Joberg is not a very nice place and OR Tambo is a horrible airport. I witnessed crime their first-hand. Other than that, RSA is a beautiful and diverse country. Government employees are very rude in my experience, but the same can definitely be said of dozens of other countries as well.
There is a rapidly widening racial divide in the country that seems to be ready to boil over at some point in the near future. Many of the blacks I talked to want a Mugabe-style land grab and feel they are entitled to everything, and many of the whites I talk to plan on defending their property until the ammunition runs out. South Africans do not "sugar-coat" their social viewpoints and are not politically correct compared to your average American or European; they will always give you their unfiltered assessment of life! Both blacks and whites are very friendly to Americans and will put the country's problems aside to welcome you. In fact, several blacks that were initially rude to us in the cities became instantly friendly and inviting when they figured out we were Americans. So as an American, you with probably get treated better than a South African, lol.
The terrain and climate is similar to parts of Texas and California which makes it a great destination for most of the year. Expansive deserts, rolling grasslands, thick bushveld, great national parks, picturesque coastlines, and interesting historical places make RSA a destination that has a little of everything.
Because of South African law and other circumstances, almost all the hunting is done in high-fenced properties of various sizes. This is a turn-off to many hunters who are accustomed to hunting free-range animals in North America. Texans seem to be less turned off by it because most of Texas is high-fenced or canned hunting. There are areas with huge amounts of land where the high fences are encountered less, but this is a complaint I often hear from fellow hunters. But you can't beat the deals on hunts that South African outfitters offer and they are always willing to tailor hunts to individual needs. South Africa also has the nicest hunting lodges on the continent.
In retrospect, South Africa is cleaner, less poverty stricken, and safer than most of Mexico. Until its open season on white folks in RSA, I will keep going back, although I will try to avoid OR Tambo.
I am, unfortunately, largely in agreement with Desert Dog, and am probably even more pessimistic about South Africa's future. (Though where he got the notion that "most of Texas is high fenced or canned hunting" is beyond me - that is absolute nonsense - most of our hunting does take place on private property, but only a very small percentage of our game rich land is within game fences - as of two years ago, about 1 mil acres of the State's roughly 168 mil acres. Even accounting for some large cities, that is a whole lot of low-fenced Texas which supports the largest whitetail deer hunting industry and culture in the country.)
But I digress. What I am afraid we are witnessing in the RSA is a slow motion Tsunami of tribalism, crime, incompetence, et al which is gradually destroying whatever remains of the twentieth century civilization and culture created by nearly two centuries of the shotgun marriage between Boer stubbornness and English mercantile and economic genius. I see no trajectory that is anywhere but downhill. In the ten years I have been transiting Tambo, it has only grown more corrupt; crime is increasing dramatically across the country; and the flight of educated South Africans to Europe, Australia, and North America is accelerating every year. The Black Townships are every bit the tinderbox now that they were 40 years ago - in some ways more so because of unrealized expectations - and they lap ever deeper around the edges of virtually every city and town in the country. And what, other than white-owned land and businesses are left to buy off that burgeoning discontent? I likely won't live to see the collapse, but I am afraid that something all too much like the rest of sub-Saharan Africa will, before the end of this century, engulf what remains
My first trip to South Africa was overwhelming. We went to Cape Town first, the abject poverty on in the gettos was hard to comprehend coming from USA.
I think the thing that I encountered that I was not expecting was the blatant and fully acceptable racism that white Africans had toward black Africans. I was not expecting it and find it somewhat disturbing and frankly unacceptable.
Love the country and the people. You have some serious political/race problems. I do hope they do not destroy your country but some of the same is happening in the USA I am sorry to say.
My 1st trip was for 16 days with hunting out of Port Elizabeth and time spent in Cape Town with my daughter. Great trip. Brought home 11 animals and shot more for food and fun.
My 2nd trip was this year in May for a month. Hunted a lot and spent time doing other things with the family of the land owner/outfitter/PH I was with. Actually got to understand rugby, net ball, somewhat cricket and many other common SA things. Went to a orange processing plant for overseas export. Went to a game auction which I bet few people from the USA have done. Hunted for meat for the family and crews at night. Did other things also. Bringing home 19 animals and shot more.
Iliwa Safaris has been very good to me. They are great people with real quality animals with real spot and stalk hunting.
Made my first trip to RSA in May of 2016. Arrived on Delta 200 just as night was falling, not much to see out the window. I guess my first impression was I just glad the long flight was over and I was safely on the ground. As I departed the aircraft I was curious about what I might find. I have traveled over most of the US, but as far as international travel, one short trip to Canada was the extent...might as well say no experience.
