South Africa Travel Advice

Submitted by ReidMR on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 18:00

Travel Advice for South Africa

Here is travel advice to help you enjoy your stay in South Africa.


There is much to do in South Africa. There are game parks, mountain hikes, a country inside the country, developed cities, and dire poverty. The bare minimum visit to South Africa is two weeks. A month would be better. Here are ideas for what to do and where to stay. This is for someone looking for a low cost trip with great and memorable experiences.

Traveling South Africa using the established backpacking infrastructure will afford great times at low cost. It will be unforgettable for positive reasons. Hostels start at ~15 USD a night for one person. If you choose this option use the Coast to Coast (C2C) website, Coast to Coast, Coasting Africa. They publish free books available in most backpackers or as a free PDF download from their website here. Coast to Coast has detailed and useful information about the hot spots in South Africa, where to go, stay, and what to do. The Baz Bus website is also a friend. This is a great transportation network that stops at most locations from the Coast to Coast website. They also have a map of stops on their site. A two week Baz Bus pass to travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg is ~R1900 - ~R2100 (~220 USD). You can travel as much as you want on the network. A one way ticket is available so you can take your time to go from one end to the other, click here for their ticket options. The Baz Bus also offers other ticket options. Use the Baz Bus AND / OR rent a car.

Riding and driving are both great. The Baz Bus is cheaper for a single traveler. You can rent cars at a daily rate to go on short excursions from a Baz Bus stop. A decent car rental company is Around About Cars. If you use the Baz Bus look at their timetable to plan your trip. Most of the places next mentioned are on the Baz Bus network. Some exceptions can be reached from nearby hostels or cities.

You can buy a pay as you go sim card to use in an unlocked phone for ~2 USD at local malls or grocery stores. The SIM card is useful to call backpackers, hostels, and anything else. Requirements change, but a passport and proof of address should be enough to get one.

Places I Liked and a Sample Route

Start in Cape Town and leave from Johannesburg. Alternatively travel in reverse starting from Jo'burg and leaving from Cape Town.

Cape Town: from here you can shark dive (~100 USD), visit wine country, see Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela and others were imprisoned, book in advance), join a city tour on an open air bus (~10 USD each), go to Table Mountain, visit the beach, and check out Cape Point for amazing scenery. The ocean is too cold to comfortably swim without a wetsuit. The water in east South Africa is warmer. Ask your hostel for a nearby flea market to check out.

Take the Garden Route towards Johannesburg.

We went to Plettenberg Bay and Jeffreys Bay. Jeffreys Bay is a world class surf site. There is bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge for ~100 USD. It is touted as the worlds highest bungee jump. It was awesome! They used to let naked jumpers go free, but then too many people did it. You might be able to persuade them to let you go naked. They only let me strip down to my boxers.

East London is nice for the Sugar Shack (C2C). A wonderful hostel with the ocean and a nearby natural arch to jump off. Nearby you can surf, sand board, and get surfing lessons. Surfing lessons are ~15 USD for an hour or two. The Sugar Shack has a fairly quiet road between it and the ocean. A rugged path leads to a natural arch to jump into the ocean. Bring hiking shoes. Throw footwear down before jumping so it is easier to climb up.

Hogsback is nice for a day or two. You can hike the trails with four nice waterfalls. It is romantic and very beautiful.

Chintsa offers horse and bike riding. The bike ride goes to a local village to talk with locals. It is touristy but really neat. That is where I saw a girl bare all as she changed in front of me.

My friends all loved Coffee Bay. If you have a car it is easier to get to. I ran out of time.

Durban is an overnight stop. You can go scuba diving which costs 2-300 USD for 2-3 days. Look up the details on C2C or right from your hostel if interested. Durban has day activities with one example being an aquarium. This is where I bought my necklace and some souvenirs for friends and family.

From here you can go to Drakensberg or Swaziland. If you want to see both you will backtrack somewhat.

Go to Drakensberg to see mountains. They organize nice day hiking trips as well as a Lesotho day trip (a country inside of Africa). Lesotho felt more like the stereotypical Africa and it was a great visit.

My friends said Swaziland was amazing. Time cut that out. They also visited the wonderful Kruger National Park. This is THE game reserve to see. It is the biggest and best. Either route to Johannesburg is awesome.

Then fly out of Johannesburg.

Honeymooners / Romance

Cape Town is a great place to stay. Hout Bay and Camps Bay are both romantic but expensive. You can do a lot from there. Look above at the Cape Town section. Camps Bay has awesome hotels right by the beach. Find a place and you will be set.

Honeymooners who have energy to travel and want an unforgettable time and amazing experience can start in Camps Bay for a couple days, and then travel along the coast to Johannesburg. Fly into Cape Town and fly out of Jo'burg. Backpack along the way as it will offer great times for low cost. You could start the trip by backpacking because you can get a room for two people to save a ton of money. It would be ~20 - 30 USD a night. To get the value of South Africa travel the coast instead of staying in one place. Scroll to the top and read the backpacking information.

Visit the South Africa Wikitravel page for additional great and useful information.

Happy Travels

You can follow my personal experience in South Africa here.