10 Visa-free & Visa-on-arrival countries South Africans can visit

10 Visa-free & Visa-on-arrival countries South Africans can visit

Those with a spirit for adventure often find that they have developed a taste for international travelling; unfortunately travels are often affected by drawn out Visa applications and to be fair not everyone plans a trip months in advance, often people want to compare flights, hop on a plane and be on their way.

Below are ten Visa-Free and Visa-On-Arrival countries that are a must visit for those who have a palate for the international and a flair for excitement.

Brazil

  • Visa Type: Free
  • Visa-Free Days: 90

Better known as the ultimate South American holiday destination, Brazil holds position as the 5th largest country in the world with a population of 200 million people. That is 200 million of the friendliest people you will ever meet! It’s vast population is divided into several different cultures, each with its own, religious groups, language and culinary palate.

When visiting Brazil you are literally spoilt for choice from amazing beaches to, hiking trails, the caves in Chapada Diamantina and The Iguazu Falls. All though The Iguazu Falls can be viewed from both Argentina and Brazil, only the Brazilian side allows visitors to take a scenic helicopter ride, which I may add is highly recommended!

They say that in Brazil the food fuels the soul, here eating out takes on literal meaning, the streets are lined with food stalls all ready to serve up a taste of local cuisine. In essence a walk through the streets of Brazil could end up taking you on a culinary adventure of a lifetime.

Rio de Janeiro the capital city of Brazil is in a league of its own. Rio is land marked by the large statue of Christ with his arms stretched out over the city, described by many as one of the most majestic scenes you will ever see. If there has to be a single reason to visit Brazil it simply has to be Carnaval! Carnaval takes place in Rio de Janeiro and is known to be one of the biggest celebrations in the world. The famous Carnaval festival takes place over a five day period where the streets are filled with colourful floats, parades and dancers, locals and visitors all join in the festivities which is said to stretch on beyond the five days. All and all Brazil is filled with excitement and splendour year round.

Israel

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  • Visa Type: Free
  • Visa-Free Days: 90

Israel is home to some of the best known historic sites, some of which date back to biblical times! In essence Israel itself was the forging ground for some of the most prominent religious faiths i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Muslim. Israel is the ultimate destination for those seeking religious enlightenment and is said to be the sigh of the holy temple of King Solomon himself!

The Dome of the Rock is said to have been built on the ruins of Solomon’s temple, which is also consider by many Muslims to be the very spot where in biblical times the sacrifice of Isaac was to take place. Although the Dome of the Rock has set the pace for the Muslim Faith it takes a back seat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is said to be the most important mosque in Jerusalem and a must see for all visitors.

For those not seeking enlightenment, Israel holds many other attractions such as the Dead Sea, where you cannot sink! This natural phenomena has astonished visitors for decades, in league with the Dead Sea is the Sea of Galilee, the Negev Desert and Timna Park.

Although Israel is considered to be the Holy Land it has no shortage of exiting festivals. In June they play host to the Sunbeat Music Festival where international and home grown musicians entertain onlookers for hours on end. Not to be outdone is the Passover Festival in Israel. This festival takes place in celebration of the Israelites that were freed from Egyptian slavery. Other festivals include Zorba the Buddha Festival, The Knight Festival in the Citadel of Akko and the Mega Party Jerusalem to name but a few. One thing is for sure Israel has something to offer visitors any month of the year!

Thailand

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  • Visa Type: Free

Thailand is a tropical paradise known for its spectacular beaches, ancient ruins, temples and royal palaces. The capital city of Bangkok is a bustling metropolis where modern and traditional meets. Apart from its formal restaurant travellers may sample authentic Thai cuisine from many outdoor food markets. It bares mentioning that there is no better way to experience Thai culture than to visit these food markets.

Krabi province is the home of the most spectacular beaches in Thailand. They have taken adventure one step further and offer visitors the opportunity to spend a day on one of the many isolated islands that surround the main land. Keep in mind these islands can only be accessed by boat, so it is highly recommended that you book your seat.

Railay offers some of the most spectacular rock-climbing spots in Thailand. Railay’s towering limestone cliffs are perfect for the novice and experienced climber. Amongst many outdoor events travellers may also experience white-water rafting, snorkelling, elephant trekking, exploring caves and kayaking.

Thailand is an ancient culture with some of the most spectacular temples in the world, made even more extravagant by its architecture, which by the way cannot be seen anywhere else in the world! Thailand plays home to some of the most beautiful Buddah statues. The largest and most revered being the solid gold Buddah statue in Wat Traimit, however taking a selfie with one of these statues is probably not a good idea as it is viewed as disrespectful.

For those seeking some fun and entertainment Thailand offers several festivals which include:

Phi Ta Khon Festival

The festival is held in the Dan Sai district in honour of the locals’ belief in spirits and ghosts.

Lopburi Monkey Party

During the monkey festival 35 Chinese tables are put out in different locations covered in treats for the hundreds of crab eating Macaques monkeys that dominate the region.

