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Welcome traveler!

We're Andre & Lisa, adventurers and experienced budget travelers.

We have over two decades of travel experience and since 2018 have led a full-time nomadic lifestyle.

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Thank you for visiting and we hope you find value in our destination pages! ​We thoroughly research and curate all content ourselves and everything you find on this site is put together by only the two of us.

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SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL GUIDE

South Africa has it all, beautiful mountains, hiking trails, gorgeous beaches, and vibrant cities. South Africa is where we grew up and we call it home. Stick around for a while and talk to the locals, as South Africa provides many opportunities for rich cultural interaction.


It's a vast country with many diverse regions, both with regards to geography, landscape, and climate as well as culture, tradition, and way of life. To truly experience South Africa, you will need to visit a few cities across the country. Our favorite is, of course, Cape Town, with its iconic Table Mountain and a multitude of stunning white-sand beaches. South Africa boasts exquisite natural landscapes, with dramatic mountain ranges, vast open spaces, and the opportunity to enjoy either sunrise or sunset over the ocean depending on your location along the long and rugged coastline. With low risks of any natural disasters and a generally temperate climate, South Africa is a good all-year-round destination.

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Currency: South African Rand (ZAR) - current conversion rate here.

Electricity: 220-240V AC electricity. Power outlets are mostly round three-prong sockets (type D and type M) and round two-prong sockets (type C) and more recently also round three-prong sockets (type N).

Safety: South Africa is notorious for its extraordinarily high violent crime rate with muggings, car theft, and rates of physical violence among the highest in the world. However, by being vigilant and using common sense, you will most likely have a safe and wonderful trip. Always use general safety precautions, never walk around in deserted areas at night or advertise possession of money and expensive accessories. Do not wear a tummy bag with all your valuables, rather have a concealed money belt worn under your shirt. Do not leave your valuables in plain sight when driving in your car, as "smash and grab" attacks do sometimes occur at intersections and keep your car doors locked, and windows closed. When stopped at a traffic light at night, always leave enough room between your car and the car in front of you so you can get around them, as hijackings are especially prevalent in some suburbs of Johannesburg. Do not stop to pick up hitchhikers. Visiting the townships is possible, but do so only with an experienced guide.

Luckily South Africa has very low risks of natural disasters! Whatever you do, don’t travel without travel insurance! We would suggest checking out World Nomads or SafetyWing, for travel insurance as they have the best coverage for active travellers.

Language: South Africa has 11 official languages, namely Afrikaans, Southern Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi, Northern Sotho (Sepedi), Southern Sotho (Sesotho), Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, and English. Although only about 8% of the population speak English as a first language, most people speak English as a second language and it’s easy enough to get by with English in most of South Africa.

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SEASONS AT A GLANCE

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Shoulder Season

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa is a large country with a diverse climate that varies vastly from region to region. Cape Town and the Western Cape experiences winter rainfall (June to August) and predominantly dry hot summer, while much of the rest of the country, including the Kruger National Park area, endure heavy summer thundershowers (December to March) and a drier winter period (May to October). One exception is the Garden Route and coastal Eastern Cape which can experience rain at any time of year. The best time to go will thus largely depend on where you would like to go to the country and what you would like to see and do.

  • April to August - Low season; ideal wildlife-watching conditions; whales on Western Cape coast.
  • September to November - Spring flowers bloom; ideal weather for KwaZulu-Natal beaches and Karoo exploration.
  • December to February - Coastal accommodation fills up; busy, vibrant time to be in the Cape.

 

For a Cape Town beach holiday, you can’t beat the summer months between November and February although temperatures can sore inland during this time Also note that Cape Town experiences its windy season over the same time and unless you are an avid kite-surfer you might find the daily wind along especially the Atlantic coast to be rather excessive. You will need to book your accommodation very early if you want to visit over Christmas or New Year as Cape Town is an extremely popular destination over this period. If you want to avoid the heat, the wind and most of the crowds, the best time to visit Cape Town is from late March through April.

 

The drier winter months between May and October are the best time for superb game viewing on a South Africa safari in Kruger National Park, Madikwe, Pilanesberg, and KwaZulu-Natal as you will find animals concentrated around water sources and easier to spot in the thinned-out bush.

 

The KwaZulu-Natal coast has year-round sunshine, beautifully mild winter, and warm ocean temperatures so any time is a good time.

 

If you want to see whales along the Whale Coast in the south-western Cape (Hermanus to Agulhas) then visit between June and November, although numbers are at their peak in September.

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South Africa is such a big and diverse country that there will always be a suitable hiking route somewhere in the country throughout the year. If you want to hike some of the more popular routes, you may well need to consider the season and even book your place well in advance. But if you're more of a spur of the moment kind of person, there are plenty of fantastic and free outdoor activities to be enjoyed.

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SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL COSTS

Travel in South Africa can be very affordable but is not an entirely budget destination. Certain aspects, such as accommodation can be pricey, but on the other hand, dining out and luxury treatments can be good value for money. With the South African Rand’s steady decline to the USD, foreign tourists can generally find good value in South Africa. If you’re happy sleeping in a hostel and eating budget food, you should be able to get by on $35 a day. If you want to stay in bed and breakfast style accommodation but are happy to eat budget food, up your budget to about $80 per day and if you prefer to splurge on a fancy hotel or a few gourmet meals, you might want to up your budget to over $150.

