First Impressions is an interview series featuring some of the most frequent international travellers (travel bloggers!) and what their first impressions were on their very first visit to South Africa.
Claudia Tavani is an Italian travel blogger who writes over at My Adventures Across The World. A former human rights lawyer she left her academic career to follow her true passions and now travels the world in search of incredible hikes, beautiful wildlife, and welcoming cities which she shares on her website to inspire others and help them organize their trips.
So let’s get to know Claudia and her first impressions of South Africa…
When did you first visit South Africa?
I have been to South Africa 3 time. The first time was in 1997. Back then, I had a boyfriend who lived in Durban.
What had you heard about the country before you boarded your flight?
My boyfriend kept telling me how beautiful his country was, how magical and unique. I couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes.
What were you feelings/ emotions about visiting South Africa before leaving home?
I was incredibly excited. I could hardly hold myself together, and spent the weeks before my flight literally counting the days until take off!
What motivated your first visit to SA?
The first time I went, I was motivated to visit my boyfriend. The second and third time (both in 2018!) I just wanted to experience the magic of the country.
How did you feel coming in to land on South African soil?
I don’t really remember how I felt back in 1997. I was probably exhausted, as it was my very first long haul flight ever! But I can tell you what I did during my last visit! As I walked on the finger that took me from the plane to the terminal, I giggled and even filmed myself, as I said “I am in Africa, I am in Africa!” I just couldn’t wait to get out and explore, to breathe the atmosphere, to see the colors and feel the wind swiping my face.
Where did you explore first?
Two hours after landing, I headed straight to Table Mountain. It was a gorgeous afternoon and I was blessed with a fantastic sunset.
What were your first impressions – the smell, sound, sights that struck you?
I couldn’t believe how mountainous Cape Town was! And all the colors, the buzz, the noise of traffic, of music, of people in the streets. It was just a party, and I was ready to join.
What was an experience you had on your first day
I took the cable car to Table Mountain in time for sunset. I walked around, taking photos in various view points, then sat and waited for the sun to set. It was breathtaking.
What was your trip to South Africa like?
During my last trip, in November 2018, I started in Cape Town, exploring the city and the neighboring areas (Cape Point, Boulders’ Beach, Muizenberg). I then went to Stellenbosch, where I indulged in some of the best wine and food I have ever had (and honestly, as an Italian who grew up eating fabulous food and drinking incredible wines, I believe you can trust my opinion!). Then, I drove to Hermanus to admire whales and continued along the Garden Route, where I enjoyed hiking, going to the beach, and breathing the clean air. I flew to Durban, and spent one night in beautiful Umhlanga (I had no idea the beach would be so beautiful) and then continued to Phinda for an incredible 4 days safari.
What was your highlight of your visit to South Africa?
Can I say all of it? I truly enjoyed every single day of my trip. If I have to pick just one, I’d say that watching two cheetahs hunt an impala was probably the most exciting experience.
What were your first impressions of the people of the south?
I immediately felt a bond with them, for I found them to be welcoming, kind, funny. I love how they take life so pragmatically, and enjoy their sense of humor.
What were you feelings about South Africa after your visit?
I honestly fell in love with the country. The morning of the day I had to leave, I felt tearful whenever I saw a group of traditional dancers perform in the street; whenever I heard music; whenever I saw the colors. I just didn’t want to go.
Have you returned to visit South Africa?
I have been to South Africa 3 times. The day after I arrived home after my second trip, I bought another ticket to travel to South Africa again in the next 4 months!
What did you return for?
I just couldn’t get enough of the country, of the colors, the people, the smiles and the vibe.
Would you recommend South Africa to your friends and followers?
Of course! I already have written a few posts, and plan on writing more. In fact, I am thinking of visiting again.
Thanks so much for sharing your first impressions about South Africa with Sawubona. We look forward to welcoming you (and your readers) to our sunny shores soon.
Images: Claudia Tavani