Once in the terminal I kind of just went with the flow and before I knew it I was in the area to meet my shuttle to Africa Sky Guest House...my accomodations for the night. Was met by Gilbert I believe...super nice gentleman. All I had was my luggage, no rifles to collect as I was renting at camp. Three other hunters from the US and one Aussie shared the shuttle. As we made the short drive conversation was made about the surroundings...i kept it to myself, but I was not impressed in the least by Joburg in the dark that first night. Arrived at Africa Sky and was welcomed and shown a clean and very comfortable room. Went down for dinner and the food was excellent. Staff was excellent. Got a good nights sleep. Breakfast in the morning was good and further friendliness of the staff. My outfitter had sent one of his PH's (Jaco) to pick me up for road transfer to the Free State...he was right on time and we hit it off right away.
In the daylight everything looked much like a city in the US (with a few exceptions) as we drove out of town. Jaco was a wealth of information and answered all of my questions with professionalism. When I arrived I discovered that my electrical adapter was not the correct one and that I had neglected to pack a hair comb. Jaco stopped at a store in a town we were passing thru and I got my first exposure to everyday life in RSA. From what I was seeing the people seemed very nice, and much more courteous than many in the US. We obtained what I needed and moved on. We had to go in a couple of stores for the items and the stores there seemed well stocked and set up basically like any stores of that type in the US.
The countryside reminded me of some areas in the US. I was not however used to seeing some of the types of communities some the black population lived in. The houses in the towns looked basically like those in some parts of the US, except for the walls, gates, bars and razor wire surrounding most. That gave me pause for thought. From what I saw it looks like there is a very wide gap between have and have not.
Arrived at the hunting area near Kimberly. Five star accomodations and staff. Met my outfitter. Super nice guy and we hit it off immediately. After three days there and a successful hunt we moved to Jagerfontein for the remainder. That camp was very nice as well. Besides hunting we also roamed around the countryside some. I went to town with him to run errands and what not. Again the people were friendly and very courteous.
Second trip was earlier this year with same outfitter. Part of this trip was in the Limpopo and then transferred back to the Free State. Again met a lot of nice people and saw more of RSA.
All in all I have enjoyed both trips to RSA immensely...and plan to return next year...hopefully for a full month this time. Will spend most of the time hunting, but will also try and travel in more of the country. Will use the same outfitter for my hunting and as my tour guide.
My honest impression is RSA is a very nice destination for a hunt and although I have only experienced a small part of it I believe it would be a great destination for sightseeing as well. However, I would recommend having a tour guide as I am sure there are some areas that need to be avoided and an experienced guide will be well worth any cost.
I have been to South Africa a number of times. Not recently however.
The one thing about South Africa is the rate of change. It is always different each time I have been there.
1985, was apartheid and whites were still royal game (not to be shot at or exported). Hunted a private ranch outside Gwanda after meeting a few blokes in the local pub. The NK 5th ? Brigade had just left and everyone was still jumpy. Then hitched down to the cape and back to Vic Falls and Harare.
1988, was the era of the boycott with armoured cars in what is now Polokwane and barbed wire everywhere north of the Free State. Travelled with a mate, hitching everwhere. No hunting.
1991, I hitch-hiked with my wife, culling in the Save/Zim with friends then hitching down to Cape town and back.
2008 with my entire family - self drive and shooting near Bloomfontein and then NW of Jo'Burg
2009 just hunting in the grass veldt again and near Ellisras.
1991 (Zim was blooming with whites returning before the 2001 exodus) but South Africa was still 'very stable'.
2008 Poverty had really gained a strangle hold on South Africa and the 'poor white' community were economically suffering. We toured in a borrowed Kombi and got lost in two townships without incident. Once the locals new we were Aussies, we had zero issues and got a lot of help. Anyone who could had left, had. Cape town CBD was mostly black.
It has always been a very friendly country, from rich and poor, white and black, English and Afrikaans. Mind you we realised that the 'ground rules' and social nuances aren't ours and we respected everyone we met.
A smile and a wave got you a long way in South Africa. Unfortunatley the economy will continue to retract untill the black middle class gets a chance to expand.
I've been to SA six times now........... I love the Africaaner volk. They are very much like Texans, friendly, hospitable genuinely nice people. I have made many friends there and a young family has adopted us and we have adopted them right back. Had the oldest girl (15) hear for three weeks over the summer and the wife and I had a ball showing her Texas.
I have been all over the country with the exception of the Cape itself and the West Cape province.
I hate to say it, and think it, but the country and especially the white people in this wonderful country are doomed. The farmer killings......man what can you say? The black politicians are gonna continue robbing the country blind and blaming the issues their theft causes on the whites and it's gonna get worse. There will be much less to steal for the next generation of politicians so they will make it even worse.....
