South Africa Travel Tips

Is South Africa safe for solo female travelers?

08/04/2019

Last updated on November 15th, 2019 at 12:52 am

Is South Africa safe to visit right now

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Planning a trip to South Africa and wondering Is South Africa safe? or Is Solo Female Travel in South Africa Safe then you’ve come to the right place!

As a South African native, not only do I think it’s important to tell people what’s REALLY going on in South Africa but I believe it’s important to answer questions like: “Is South Africa safe especially for solo female travelers ?” so people can know what to expect when visiting South Africa for the first time.

“Is South Africa safe to visit alone?”, “What’s life in South Africa really like?” and “Is South Africa safe for white tourists?” These are some of the questions people ask me every time I tell them I am from South Africa. The truth is Yes, South Africa is safe for EXPERIENCED solo travelers.

South Africa ranked 92nd on the list of the world’s safest countries. There are many safety issues specific to South Africa, but by following the tips below, solo Female travelers will be able to have an amazing time in South Africa while staying safe.

Why travel to South Africa 

With a combination of beautiful landscapes, people, history, and culture it’s no surprise South Africa is a popular tourist destination.

It’s also no secret that South Africa doesn’t have the best reputation especially when it comes to safety. Most travelers are advised to be extra cautious or simply not to visit the country.

Is South Africa safe to travel alone as a woman?

I personally believe if it’s your first time traveling solo, you shouldn’t come to South Africa. It pains me to say this because I love my country and I believe it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world! I want to share our wildlife, food, and heritage with everyone but, South Africa is best for experienced women travelers with lots of solo travel experience.

Life in South Africa today is not the same way it was 10 years ago. You can never let your guard down, you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. If it’s your first time traveling solo you might not know which signs to look for and how to react in certain situations.

As a local, I’m sharing everything you need to know to stay safe and make the most out of your next trip to South Africa.

Is it safe to travel to South Africa right now? 

What’s really going on in South Africa?

As of 1 January 2019, South Africa’s first-ever minimum wage was enforced. The legislation stipulates a minimum national rate of R20 per hour, or R3 500 per month, depending on the number of hours worked.

R20 (ZAR) = $1.35 (USD)

By July 2019, the new minimum wage was listed as one of the reasons for an increase in the unemployment rate.

In April 2019, TIME Magazine listed South Africa as one of the most unequal countries in the world. With a cover picture is from photographer Johnny Miller’s Unequal Scenes, a series of photographs from around the world which he took to highlight inequality and the plight of the poor.

In May 2019, Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as the President of The Republic of South Africa. After former President Jacob Zuma resigned while facing 18 charges of corruption, including more than 700 counts of fraud and money laundering.

In July 2019, it was reported that the government sent the South African National Defense Force (military) to Cape Town to help fight crime.

Cape Town has the highest recorded rates of murder, robbery and non-violent property-related crimes out of nine major cities in the country.

The country’s unemployment rate was 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019. In August 2019, it was reported that our unemployment rate has increased to 29%. There are 58 million documented people living in SA and most of them don’t have jobs and those who do have jobs earn about $2 an hour.

In October 2019, it was reported that unemployment has risen by 8.8 percentage points since 2008 and at 29.1% – the highest its ever been!

In November 2019, South Africa won the Rugby World Cup for the 3rd time! This brought a little joy to the nation and was one of the few great things that happened this year.

Is South Africa safe to live?

Most travelers visit popular tourist cities and attractions and they don’t venture to the outskirts of the country.

Living and visiting any country is not the same. As someone who was born in South Africa and also had an opportunity to live in 4 other countries, I understand that South Africa is a third world country.

The country has a lot of debt from the apartheid era. Today, 25 years since apartheid ended, there are still people with no access to basic services like water, electricity, and sanitation.

Living in South Africa vs. visiting South Africa

I came home to see my family after being away for 2.5 years, It was the first time I noticed the differences between life at home and abroad. I can’t just walk in the streets whenever I want to.

At stop signs and traffic lights, my foot is always next to the accelerator & I don’t apply the handbrake, in case something happens and I need to speed off. When I’m out at the mall with friends, I can’t relax because I’m constantly thinking I’ll get back to the parking lot and my car will be gone. When I’m home, the doors must be locked at all times and you need burglar bars on your windows and doors.

