South Africa is a country that intrigued us from an early age. Especially Sigrid was amazed by this place. Her grandmother also traveled to this beautiful country a long time ago and she still calls it the most beautiful trip she ever made. It is not surprising that this country in Africa is on the bucket list of many people with its unseen range of different fauna and flora. Because in South Africa you can see both the big-five of the land but also that of the sea. In addition, you also have the opportunity to do a nice citytrip in Cape Town. And the history of Nelson Mandela also makes this country the ideal place for a special trip. One that will certainly stay with us for a long time.
about SOUTH AFRICA
BEST TRAVEL TIME
Although you can actually travel to South Africa all year round, there are of course ideal moments. It is best to travel to North and Central South Africa from March to October. And to the Western Cape in March and April or September and October. In all other months you can also perfectly travel to this country, but the chances of rain are approximately higher. However, it is never going to be very cold.
If you want to book a ticket from Belgium, you pay an average of € 350 for a single ticket with a layover in Johannesburg and an average of € 450 to Cape Town. However, these are average prices so you can always find a cheaper ticket or flight from another country. For example, you can sometimes book direct tickets from the Netherlands and Germany from 300 euros / ticket to Cape Town. Please note, you have to be flexible for the dates and often also have an overnight flight. Something we did with the Condor company from Frankfurt. We even managed to score an upgrade for 50 euros at the airport.
In South Africa you have a wide range of different accommodations. You can take an expensive lodge in a nature reserve or a cheap Airbnb in one of the cities. Sticking a price on a stay in South Africa is therefore not easy, because everyone has a different standard. We, who do not need a high standard but do like comfort and space, booked a spacious room with shared bathroom in Cape Town for 420 euros for 3 weeks. Which we think is a good deal, because the location was perfect. We paid 200 euros per night for our lodge during our safari. So you make it as expensive as you want.
RENT A CAR
You don’t have to worry about transport in South Africa, because they are all safe. You can rent a car where you can plan a nice road trip, read here where you can do this. But be careful not to make any violations. Because the fines are very high in South Africa. A night in the cell with a very heavy sentence is not excluded. You must also have had a driving license for 5 years to be allowed to drive. And the traffic rules are completely different from ours. They also drive on the left like in Great Britain so you have to get used to this. We preferred not to drive on the road ourselves.
If you prefer not to go on a road trip through South Africa yourself, you can also take the hop-on hop-off bus. This will get you safely from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban and Port-Elizabeth. You can then get on and off the buses for 7, 14 or 21 days at 40 locations. The ideal way to travel cheaply through this beautiful country. Something that is a bit too exhausting in our opinion. More information can be found here. In the major cities of South Africa you also have well-arranged public transport, but this is usually not so punctual. Something you have to take into account.
Traveling through South Africa by train is a challenge, but not completely impossible. This way you can make a 24 hour drive from Cape Town to Pretoria. Something that may be long, but certainly not boring. Because apart from the stylish train with great comfort, you also travel through the fantastic landscapes of South Africa. The prices of these trains sometimes vary from day to day. But they are certainly not cheap. Unlike all other train rides you can book. Please note, a train does not run as fast in South Africa as it does with us!
And finally you can also take the plane to go from one city to another in South Africa. Which is also the cheapest way. Nowadays, you can already travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg for 25 euros (without luggage). Something that in our opinion is a bit cheap, but completely safe. It is of course not very sustainable.
WHAT TO DO IN SOUTH AFRICA?
FOOD IN SOUTH AFRICA
In South Africa you can really find all kinds of cuisines. And certainly in the big cities such as Cape Town. Italian, Greek, Indian and even Belgian, you can find it all there. Between the big cities you will mainly encounter many African dishes with a lot of meat. For example, a braai (BBQ) is one of the most popular ways of cooking in this country. Eating in South Africa doesn’t have to be that expensive. For example, in a restaurant outside the tourist zone you pay an average of 100 rand for a dish (slightly more than 6 euros). You can count double in the tourist zone. Cooking yourself is of course the cheapest solution and it’s possible from 40 rand per person (a little more than 2 euros). So you make it as expensive as you want.
documents for south africa
As a tourist, you don’t have to do much for South Africa. You only need an international passport that is still valid for 30 days after departure in South Africa. Although these checks are not very strict. If you are staying in this country for more than 3 months, you must apply to the Ministry of the Interior within 60 days of your arrival. If you travel from a Yellow Fever country, you must have a document that you have been vaccinated. If you are traveling with a child alone, you need a statement of approval from the unaccompanied parent. More information can be obtained from the South African embassy.
VACCINes FOR SOUTH AFRICA
In South Africa, vaccine for Yellow Fever is only mandatory if you have been in a Yellow Fever country 7 days before arrival in this country. This rule also applies to people who had to make a layover in a country where this disease is present. Although it never hurts to take this vaccine, even if you don’t have to. A vaccine for DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio) is also recommended. As well as a vaccine against hepatitis A. Vaccines against rabies (rabies) can never hurt either. Because there are some wild animals that can bite and cause an infection.
INTERNET IN SOUTH AFRICA
Most hotels and Airbnb’s have a reasonable Wi-Fi network where in many cases you can even stream episodes on Netflix. You can also find free Wi-Fi in the large shopping centers in Cape Town. However, in South Africa it is recommended to also buy a SIM card with 4G so that you can go anywhere on the internet. If you often use Uber like us, you will need it. Some reliable providers of SIM cards are MTN, Cell C and Telkom (which is a subsidiary of Vodafone). On average you pay 15 euros for a card. At the airport, these prices are often double.
In South Africa it is not mandatory to tip, but this is expected! A tip between 10 and 15 percent at a restaurant is common. The staff at restaurants or hotels don’t earn that much and in some cases even depend on this tip. An amount between 10 and 20 Rand is common for taxi drivers and maids. A tip up to 150 Rand is recommended to a Ranger at a safaripark. But not mandatory.
You cannot leave South Africa without some nice souvenirs. Although you should be careful not to bring souvenirs made from endangered animals or plant species. Because this sometimes dares to be the case. The best thing about South African souvenirs, are the taxes you earn back at the airport. Simply show your invoice of the purchase and they will pay you back the taxes. Warning! This rule only applies to items that have cost more than 250 Rand.
In South Africa you can withdraw money practically anywhere with your credit card and in some places even with your Maestro card. You can also pay with a credit card in many shops and bars. Still, it is recommended to carry some cash. Especially if you travel through the inland where electronic payment is not always possible. Or to give tips to staff or pay taxi drivers.
In South Africa you can photograph almost everything without problems. However, it is always recommended to ask that you’re allowed to photograph someone. Generally nobody will have a problem with this but you never know. If you want to photograph someone in the townships, it is recommended to give the photographed person a small tip. Even when you visit a local school where you make videos, you can always leave a small amount of cash. They appreciate it so much.
SAFETY IN SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is generally a very safe country for tourists. But of course you shouldn’t go looking for the danger yourself. For example, you should not take an Airbnb far outside the city where few reviews have been written about. And you can’t go to a township without a guide who knows the area very well. It is also recommended not to walk outside after the shops are closed. We never had bad experiences in Cape Town, but there are also other stories. Downloading an app like MAPS.Me to navigate anywhere is also an extra security so you always know exactly where you are.