“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Neo Matsei.

We are often so focused on the negative and misconceptions about our own country that we forget to look beyond the obvious and really take time out to simply explore it and acknowledge the beauty it has to offer. The fascinating cultural diversity, the beautiful landscape and scenery, the rich history, the exquisite beaches and wildlife – we’ve got it all within our very own borders (what I call countries within a country).

I’ve visited a few provinces in South Africa (SA) and most recently took a shot’left (derived from the taxi lingo used by commuters when they want to jump off a nearby destination) to Mpumalanga and North West. I discovered how much of my country I’ve only read about, but did not really know. This local trip gave me some time to take a step back from my routine and to rediscover how amazing SA really is.

The best part about travelling locally is that you don’t need to break the bank or start saving years in advance before you go on a “young” getaway. It is even better when you take your squad along – which means you get to cut down on transportation and accommodation costs.

I particularly enjoy going on vacations with friends, as it is an opportunity to form closer bonds. It makes travel much more enjoyable and getting lost less frightening. And besides, no road is too long when you’re in good company.

On my visit to Mpumalanga (where the sun rises), which is best known for its geographically diverse and unbelievably beautiful landmarks, I was accompanied by my three friends. Together we explored the magnificent attractions, such as God’s Window, Blyde River Canyon, faced our fears and went on a 450m zipline at Induna Adventure Centre and went to learn more about the Tsonga culture at Shangana Cultural Village.

My visit to SA’s “hidden treasure”, Sun City in the North West, was the most thrilling adventure. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a time away to relax or an adventure, the legendary Sun City is the place to be, even for those traveling on a tight budget.

This past weekend was another girls’ trip. I got away from the hustle and bustle of Joburg to visit Hartbeespoort, a town in the north of Johannesburg. The weekend was filled with more adventures and much needed pampering.  The highlight of the weekend being the spa day at Mangwanani African Spa and a boat cruise, where we enjoyed the sun set in the massive dam through the surrounding mountains.

Traveling in itself is an adrenaline rush and one needs to chase it while young and able. Like Lorraine Lamola said, “Itchy feet… it’s an actual thing, and you should want it!

It’s worth whatever money or sacrifice of time that may be required and though the vacation may end, the memories last forever. And as Rikus Kok advised, “spend money on experiences and not things”.

I am challenging the wanderlust 20-somethings to take a shot’left and (re)discover South Africa.