If you have never been to Africa and want to visit it for the first time, trip travel to South Africa is an excellent experience to discover the wonders of the continent. The beautiful landscapes and wildlife that until now you have only seen through movies or books will come true. South Africa is a distant country whose trip you must plan and take into account some safety recommendations. If you decide to travel to South Africa on your own, organize yourself with this article. That safari you dreamed of is getting closer!
Plan your trip travel to South Africa by answering these 11 questions
How to go to South Africa and how to move once to the destination?
From the U.S.A the only direct flight to South Africa is with South African Airways and Delta Air Lines. SAA from New York (JFK) and Washington Dulles. Delta Airlines from Atlanta. Both Air Lines fly to Johannesburg.
From most other USA Destinations (eg. Washington D.C., New York L.A., Miami or San Francisco) you can fly via a European capital with a European carrier such as British Airways, KLM, Air France or United. Alternatively, some of the Middle Eastern carriers are also flying into the USA, such as Emirates and Etihad.
There are also flights to the South African capital from New York and other important airports in USA that make stops in London, Washington, Toronto, Mexico City or Paris.
Once in South Africa, you can travel to the main ones on domestic flights.
10 Reasons To Travel To South Africa
Known as the country of the rainbow, located between two oceans and under the eternal spirit of Nelson Mandela, South Africa has everything a traveler is looking for: adventure, nature, culture, and history… We tell you 10 reasons why a trip travel to South Africa should be included on your globetrotting wishlist :
2.1. See the big seven
Surely you have already heard of the big five of Africa, those powerful animals that have taken control of safaris: the lion, the elephant, the buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros! But… what about spotting the southern right whale and the great white shark? What if you suddenly discovered that instead of five there are seven? Well, nothing, simply, you would have two more reasons to travel to the country of Nelson Mandela!
2.2. Enjoy nature and activities
Ok, yes, South Africa sounds like a Kruger Park safari; but that does not mean that the only thing you can do there is that. From trekking to whale watching through horseback riding, kayaking, mountain biking or even swimming with the famous white shark! You will have already realized that in this country nature is not the only wild thing you will find.
Speaking of nature… it is strictly forbidden to pass through South Africa without enjoying the beauty of the viewpoints of one of the largest canyons in the world, the Blyde River! And without going near the caves of Cango: the largest cave system in Africa!
2.3. It is a full-fledged gastronomic destination
If we had to make a list of the best foodie destinations, we would include it! In South Africa, the vineyards of the Cape (Franschoek) should be highlighted with their many restaurants and wineries and the modernity of the gastronomic venues of Cape Town, Johannesburg, or Pretoria. Only suitable for gourmet palates!
Try the famous sweet meatloaf or Bebotie and let your taste buds delight in the Bunny Chow – soft curry stuffed bread, one of the few foods that people of color had access to before Apartheid!
2.4. It has an exciting history
From its beginnings as the cradle of humanity, with the famous Mrs. Ples fossil, to the recent battle against Apartheid. To get to know this stage of South Africa there is nothing like visiting Robben Island: The prison that robbed Nelson Mandela of 18 years of his life! A visit is full of history, change, and revolution.
Visit the battlefields of KwaZulu Natal and discover the real scene of the wars between the British colonists and the Zulu tribe in 1879. This is one of the tops reason to travel to South Africa.
2.5. Infrastructures and quality accommodation for all tastes and pockets
Beautiful “Bed and Breakfast”, large international chains, small charming boutique hotels or the most exclusive lodge in the world! Looking for a complete immersion in South African culture? In that case, you cannot miss the treehouses or cabins on a tree! Because there is no shortage of places to sleep in South Africa and our consultants have selected the best ones to suit all types of travelers: adventurous, romantic, luxurious, authentic… Are you ready to star in “Out of Africa”?
2.6. The Garden Route and the “Fynbos”
The famous “Garden Route” of the Cape occupies 200 kilometers and is one of the richest areas in landscapes and vegetation on the planet! Imagine walking between mountainous enclaves, vineyards, extensive beaches with crystal clear waters, and Fynbos. Ah, you don’t know what Fynbos is? We tell you! Fynbos is a bushy plant formation typical of the Cape region, with exceptional scientific value. And it is that the great diversity of this South African territory has served researchers throughout history as a space for observing unique phenomena in the world, concerning the reaction of flora to fire., the processes of pollination of plants by insects and the different techniques of plant reproduction. Therefore, doing the Garden Route of South Africa is a must.
2.7. Cape Town
Cape Town is one of those places that anyone falls in love with! And it is that this coastal city is the viewpoint of the world. Take a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain and watch the first rays of the sun break through the mountains; Dive into the water with the elegant great white shark as your main companion and brag about having been to the edge of a country, a continent and the entire world! And yes, all of this, at the Cape of Good Hope.
