South Africa is one of the greatest countries in the world. It’s vast, diverse and vibrant. White-sand beaches, star-filled night skies, desert landscapes, black-maned lions, rugged mountain ranges, sub-tropical woodlands, buzzing cities and friendly people make South Africa a highly alluring travel destination. Cape Town is now bursting with unique places to eat that are suitable for all budgets. Whatever your idea of a perfect vacation is, South Africa has something for everyone and will not disappoint.
SOUTH AFRICA TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
See Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain
Table mountain is about 3500 feet above the city of Cape Town, and from here you can get a breathtaking view of the continent’s tip. The flat mountain is typically covered with wisps of white cloud and provides a breathtaking panorama to gaze down at. The energetic travelers amongst us can hike to the top of Table Mountain, the rest of us can take the cable car.
Watch Penguins at Boulders Beach
A short drive from downtown Cape Town is Boulders Beach which has been home to a colony of penguins since the early 80’s. Boulders Beach is now a penguin sanctuary and visitors can watch them play but do avoid getting too close.
Wildlife spotting at Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the greatest National Parks in the world when it comes to exotic wildlife spotting. This sanctuary is home to an unbelievably large number of diverse species such as lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, cheetahs, giraffe, buffalo and zebra along with 137 species of smaller mammals and more than 500 species of birds. Kruger National Park is spread across an area of 19,485 square kilometers and guided wildlife tours and activities mean you can easily spend a few days here.
Look for the ‘Big Hole’ in Kimberley
The Big Hole in Kimberley is considered to be one of the deepest cavities excavated by man with a depth of 200 m2. The teal colored deep water can be seen from several vantage points but the best view is from a helicopter. Next to the Big Hole is the Kimberley Mine Museum which was the first ever discovery of diamond reserves in the South Africa.
Explore Robben Island
South Africa’s troubled yet fascinating history should be explored too. Visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 20 years of his life in prison. This tour is both captivating and sad and you’ll get all the gory details of the civil war by tour guides who, remarkably, have spent a large part of their own lives in the prison for simply standing up for the rights of their countrymen.
Browse the ultimate
Bucket Bunny List of the top 25 Africa travel adventures.
White water raft the Zambezi river, visit Kruger National Park or go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Enjoy browsing our top 25 Africa Travel Adventures and be inspired to tick off a few yourself.
SOUTH AFRICA TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Minstrel Carnival in Cape Town
This is the first celebration of the year and is also called the Kaapse Klopse, which attracts thousands of visitors annually. Traditionally it takes place on the 2nd of January and now this colorful party goes on for the entire week. Teams of traditionally dressed minstrels march through the city playing jazz music.
Umhlanga Reed Dance
Also known as the Royal Reed Dance, this festival takes place in September and is the most popular festival of the Zulu ethnic group of Swaziland. Up to 40,000 Swazi maidens of the Zulu tribe wear their traditional attire and March towards their King’s palace singing and dancing all the way.
Knysna Oyster Festival
Oyster lovers and fitness fanatics, are you ready for this fun-filled, activity-packed lifestyle festival held in the Western Cape of South Africa? The annual Knysna Oyster Festival is one of South Africa’s most popular festivals and held in July. Several events go on during this festival such as eating challenges, shucking contests, cycling tours and forest marathons.
SOUTH AFRICA BASICS
Language: South Africa has eleven official languages. They are Afrikaans, English, Northern Sotho, Ndebele, Sotho, Tswana, Swazi, Tsonga, Xhosa, and Zulu. Afrikaans and English are the two commercially used languages. Most people are fluent in English, so you won’t face any problems communicating with the locals if you speak English yourself.
Currency: South African Rand.
Visa: If you’re visiting South Africa for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you usually won’t need a visa. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa is required (which depends on the country you’re from) and if so, how long it will take to process your visa.