Some people are fortunate enough to have security guards and security systems. Most have high walls with electric fences and thick curtains so people on the outside can’t see the inside of your house when in some countries they don’t have walls around their homes or curtains.

Most South Africans don’t have the opportunities and funds to just pack up and move. With our passport, we can’t even visit other African countries like Morocco visa-free so the idea of moving your whole family to another country with better opportunities is not a reality for the everyday South African but something people dream about.

Most people, like my parents, would never even consider moving because they genuinely love the country and everyone (and everything) they know is in South Africa. I would never permanently leave my country because despite everything I’m still proud to be South African and I love it here!

This is our reality and most people don’t experience it because they visit and stay in luxury hotels and never go anywhere beyond tourist destinations like Cape Town.

Momentum, a South African financial solutions company that provides medical aid, life, home, and car insurance recently published their annual Citizen Survey Report which shows that, almost three in every four citizens listed unemployment as the largest problem in South Africa.

Solo Female Travel South Africa

With all the issues mentioned above, people seem to think crime will solve their problems and unfortunately, it won’t but this shouldn’t discourage you from visiting the country. You just need to be a smart traveler.

Is South Africa dangerous

Is it safe to travel to South Africa? According to the South Africa Travel Advisory on the USA government website, visitors must exercise caution in South Africa due to crime, civil unrest, and drought. The British government doesn’t seem to think South Africa is dangerous either, however they do advice citizens to exercise caution.

Are there terrorist attacks in South Africa

We have never had any terrorist threats or natural disasters.

Is there racism in South Africa?

We have minor racism issues. Non-whites are accepted everywhere but not really welcome in some parts of the country.

People have complained about bed and breakfast hosts refusing to let them stay after finding out they aren’t white and random police searches, this mostly happens in the South Coast of South Africa.

The government is tackling the issue by SLOWLY introducing new laws, A white lady was jailed for using racist slurs (March 2018) and the old South Africa (Apartheid flag) has been banned (new law introduced in August 2019). The race issue is sensitive but most people get along.

Are there white farmer murders In South Africa?

I always read about this and I have to disagree with most comments online. No one is targeting white farmers in South Africa. If you read through South Africa’s crime statistics, you will learn about South Africa’s population (7.8% – white, 80.9% – black, 8.8% – colored (mixed race) and 2.5% – Asian) and how crime affects everyone equally.

Image: Business Tech

Is South Africa safe for white tourists

Yes!!! South Africa is safe for white people!

Land Issues in South Africa

During the 2018 – 2019 election season some political parties discussed the land without expropriation issue.

Quick History Lesson: During Apartheid, the government introduced the Group Area’s Act this meant that if you’re white you can only live in areas with white people, visa versa. This affected a lot of people (mostly non-whites), who were forcefully removed from their homes and some people were even killed.

During the elections, there were discussions of giving the land back to its rightful owners (who can prove ownership). This led to a panic and an increase in people selling their properties and moving abroad.

Xenophobia in South Africa

Xenophobic violence has become a regular and highly visible feature of South Africa’s political landscape. This doesn’t really affect travelers as no one will think you are moving here to “steal their jobs” (especially white people), but it’s something to be aware of.

Common Types of Crime in South Africa

If you are wondering is it safe to travel to South Africa, this summary can help you.

Crime / IssueRisk Level
Natural DisastersLow
TerrorismLow
PickpocketsMedium
ScamsMedium
Sexual AssualtHigh
MurderHigh
Car HijackingHigh
Mugging RiskHigh

Getting around: Is South Africa safe to travel 

Getting around South Africa might be hard if you don’t have a car. Public transportation is limited in some destinations and non-existent in others. 

Is it safe to drive in South Africa

Remember that hijackings and smash-and-grab robberies in cars are common.

Don’t leave your handbag or electronics on the seats while driving. When you stop, don’t leave them in your car trunk.

Always double check to see if the car door is locked, don’t rely on the car remote to automatically do the job but manually check to see if the door is locked, car lock jamming is popular, especially in big cities!

When you get in the car, close your windows and lock the doors.

Hijackings can happen at any time of the day, even at traffic lights or gas stations! Don’t rent a flashy or expensive car, opt for a brand that won’t make you stand out like a Ford or Toyota. Volkswagen is one of the most stolen brands in the country.

