a Sho’t Left for adventure!
Update: Is Shark Cage Diving okay? The debate is never-ending but after seeing how it is done I think, no. Even though there are companies who are doing it the “responsible way”, I still see it as a way of teasing sharks.
If it is pap, bunny chow, Thai, Indian, milk tart or Chinese that you fancy… you’ll find something to tickle every single taste bud! Stop in Sedgefield at the Wurst Express food truck for the best currywurst or indulge in a Gourmet Boerie in Cape Town! Take a Sho’t Left and eat!
Update: Wurst Express is now operating from Knysna! Different town but still the same great taste!
#4 Farm Stalls
Never have I ever seen so many unique farm stalls than in South Africa. These farm stalls each have their own individual special story and style – visit Padlangs in Patensie just before you enter the beautiful Baviaanskloof or make a breakfast stop at Daggaboer, 20km outside of Cradock and enjoy freshly baked roosterkoek and homemade ginger beer. Take a Sho’t Left and stop at every farm stall!
South Africa is truly blessed with beautiful sunsets – you can watch the sun set from the comfort of your own stoep, or go to thousands of special places to see how the sun fills the sky with orange and red brush strokes. Drive out to Gamtoos River Mouth and see how the sun says goodbye just behind the new wind farms outside of Humansdorp, or watch as it goes down behind a thorn tree in Kruger National Park or go the Karoo and be mesmerised! Take a Sho’t Left and witness the sun’s magic!
We are indeed the rainbow nation…South Africa exudes diversity at any place, at any given time. So why not hop into your car and drive to the nearest music festival and listen to some sakkie-sakkie and Kwaito, go from the coast to the Karoo, from a Shozoloza Meyl train to cycling in Soweto, from braai to bobotie. Take a Sho’t Left into diversity.
Mild winters and amazing sunny summers – we have the best weather in South Africa. Nothing too extreme, nothing too much; except for the occasional heat wave, thunder- or rain storm. Practice your ski skills at Tiffendell, bake in the sun on one of South Africa’s pristine beaches or do the rain dance in the Kalahari. Take a Sho’t Left in the sun, wind, snow or rain!
#8 Endless Roads
One of the best things about going on a road trip and taking a Sho’t Left is the endless stretches of road in South Africa. Kilometers of absolutely nothing but stunning views of landscapes and nature. Take a Sho’t Left and just drive.
As South Africans we don’t do Safaris, no, we just climb into our car, pack a few snacks and do the game drives ourselves – and what a privilege that is! Addo National Park is on the doorstep of Port Elizabeth and offers not only the Big 5, but the Big 7 (lion, buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard, whale and the great white shark)! Nothing is more fun than watching a herd of elephants playing, bathing and rolling in the mud. Take a Sho’t Left and get wild!
#10 Hiking Trails
Bear Grylls calls it survival, South Africans just call it ‘a walk in the park’. This country boasts of hundreds of hiking trails, from mild to wild. If you fancy just strolling for a day for a few kilometers look no further than the Drakensberg’s hiking trails, or try something a bit longer like the 7-day Outeniqua Hiking Trail, the 5-day Otter Trail or the mystical 6-day Amatola Trail. Take a Sho’t Left and start walking!
Sand castles, sun tan lotion, big umbrellas, lifeguards, surfboards and more… South Africa’s coastline sparkles with 41 Blue Flag beaches and it is the place to be when the sun is out! Overnight at the affordable Afrovibe Backpackers in Sedgefield and choose from their variety of beach activities! Take a Sho’t Left and get wet!
If history and heritage is your thing, rest assured, you will definitely find something old, dusty and with a wonderful inspiring story around every corner. There are 8 UNESCO World Heritage sights in South Africa and the hundreds of museums range from geology, history, the biological sciences and arts, to mining, agriculture, forestry and many other disciplines. Take a Sho’t Left and get cultured!
#13 Small Towns
If you step outside of the big metropolitan cities you’ll find some hidden gems. There are dozens of small towns in South Africa, each with their own uniqueness and special story. Go back in time and visit the beautiful town of Nieu-Bethesda where you can relive the 1900s or experience the artistic flair of Darling, grab a bag of bokkoms in Paternoster or feel the magic in the mystical Hogsback forest. Take a Sho’t Left and get lost.
