IT’S GONNA TAKE A LOT TO DRAG ME AWAY FROM YOU

Sorry for that corny title but I just couldn’t help myself. I can still remember when I booked my flights to South Africa and right after I did I blasted it through my speakers, sand along and jumped around like a little kid.

Visiting South Africa had always been a big dream of mine and while I feel like I’ve still only touched the surface it was an absolutely unforgettable trip!

South Africa is a place where everyone should go at least once in their life. It has gorgeous weather, amazing beaches, vast wildlife, delicious (and affordable!) wine and food, and breathtaking scenery everywhere you go!

It’s an amazing country if you prefer an outdoor lifestyle! There are some incredible hikes in Cape Town and don’t even get me started on all of the picture perfect wineries in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek!

There are nine provinces in South Africa and while you can visit a bunch of them in a few weeks it will be more rewarding to focus on 1 or 2 for your holiday.

Since it was my first time visiting South Africa I focussed on Cape Town and its surrounding areas. You can hike up Table Mountain, relax at the beach in Camps Bay or go visit the penguins at Boulders Beach and drive all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SOUTH AFRICA

With so much to see and do every month of the year, there is no bad time to visit South Africa. It all just depends on what you want to do.

In general, the climate in South Africa is warmer in the north and cooler in the south. The Indian Ocean coast tends to feel more tropical, while the weather on the Atlantic coast is usually milder, though cold fogs and hot desert winds can still roll in.

Cape Town and the Western Cape also has its own rainy season in the winter (June to August). If your main focus is exploring this area of South Africa and checking out the wineries then the summer months (November to March)

If you want to go whale-watching then September and October are the peak cetacean-spotting months.

If you’re planning to go on a safari then go during the dry season from May to October. Dry weather conditions, shorter grass and fewer watering holes mean better visibility for wildlife viewing. These months are perfect to check off sightings of the Big Five at the multiple safari camps and game reserves across South Africa.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN TRAVELING TO SOUTH AFRICA

Language – South Africa boasts 11 official languages. The main language spoken in all the big cities is English, but the two most widely spoken languages are Zulu and Xhosa.

Currency – The currency in South Africa is called the Rand. 1 EUR is equivalent to 17 South African Rands.

Credit Cards & ATM’s – In the big cities and smaller towns, most retailers and restaurants will accept credit cards as payment. You can easily find ATM’s at gas stations or the malls. However, if you’re shopping for souvenirs at markets, it’s best to withdraw cash.

Safety –  Yes, there is crime in South Africa and it ranges from petty pickpocketing to more violent crime and home invasions. But this is no reason at all to market an entire country as unsafe. Keep your valuables on you at all times and don’t leave expensive equipment visible in your car. For instance when driving, keep your handbag tucked underneath the passenger seat. Take Ubers, never hail a cab from the street, when you’re going out at night and make sure your doors and windows are locked before you leave!

Plugs – The plugs in South Africa are type D, M and N. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50Hz


TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA

Get travel insurance – Crime is not uncommon in South Africa, so it’s best to be sure you and your belongings are covered. I personally love World Nomads, their prices are affordable, their coverage is great, and they also offer 24/7 on-call customer service!

Mobile Data – You can get a local SIM at the airport upon your arrival. You do need to show identity, such as passport, and address/proof of where you’re staying, in order for the card to be activated.

Tipping – Tipping 10 – 15% of the service fee is common practice (e.g. restaurant bills, taxi fares etc.)

Water – Testing and treatment of the tap water is up to general standards and as a result it is perfectly safe and good to drink straight from the tap. There have been water restrictions throughout the country in recent years and there were real fears that Cape Town would run out of water in 2018. The situation has drastically improved since, but even if water seems plentiful, please don’t waste it.

Driving – Driving is on the left-hand side of the road and a valid international driver’s license is required. Most global car hire firms have branches in South Africa.

Getting gas – They are staffed by attendants who will fill up your car for you. It’s polite and customary to tip the attendant a couple rands for their service. Even a small amount goes a long way and is always appreciated.

Try a braai – South Africa is very big on meat. “Braais” the Afrikaans word for grilled meat, comparable to a BBQ is insanely popular all over. Any social gathering is bound to have a braai going on.

🚘 ROAD TRIPPING THROUGH SOUTH AFRICA

One of the best ways to discover South Africa is to go on a self-drive tour and you can pick up your rental car straight from the airport. This way you can explore at liberty but of course there are a couple of precautions that you should take!

For instance don’t drive at night and especially, don’t stop at a red traffic light at night. Keep your doors locked and your windows closed while driving.

During your travels in South Africa, you are likely to come across a roadblock. This is where the South African police pull cars over to inspect your vehicle documents. You will need to show your driver’s license, vehicle ownership or rental papers  and any other relevant documents that you have.

Some of the main highways have a toll but you’ll find that they are marked clearly well before you reach the toll. This gives you an opportunity to divert to a non-toll road.  Most tolls take credit cards but due to load shedding (power cuts), it’s best to have cash available too.

Most of the roads in South Africa are well maintained. However, in rural areas, you are more likely to experience gravel and dirt roads.

When driving in South Africa, it’s illegal to park facing in the wrong direction, therefore if you see a bay on the right-hand side of the road, you can’t cross over and park facing the traffic.

EXPLORE BY REGION


SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL GUIDES

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