I love your country almost as much as I love mine........there are people there that I care deeply about...........it's a horrible thing.
And I want to be wrong about this more than I have ever wanted to be wrong about anything. Unless something drastic happens pretty quick though....
I think Red Leg is spot on with his assesment of the situation in SA...they took over a jewel but look at it now..
I have only been through OR Tambo a few times but I feel the airport employees are becoming more hostile.....a race issue no doubt...and very cheeky and corrupt they are..
Had a serious bout with the SA police last time. We had to be checked in manually from Maun due to computers down. We travel within Star Alliance and the luggage is always in transit. This time we had to take the luggage out at OR and was refused to check-in at the SA Airways counter.
Of course we should have had transit papers just in case of a situation like this...our fault...but the 3,5 hour hazzle with the police was not nice...managed to get the rifles through at last, took some bribing as can be imagined..
That said, the (black) SA Airways employee really made an effort to help...she was very helpful and polite...so maybe there is hope for things to better after all..
A couple weeks ago I spent 2 days and 2 nights in J'berg, met up with some South Africans for a morning and had lunch. Went to a few gun shops, found 2 books I was after, ate some damn good meals. I suspect the same folks who don't like cities, wouldn't like other major cities anywhere. You have to be aware which can be tough to do after a long flight.
No issues with anyone, cleared gun on my own in 30 minutes or so at SAPS on way in, stayed at City Lodge at airport.
Did have a guy want to "help" me with my gun case right outside SAPS office when on my way to Zimbabwe flight and was getting annoying real fast. Wanted 200R to get my gun on the plane; told him to f@#$ off and got in his face and he disappeared (caused enough commotion SAPS officer came out of that little side room where they check guns). SAPS officers asked for nothing either incoming or outgoing.
JFK was great as always on way home. Changed procedure and took gun case right to ships office for customs 4457 check. Exited plane at 6:55am and was standing at my car door in long term parking at 8:15am. Only screw up was took the Van Wyck and should have taken Cross Island Pkwy to get home......live and learn.
On other trips I have fished around Dullstroom on my own and both times had no issues and would do so again, like the country side there.
As long as the money holds out I hope to be back in SA again, sooner would be better but I spent next years hunt fund in Zim this year.
While in South Africa, most Americans only see the slimmest slice of the country. Whites make up just less than 10% of the population. And while a black middle class has to some extent emerged, the vast majority of blacks are living in conditions little changed since apartheid - except now, there are more of them. The term "township" is rarely used now - but the huge "slums" of squatters living in abject poverty are still there. The only place that I have ever seen anything similar are the Favelas around the major cities of Brazil - another set of tender boxes awaiting a match. On your way out of Johannesburg, few safari operators are likely to take you on a tour of Soweto where 1.2 million still live in conditions unimproved since the sixties. Where one can usually get a small glimpse of the issue is to take a walk down to the wherever the staff is housed the next time you are hunting at a ranch. Unless it is a unusually enlightened operation, those people will be living in conditions little different than the 19th century. In Moz or Zim, they will be more like the 4th century. I brought up this observation over dinner with DSC friends one evening and was admonished that "they certainly seemed happy" .......... I think I read a quote like that in Gone With the Wind.
I don't pretend to know how the RSA "fixes" this. But the issues which led to unrest, violence and over a decade of bush war were not solved by the election of Nelson Mandela. I am very much afraid it will all boil over sooner rather than later. One of the last bones which a newly elected militant government can still throw to the mob will be the seizure of white-owned property. It won't solve anything - indeed, as amply demonstrated in Zim, it will only accelerate the collapse of the economy. But that sort of rational thought will be the last thing on a radical government's agenda.
I love visiting SA as well as anyone else. I am truly comfortable around the Boer culture - their history is so very similar to the American experience that I believe we are programmed from birth to get along. But the Boers are no longer South Africa. The South Africans who hold the future of their country in their hands are the teaming masses on the other side of the fence. I am very much afraid that doesn't bode well at all for the future of either the country or the reason I currently travel there.
My time spent in SA on 3 different safaris was extremely enjoyable. I experienced the beautiful Soutpansberg Mounains and Mopane woodlands, and the variety of game found in the Limpopo province is unrivaled by any place I've been. The great people I was fortunate to meet and befriend were the icing on the cake.
It does sadden me to know the current political climate that exists there. I can only pray for the good people that I have met there, as well as the many others that I have not.
Afternoon, going to South Africa August 22 hunting with wife. will need your help with trophies. what information and how soon do you need it? went to the website and completed the form but seems i have negative energy or something with electronic communication often.
thanks for your help