How much of South Africa have you really seen?
You might have explored your own province to death, and perhaps the popular tourist destinations that represent the country on the global stage - but there's so much you probably don't even know exists.
But one team of influencers want to embark on a massive three-year journey to every town in South Africa, highlighting their people and unique hidden gems through social media and video.
Sainté - also known as Team Saint - is an influencer agency made up of Daniel Oschadleus, Desmond Mokoena and Dalton Stoltz.
Oschadleus - who hails from a small town himself and used to work in the tourism sector - talked to Traveller24 about the project and what they hope to achieve with this epic adventure.
Why do you want to visit all the towns of SA?
One of my most transcendent travel experiences happened in March 2019, where myself and a business partner at the time were hosting two Dutch au pairs who had visited the Kruger National Park.
Like most tourists in the area, they wanted to explore the big attractions like God’s Window, Drie Rondavels and the Sabie Waterfalls amongst others. While preparing the next day's itinerary at a quaint Airbnb plopped in the middle of an avocado farm, in the God's window saddle - the two tourists expressed interest in exploring the surrounding well-known waterfalls.
Instead of taking them to many of the more famous waterfalls, we took them to the most magnificent waterfalls I had ever seen.
And how did we found out about this waterfall? The locals told us about this intimate hidden gem, and upon arrival we realised that only the people of that locality knew about it - the rest of the world and South Africa was none the wiser.
What criteria will you apply to the places you will visit?
South Africa is comprised of 257 municipalities - eight cities, 44 districts and 205 local municipalities.
Many of these municipalities have more than one town under them, therefore we estimate that due to the vast nature of the endeavour it would take no less than 3 years to complete.
With this timeline we have also factored in planning, reconnaissance activities and a few necessary breaks between some of the tours - especially those that comprise of more than 10 towns.
The unique nature of this project also requires a great deal of research and exploration, and will require that we spend enough time in the towns we will be visiting to ensure that we uncover all the hidden gems in these unexplored towns. Additionally, one of this tour's success indicators will be the interactions with the locals.
Where will you be heading to first?
First we'll be travelling through Heinitzburg, Phalaborwa, Hoedspruit and Nelspruit and will take 14 days to complete across Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
We would like to begin this first leg of the tour as early as 2 April 2020.
Since the purpose of this tour is to uncover hidden gems, we will be researching towns and destinations that have been somewhat overlooked in the past as travel destinations - towns where we'll have the opportunity to communicate with the communities and discover unknown locations in the process.
We also want to visit communities that have had little to no media attention over the past couple of years. We would like to give a voice to those members of communities involved in community initiatives, philanthropic projects, festivals, local traditions, businesses, and who are really just trying to get their towns on the map.
What are some of the challenges?
Generally when touring on such a large scale, one is bound to run into travel-related issues.
These include vehicle problems that could be exacerbated by the kind of terrain that we will be travelling on, the risk of crime that we may run into, but we have mitigated many of these through insurance.
When travelling we are also bound to run into unfriendly people who may not welcome our endeavour in the way that we would hope. We may experience racism, denial of access to some of the places that we will be exploring.
However in presenting ourselves as neutrally and humbly as possible to the communities, we expect that many of these sociological issues will be very minimal.
Why should South Africans see more of their country?
I believe that South Africa is one of the most abundantly cultured destinations in the world, and the exploration of the various destinations will give South Africans a greater understanding and appreciation of their country.
We are a country that is rich in history - as sacred as the history is - the depiction of a post-Apartheid South Africa in media is so fundamentally skewed that most South Africans are not yet willing to interact with others from different racial backgrounds because of the alarmist information that is disseminated on a daily basis.
From a tourism point of view, South Africa is fortunate because we have a wild mix of tropical areas, rich agricultural destinations, breathtaking mountainous landscapes, historical gems, uniquely South African activities and adventures - the list goes on.
If more South Africans began exploring their own country it would dramatically shift the national narrative, and we will become the perfect place to visit for anyone who is looking for a new destination to travel to.