2.8. The braai
In general terms, we could define it as a traditional South African barbecue. However, the concept goes far beyond a couple of words and is deeply rooted in the local culture and imagination. If you are lucky enough to be invited to a braai: go on an empty stomach and don’t make a single plan all day! Get ready to spend hours eating, drinking and laughing out loud!
2.9. The sardine run
When you hear the word “migration” surely the last thing you think of is sardines. Well yes, my friend, the wildebeests and zebras of the Serengeti are not the only ones that migrate in search of food and a more favorable climate. Millions of schools of sardines visit the shores of South Africa every year as they try to escape anything with teeth or a beak. Surreal as it may seem, this event is called a “sardine run” and inevitably captures the attention of any camera placed in front of it. Would you like to travel and live the Sardine Run?
2.10. The South Africans
After the storm comes the calm. And that is just what has happened in South Africa, a childhood and youth marked by Apartheid have today given way to an excellent coexistence between cities and citizens. Up to eleven official languages are currently spoken in Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein. The numerous ethnic groups that live there fill the country with color and life, earning it the name of “Rainbow Nation” or nation of the rainbow! All South Africans – regardless of the color of their skin and their roots – are proud of their country and eager to share the positivity that permeates their lives with the world!
It is impossible to condense the magic of this country in just ten points. Watching whales, walking the colorful streets of Cape Town or contemplating the immensity of Blyde River Canyon up close are just some of the endless reasons why a trip travel to South Africa is worthwhile!
Do I need a visa for my trip travel to South Africa?
If the purpose of your trip travel to South Africa is tourism and you are not going to stay in the country for more than 90 days, you will not need to obtain a visa.
Of course, you must have a valid passport before traveling to South Africa, a document that must meet these two requirements:
Have an expiration date of at least 30 days after the date of departure from the country and have 2 blank pages.
If you are going to travel to South Africa with children, they must bring their literal birth certificate or family book duly stamped, signed, and translated into English.
In addition, if they are traveling alone, with a parent, or with other adults, they must have a travel authorization translated into English and a certified copy of the passport of the parent who is not accompanying them.
We leave you this other article in which you will find information to travel with children or when they do it without your company.
What vaccinations do I need to travel to South Africa?
If you are going to make your trip travel to South Africa from the USA, it is not required to present a vaccination certificate to enter the country. There are some recommended vaccines such as Hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, and tetanus.
Treatment against malaria is recommended if you are going to visit risk areas, located in the northeast of the country, such as Kruger Park. In large cities, there is no risk of being bitten by the mosquito that transmits the disease.
On the other hand, it is advisable to take precautions when having sexual relations, since the number of people infected with HIV in South Africa is very high.
What is the best time to travel to South Africa?
There is no set time to visit South Africa since it depends on the type of trip you are going to make. Being located in the southern hemisphere, the seasons in South Africa are opposite to those in Europe. Winter in South Africa, from June to September, is dry and not too cold.
It is the best time to enjoy the fauna. The vegetation is less leafy and the animals concentrate in the rivers to drink. In addition, the southern whale begins to reach the coast. It is also a good season for outdoor activities and sports.
The South African spring is spread from September to November. Temperatures rise during the day. It is a season that allows us to see beautiful landscapes full of flowers, such as those of the West Coast National Park, about 90 kilometers from Cape Town.
Summer, from December to March, is hot and humid, with the presence of thunderstorms. It is a good time to continue enjoying the vegetation of the country and the possibilities offered by the coast.
It is advisable to avoid December and January when there are more tourists and higher prices.
If your trip travel to South Africa is in autumn, from April to May, you will be able to enjoy your stay in Cape Town thanks to the sunny days and warm nights, which invite you to frequent the open-air spaces.
6. Is South Africa a safe country?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarifies that, although the majority of tourists who travel to South Africa do not suffer major incidents and the authorities make an effort to ensure their protection, it must be taken into account that there is a “very high degree of crime, sometimes violent.” However, most of the crimes are concentrated in disadvantaged and lonely areas of big cities or at night and, following common-sense recommendations, we should not worry too much. The Embassy advises:
01: Bring photocopies of your travel documentation separate from the originals.
02: Don’t walk out with too much cash and avoid flaunting valuables.
03: Be cautious when using ATMs to avoid theft or fraud with card data.
04: Avoid walking around city centers and beaches after dark, nor do it alone.
05: Find out at the hotel which places to avoid, as well as the safe routes and the means of transport to use, especially taxis and trains.
What currency is used in South Africa and how can I pay?
The currency of South Africa is the Rand (ZAR). It is best to bring US dollars or euros in cash, along with a credit card. The amount of foreign exchange entering South Africa is unlimited. However, the output amount cannot be higher than what we input.
