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For South Africans, travelling overseas can sometimes seem like too much hassle – not only is it expensive and far, but applying for a visa can be an admin nightmare. Luckily, there are some pretty amazing places we can visit that don't require a visa, saving you at least some time and money. Here are our top five destinations that you can still visit this summer!
Vibrant, fun and beautiful – Brazil has something for everyone. Give their national dance, samba, a whirl, sip on caipirinhas on the beach or visit the world's largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon. Rio de Janeiro is at its best in December to March (with the renowned Carnival usually taking place in February). Brazil's financial centre, São Paulo, is another popular option, and most tourists stop at both Rio and São Paulo. If you have time, you could also head further north to the Iguazu Falls, which forms the border between Brazil and Argentina (another South American country that doesn't require a visa!).
You don't need to go far to experience something completely unique and exotic. The African continent is rich with diversity – and Kenya is its safari capital. Discover unusual creatures and plants in its nature reserves, including Arabuko Sokeke National Park and Watamu Marine National Park. Or immerse yourself in a new culture in its capital city, Nairobi. Slightly north of Nairobi, in the Great Rift Valley, is where you'll find the nomadic Maasai people. While the dry season (late June to October) is best for viewing the wildlife, November to May is when you'll get to witness Kenya's beautiful lushness – plus, the wet season is also low season, so accommodation will be cheaper.
Anyone who has been to Indonesia will tell you that it's no surprise that readers of Conde Nast Traveller voted it number one in the 2019 Readers' Choice Awards. (Psst... there are more visa-free countries on the list!) Ubud in Bali is one of the top destinations for tourists, but Indonesia has plenty more to offer. Komodo National Park is a must-see for, of course, its Komodo lizards, the world's largest living lizards. Divers and birdwatchers won't want to miss the tropical paradise of Raja Ampat while Bangka Belitung Island is known for its crystal waters and gleaming white sand. While November to March is the wet season, it does mean fewer tourists so you may still be able to find accommodation this late in the year.
This island is a coastal paradise year-round. Besides relaxing on the beach, you'll also want to visit the Black River Gorges National Park, which protects most of Mauritius's remaining rainforest, and the Seven Coloured Earths, a spectacular, multi-coloured rock formation. Adventurers will enjoy a safari or a quad bike tour of the waterfalls and valleys found in the Frederica Nature Reserve. Costs tend to peak mid-summer (January to April), but if you're still looking to get away this year, you'll find the weather is pleasantly warm in December and the prices are marginally lower.
If summer is not your scene, why not escape the African sun and head to Russia's ski slopes? Rosa Khutor offers both skiing and snowboarding, or take a buggy up the mountain and do yoga at an altitude of 2,230 metres. Extreme skiers won't want to miss Cheget, which tilts 45 degrees and offers spectacular views of Russia's highest mountain, Elbrus. Winter sports aren't the only reason to visit Russia. The country is well known for its impressive architecture, ranging from the Winter Palace in St Petersburg to St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. Of course, Russia's opera and ballet are renowned throughout the world, so be sure to check what's on at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow or the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.
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