Put on your dancing shoes and go clubbing in Hatfield, grab a bite and cocktail in Long Street, Cape Town and sit down – street-cafe-style – at one of the restaurants in Richmond Hill, Port Elizabeth. Follow the vibe, east to west, north to south, interact, dance, eat, meet and greet! Take a Sho’t Left and feel the vibe!
There are thousands of magnificent views all around South Africa – from Johannesburg’s skyline, the crashing waves in Wilderness, to the lowveld, Signal Hill, Hole in the Wall, Map of Africa, Table Mountain and some more spectacular views waiting for your jaw to drop with awe! Take a Sho’t Left and stare!
The longest wine route is in South Africa, some of the best wines originate from our country, wine estates have their own distinctive atmosphere…do you really need any other reason to go on a wine tour? Take a wine-route-drive, do some wine tasting, get on the hop on, hop off wine tram at Franschoek or visit the sun-drenched Kalahari and explore some of the best wines on the Orange River Wine Route! Take a Sho’t Left and have a glass of wine (but don’t drink and drive)!
#17 Arts & Crafts
South Africans are a bunch of crafty geniuses! Beads, paint, glass, mosaic, vinyl, needlework, knitting, photography, pewter, quilting and the list goes on and on. It is so much fun shopping at craft markets; you will always see something extra-ordinary, special and unique! Take a Sho’t Left and spoil yourself!
Did you study some isiXhosa or Afrikaans in high school or SeSotho at University? We are privileged to have eleven different languages in our country and the opportunity to learn these languages! Stop at the next street and talk to your South African brother and sister, teach them and learn from them! Take a Sho’t Left and get talking!
#19 Blue Skies and a Starry Starry Night
Get out of the city and away from the light pollution, go to a quiet place, throw out a blankie, open your flask and fill a cup with steaming hot coffee and look up. Star gazing is popular in South Africa – astronomers from all over the world come to South Africa to enjoy the night’s magnificent view! Spend a night in the Karoo and look up, spot a few satellites and shooting stars or visit Sutherland’s Observatory where you will find the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. Take a Sho’t Left and make a wish upon a star!
There are numerous festivals in South Africa – from music and literature to art, farming and wildlife. Some of the biggest festivals are Grahamstown’s National Art Festival, KKNK in Oudtshoorn, the Pink Loerie and Oyster Festival in Knysna, Woodstock Music Festival and AfrikaBurn. Take a Sho’t Left and get festive.
Do you want to have a fancy holiday or are you traveling on a tiny shoestring budget? When it comes to travelling in South Africa there is something for every wallet – go camping from only R60 p.p, go backpacking and stay in a dormitory or a rondawel… or go all out and spend a few nights in The Palace of The Lost City (Sun City) or have your own butler at Noetzie Castle. No matter what your budget; you will find a place to sleep, a thing to do and something to eat! Take a Sho’t Left that suits you!
We have 11 different languages – we have 11 different cultures – we have 11 different heritages – we have 11 different countries in one! Take a Sho’t Left and experience it all!
#23 Lesotho & Swaziland
We are so fortunate to have two countries within South Africa! Lesotho and Swaziland is a different African experience than the South African-African experience! Visit the picturesque Lesotho and get the adrenalin pumping with adventure activities or go to Swaziland and experience their rich culture and tradition! Take a Sho’t Left with your passport.
Now you can get all your fresh produce fresh from the farm – or rather fresh from the farmers’ markets! Grab a basket and do your weekly shopping at one of the many farmers’ market near you! A few favourite markets are: Sedgefield Market, Outeniqua Market and Four Ways Farmers’ Market. Take a Sho’t Left and get it fresh!
#25 Easily Accessible
Ja, okay fine, petrol is expensive, but at least you can find an interesting place very close to your home! Our roads are sometimes-full-of-potholes, sometimes-okay and sometimes-well-maintained, but over all it is easily accessible. Cut the cost in half and take a friend, save some more and throw in two more friends. Take a Sho’t Left, go on, just do it!
Nothing’s more fun than a Sho’t Left!
Go on, see South Africa differently, explore the towns, the forests and the beaches. Take a friend, take the family. Pack some lunch and have a few road tunes ready. Fill up your tank and check the tyres…because nothing’s more fun than a Sho’t Left. Go on, do it!