Aquatic Phansa Festival

Buddhist partake in boat procession whereby boats are colourfully decorated and proceed to deliver giant candles to their local temple. The belief behind this festival is so that the Buddhist monks may use the candles during the time of the rains retreat, which is said to last three months.

Ireland

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  • Visa Type: Free

The Emerald Isle has many attractions that must be seen. No visit will be complete without visiting the rain soaked Aran Islands or the windswept cliffs of Moher. For those interested in ancient history Ireland is the perfect place. Sites such as Hill of Tara or Newgrage are perfect spots for those interested in the ancient history. Ireland is well known for its natural beauty, visit the county of Kerry or the Giant’s Causeway, you will not be disappointed. However Ireland has more to offer than natural beauty, Dublin has many attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse or Trinity College.

The most important historic sites in Ireland are located at Bru na Boinne in County Meath. It has the enormous megalithic ancient passage tombs which are graves of Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange. These tombs predate the ancient Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge, making them a must see for all visitors

The Rind of Kerry is well known for its spectacular gardens, romantic castles, colourful towns and ancient monuments. As a matter of fact the regions are the subject of many films, songs and poetry. For those looking to be inspired The Rind of Kerry is the place to be!

Not to be outdone The Cliffs of Moher offer the most breathtaking feature on the western coastline of Ireland. These cliffs are so spectacular that they attract more than a million visitors each year.

The Gaint’s Causeway near the town of Bushmills in County Antrim consists of approximately 40 000 basalt columns.  The locals believe that the columns are the result of a titanic bout between two giants however scientist has established that the formations were created by a massive volcanic eruption 60 million years ago.

Argentina

#LosPumasVsSpringboks #Salta #GreatMatch

A photo posted by Lourdes Perez Antich (@lourdesperezantich) on

  • Visa Type: Free
  • Visa-Free Days: 90

Argentina is one of the largest countries in South America best known for its beef consumption, pampas and tango. Few realise that it is home to the highest mountain peak in South America, the Aconcagua. The most obvious reason to visit Argentina is Buenos Aires, Latin Americas most fascinating capital. It is the place to go if you wish to stroll the streets or watch a rugby match.

Speaking of rugby, Argentina is the host nation for this years’ Rugby Championship League which is held between South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. There can be no doubt about it, seeing these powerful teams in action on the green fields of Argentina, is both a privilege and a necessity for any rugby fanatic.

The Ibera Wetlands are a true haven for nature lovers. The second largest wetland in the world, Ibera is home to a wide variety of birds, fauna, capybaras, caimans’, howler monkeys, wolves, pampas deer and armadillos. The reserve can be explored via boat, foot or horseback making it ideal for any outdoors fanatic.

Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia used to be a penal colony, naval base and a missionary base but nowadays are a tourist attraction with hotels, casinos and restaurants. Ushuaia is a starting point for skiing, hiking and cruises to Antarctica.

Monte Fitz Roy lies at the foot of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. With its odd shape the mountain has become a favourite tourist attraction.

The La Boca district in Buenos Aires is known for its brightly painted houses. In the evening tango artist perform in public squares with tango related memorabilia on sale. Other cultural attractions include many tango clubs, Italian taverns and the La Ribera theatre.

While we are the topic of Tango, Argentineans pay tribute to this passionate dance by hosting the annual Buenos Aires Tango Festival which includes special performances, parties and dance classes.

The Oktoberfest is another major event in Argentina and is highlighted by German food, music, beer, beer and more beer.

Seychelles

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  • Visa Type: Visa on Arrival
  • Visa Duration: 1 month

For most spending a month on a tropical island is only a dream, however this does not have to be the case. Of the East African coast is the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the warm Indian Ocean. The archipelago is known for its pristine beaches, nature reserves, coral reefs, spectacular diving locations and rare wildlife species which include the giant Aldabra tortoise. If it seems that the Seychelles only has natural attractions to offer then you are certainly wrong. The capital Victoria is situated on Mahe Island, the largest of all the islands. The island functions as the main connecting hub to the other smaller islands. Victoria has many international hotels and restaurants for those seeking luxury and fine dining.

Mahe is home to the largest mountain rainforest, Morne Seychellois National Park. If lounging on a beach is your idea of fun then you should visit the beaches Anse Takamaka and Beau Vallon both sporting magnificent powder white beaches.

Sainte Anne Marine National Park is the largest marine park in the world which includes 5 smaller islands in the archipelago. The marine park is the home of the most diverse fish species in the world and a must visit for diving enthusiast.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is the first church and only cathedral in the Seychelles. The Seychelles only bishop, Felix Paul, who has subsequently passed away, is buried in a tomb built in the floor. The cathedral is fully renovated with spectacular carved doors by renowned Seychellois sculptor, Egbert Marday.