Tips for cheap flights in South Africa

South Africa has different domestic airlines based on your budget and location. First, compare flight costs before booking your flight. My favorite domestic airline is Kulula, I’ve also had positive experiences with FlySafair.

I wouldn’t recommend Mango because they’ve left me stranded three times due to delayed flights with no communication and over-bookings.

Are taxis safe in South Africa

Most locals use minibus taxis also known as rideshares in other countries. These can be flagged down on the side of the road (there are specific hand signals for different locations) or you can find a taxi at one of the many taxi ranks in the country.

I wouldn’t recommend using this method of transportation because when you don’t know where you are going or how to stop a taxi, you will stand out and might attract attention from the wrong people.

I would recommend using UBER, as the drivers will pick you up and drop you off at the exact location of your choice. It’s also it’s safer (especially at night) and you don’t have to pay in cash. 

Are public trains safe in South Africa

Don’t use the public trains (MetroRail) – the trains are old, overcrowded, never on time and not safe because there’s no security.

Opt for the Gautrain (only available in Pretoria and Johannesburg). These trains are South Africa’s version of bullet trains, the trains are bit pricey but comfortable, clean (no eating, even chewing gum or drinking is allowed) and safe (security guards and CCTV In every car).

How to meet Female Solo Travelers in South Africa

If you are concerned as a solo traveler, try to meet-up with other travelers. Traveling together, you can keep each other company and deter any potential petty theft or robberies.

Female Personal Safety Gadgets for South Africa

Don’t you wish we lived in a world where the possibility of being assaulted, violated or even murdered wasn’t one of the things to take into consideration when traveling or even just living in your own country? 

Traveling South Africa alone as a female is already stressful so make sure you have the right personal safety gadgets for this trip.

 Personal safety gadgets for solo female travelers in South Africa

  • Phone Lanyard: A phone sling where I can attach it to my belt/waist/bag so that I don’t drop/lose it (I’d die if anything happens to my phone!) Buy the black one. The elastic is stronger!
  • Not your typical money belt: I chose this one and agree with the reviews that the material feels stronger. It’s also moisture-wicking and comfortable to wear! I know some similar products already have zippers but this one feels like it holds better but has no zippers. and acts like Spanx!
  • The double-ended S-biner lockWith thousands of claims filed annually for lost items, you need a lock that can turn most handbags into thief-proof! 
  • Pacsafe Bra Pouch: Ideal to keep your money, IDs and credit cards safe from pickpockets and thieves. The turn-and-snap connector clasp design is different from comparable products, easy to use and prevents the pouch from unsnapping accidentally.
  • Pacsafe Cash Belt: It’s metal-free-ish so you can wear it through security without setting off alarms! It holds cash AND your pants up. I love mine!

Hotel room security gadgets for females in South Africa

  • Portable Door Jammer: Use for a door barricade in an Airbnb or hotel to be able to lock yourself in a room.

What to Wear in South Africa

South Africa is a diverse country with no official “dress code”. You can dress up or wear leggings everywhere, no one cares! If you plan on visiting a fancy restaurant or theater, perhaps wear something nice but they won’t stop you from coming in if you are in jeans.

With thousands of stores around the country and one of the biggest malls in Africa (Literally called Mall of Africa), you can find anything from affordable to expensive local and international designer brands.

Some of my favorite local brands are FabroSanz (Sandi made my prom dress almost 10 years ago) and Maxhosa by Laduma

Refrain from wearing all-khaki outfits. For some odd reason, the go-to international tourist’s outfit is head to toe khaki when visiting Africa. You might not be aware but this makes you stand out, especially when you’re not on safari (even when you’re on safari, there’s no need to be dressed in head to toe khaki).

You can be easily spotted by locals and criminals, personally I think dressing this way is a way of standing out and I don’t recommend it. And the straw hats, please don’t wear one if you’re not on a safari.

Also, keep in mind that in some African countries only military personnel are allowed to wear all camouflage gear and you can be jailed for dressing like the military. However, this doesn’t apply in SA!

Suggested Reading: Things to know before your first safari

Buy SPF. Wear sun protection every day to protect your skin.

Solo Female Travel and Safety Tips for South Africa

When traveling South Africa alone, especially as a female. Here are some tips to stay safe!

