South Africa

trip South Africa

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The best travel sites to help you plan the perfect trip South Africa

1. South Africa Travel Guide

South Africa is a country of extremes, where poverty-stricken shanties exist alongside first-world art galleries, entertainment venues, sports arenas and restaurants. Trip South Africa magnificent landscapes include snow-dusted mountains and areas of arid semi-desert; whilst its twin coasts support incredible biodiversity. With countless ethnic groups and no fewer than 11 official languages, its human culture is just as diverse. Whether you’re looking for a beach vacation, a city break or an escape into the game-filled bush, South Africa has the ability to be all things to all people.

Location
South Africa is situated at the southern tip of Africa. It shares borders with Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland, and its shores are washed by the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

Geography
South Africa has a total area of 470,693 square miles/1,219,090 square kilometers, making it slightly less than twice the size of Texas.

Location
South Africa is situated at the southern tip of Africa. It shares borders with Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland, and its shores are washed by the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

Geography
South Africa has a total area of 470,693 square miles/1,219,090 square kilometers, making it slightly less than twice the size of Texas.

Currency
South Africa’s currency is the South African rand. For up-to-date conversions, use this online currency converter.

Climate
South Africa’s seasons are the reverse of those in the northern hemisphere. Summer lasts from December to February and winter lasts from June to August. Although weather patterns differ from region to region, summers are generally warm with average temperatures of around 77°F/25°C, while winter temperatures can fall below freezing, especially in the far south. In the Western Cape, winter is the rainiest season; but further north near Johannesburg and Durban, the rains coincide with the arrival of summer.

When to Go
Each season has its benefits and there is no bad time to trip South Africa. The optimum time to visit depends on where you’re going and what you want to do while you’re there. Generally speaking, game-viewing is best during the dry season (May to September) when animals are forced to congregate around water sources. Cape Town is most pleasant during the warmer summer months (November to April), while winter (June to August) often offers the best prices for tours and accommodation.

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2. 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to South Africa

From beachfront destinations and under-water shark diving to world-class wild safaris and awe-inspiring geologic formations, trip South Africa is an exciting place to visit, but it’s certainly not the place to lose your head.

Culturally, the country is a unique blend of African and Colonial cultures, which have seen some of the most engaging and inspiring political reformations of modern times. From the legacy of Nelson Mandela to the harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, South Africa is a great place to learn about the past and for cultural immersion.

If South Africa is anything, it’s a place to heed the advice of those in the know.

1. Pay Attention to Your Location

«If you see a big, loud, angry-sounding demonstration or mob, turn the other way and keep away, no matter how curious you may be.» – Kent Redding, Preident, Africa Adventure Consultants

«Know where you’re going – don’t wander around aimlessly. In many parts of the town (in both Cape Town and Johannesburg), the good and bad neighborhoods are often one block away from each other.» – Dana Hsiao, SoSauce

2. Don‘t be Flashy

«Keep jewelry and expensive clothes to a minimum. Don‘t flash cash when dealing with street vendors or frankly anytime. (For example) trade your big fancy camera and lenses for a point and shoot pocket model.» – Dan Austin, Director, Austin Lehman Adventures

Pay attention and don’t be flashy – especially in these neighbourhoods with a bad reputation.

3. Mobile Phone Coverage is Extensive, and Easy to Access

«Phones can be hired, or a good 3G-enabled phone and SIM card can be bought at any airport. If you are social-media savvy, you can enhance your holiday experience with real-time updating of all your networks.» – Eleanor Muller, Transfrontier Parks Destinations (TFPD)

4. If You Want to Rent a Car, South Africa Isn‘t the Place to Get That Hot Red Convertible You‘ve Always Wanted

Poverty is still a harsh reality in South Africa, so hire a normal car instead of inviting trouble by being flashy (as well as offensive). If you rent a car, try to avoid driving after dark. In recent years, there’s been a lot more highway robbery after sunset.

Also, if you’re going to self-drive, be aware that South Africans drive on the left-hand side of the road. Fuel stations (called garages) are not self-service. When you drive onto the forecourt an attendant will fill the vehicle. It is customary to tip the attendant about $1 for the service.

Driving yourself is relatively safe, but you might want to brush up on the local laws and ways before getting behind the wheel.

«If you are planning to volunteer in South Africa make sure you are going with a reputable organization. A popular scam has popped up where travelers are approached to help at a needy orphanage, the problem is these kids are made to look extremely poor just to get big donations out of sappy travelers. If you want to volunteer go through an organization that has been doing this for years and has past travelers you can speak to.» – Alexia Nestora, VoluntourismGal

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3. SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL GUIDE


With safaris, mountains, wineries, an endless coastline, and cities like Cape Town, South Africa is a magical place where no traveler can go wrong! As a backpacker, this country is a great place to travel as it’s inexpensive (thanks to a very weak currency), there are a lot of work opportunities, and plenty of adventure activities to keep you busy. True, the country isn’t perfect with high levels of corruption and petty crime (be sure to watch your stuff!), but the country’s rich history, natural beauty, and international culture make it a hotspot with travelers from around the world. It’s a country I always wish I got to spend more time in. This guide to traveling South Africa can help you plan the perfect trip.

