A good life.
That’s what tourists from France are used to seeing on their trip to the South African town of Bongani.
In the last decade, they’ve made it a bit easier.
French tourism companies, like Airbnb, have developed a range of accommodation options to suit their unique lifestyle.
These include luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants, but there are also places that cater to travellers from poorer backgrounds, like the one at Bongania, in the northern town of Mafoua.
But for the majority of travellers, this isn’t an option, says Simon De Groote, who runs the site Good Life Tours, which has more than 800 accommodation options in the area.
“In Bongane they have a little village called Mafouda, but we don’t see them anymore,” he says.
“So they were the last place that we would ever want to stay.”
This is partly due to a number of reasons, including high crime rates in the region, a shortage of affordable accommodation, and the high cost of living.
“You can buy a place for $150 or $200 in Bonganyas market town and they’d only pay $100 to $200 to rent a house in the village,” says De Grootes.
“We see a lot of people who rent out their accommodation and go to the local markets to buy food or go shopping.”
This trend has also created a need for a good foodie-friendly environment in Bongoani, as well as a good way to socialise and enjoy the sights.
“A lot of the things that tourists do have to do, like walking, shopping, going to a restaurant, you have to get food for the day,” says Sophie, a 23-year-old French woman who is looking to get away from her husband and live with her grandparents.
“It’s a bit of a challenge because it’s just about a 5km walk to Bonganais main square, but once you’ve done that you can just walk all the way there.”
Good Life tours are a popular option for people wanting to travel in a good mood, and although there’s no shortage of options, they do come with some unique requirements.
“If you have a very long walk, you’ll be standing in a little bit of mud and it’s very hard to get your shoes wet,” says Julia, who is from France.
“And you’re going to have to go to a lot more places than you would if you were staying at a hotel.
You can’t eat in the street or even in the shops because it doesn’t have any food outlets.”
It’s not all bad though, as there are a few things that can help ensure that a trip to Bongoania isn’t a disappointment.
For starters, there’s the option of getting your meal at a cafe.
“When you’re here you can take a walk around the market to see the local shops,” says Juliana, an 18-year old student from France who is currently studying in Binte, an island on the western coast of the South Atlantic.
“But for the most part it’s more or less the same as staying at the hotel.
It’s just you can’t get your own food.”
And there’s also the option to go hiking.
“In Bongoanais mountains you can go to an area called the St Anne, a little area on the island where you can climb the St Andrews Peak, which is quite big,” says Julie.
“There are a lot places that you go to that you could stay in a hotel, but I think if you want to do that then you can find a hotel on the mainland.”
A few other things to keep in mind: If you don’t like waiting for a bus or train, there are plenty of train stations nearby.
For the best experience, book early.
“For a lot people it’s a good idea to have a car in case you get lost or if you don the airport will be open,” says de Groote.
“Then, when you get there, you can park it at the station and you can have a drink and go shopping or a taxi or something like that.”