  • Most international visitors arrive at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, where there are no overnight flights and all shops close between 11 pm to 6 am. I recommend arriving in the daytime as it’s easier to navigate your way through the city and if you’d like to rest, I shared a list of Hotels near Johannesburg Airport.
  • Avoid crowds. If something like protests, demonstrations, or a national crisis of some sort are happening, do not get involved. It may seem tempting, but not engaging will help ensure your safety. Protests in SA usually end in violence and police shooting at protesters.
  • Always vacuum-wrap your luggage. It cost me R90 (about $7) at Johannesburg airport in September 2019. If you want your belongings to be safe – I highly recommend this. Especially for Domestic Flights.
  • Don’t carry cash. Almost all establishments accept debit and credit cards. Keep in mind that they don’t accept any currency other than South African Rand’s (ZAR). I’d recommend getting a Transferwise Bordlessless travel card like mine. Beware of Card cloning, ATM scams, pick-pocketing. Never give anyone your card, ID or passport (Hotels will usually ask to make a copy of your ID when you check-in, this is normal). Take precautions to avoid identity theft.

Suggested Reading: How to protect yourself from cyber crime while traveling

  • If something bad happens (like a life-threatening emergency), call your local embassy. The South African Police Service (SAPS) isn’t really the most reliable police force in the world, in most cases, they won’t help or they will take your statement and nothing will happen. Speaking of your embassy, make sure you google their address and emergency contact number before coming to South Africa. Most consulates are in the capital city of Pretoria (near Johannesburg).

Sometimes the police will surprise you and help.

  • Share a copy of your itinerary with a close friend or family before leaving for your holiday in South Africa. This should include contact numbers for your accommodation and tour operators you are using while in South Africa.
  • Do not geotag animals. South Africa is home to some endangered wildlife. When you reveal their geographic location on social media, you can put both their lives and yours in danger. Poachers can attack a game reserve to kill rhinos for their horns or elephants for their trunks and you might be in the crossfire.
  • If someone robs you. Don’t try and fight them, what’s more, important your phone or your life? You can report it to the police if you’d like, although they probably won’t help, it’s worth a try! And you’ll need a police report to claim from your travel insurance.

Where to Go in South Africa

South Africa is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and it’s easy to see why!

Spending 7 days in South Africa is enough time to get an introduction to this country that has it all! Multilingual locals, stunning mountain vistas, coastline, wildlife, vibrant cities and an abundance of wine, what more could you want?!

Visiting South Africa is a brilliant idea and planning a South African Travel itinerary before you visit is probably a good start but it’s hard to know what to fit into your trip.

I’ve asked a few bloggers to contribute and compiled this guide to the best places to visit in South Africa along with a recommended time for each destination so you can pick and choose what works for your time, budget and interests.

Things to do in 2 weeks in South Africa

A guide to the best places to visit in South Africa so you can create your own South African itinerary.

Johannesburg also known as JoBurg (2-5 days)

2 weeks in South Africa

Picture: Tim Johnson

Johannesburg serves as a getaway into South Africa as most international travelers arrive in JNB. Whether you want to relax, shop, learn about SA history or see wildlife. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group. From budget to luxury travelers. Johannesburg is one of those cities where there’s something for everyone to do.

While in Johannesburg, there are many day trips you can plan, here are some suggestions:

Soweto (1 day)

 

South Western Township (Soweto) also known as the heartbeat of the nation started as a temporary settlement for goldfield workers when black South Africans migrated to Gauteng to work in gold mines in the late 1880s, they initially settled in the center of Johannesburg. As you would expect from a township with so much history, culture and nature, there’s plenty of fun things to do in Soweto as shared by Blogger, Meletso:

  • Visit the Hector Peterson Museum. This memorial pays tribute to the victims of the 1976 Soweto Uprising and serves as a reminder of the killing of 176 school children in protest against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. South Africa celebrates 16 June as Youth Day.
  • Visit the Orlando Towers where you can go bungee jumping. An interesting fact is that the towers are used for advertising; they are painted by the sponsors for a 5 year period.
  • Head to the Mandela House on No. 8115 Vilakazi Street in Orlando West. This was Nelson Mandela’s home from 1946 to the early 1990s. It was donated to the SOWETO Heritage Trust in 1997. Vilakazi Street is also the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners reside.

