South Africa series whets appetites for travel's return

by Steve Hartridge

South Africa has been starring on UK TV screens this year as the colourful and vibrant host of the ITV series South Africa with Gregg Wallace.

The six shows saw the presenter visit destinations across the country, going on safari in Machala Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, visiting Cape Town and the Whale Coast in the Western Cape, Augrabies Falls in the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape, Johannesburg in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, known as the Garden Province.

Alongside a series of food adventures - on screen the well-known foodie is introduced to one of South Africa’s iconic dishes, a pike or potjiekos, which is a stew cooked in a three-legged iron pot over an open fire for many hours, with kudu the meat of choice - Wallace also came face to face with South Africa's abundant wildlife, such as nervously 'enjoying' a shark-cage adventure with great whites, joining a bush vet to help to care for leopards and visiting a sanctuary for African penguins.

Wallace was enthusiastic about the range of experiences on offer and how far the pound stretches.

"Please go! Let me tell you, from a food and wine point of view, you will not get that quality of food and wine at that price anywhere. A top-end meal, three courses, in the smartest of hotels will cost you about £20. Go out and get a really good curry for about £3. And the wines are just exceptional," he said.

"You won't understand a barbecue until you've eaten with the South Africans around a braai. I hate barbecues in the UK as they're always put together by people who don't cook.

"Out there, you won't believe the quality. I saw someone baking a cake on a barbecue. They have got to be seen to be believed. They've got bits of lamb's liver, on their braais that are wrapped in fat, called skilpadjies, that with a cold beer are absolutely stunning.

"And a safari is just a magical thing and the winelands in South Africa are just beautiful. You can go into Soweto and look at life carrying on in a very different way than you are used to. I would say that if you've got the time, please also go up and visit the Kalahari."

Meanwhile, South African Airways (SAA) this week announced that it has cancelled all international flights until at least October 30.

The routes affected are London-Heathrow, John F. Kennedy New York, Frankfurt, Germany and Perth.

South Africa is currently on the UK's 'Red List', which means British or Irish nationals who have visited in the 10 days previous to their arrival back in the UK will have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

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