 

For Cape Town specific information, be sure to check out our blog posts/podcasts.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR SOUTH AFRICA

Transport from one place to the next is fairly easy if you have rented a vehicle. Although there is not much of a public transportation system across South Africa, there are long-distance bus and train options available. Internal flights are often a lot more convenient though. Certain cities have their own efficient public transportation systems (like Gauteng and Cape Town), but these are limited and will usually still require the use of a taxi or private vehicle to get to your end destination.

 

Most people opt to rent a car during their time in South Africa. This provides you with more freedom and flexibility during your travels, but there are some things which you should be aware of: Prior to renting the car, make sure you understand any restrictions you might be under like driving on dirt roads or geographic limits. Many rental cars also limit the waiver they provide on any damage.

 

Skyscanner.com is a fantastic tool for finding great flight deals. Also, check Momondo for flight comparisons and car rental deals.

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa is a large and diverse country with much to see and do - from the nature lover to the historian and even for the adventurer. All that we can say for sure is that you will never have enough time in a single trip and you will most likely leave South Africa wanting to return.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN SOUTH AFRICA

  • Visit a Game Reserve - It doesn’t really matter which game reserve you visit, you are bound to have a memorable African experience! These are some of the best that South Africa has to offer: Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and Limpopo and other private bordering reserves; Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape; Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between South Africa and Botswana; Zilkaatsnek Nature Reserve in Hartbeespoort and Pilansberg between the Kalahari and the Lowveld.
  • Appreciate Ocean Life - With both an extensive West and East Coast, which differs greatly, there is so much along the coast of South Africa to explore. You can Scuba at Sodwana Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal, enjoy the rugged Whale Route in Hermanus, try your luck see the Great White Sharks up close at Gansbaai, or rather visit the friendly Penguins at Boulders Beach.
  • Visit the Iconic Sites of Cape Town - We may be ever so slightly biased when it comes to this, but if you have to visit only one city in South Africa (which we do not recommend), it would absolutely have to be Cape Town! Ou will be welcomed by the iconic Table Mountain, which you should visit either by hike or cable car. Be sure to also go to Cape Point. Robben Island and a few other attractions which you can read about in our Blog Posts listed above.
  • Visit the Drakensberg - Located in Kwazulu Natal, the Drakensberg is a very special mountainous area well worth taking the time to explore.
  • Drive through the Cape Winelands for Wine Tasting - In and around Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, and the greater Boland area, there is no shortage of Winelands for you to appreciate both for their beauty and the fantastic selection of wines.
  • Experience Local Culture - Don’t end your trip to South Africa without experiencing something traditional. You could go for an organized Township Tour (be sure to read reviews and go with a reputable operator) or just visit Constitution Hill. Why not take a free tour of the Parliament Building or explore the Cradle of Humankind or many other Historical sites that South Africa has to offer.
  • Kitesurfing - Known as one of the top kiteboarding destinations in the world South Africa is perfect for any level of kiteboarder since there are conditions for everyone. The coast is full of wavy beaches, flat water lagoons, and rivers that are both flat and wavy farther out to sea. Our favourite spot by far is the magnificent Langebaan lagoon.

WHAT TO EAT IN SOUTH AFRICA

South African cuisine is just as diverse as its cultures, with influences from English, Dutch, German, Indian, Malay, Portuguese and also the native African influences. Keep an eye out for the following must-try foods:

 

  • Braaivleis - This has got to be the most traditional food in South Africa! Essentially, meat roasted over an open wood or charcoal fire (depending on the region), never refer to this as a BBQ! It is very popular most South Africans generally braai at least once a week, usually over weekends and for social events. This act of roasting the meat as well as the social event is referred to as a braai.
  • Pap - A porridge made with cornmeal. Slap pap (runny porridge), is made into a smooth consistency and often eaten as a breakfast porridge, Stywe pap (stiff porridge) has a more doughy and lumpier consistency and is often used as a replacement for rice, potatoes and other starches. Krummel pap (crumbly porridge) is much drier, resembling couscous and is often served at a braai (but only in the northern regions of the country) covered in a saucy tomato relish.
  • Potjiekos - Essentially, a meat and vegetable stew made in a cast-iron pot over an open fire. This is a second favourite to braai!
  • Boerewors - A spicy sausage. Boerewors Rolls are similar to hotdog buns but filled with boerewors rather than hotdogs and traditionally garnished with an onion and tomato relish.
  • Biltong and Droëwors - Seasoned meat or sausage that has been air-dried. Beef, game and ostrich meat is often used. A favourite at sports events and while travelling.
  • Bunny Chow - Half a loaf of bread with the inside scraped out and filled with lamb or beef curry, this is a dish not to be missed when travelling to KwaZulu Natal.
  • Bobotie - Baked 'meatloaf' with a Cape Malay influence, seasoned with curry and spices, topped with a type of savoury custard.
  • Masonja - If you are adventurous, you may want to try these fried Mopanie worms. Not for everyone’s palate!
  • Melktert - Directly translated as "milk tart", this is a milk-based, custard tart dessert with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
  • Amarula Cream Liqueur - Made from the marula fruit, this is best served over crushed ice. The taste, colour and texture are somewhat similar to the well known Baileys Irish Cream.
  • Rooibos Tea - This world-renowned tea is made from a bush-like herb which grows in the Cederberg Mountains and is a favourite for many South Africans.