Tshwane also known as Pretoria (1 day)

Things to do in Pretoria

 

South Africa’s administrative capital city is a charming mix of old and new; a friendly, historical city that bursts into color in the springtime when over 50 000 Jacaranda trees bloom in all their purple glory.

As a Pretoria native, I’ve shared many things to do in Pretoria over the years.

My favorite activity is to have a picnic at the Union Buildings. Sit on the lawns overlooking a 3.5-ton bronze statue of South Africa’s first democratically-elected president in an open-arm embrace pose. This is the largest bronze statue of Nelson Mandela in the world.

It’s free to enter the grounds but entry into the actual building is permitted as it’s the office of the President.

 

Hartebeespoort (1 day)

 

2 week South Africa Itinerary

Picture: Nicole Moila

Nicole Moila shares How to spend the perfect daycation in Harties

Things to do in Hartebeespoort

The most popular thing to do in Hartebeespoort is to visit the Hartebeespoort Ariel Cableway. The cableway was constructed in 1973 and was upgraded in 2010 with 6, 14 seater imported cable cars from Switzerland. It offers you panoramic views of Hartebeespoort and Magaliesberg and surrounding areas.

A visit to the Zoo and Snake Park is also a favorite spot for people to stop at. One can see different wildlife including crocodiles, tigers, monkeys, and giant tortoises. There is also a seal and snake show that takes place on the weekends. Check with the zoo staff for showtimes. The entrance fee is R100 per adult and R50 for children under the age of 12. You can also take a boat ride on the dam at a cost of R50 per adult and R30 per child (3 – 12 years).

Hartebeespoort has a number of coffee shops and restaurants but one of the most popular places to visit is the French Toast Koffie Kafee which was established in 2014.

It was built as part of a movie set for the film titled “French Toast” and has since been operating as a restaurant since the movie wrapped. There is a miniature Eiffel Tower and a bridge where you can purchase a lock and have it engraved and attach it on the fence. It is located in the same center as an Aquarium. You can pass the time there should you wait for your table as my family did.

The Panorama Route in Mpumalanga (2-3 days)

SA travel blogger, Farirai Sanyika of Gophari Travel shares some of her favorite things to do in Mpumalanga. Her list included the Panorama Route – a region of scenic views, waterfalls and outdoor activities in Mpumalanga.

The Panorama Route in Mpumalanga is about 400km from Johannesburg. It’s a 4-hour road trip that is scenic as you approach your destination. As you explore the many attractions along the Panorama Route, you will need a car to get from one place to the next. Driving between each stop is part of the fun because of the lush, panoramic views.

Things to do in the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga

Visit at least one of the many waterfalls like the popular Lonecreek Falls. Unlike some of the other waterfalls here, you are able to get really close to and even into the water at Lonecreek Falls.

Some of the other waterfalls to check out along the Panorama Route include Mac Mac Falls, Berlin Falls, Lisbon Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Forest Falls. I would advise printing a map and marking out the waterfalls you would like to stop at as you navigate the Panorama Route. 

South Africa

Take in the views of Blyde River Canyon. Exploring the Panorama Route is all about immersing yourself in the beauty of nature. You absolutely must visit the Blyde River Canyon while navigating the Panorama Route. 

The view of Blyde River Canyon is one of the best views I have ever seen – ever. There is a peace that comes over you in that untouched, grand, natural space. It’s silent, still and so beautiful.

Visit Sudwala Caves. Sudwala Caves are the oldest caves in the world and are a must-visit while exploring the Panorama Route. It’s dark and eery inside the cave and the cool, damp air is a nice relief from the heat outside.

When you visit, you get a guided tour through the caves through which you learn about the fascinating history of the caves. It is believed that if you drink the water from a specific spot in the caves you will age more slowly. So of course, I drank the water from that spot!

Durban (2-4 days)

Located 570km away from Johannesburg, Durban is a vibrant city of color and tastes very much like the rainbow nation. With amazing weather, all year round this means almost 350 days of sunshine and beach days are expected.

Things to do in Durban:

    • Eat a traditional Bunny Chow using your hands. Durban is where the humble Bunny Chow was first eaten by local Indentured Labourers from India. A good bunny chow has extra gravy, a combination of tender lamb pieces, soft melting potatoes, a vinegar grated carrot salad and is filled into a 1/4 loaf of fresh white bread.
    • Visit the Victoria Street Market a lively market where one can find Indian spices, African crafts and literally everything and anything you could want.
    • Durban’s Rickshaw Bus is a new addition to the Durban Tourism offering. This is a great way to explore the city and surrounding areas without you having to drive.
 