Electricity: South Africa operates on 220/230V standard supply with a frequency of 50 Hz. Plugs used are mostly 15 amp-3 prong or 5amp-2 prong types with round pins. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Lonely Planet South Africa: Check price on Amazon
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in South Africa are listed below...
Biltong and Droëwors: Before the invention of fridges, the native tribes of the country used to preserve meat by a method called dry curing. Biltong and Droewors are traditionally consumed as snacks and are made of beef or game, like springbok. Meat is cured with salt, vinegar, spices, and sugar and then dried. Sometimes, chili and garlic are added to enhance the flavor of the meat.
Boerewors: The traditional sausage of South Africa is made of beef, mixed with lamb or pork and flavored with spices. These are called Boerewors and are traditionally coiled shaped. They are further cooked on a barbecue.
Cape Malay Curry: Cape Town was inhabited by the French and the Dutch in the 17th century. They brought slaves from different countries with them who came along with their recipes and spices. When they combined this with the local produce some very flavorful stews and curries were made which still dominate the South African cuisine.
Braai/Shisa Nyama: Shisa nyama stands for ‘burn the meat’ in Zulu. This is one eating experience that must not be missed. The origin of Braai is from Johannesburg where on weekends, butchers set up barbecues outside their shops and sell grilled meat as street food.
Malva Pudding: This dessert was brought in by the Dutch. It is a sticky, sugary sponge pudding which is made of apricot jam and is served with hot cream sauce. You will find it in many restaurants but is mainly baked for Sunday lunch at home.
South Africa can be a very affordable place to visit.
Finding excellent accommodation in Morocco is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget. Hostels and dormitories make travel to South Africa affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, South Africa will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in South Africa can cost less than $30 dollars. If you’re looking for accommodation that includes western amenities and comforts then there will be more options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Cape Town, Johannesburg or Pretoria. If you’re traveling to South Africa during peak season or wish to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up. South Africa is a pretty popular year-round destination you know!
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in South Africa. However, if you’re backpacking in South Africa or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in South Africa very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SOUTH AFRICA
When is the best time to visit South Africa? Any time of year because South Africa is a year-round destination due to its varying regional climates. In its summer months from November to February, The Cape has beautiful hot, dry weather. The best time to go whale watching is between July and November.
SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL BUDGET
South Africa is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to South Africa really depends on the level of comfort you will expect while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating street food then budget between $25 to $35 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $35 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Cape Town then budget about $100 to $350 plus a day.
- Budget: $25-35
- Mid-range: $35-$100
- Splurge: $100+
Meal For One
- Budget: $1.00-$10.00
- Mid-range: $10-$25
- Splurge: $25-$100+
IS SOUTH AFRICA SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to South Africa however the place is a moderately safe destination for tourists. Most violent crimes take place in locations far away from tourist destinations. Bag-snatching, pick-pocketing and other scams to take advantage of travelers do still happen on occasion in South Africa. Female travelers to South Africa should be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Based on my own travel experiences I would never leave home without travel insurance. I recommend checking out the insurance plan World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your trip.
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SOUTH AFRICA FLIGHT DEALS
SOUTH AFRICA TOURS & ACTIVITIES
Packing for a trip to South Africa, like most other places in Africa, is a breeze.
You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to South Africa and it’s always best to travel light whenever possible.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our fabulous finds with you. Shop our top picks of travel accessories, luggage, clothing, cosmetics, shoes and tech. Or just hop straight on over to Bunny Bling … YOU SOUTH AFRICA JET-SETTER!
It’s so easy to travel light in hotter climates just remember to pack lightweight and breathable lose-fitting clothing. Be prepared for the occasional cool evening depending on the month you visit and pack a warm sweater just in case. If you forget to pack something you can use this as an excuse to go shopping in South Africa’s Markets (as if you need an excuse).
Other essential items to pack for a trip to South Africa include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
Last but not least and perhaps the most fun part of the trip planning journey is packing!
If you’ve found your South Africa travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost, kinda, nearly) perfected.
Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.