South Africa | The practical guide to organize your trip

South Africa | The practical guide to organize your trip


A country with a thousand facets, South Africa has much to offer its visitors. In this practical guide, you’ll find not only our itinerary, but also useful tips to help you prepare for your trip to South Africa.


It’s in the south-west of the country that we discover the rainbow nation. Our itinerary took us to Cape Town to discover this city nestled at the foot of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. This mountain and peak majestically dominates the city, facing the Atlantic Ocean and offering a unique landscape for a major metropolis.

From the hypster district of Woodstock to Bo Kaap, via the Waterfront, Camps Bay and, of course, the nearby Cape of Good Hope, we discovered a modern city, in stark contrast to the townships born of the country’s recent history and apartheid. Then it was off to the Garden Road, at the wheel of a custom Golf1 that reminded us of our 18th birthday. Gansbaai for a thrill in the cage facing the great white shark, Knysna, Oudtshoorn the ostrich town and of course the wine route with Franshoek and Stellenbosch to discover the country’s young wine culture.

I invite you to consult our articles on South Africa to help you prepare for your trip:






| Cape Town

| Table Mountain, Camps Bay and Sunset at Lion’s Head

| Robben Island & Waterfront

| District 6 Township Tour

|Cape of Good Hope

| Woodstock & Boo Kaap

| Garden Road

| Gansbaai and the great white

| Knysna

| Oudtshoorn

| Franschhoek and Stellenbosh



  • Flight : allow about 11 hours for the flight

Find your cheapest flight to South Africa here with Skyscanner


  • Time difference: + 1h to Cape Town. When it’s 12pm in Paris, it’s 1pm in Johannesburg and Cape Town.



The rand (ZAR)

  • You’ll find exchange bureaus to change your euros in major cities, hotels and some youth hostels, whose rates are aligned with those of banks (ask for details). Before you leave, ask your French bank about partner banks in the country to avoid commissions.
  • If you prefer to exchange your euros before departure, you can head to Travelex to order your currency on their website and pick it up at one of their branches.
  • Finally, vending machines can be found everywhere in towns and cities. Visa and MasterCard are the 2 most established networks
  • Be vigilant when you withdraw, do it in the middle of the day with someone watching around you, and don’t choose an ATM hidden away in a corner without any supervision! Use common sense.



English is spoken throughout the country, while Afrikkans is spoken in large parts of the country. There are also many dialects: Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

  • It’s always a good idea to make sure your universal vaccinations are up to date before you leave – check with the Institut Pasteur (diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, hepatitis A and B). No vaccinations required for South Africa.
  • Take mosquito protection with you. Malaria is rare, occurring only in the northeast of the country (Swaziland and game park regions).
  • Take out repatriation and health insurance to cover medical expenses, as hospitals in major cities are of excellent quality but very expensive.
  • Avoid drinking tap water.


  • Passport valid for 30 days after departure from South Africa.
  • If you’re traveling with your family and under-age children (and you’ve booked your trip with us, please contact us so that we can give you the steps to follow), you’ll need to fill out a number of documents.
  • A 3-month tourist visa is automatically issued free of charge on arrival.


  • Electrical outlets are on 220-230 volts alternating current.
  • A universal adapter is required.
  • Internet connections are available in hotels, guesthouses, some bars and restaurants.

On trouve en Afrique du Sud plusieurs possibilité d’hébergement pour satisfaire toutes les bourses.

Attention : du 15 décembre au 15 janvier, c’est l’été austral, donc la haute saison touristique. Les Sud-Africains prennent leurs congés annuels à ce moment-là et de nombreux vacanciers viennent en vacances. Les hôtels sont alors complets pour la plupart, les réservations souvent difficiles et les prix augmentent de 20 à 40 % !

Vous pourrez choisir parmi ces différentes options:

  • Campings: de nombreuses auberges pour backpackers prévoient dans leur jardin un morceau de terrain pour les campeurs.
  • Auberges de jeunesse: le pays possède un très bon réseau d’auberges de jeunesse accessibles à tout le monde et sans condition d’âge. Certaines auberges des grandes villes, proposent même des navettes aéroports. Les prix restent le plus souvent abordables avec un minimum de confort et de services.