If you need more convincing, Verushka Ramasami of Spice Goddess Blog shares Why Durban is the best city in South Africa

Midlands (1-2 days)

Until my recent visit, I had never heard of the Midlands!

Located in the north of Pietermaritzburg, There are enough activities to suit any preference and to my surprise, this town is quite a gem!

Where to stay in The Midlands

Set in the heart of the Blue Crane Nature Reserve, Brahman Hills offers all who visit it an escape from bustling city life and a glimpse into the Midlands best-kept secret.

Where to eat in The Midlands

With a wide variety of craft beer and a menu that suits all tastes, The Bierfassl is the perfect luncheon spot! (Side note: The scrumptious eisbein is actually reason enough to visit). Their décor has a typical authentic Austrian flair and the ambiance is quaint. The staff is very friendly and you don’t have to wait for a decade for your order. 10/10 from me!

Fudge making, of course, is another form of art. At Tasha’s Fantastic Fudge, each step of the fudge making process is a deliberate act. We met the amazing owner Tasha Jardim whose passion for her business shows in her face as glows up when speaking about fudge.

Using top-notch ingredients, Tasha’s rich and unbelievably creamy delights melt in your mouth effortlessly, available in quirky flavors like biltong, chocolate orange, and double vanilla cream, this is a tasty experience for the young and old!

il Postino Pizzeria – The place to go for traditional wood-fired oven thin base style pizzas and pasta.

Midlands Kitchen – With 15 kitchens, including Mexican, Mediterranean, Burgers, Chicken, Pizza, Indian and Vegan and others delivering 135 tastes.

Things to do in The Midlands

Enjoy a gourmet platter of cheese and wine amongst lush lawns, trees, and goats at Swissland Cheese. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic!

The Nottingham Road Brewing Company is craft beer heaven. We had an interactive factory tour and a fascinating craft beer tasting experience.

Our host John was VERY knowledgeable on the history, brewing of beer and all of the different craft beers we tasted. It turned out to be an educational experience that I’d do over and over again!

Stop at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site

On 5 August 1962, an otherwise ordinary piece of road along the R103, roughly three kilometers outside Howick in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, suddenly took on a profound consequence. Armed apartheid police flagged down a car in which Nelson Mandela was pretending to be the chauffeur.

Today it’s an exhibition with a museum and sculpture. The extraordinary sculpture by artist Marco Cianfanelli comprises 50 steel column constructions – each between 6.5 and 9.5 meters tall – set into the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands landscape.

The approach to the site, designed by architect Jeremy Rose of Mashabane Rose Associates, leads one down a path towards the sculpture where, at a distance of 35 meters, a portrait of Nelson Mandela, looking west, comes into focus as the 50 linear vertical units line up to create the illusion of a flat image.

Cape Town (3 – 5 days)

Best city in South Africa

Picture: Lerato Bambo

Visiting South Africa and not visiting Cape Town or even worse, only visiting Cape Town is one of the biggest mistakes most first time visitors make.

Cape Town is a magical city and gateway to hidden gems on the West Coast.

Personally, I think Cape Town is similar to many european cities hence most tourists love it, but visiting SA and only spending time in Cape Town doesn’t really give an introduction to South Africa.

If you have more time to explore, this two week Cape Town Travel Guide will help. 

Best things to do in Cape Town

Located on an island 13.9km from the city of Cape Town. Robben Island is more than just a prison. The famous cell #46664 is where Nelson Mandela served 18 of his 27-year sentence before he was released and elected as the first Democratic President of the Republic of South Africa. Other freedom fighters who were imprisoned here include former President Jacob Zuma, Walter Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe and Govan Mbeki. Go on a tour and learn more about this island.

Hike the Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head, especially for some epic sunsets. If you’re not a hiker, take the cable car or drive while enjoying the spectacular view of the Cape Peninsula. Blogger, Janet of Journalist on the run also shared the best hiking trails in Cape Town.

Go on a wine tour! Take the wine train in Franschhoek, where you basically pay a flat price for a hop-on-hop-off train on a designated route that takes you to many different vineyards over the course of a day. 

