We here at Yahoo Travel are firm believers in having real, live guides — especially when you’re traveling to a country you have never visited before. Humans enhance your trip more than a book or website ever could. They will tell you stories and help you brainstorm activities that you never dreamed were possible. They’ll show you the insider spots that you would never know to look for without a local.
With that in mind, we want to introduce you to some of our favorite guides in South Africa — a vast and varied country with wildlife, culture, booze and so much more to offer.
1. Theo Pieters
A former police officer, and now a veritable “fixer” and director with Specialised Operations and Risk Consultants (SOARCON), Theo was invaluable to me during my South Africa trip. Acting not only as a bodyguard (which I needed in downtown Johannesburg), he was my driver, guide, and, eventually, friend. It is because of Theo that I learned about the Adrenaline Driving School, where I learned how to do a J turn and how to flee from from hijackers (should the occasion arise) in the Ultimate Driving Course.
SOARCON introduced me to Vincent Barkas of Protrack Anti Poaching, the wonders of biltong and wors and … almost everything else.
Though he’s based in Johannesburg, Theo travels all over the country, so you can ask him to meet you anywhere. He will also tell you fun stories about the times he did security for Celine Dion and John Legend.
2. Dimi Roro
Want to know the real ins and outs of Soweto and Johannesburg? Dimi is your lady. Thanks to her, I got to see the shebeen queen of Soweto, the Muthi healer, and Faraday Market. She’s fun as heck and she knows everybody. As a journalist, she also knows how to get almost anything done.
3. David Forrest
A historian, David, who works with the South African Tourism Board, is a must if you are interested in South Africa’s past. He knows almost everything about anything historical and is delightful company. Based in Johannesburg, David can travel all over the country and is happy to meet you wherever you go and suggest itineraries.
4. Velile Ndlumbini
Located on the Eastern Cape, Velile is a managing director of Imonti Tours. A lot of people skip the Eastern Cape when they go to South Africa, and that, my friends, is a huge mistake. Not only is it jaw-droppingly beautiful, but it is steeped in history. It’s where Nelson Mandela was born and raised, and Port Elizabeth is like stepping back in time. If you do make it to the Eastern Cape, Velile is your man. Trust.
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