It is recommended that you exchange euros or dollars for South African rands (1 euro = 14 rands approx.) at banks, exchange houses, and hotels. Doing it in street stalls is illegal and carries the risk of robbery. It’s a good idea to keep your South African currency exchange receipts to exchange any leftover rands before you leave. ATMs are easily found in cities. Card payment is quite widespread. Try not to lose sight of your card, trying to be in front when they charge you. In rural areas, you will most likely have to use cash.
Tips are taken for granted, especially in most tourist areas, and represent between 10 and 15% of the total.
How to drive in South Africa?
If you are going to rent a car on your trip travel to South Africa, you must have an international driving license.
When driving, it is advisable to take some safety measures. Make sure to close windows and doors and prevent valuables or luggage from being visible from the outside. Get informed and avoid circulating in the areas marked as “Hi-jacking Hotspot”, where robberies usually take place. Parkin guarded areas, never on the street at night.
In South Africa, people drive on the left, which causes some accidents for foreign tourists. Include the towing and towing service in the vehicle insurance, and do not accept towing services that have not been previously requested.
What to see in South Africa?
We already know that we are going to fall short, but these are the main destinations to see in South Africa.
- Johannesburg: Joburg, as it is known, cannot be understood without the “Apartheid” regime, which is remembered with visits to the Apartheid Museum or the Soweto neighborhood, the district of the city where the largest agglomeration of blacks was concentrated during the apartheid regime. Today it is a lively and touristy area full of bars, shops and hotels. However, there are areas of the neighborhood that should be avoided or accompanied by a local. You can also visit the house of Nelson Mandela or the Regina Mundi Church, where you can still see the bullet holes from the clashes in the fight for independence. From the top floor of the Carlton Center, you will enjoy unbeatable views of Johannesburg.
- The Kruger National Park: It is the best national park in South Africa to go on a safari and spot the Big Five
- Cape Town: It is reputed to be one of the best-located cities in the world. Be sure to stroll down bustling Long Street or the Victorian Waterfront. Without leaving Cape Town you will have the possibility to take an excursion in one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain. Enjoy the sea views from the mountain while you take a walk, have a picnic or watch the sunset.
- Cape of Good Hope: It will allow you to make one of the most beautiful road trips in South Africa, seeing beautiful white sand beaches and accompanied, with luck, by ostriches or penguins. If your trip travel to South Africa is between June and November, be sure to visit Hermanus, the city of whales, and neighboring Gaansbai, the home of the great white shark. Boats depart from this town for divers who, caged, enjoy the passage of sharks.
- The vineyard route in Stellenbosch: Traveling to this university city near Cape Town you can enjoy the landscape full of vineyards and the beauty of the wineries with colonial architecture, which organize tastings and traditional cuisine menus.
- Blyde River Canyon: In the province of Mpumalanga is one of the three largest canyons in the world. Its rich vegetation can be admired walking along walkways and viewpoints.
What to do in South Africa? A must, go on safari
South Africa is a country rich in natural parks and is one of the countries in Africa where we can still see the “big five”: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros.
To visit them, there are annual cards that allow you to enter freely as many times as you want. However, the daily ticket is usually quite cheap. Depending on the park, it can cost from 4 to 17 euros.
Staying in a hotel near the park will make you get up early less.
You can tour the park by arranging a jeep tour (may include hotel pick-up and transfer to the park) or on your own. This second option is cheaper. With the help of a guide, you will enjoy the vegetation and animals more comfortably since you will not have to pay attention to driving and the map. In addition, you can take care when taking pictures. Of course, make sure you have a good seat in the vehicle to have the best views. Some animals will not be close enough to see them well without binoculars.
If you are fond of photography, we recommend using a large lens (300-500 mm.) and a good zoom that captures the animals, their texture and their expressions in detail. The clothes to wear on safari, always comfortable, will vary depending on the season in which you travel to South Africa. However, safaris usually start first thing in the morning, so it doesn’t hurt to throw on some long-sleeved clothing even if it’s summer. Use natural colors (greens and browns) that do not attract attention. Protect yourself from the sun, drink water and use insect repellent.
Try to keep quiet when there are animals present to prevent them from being scared and leaving.
Also read :
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02: Pick Travel Pillow and Blanket Set for Your Next Trip
How to use the mobile and connect to the Internet in South Africa?
In case you have not contracted a roaming service with your company, the best option to use the mobile in South Africa is to buy a SIM card, insert it into an unlocked phone and purchase a prepaid card. To buy a SIM card you will have to identify yourself, so you must carry your passport. Mobile coverage with the various carriers is good in major urban areas and main roads, although staying connected via 3G can be difficult at times. Remember to turn off data roaming so your phone doesn’t automatically connect to the Internet while you’re not using it.
Another option for calling from South Africa is to buy a calling card for international calls and use it on a public phone.
The use of WIFI in booths and Internet cafes is cheap. In addition, you can also use the hotel network.
To charge your devices, you will need to purchase a plug adapter. In South Africa, the common voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Plugs and sockets are type D and M, with three wide pins.