12 photos that make you desperately fall in love with South Africa

I would write a song, if only I could. I would write how passionate I am in love with South Africa. South Africa fills my mind continually, and to a certain extent even intrusively. I don’t mind. The song would be about how my heart beats faster every time I talk about it, every time I book a plane trip, every time the plane lands at Cape Town airport, and every time I whisper my first greeting and hand over my passport on arrival at immigration. It would be about how hard it is to resist kissing the officers, and how hard it is not to cry out loud of joy to be back in South Africa (Heavens, just imagine I would really do this).

The song would describe that South Africa is as dramatic and eccentric as it is magical. Her sky is of the bluest blue, her rain is made of the biggest drops (if there is rain), her ocean smells like a mixture of a thick crust of salt and tangy kelp, her space is endless, her mountains, big and small, have the most fantastic formations, the grass in the savanna grows high and waves softly in the wind, her sand in the desert is of an earthy red and her lions are fearless (to me they look fearless) ...

The song would also be a warning. The lyrics would tell you that if you visit once, you are going to be suffering forever. South Africa is a place that inflicts damage. Every time you leave her, you should take into account that you are going to miss her ... every single day ... desperately ... for the rest of your life. I call it love. I am always gonna love South Africa. At first, I wanted to call this article “12 photos that show how South Africa inflicts damage onto the world” but a trusted adviser said this wouldn’t sound too magical after all …

Just the thought alone about writing a love song about South Africa puts a spring in my step, but I leave it at that, I am not Prince, David Bowie, The Cure, Barry White, Abba, Sade, Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston or Elvis … you better look at these photos …

Sunset over the ocean next to a pointed hill on shore under a fluffy cloud..

Chapman’s Peak Drive - Chappies

Chapman’s Peak Drive, also known by its nickname Chappies, was built from 1915 to 1922. It connects Hout Bay with Noordhoek, and you have to drive through a whopping 114 curves.

End of the 1990s (maybe it was at the beginning of the new millennium) it was closed for its frequent rockfalls; one incident even caused a death. During one summer there were field interviewers, asking drivers how much they were willing to pay if it would become a toll road. I suggested ZAR 50 (for a single-use/car). Over the years the road was given a massive facelift, including catch-nets, and it is now open as a toll road, the fee is ZAR 40 (for a single-use/car).

In this pic see the Sentinel, that landmark mountain at the entrance to Hout Bay. I remember years and years ago it was up for sale, yes really. And believe it or not soon after there were reports someone bought it for ZAR 10 million, at the same time there were also rumours that it hasn’t been sold, so I have no idea who owns this mountain. Whatever, it looks stunning. 

Two penguins rubbing each other's beaks.

Simon's Town - South Africa at her best 

There are several penguin sites in South Africa, these two live, together with over 2500 other birds, on Boulders Beach in Simon's Town. They used to be known as Jackass Penguins (that had to do with these trumpet-donkey-like sounds they make) but the name African Penguin has now been adopted. They started breeding at this site in the 1980s. An anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

African penguins will remain with a single partner for many years, and I truly believe that these two are very much in love.

Rooftops of colourful beach houses built on a slope right on the ocean shore.

Smitswinkel Bay - living the life in South Africa

Imagine living like this. Yes please. Have you ever fallen asleep to the sound of crashing waves? Have you ever woken up in the morning to see the sun rising over the ocean? To me it is a beat that brings about a state of complete serenity and a spectacle that works to keep me upbeat and cheery (you know the rays in sunshine improve our sense of well-being by stimulating the production of vitamin D).

Silhouettes of trees and cars under a soft orange-purple sunset.

Silhouettes of trees at a deep orange sunrise.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - last wilderness of South Africa

Days in the African bush are filled with lots of magical things. There is excitement and outstanding beauty at pretty much every corner. In the very late afternoon, when the blue hour starts, and when the sky is painted blue and lilac and the clouds go from white to a soft pink-orange, and the sky gets dark, I already begin to miss the day. I literally can hardly wait for the new day to begin. And then the stars come out. Being in the open under an African night sky is a totally mesmerising experience. I secretly wish the night will never end. If there wouldn't be the sunrise, it is also pretty perfect.

Sunrise. The alarm goes at 5.30am. After a cup of Rooibos tea, heavenly in the slightly cool chill of the morning, it is time to jump into the Landy. This photo is taken at 6.31am (already on the road for half an hour). Sunrise. Have I mentioned how lucky I am to be in love with South Africa?

Turquoise water, a white soft sand beach under an endless blue sky.
West Coast - No Words Needed

The front of a small bookshop with an open entrance door and a bicycle decorated with a flower basket, parked under a sash window.
Stellenbosch - One of the prettiest towns

A brown glass bottle decorated with pink dried flowers hangs from a string of parcel ribbon, in front of white fabric.
South African Style

A wooden pier lined by a white railing leading into the harbour.
Cape Town Waterfront

Harbour basin with dock houses, colourful houses, and a white cloud hovering above a large flat mountain in the background.
Cape Town Waterfront

Boulders and shells on the white sand of a wild and untouched beach by the ocean.
West Coast Untouched

A wide and flat sand track under a massive wide blue sky sporting fluffy clouds.
Kgalagadi Transfontier Park

South Africa will put her spell on you. Just go and visit. Before you start planning read How to Easily Prepare a Self-Drive Safari in Southern Africa and 48 books to read before you visit South Africa.

From Berlin with love