If you’re looking for a more casual day thing, head to the Stellenbosch region and try the Pinotage, the signature grape of South Africa.

There’s also the Spice Route which is basically an all-in-one wine tour that also has craft beer, craft liquor, craft chocolate, biltong, etc.

Suggested Reading: 5 things to do in Robertson Wine Valley

Knysna (2 – 4 days)

 

Knysna is another beautiful town on the Garden Route.

Known for hosting the Pink Loerie over the Easter Holidays and the Oyster Festival in June / July. This picturesque festival town emerges as a vibrant mini-metropolis, offering a kaleidoscope of unforgettable experiences.

Things to do in Knysna

  • Go on an Oyster Tour on  Knysna Lagoon. Learn all there is to know about one of the world’s most loved delicacy, taste the difference between wild and cultivated oysters, all whilst cruising the lagoon to the Heads and surrounds.
  • The Tsitsikamma National Park is tucked between the mountains and the sea part of the Garden Route National.
  • Head to the Knysna Elephant Park – the first facility in South Africa to house and care for orphaned African elephants. You can go for walks with elephants and learn more about the beautiful creatures. The facility also offers volunteer programs.
    •  

Namaqua Region (2 – 3 days)

The Northern Cape is a marvelous place to explore.

It’s a pristine combination of old small towns, luscious spaces, and dry, arid areas and attractive sand dunes. This mixture of scenery makes for an amazing. adventurous road trip (best done in a 4×4).

During the months of August and October, the Namaqua region here bursts with colors as the naturally occurring wildflowers carpet the area. They’re in the fields and nature reserves, along the road and across the many small towns. It’s best to take the two-hour flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town and take a steady drive up the coast.

2 week South Africa Itinerary

Picture: Hitekani Mbatsana

Things to do in the Namaqua region

Explore the small town of Nieuwoudtville, known as “the bulb capital of the world.” This botanical marvel has the highest number of distinct flower species. Botanists, photographers, and lovers of nature flock to the scenery. While the various farms open up their fields for walking and driving routes through the flowers.

Take a walk in the second-largest quiver tree forest in the world. Quiver trees are a part of the aloe family. The San use the branches of the crew to make quivers for their arrows.

Drive through the Namaqua National Park. The roads are long and dusty but you will be rewarded with incredible countryside scenery and views. Spend a few days at the luxurious pop-up flower camp on the beach. Their area is not largely populated making it an ideal spot to enjoy the clear skies and bright stars at night.

Cost of visiting South Africa

South Africa’s currency is the South African rand (ZAR). ZAR banknotes are available for R 10, R 20, R 50, R 100, and R 200. Coins are available in denominations of 10, 20, and 50 cents, as well as R 1, R 2, and R 5.

ATMs are easily available in most metropolitan areas, but difficult to find in rural areas. While many shops and restaurants will accept cards, merchants at small, local markets may only accept cash — typically in ZAR.

I’d recommend opening a borderless account with Transferwise to avoid carrying cash. Learn more about the account HERE.

Cost of Accommodation in South Africa

There are various hostels, hotels and Airbnb’s across the country. The average price at 1 – 3-star hotel would cost about $30 – $90 (USD) a night.  Staying at 4 – 5-star hotels cost an average of $100+, there are also luxury hotels like The Michelangelo Towers in Johannesburg where visitors spend over $500 a night. 

Cost of Meals in South Africa

Average meals range from $3 – $30 (USD) per person depending on the restaurant and area.

Cost of Car Rentals in South Africa

Many people choose to rent a car during their time in South Africa.

This provides you with more freedom and flexibility during your travels, but there are some things which you should be aware of.

Rental cars are available almost exclusively with manual transmissions. Automatic cars are limited and more expensive.

Average car rentals start at $20 (USD) a day excluding your deposit and insurance. Keep in mind that car insurance in South Africa is optional, but I highly recommend getting insurance because accidents happen!

Where to Go After South Africa

The cheapest countries to travel to from South Africa:

The Kingdom of Swaziland (eSwatini)

Is South Africa Safe

Just a four to five-hour drive from Johannesburg, Swaziland is the kingdom of waterfalls, forests and wild beasts.

Home to three national game reserves, there are a lot of wildlife activities and the whole country can be easily explored in 48 hours.

