South Africa is a dream destination for many travellers. But at the same time there are more open questions than for other countries. Everything seems to be said on Thailand. We did lots of research and asked friends before booking the flight, too. To help you, we collected and answered some of these FAQ for your South Africa trip.
Well, bottom line is: SOUTH AFRICA IS AMAZING!
Is it safe to travel to South Africa?
Doing research in online fora or reading the offcial safety tips you might lose your interest.
Of course, you should always take safety tips seriously and of course there are dangerous spots in South Africa. There’s just an extreme prosperity gap in the country and we passed parts of Cape Town that made us feel very oppressive.
But all sights and our accomodation were in parts where we absolutely felt safe. Also it was always neat and clean and we didn’t have one single situation when we were afraid. Neither robbery, nor pickpockets or anything else was a topic for us.
To sum up: It’s absolutely fine to travel our itinerary. You should always apply common sense (true for any part in the world). For example we never let anything in the car when stopping. Risk is lower if it looks less attracive to potential thieves. We always locked the car from inside while driving, which made us feel better. And of course you shouldn’t wear expensive jewelry or attract attention with cash or anything else. As mentioned, common sense!
Is it possible to travel by rental car?
Definitely! It’s not only possible but highly recommended. There are busses between the major cities, but you’re just more flexible going and stopping wherever you want. Rental cars are cheap (at least in low season) as is gasoline and the road conditions are great. You quickly get used to driving on the left side.
Tip: if your budget allows it, get a car with automatic gear. It makes it easier in the beginning. Also, a notchback saloon makes it easier to pack everything in the boot. If you can’t see anything from outside, risk is lower!
South Africa has so much to see. Should I try to see as much as possible or concentrate on a certain region?
For all having two to three weeks in the country, you won’t be able to see everything. So it’s better to stick to one region. You could see more with domestic flights. But there’s enough to do and see in the Cape region for more than two weeks.
Most of our trips we try to see as much as possible of a country. But in South Africa we really liked having concentrated on the region between Cape Town and the Garden Route. It was way more relaxing and we could enjoy this wonderful country better.
What’s the weather like in September? Is it worth trip in South African spring?
We arrived in Cape Town in the beginning of September and on some days, it felt like early summer (23°C with sunshine), on others it was grey and below 20°C. It seldomly rained, though.
We would definitely come back to Cape Town and surroundings in September but the Garden Route is just better in summer, In Cape Town, we had several fantastic days. After our hike on Lion’s head, Burcu even got a sunburn. It shouldn’t have been hotter this day.
September has three main advantages: Wild Flowers in West Coast National Park, whale watching at the Whale Coast and lower prices in hotels and restaurants due to low season. We could afford luxury which we wouldn’t have in Europe, this way.
Is South Africa expensive?
As mentioned before, South Africa in September is surprisingly cheap. Great accomodation cost less than €50 for a double room including breakfast. Going out for dinner was often less than €20 for two people and a liter of gasoline was less than €.80.
In main season this might look different and it always depends on the Rand/€ development. What’s expensive in the country are National Park fees and shopping in the large malls.
Is it worth flying 12 (or more) hours for a 2 week journey?
Definitely for us! Of course, this heavily depends on your personal preferences and how well you cope with long distance flights. We do quite well, luckily. What makes it easier for Europeans: you won’t have to suffer neither from jetlag nor from huge climatical differences. We would definitely make this trip again.
We want to make game drives, but won’t make it to the Kruger. What about the private Game Reserves?
This depends on your safari experience. Those who have made lots of game drives, will shout ‘No’ and rightly so! We had no experience at all and couldn’t make it to the Kruger National Park. We chose the Gondwana Game Reserve near Mossel Bay and were very happy. Excellent service, feel-good atmosphere and very close to real ‘safari experience’.
The area is huge, you won’t barely see fences and the wildlife is freely roaming (with the exception of some buffaloes, that will be prepared for free roaming in a certain area until they are fully grown). This is why we didn’t see lions on two game drives. Well, that’s bad luck. This might happen in the Kruger Park, too.
We recommend the Gondwana Game Reserve to all who want to get some Safari experience in a (luxury) feel-good atmosphere and excellent service.
According to others’ experiences, the Aquila and the Inverdoorn Game Reserve are recommendable, too. We wouldn’t choose smaller Game Reserves where they guarantee the Big 5. These are only large zoos.