Typical Costs

Accommodation – Hostels will cost you about 120-150 ZAR per night for a 10-20 bed dorm, or around to 250-300 ZAR per night for a 4-8 bed dorm. A private double room will cost between 300–450 ZAR. Free WiFi is standard, and many hostels also include free breakfast. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you have a tent, most will let you camp on their grounds. If you are looking for a hotel, budget hotels range from about 750-1,200 ZAR for a twin or double in big cities and get cheaper in more rural areas. For a hotel with free breakfast, expect to pay at least 900 ZAR. Use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates. Airbnb is also an option around the country, though it’s most commonly available in larger urban areas. Prices for shared accommodation start around 300 ZAR per night, while an entire home or apartment will cost at least 800 ZAR (though average prices are closer to 1,800 ZAR). For those traveling with a tent, camp grounds can be found all around the country. Expect to pay between 90-400 ZAR per night, depending on the facilities and location.

Food – Restaurants in South Africa are pretty cheap. A meal at Nando’s or another fast-food chain will cost you about 50 ZAR per person. At a nicer restaurant, a 3-course meal with a wine costs about 225 ZAR per person. Expect to pay around 30 ZAR for a beer and 9 ZAR for a bottle of water. A bottle of wine at a restaurant or bar will cost 50-120 ZAR (for the bottle, not a glass!). The low-cost alternative to eating out is to buy groceries. A week’s worth of groceries for one person will cost around 500 ZAR. If you want to keep costs low, avoid expensive items like chicken, beef, and cheese.

Transportation – Greyhound and Baz Buses offer the most reliable public transportation and cost anywhere from 25–700 ZAR. A bus from Cape Town to Johannesburg, for example, will cost around 500 ZAR. Train rides are less common but more comfortable and safer than buses. Fare for a first class sleeper carriage is around 200–300 ZAR, depending on the distance. If you plan on exploring a lot a small car can be rented for as little as 260 ZAR per day, including insurance and the fee to drop it off in a different city. Public transportation is available in the larger cities, though it is notoriously unreliable (and I actually wouldn’t recommend taking buses or vans within the cities). If you’re just trying to get around a big city, I recommend downloading the Uber app instead of taxis. Absolutely do not hitchhike!!

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4.   20 Rules for Safe Travel in South Africa

I emigrated from South Africa to Europe in 2002 and re-visited only recently. South Africa is truly a beautiful country, with friendly, hospitable people, incredible scenery, and incomparable wildlife. I believe that these qualities are certainly more worthy of publicity than the crime and other negative aspects. Indeed, I can think of no other place on earth so rich in a diversity of scenic beauty, wildlife, sights, sounds, music, and varied cultures as South Africa.

South Africa’s population is a unique mix of Africa, Europe, and Asia. I can think of no other nations with 11 official languages! Of the total population of 48 million, approximately 38 million are black South Africans, 4.2 million are of mixed race, and 1.2 million are of Indian or Asian descent.

The white population is only 4.3 million (9.1% of the total population.) and descends mainly from Dutch, German, French, and British colonial immigrants who came to settle in the country between the 17th and 19th centuries. The black South African population is comprised of the Nguni people (Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi), the Sotho-Tswana, the Tsonga, and the Venda tribes.

South Africa is renowned for its floral wealth. The 553,000-hectare Cape Floral Region is one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage sites. It was declared by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to be of “outstanding universal significance to humanity” and “one of the richest areas for plants in the world.”

The National Parks are among South Africa’s premier attractions. The more than 20 National Parks in South Africa include the famous Kruger National Park, the vast Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, Addo Elephant, Golden Gate, Agulhas, Augrabies Falls, Bontebok, Camdeboo, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Karoo, Madikwe, Mountain Zebra, Tsitsikamma, and Wilderness National Parks—each one with its own very distinctive character, flora, and fauna. See SA Places for a detailed map of the South African National Parks.

Apart from the numerous National Parks, there are also many privately-owned game reserves. If you wish to see “The Big Five” (buffalo, lion, leopard, African elephant, and black rhinoceros) you have a better chance of doing so in South Africa than anywhere else in the world.

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5. Top 10 places to visit in South Africa

Whether you plan to stay long-term or just pass through, here are 10 essential places to visit in South Africa.

Trip South Africa is a heaven to those who love adventure, magnificent landscapes and diversity in nature. Once you have been there, you will always long to return and relive this extraordinary experience. It is not an easy task to decide which places are the best to visit, so in order not to get lost in the wild nature of South Africa, be sure to put these in your list.

Cape Town: Table Mountain

Well, the name of this key attraction already suggests it — a flat-topped mountain, overlooking Cape Town. Make sure to hike to the top of the mountain. The climb is a hard task, but the view from up there is spectacular — all of Cape Town`s radiance can be seen from up there, and the sea breeze will definitely freshen you up. For the not-so-adventurous type, there is a cable car to the summit.