Nous avons souvent utilisé Hostelworld pour faire nos réservations mais il existe aussi:

  1. Coast to Coast : guide gratuit,  qui recense des lieux bon marché dans tout le pays, dans les villes et villages les plus reculés. On peut le trouver, en version papier, dans n’importe quelle auberge de jeunsse d’Afrique du Sud, ou encore le télécharger région par région.
  2. : autre site présentant les auberges de jeunesse en Afrique du Sud.
  • Hôtels classiques: différentes gammes d’hôtels allant du petit hôtel en bord de route, à l’hôtel de charme de route mais aussi les hôtels-club 5 étoiles.
  • B&B, pensions et guesthouses: ces formules d’hébergement sont à mi-chemin entre la maison d’hôtes et l’hôtel, en général situés dans de jolies maisons de caractère, et possédant juste une poignée de chambres.
  • Hébergements dans les parcs animaliers: le choix est également très vaste allant du camping, Huts, tentes de safaris, bungalows, cottages, lodges, bush lodges. Tout est que question de charme mais surtout de prix!


Comme dans toutes grandes villes, vous trouverez un large choix d’hébergements pour vous loger. Je vous invite d’ailleurs à profiter de notre réduction sur Airbnb si vous recherchez un appartement.

💰 Profitez jusqu’à – 40€ sur votre réservation Airbnb


➡️  Si vous n’avez pas trouvé votre bonheur en terme d’hébergements sur Airbnb, nous vous invitons à consulter les meilleures offres et réservez sur booking.




South Africa is a very large country, and not everything can be done overland. Sometimes you’ll need to combine your trip with domestic flights, which are fairly affordable in terms of price.

To rent a car, it is necessary to take into account all these rules below:

  • a valid national driving license (an international license is not compulsory, but strongly recommended to avoid fines and inconveniences. )
  • have been driving for at least 1 year (check that this has not changed since then)
  • be over 18 years of age. Drivers under the age of 25 are charged an additional young driver’s tax.
  • Warning: left-hand drive so be particularly vigilant, overtaking on the right and giving way to the left, even at traffic circles.
  • Seatbelts must be worn
  • In South Africa, some highways and tunnels are subject to tolls, notably part of the N1 freeway and Chapman’s Peak Drive and its tunnel.
  • The South African police are empowered to levy speeding fines directly on the spot.
  • Always lock car doors and windows.
  • Do not leave any visible objects, bags or clothing in the car when parked.
  • Avoid driving at night, arrive at the end of the day.
  • Be careful when filling up with petrol: in rural areas, petrol stations are sometimes far apart.

Generally speaking, the country benefits from a very good road infrastructure, but beware of potholes in more remote areas.

Speed limits in South Africa are as follows:

  • Agglomeration : 60km/h
  • Outside built-up areas : 100 km/h
  • Freeways : 120 km/h

In Cape Town, as in any large city, there’s a well-developed bus service. What the major bus companies have in common is comfort, safety and punctuality. For the Garden Road and the Wine Route, we opted for a rental car. All the world’s major agencies are present in the country. Find here your cheapest car rental



In national parks such as Kruger, you can go on safari in your own vehicle.

  • The rules of the road and common sense must be scrupulously observed.
  • A road map is sold at park entrances.
  • You may not leave your vehicle in a wildlife park, except at designated rest areas.
  • The opening and closing hours of national parks are also regulated: in general, it is possible to travel between 6:00 am and 6:30 pm.
  • The speed limit is 40 km/h on dirt roads and 50 km/h on tarmac roads.
  • In private reserves, “safaris” are conducted in open 4×4 vehicles with a ranger and, usually, a tracker mounted on the front, whose job it is to track the animals. Smoking is strictly prohibited in the vehicles.



