Carl Simmons

New York, New York Travel Agent

South African Encounters

There are many destinations around the world which I would describe as favorites. I have visited the United Arab Emirates five times, and I love Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I have also spent considerable time in South Africa. If pushed to choose one single trip though, I would say it was Cape Town

Cape Town had long been on my bucket list by the time I got there. Fortunately, I had given myself ten days. I could have stayed longer, but it was enough time to have some amazing experiences. I stayed at the Radisson Blu near the waterfront. I took a day trip to the Cape Winelands, where the scenery was as wonderful as the wines. I also went on a three-day safari, it is something I hadn’t expected to enjoy but seeing lions, elephants and other animals so close and in the wild was thrilling.  

Many tourists may visit Africa to go on safari, and I can see why. Nevertheless, I am more of a culture and people-oriented traveler, so I was happy to spend most of my time in Cape Town. There, I visited museums and learned the history of the region and the struggle against apartheid, and everywhere I went, I reached out and tried to have meaningful exchanges with others. 

One of the things I most wanted to do on this trip was to visit with some of the people of one of the townships, which are like the American equivalent of slums. I went with a guide, and it was like no place I had ever seen before. The awful living conditions and the political situation at the time stood in sharp contrast to the spirit of the people, who were among the warmest and friendliest I have ever met.  

Everywhere I went, I met people and saw things that had great significance for me, which makes me want to go back. My encounters with locals have also inspired me to recommend South Africa to others who are in search of worthwhile interpersonal experiences they will not find at home. 

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