Suggested Reading: How to spend the weekend in Swaziland

Namibia

Solo Female Travel South Africa

 

The Namib Desert – from which the country takes its name – is the world’s oldest desert.

It is thought to have existed for at least 55 million years. Home to Africa’s largest free-roaming population of black rhinos as well as the largest cheetah population in the world. Nearly 20% of the country is protected by national parks.

Namibia is one of the first countries to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution.

Zambia

Named after the fourth-longest river in Africa – Zambezi.

Zambia is completely landlocked and surrounded by seven countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

On the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, you’ll find the largest waterfall in the world.

Botswana

Botswana

Botswana is approximately the size of France but has only 2.3 million people living in the country, compared to 66.9 million people in France.

Famous for being the home to the second largest number of elephants in Africa. Botswana is also one of the four African countries which meet at the eastern end of the Caprivi Strip in Namibia.

This is the only place in the world where four countries meet namely Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Nearly 40% of Botswana is made up of national parks and wildlife reserves.

The real answer to “Is South Africa safe”?

Yes, South Africa is safe to visit but the biggest risk is theft!

South Africa is going to steal your heart and soul! After visiting South Africa for the first time, you won’t be the same person!

You’ll leave a part of your heart in South Africa and most never want to go home after this special trip! 

Need Inspiration? These 100 Travel Quotes will inspire you to plan a trip to one of the most beautiful countries in the world!

Useful South Africa Travel Tips

Travel Insurance for South Africa

Use travel insurance while visiting South Africa so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in SA, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.

 

 

Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

11 Comments

  • Lerato
    10/03/2019 at 5:56 AM

    Hi Odeon, hope you have an amazing time in SA.

  • Odeon O'Reilly
    10/02/2019 at 6:16 PM

    Thanks for the insights. Your posts have been very helpful as I plan to visit South Africa next month. I will continue coming back to read your other posts. It is engaging and fun!

  • Zarina
    09/16/2019 at 7:32 AM

    Wow, what an interesting and thorough article! Thank you Lerato for being so honest. It’s so sad you feel your country has changed so much in such a short time and it’s good to have such an article with an honest and well written opinion. I have to say that one of the reasons I’ve never been to South Africa yet is safety and I wasn’t sure if I could deal with having to be cautious all the time. I’ve travelled quite a fair bit so far, but only to Western countries so I’m not really such an experienced traveller in a sense. I do hope to make it out there one day and if I do, I’ll make sure to follow your advice! All the best!

  • Amy
    09/05/2019 at 10:31 PM

    This is so thorough! I felt very safe in South Africa, but I was with my male partner and only in the Cape Town area. I’m dying to go back and explore more!

  • Alex
    09/05/2019 at 8:14 AM

    Wow! This was such an interesting read, I was very unaware of many of these problems. I just finished Trevor Noah’s book “Growing Up During Apartheid” and it’s really gotten me fascinated with South Africa, hope to see it for myself one day!

  • Lerato
    09/05/2019 at 9:11 AM

    You just reminded me to purchase Trevors book. I was in a random bar in Ireland and some guy was telling me about the book. Looking forward to reading it now. I also hope you get an opportunity to visit SA

  • Lucy
    09/04/2019 at 12:32 PM

    this is a really interesting article! South Africa is definitely on my list of to-go places, it just looks utterly stunning! Some really good info in there about clothing and the geotagging animals is something I would never have thought of, but makes so much sense!!

  • Sophie
    09/04/2019 at 12:23 PM

    I have ALWAYS wanted to go to South Africa but have been curious about the safety there. This article is so enlightening and thorough. It’s really not surprising that the crime rate is so high when unemployment is also so high. I definitely still want to visit. I’ll be saving your post to re-visit when I make plans. Thank you so much for such useful information.

  • Jaz
    09/04/2019 at 12:22 PM

    This is such an informative post Lerato. Highlighting key issues in South Africa and providing valuable information for visitors. Simple things such as wearing a straw hat, most people would not even consider as a factor to potentially put them in danger. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lerato
    09/04/2019 at 8:28 PM

    Sophie, I hope you get to visit South Africa one day. Thank you for reading

  • Lerato
    09/04/2019 at 8:27 PM

    Hi Jaz, I’m glad you found this informative. Although dress code isn’t important. Certain things locals wouldn’t wear like all-khaki outfits so it’s easy to tell the person isn’t from here

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