Turkey

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  • Visa Type: Visa on Arrival
  • Visa Duration: 3 months

Turkey is beautiful, friendly, culturally rich and light on the wallet which is a bonus for those travelling on a budget. It is one of few countries that are developed enough to be comfortable but still traditional enough to peak ones interest. As part of the old world, Turkey has sculptured from many different great civilisations such as the Romans, Greeks, Seljuk’s, Byzantines, Ottomans, Crusaders, Hittites, and Phrygians’. Never before has so many cultural master pieces come together in one place. The town of Gobleki Tepe has the world oldest temple. In essence Turkey is a melting pot of great cultures over many centuries.

Turkish cuisine is well known for its unique blend of flavours. All produce is produced by traditional methods on small farms, fields, and orchards which are open to tourists. As with its food Turkish tea has a strong flavour and pleasant aroma, it is highly recommended that visitors sample the tea if nothing else.

When visiting Turkey one should experience a Turkish bath. Many of these baths are hundreds of years old and are still operated in the old tradition. With an 8 000 km coastline tourist may enjoy yachting, water sports or many beaches.

For those that enjoy the nightlife Istanbul is the city to visit. With many modern restaurants, theatres, and clubs one is sure to find something to do until the early morning hours.

Also found in Turkey is the Classic Music Festival and events, whereby scores of musicians entertain visitors and locals alike. Apart from the Classic Music Festival, Turkey also host the Victory Festival, Liberation Festival and the Victory Festival.

Ethiopia

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Ethiopia is Africa’s second oldest independent state after Egypt and was first mentioned in the Old Testament. Today Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country with a devoted Christian Orthodox population. Ethiopians are proud of their culture and for this reason has one of the most interesting religious ceremonies which may be viewed by tourists.

Because Ethiopia’s history dates back to pre-Christian times many considered it to be the world’s 8th wonder. With eleven monolithic churches, rock-hewn structures, built in the 13th century. Axum is the oldest town in Ethiopia with many monolithic stone obelisks. According to popular believe, it is the holding place of many artefacts from the destroyed temple in Jerusalem, one of which is rumoured to be the revered arc of the covenant.

The Ethiopian Museum in Addis Ababa has many interesting displays with Lucy, the 3.5 million year old hominid, being one of them.

There are several Ethiopian festivals all of which are colourful events that take place over several days however it bears mentioning that these events are mostly religious.

Madagascar

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  • Visa Type: Visa on Arrival
  • Visa Duration: 1 month

Almost all travellers to Madagascar do the same thing i.e. they go to the most popular beaches. However Madagascar has far more interesting attractions for the whole family. No vacation will be complete without a visit to the Lemurs’ park which is located at the outskirts of Antananarivo. Lemurs’ Park has a 100 lemur species with most of these species endemic to Madagascar. For those that do not know Lemurs’ are distant cousins of monkeys.

From June to December the shores of Madagascar are home to passing whales. Tourist may view these magnificent mammals by guided boat trips. Visitors may also snorkel of 10 Mile Beach to view iridescent tropical fish, snorkelling amongst these fish are allowed and highly recommended.

Fort Dauphin lies between the Pic Saint Louis Mountain and the ocean. The French first established an outpost here in 1643 and as such the architecture is in the French style. Visitors are encouraged to take a romantic moonlit stroll amongst these old buildings.

Escape from the heat of the day by having a night forest walk. The Ambato Atsignana Nature Reserve offers tourist a guided tour at night which is the only time to view some of the most magnificent bird and orchid species in the world.

Madagascar also plays host to the Donia Music Festival which is held in September and combines a series of cultural events, music and sport. The festival is said to last a whole week! Year after year it draws in thousands of spectators.

Jordan

  • Visa Type: Visa on Arrival
  • Visa Duration: 1 month

A viable option to simply only visiting Israel is to extend your pilgrimage to Israel by visiting Jordan. Both these countries has some of the most important biblical sites. This includes the route followed during the Exodus, Mt. Sinai, where God first spoke to Moses, and the Jordan river where Jesus was first baptised by John the Baptist.

A pilgrimage to Jordan will offer the traveller a once in a life time opportunity to visit the ancient stone city of Petra. You will travel by camel and spend the night amongst the clear skies in the dessert. Petra is a city carved out of the mountain.

When visiting Jordan be sure to include the following sites to your itinerary:

  • Amman the capital city of Jordan.
  • Bethany the site where Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan.
  • Mount Nebo the site where Moses passed away and was also buried.
  • Machaerus is the site where John the Baptist was beheaded.
  • Umm Arrases is the location of the Church of Saint Stephen.
  • Madaba has the Church of Saint George which contains a gigantic mosaic map of the Hole Land.
  • Deir Ain Abata which is the proposed site of Lot’s Cave.

Staying true to their religious background, Jordan plays host to the Rabee’ Awal which is series of religious festivals that span out over a period of a month. The most important celebration during this time is the Mawlid or in the common tongue the birth of the prophet Mohammed.

Conclusion

Although there are more countries that offer Visa-free or Visa-on-Arrival opportunities, these 10 countries is our favourite. All of these countries offer an adventure of a lifetime, stop planning and give in to your adventurous nature book a flight today!

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