The rail network connects the ports with inland regions and neighboring countries. You’ll find 3 types of company:

  • The national railway company Shosholoza Meyl. Even if this means of transport is rather long, it’s ideal for enjoying the beautiful countryside.
  • The famous Blue Train, linking Pretoria and Johannesburg with Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Nelspruit.
  • The Rovos Rail, which enables passengers to make exceptional steam train journeys between Pretoria and Kruger Park, Pretoria and Cape Town, Pretoria and Dar-es-Salaam.
  • These two trains, the blue train and the Rovos Trail fare among the most luxurious in the world.



There are nine main airports in South Africa: Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, George, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and Upington. Jan Smuts Johannesburg, Paul Kruger Mpumalanga, Durban and Cape Town are international airports.

Several airlines connect all the major cities, as well as some smaller ones. If you need to travel by plane within the country, here are some good airlines to choose from Lowcost:

  • Flysafair
  • Flyairlink
  • FlyMango
  • Kulula
  • South African Airways


We flew Cape Town ➡ Johannesburg with Mango AIRLINES for just €62/pkg including 23kg baggage. Not bad, eh?

To get the best price for your flight, it’s best to book in advance. Find your cheapest flight to South Africa here with Skyscanner


You’ll easily find food courts in Cape Town where you can have lunch or dinner for very good value (50 to 70 ZAR/pers). You’ll also find several types of restaurants, and note that the bill for a very good restaurant with local wine and ostrich fillet in Outshoorn cost us (350 ZAR/pers.) If you’re in economy mode, there’s nothing very different between our supermarkets and those in South Africa. You’ll find plenty, and it won’t be a problem.

In South Africa, meat is ubiquitous and of the highest quality. It is the basis of many dishes, especially boiled or barbecued.

Typical dishes include:

  • The bobotie: a kind of minced meat, breadcrumbs, milk and curry, all baked in the oven.
  • The chakalaka: a dish of spicy raw vegetables, served with meat dishes
  • The Biltong: dried meat in strips seasoned with vinegar, eaten in thin slices: most often beef, but also sometimes antelope, springbok or ostrich. South Africans love to snack on them.
  • The pap: a kind of millet porridge, a dish eaten more often in the countryside or in the townships. As soon as it is accompanied by meats, it is called the pap stew.
  • The sosaties: skewers with African and Asian influences, marinated in a curry sauce
  • Visit boerewors: spicy sausages
  • The Breddie: a kind of lamb and vegetable stew with a curry sauce

I didn’t love the South African cuisine because I don’t eat meat. However, I really enjoyed the Cape Malay cuisine. In fact, we made a cooking classes at Bo Kapp to discover these different flavors, a mix of African and Indian cuisine. It was really delicious and very convivial.

As the country is very cosmopolitan, there is a wide choice of Indian, Oriental and Asian restaurants in the major cities. On the knysna, you’ll enjoy oysters and fish. Finally, South Africa offers a wide range of red and white wines to discover on the wine route, from Franschoekk to Stellenbosh.


Apart from road accidents (we drive on the left), crime is the risk to which you may be exposed. However, bear in mind that, despite the statistics and headlines, the majority of travelers experience no problems whatsoever on a trip to South Africa. Johannesburg is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, followed by some townships and other urban areas. Use common sense, don’t draw attention to yourself with valuables (jewelry, watches, cameras…), don’t go out too late at night in some city streets….

  • Always keep a copy of your administrative documents in your room or in a safe or discreet place.
  • Keep your cash in several places on you, and always carry a small amount of cash or a second purse that is easily accessible to a would-be assailant.
  • Don’t spend a lot of money every time you go shopping!
  • Don’t follow a group of teenagers down the street, no matter how nice they seem! It can look like an ambush.
  • Watch out for bag snatchers and pickpockets.
  • For visiter and township, book a day trip or hire the services of a reliable guide.
  • As a general rule, avoid walking alone or driving at night.
  • Lock your doors and raise your windows, even in broad daylight.
  • Don’t leave any valuables inside your car, and don’t give the impression you’re traveling by leaving your bags in the trunk.
  • For single women, be really careful!