Cape Town: The Cape Peninsula

If you are an trip South Africa adventurous type of person and you enjoy hiking — The Cape Peninsula is the best place to go. Within Table Mountain National Park, you will find the Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. The unspoiled nature will give you an experience to remember for a lifetime. If you visit this area in spring or early summer, you might see Southern Right Whales. Whatever time of year you visit, make sure you see the colony of 3,000 African penguins at Boulders Beach.

Cape Town: Robben Island
Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is famous for many things, but mostly for the prison where South Africa`s political prisoners were held during the Apartheid era. At various points in history, the island was also a leper colony, a mental hospital and a defense training base.


The prison is a remarkable tourist attraction, since you can walk the maximum security wing where anti-apartheid activists like Nelson Mandela were imprisoned. You can see what the life of the prisoners was like and where they worked. The interesting part of all this is that you get information first hand, from the people who lead you through this tour, as they are usually former political prisoners themselves and have a lot to share.

Oudtshoorn: The Garden Route
The Garden Route stretches from Mossel Bay (Western Cape) to the Storms River (Eastern Cape). It is a marvelous route to walk through. First you will probably want to take a peek at the ten nature reserves, then the marine reserves. You can experience the pleasure of seeing over 300 different bird species, coral reefs, dolphins, seals, and many other magnificent creatures. Along the Garden Route there are a couple of bays where whales come to calve from July to December. The best bay to go to is Plettenberg Bay, which is a whale hotspot.

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6. 20 MOST BEAUTIFUL NATURAL PLACES in trip South Africa

1. The wildness of Coffee Bay
The effortless sandy coves, steep green hillsides, cliffs, wild aloes, thatch-roofed mud huts and the notable hole-in-the-wall are an unbeatable combination on the Wild Coast, between East London and Port Edward. Land of hippies, surfers, hikers and the Xhosa people, incredible beachside landscape does not come better than this on your trip South Africa.

2. Red sandstone of the Cederberg
The Cederberg may have earned its name from the Cedar tree, but it is the red sandstone rock formations that are its most distinguishing feature. Weathered over time into a series of surreal shapes and memorable natural features, they dominate over 250 km of hiking trails.

3. Misty mountains of the Magoebaskloof
At the north eastern tip of the Drakensberg experience the misty mornings, green hills, forests draped in tree ferns, moss, fungi, liana’s and tangled tree matter of the indigenous forests, and accompanying plantations, of the ‘land of the Silver Mist’.

4. Bourke’s Luck potholes of the Blyde River Canyon
These bizarre natural water features, hewn by centuries of water, mark the start of the Blyde River Canyon. Take the 700 metre walk to view these unusual water features.

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7. 10 Top Things to Do in Cape Town

There’s something for everyone in Cape Town. Until you’ve been here, it sounds like the ultimate cliché. But spend any length of time in the city, and you’ll realise two things: firstly, there’s never enough time to do everything, and secondly, the cliché really is true. There are hundreds of things to see and do in Cape Town, but if you must choose just 10, start with these.

Get an aerial perspective of the city

There’s no better way to put the whole city of Cape Town into perspective than by getting up high. For most, this means queuing up for the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. Open whenever the weather permits, it will get you to the top of the famous mountain in a matter of minutes, although peak season queues can add an extra hour or two to this. For those who are physically able, a more rewarding approach is to earn your views. You can choose to summit Table Mountain via one of the many hiking trails, or opt for the incredible 360-degree views from the most climbed peak: Lion’s Head.

Spend a morning or afternoon on the beach
There are dozens of beaches in and around Cape Town that are worthy of at least one morning or afternoon. The most iconic and glamorous beaches are along the Atlantic Seaboard: the likes of Clifton, Camps Bay and Llandudno are beautiful, particularly if you’re a fan of sunsets. But those along the False Bay side are equally intriguing, and the slightly warmer waters make it a more realistic option if you’re looking to get wet.

Sample the Cape’s wines at a tranquil estate
The Cape’s wines punch well above their weight, and yet are still remarkably affordable. They vineyards are also great to trip South Africa  even if you’re not a fan of the fermented grape – the old architecture, tranquil surrounds and popular restaurants alone make them worth the trip. There are estates dotted throughout the region, with the closest in the suburb of Constantia. But for a full wine experience, consider heading to the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The drive is a bit longer, but you’ll find some truly breathtaking estates that allow you to sample award-winning wines.

Sample the Cape’s wines at a tranquil estate
The Cape’s wines punch well above their weight, and yet are still remarkably affordable. They vineyards are also great to visit even if you’re not a fan of the fermented grape – the old architecture, tranquil surrounds and popular restaurants alone make them worth the trip. There are estates dotted throughout the region, with the closest in the suburb of Constantia. But for a full wine experience, consider heading to the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The drive is a bit longer, but you’ll find some truly breathtaking estates that allow you to sample award-winning wines.

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