LGBTQ IN SOUTH AFRICA

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WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTH AFRICA

For your first visit to South Africa, choosing the right base is crucial to experiencing the country's diverse landscapes, wildlife, and cultural heritage. Here's a breakdown of top areas and accommodations:


Where To Stay In Cape Town:

Cape Town is a vibrant coastal city renowned for its iconic landmarks like Table Mountain, pristine beaches, and multicultural atmosphere, offering a perfect introduction to South Africa.

  • Budget Accommodation: Consider staying at The Backpack for affordable dorm beds and a central location near Cape Town's attractions.

  • Mid-range Accommodation: The Cape Heritage Hotel provides comfortable accommodations with a historic charm and easy access to the city center.

  • Luxury Accommodation: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of The Silo Hotel, located in the V&A Waterfront, featuring upscale rooms, panoramic views, and gourmet dining.

Best Value Tip: Visit during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) for milder weather and better accommodation rates.


Where To Stay In The Kruger National Park:

Kruger National Park is one of Africa's premier safari destinations, offering unparalleled opportunities to spot the Big Five and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

  • Budget Accommodation: Consider staying at Skukuza Rest Camp for affordable self-catering accommodations within the park.

  • Mid-range Accommodation: The Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate offers comfortable accommodations with easy access to Kruger's southern region and wildlife viewing areas.

  • Luxury Accommodation: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of Singita Lebombo Lodge, located in a private concession within Kruger, featuring upscale suites, gourmet dining, and guided safaris.

Best Value Tip: Book accommodations inside the park well in advance, especially during peak seasons (school holidays and long weekends), to secure the best options and rates.


Where To Stay In Stellenbosch:

Stellenbosch is South Africa's premier wine region, known for its picturesque vineyards, award-winning wineries, and Cape Dutch architecture, offering a relaxing and scenic retreat.

  • Budget Accommodation: Consider staying at Stumble Inn Backpackers Lodge for affordable dorm beds and a central location near Stellenbosch's wine estates.

  • Mid-range Accommodation: Lanzerac Hotel & Spa provides comfortable accommodations on a historic wine farm with easy access to Stellenbosch's wine routes.

  • Luxury Accommodation: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa, featuring upscale lodges, a spa, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards.

Best Value Tip: Visit during the grape harvest season (February to April) for wine festivals and special accommodation deals.


Where To Stay In The Drakensberg:

The Drakensberg Mountains offer stunning scenery, hiking trails, and outdoor activities, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

  • Budget Accommodation: Consider staying at Inkosana Lodge for affordable dorm beds and a central location near hiking trails and mountain vistas.

  • Mid-range Accommodation: The Champagne Castle Hotel provides comfortable accommodations with easy access to Drakensberg's hiking routes and scenic spots.

  • Luxury Accommodation: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, featuring upscale rooms, gourmet dining, and panoramic mountain views.

Best Value Tip: Visit during the offseason (April to September) for quieter trails and better accommodation deals.


Where To Stay Along The Garden Route:

The Garden Route offers a scenic coastal drive with beautiful beaches, lush forests, and charming towns, providing a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

  • Budget Accommodation: Consider staying at Backpackers Paradise for affordable dorm beds and a central location near Garden Route's attractions and activities.

  • Mid-range Accommodation: The Wilderness Beach Hotel offers comfortable accommodations with ocean views and easy access to Wilderness's beaches and nature reserves.

  • Luxury Accommodation: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of Fancourt Hotel & Golf Estate, featuring upscale rooms, golf courses, and spa facilities.

Best Value Tip: Explore off-the-beaten-path towns along the Garden Route for affordable dining and accommodation options away from tourist crowds.


By choosing a base in Cape Town, Kruger National Park, or Stellenbosch, you'll have access to South Africa's diverse attractions while enjoying a range of accommodation options to suit your budget and preferences. Consider visiting during the optimal seasons for each location to maximize your travel experience while getting the best value for your stay.


These are just a few options, and South Africa has many other regions and accommodations to explore. Make sure to research and book accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Additionally, consider your preferences for activities and attractions when choosing where to stay in South Africa.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are our favorite flight search engines. They index other travel websites and airlines across the globe to easily find you the best deal.

ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com is our number one resource for researching and booking accommodation. In addition to Booking.com, we have found Agoda.com to consistently returns the cheapest rates in Southeast Asia. For longer stays, find unique homes worldwide on Holiday Swap, the most affordable travel platform that allows you to book homes anytime, anywhere in only a few clicks.

TRANSPORT

DiscoverCars.com is a leader in online car rental bookings; we compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 12Go connects the world door-to-door, from transfers to flights, under the same user-friendly ticket.

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