South Africa is a huge country, and the climate varies according to the period of your trip. So it’s a good idea to pack the right equipment for what you’re going to visit: safaris in the parks, whale watching in Hermanus, hiking boots at over 3,000 meters in the Drakensberg. Be prepared for the weather. Roughly speaking, here’s a short list of what you need to pack in your suitcase:

  1. A flashlight in case of power failure
  2. A small first-aid kit
  3. A swimsuit and towel to enjoy the hotel pool, or a surf suit if you want to go surfing.
  4. Light clothing for safaris and a hat
  5. City clothes for visiting Cape Town, Johannesburg or Pretoria
  6. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself from the sun on Durban’s beaches
  7. Warm clothing for cool evenings (pants, socks, fleece or small jacket)
  8. Hiking boots and socks for the Drakensberg hiking trails
  9. A pair of binoculars for observing animals
  10. Camera + good lenses (batteries and SD cards)
  11. A mosquito repellent. A must in Kruger Park
  12. A waterproof jacket is essential for dealing with the occasional thunderstorm

Do not carry valuables. You’ll be the center of attention!

You’ll find a wide choice of souvenirs to bring back from your trip to South Africa.

  • In the most original gifts, bring home a natural or painted ostrich egg. Thanks to their strength, you can pack them in your suitcase without them breaking. Some are beautifully decorated in African colors.
  • Depending on the region you travel through, you can buy typical objects and all kinds of handicraft souvenirs: jewelry made from coloured beads, bags or light boas made from ostrich skin and feathers, African dolls, wooden animal statues, statutettes, hangings, wax fabrics, African masks, vuvuzela to remind you of the World Cup…
  • Rooibos tea, dried fruits (pineapple and mango), vacuum-dried meats (biltong)
  • Paintings and decorative objects sourced from Cape town’s Woodstock district.

A trip to South Africa can really be done all year round, and every season has its advantages and something to offer us.

As South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, seasons are therefore reversed in relation to Europe. So when it’s summer here, it’s winter there, and vice versa. The country is marked by two seasons:

  • from November to March (summer): summers are hot and humid with temperatures around 28°C. This is the most pleasant season for swimming (average sea temperature 20°C) in the Western Cape
  • April to October (winter): winters are dry and cooler (especially in the evenings). The waters are very cool in July-August for swimming, but it’s the best season for safaris and also the high season.
  • June to September: It’s the perfect season for whale and great white shark watching. Beware, there may be some rain from June to August on the Western Cape. Durban and the Kwazulu-Natal coast are ideal for swimming in April-May and September-October.

I’ve been there twice in South Africa: in July on the east side and in February on the west side. I remember that in July, the days were warm, but as soon as night fell, it quickly turned cold, around 5°C at night. I wore a sweater, pants, warm socks and a comforter to keep warm in bed.

Please note, the months of December, January and February correspond to the major summer holidays for South Africans. You’ll have the crowds and the end-of-year festivities, so places quickly become overcrowded.

October is the ideal time to add a safari to your stay. Outside school vacations in South Africa, the parks are also less crowded, so you win. We’re at the end of the dry season, the vegetation is less abundant, giving much better visibility, and the animals gather around the rarest waterholes.

From November to March, it’s the rainy season, but it won’t necessarily be enough to spoil your stay. (passing showers)

The hottest period of the year is from April to October, but may be too hot for some.


South Africa is not a cheap country. If your budget is limited, you won’t be able to get there. It’s better to save a little extra and enjoy the experience on the spot. However, the country is much less expensive than its neighbor Namibia. Count on a minimum of €3,000/p (flight included) for 17 days of travel in the middle of July and August. This is an average price, because it all depends on when you book, the period, availability, flight costs, accommodation and activities chosen. Made-to-measure really does allow us to adapt to your desires as far as possible.

Please note that as an accredited bespoke tour creator, I offer to accompany you in the creation of your tailor-made stay in South Africa and create a personalized itinerary tailored to your needs. Please send me an email at :



Please note that as an accredited bespoke travel designer, I offer to accompany you in the creation of your tailor-made trip to South Africa and create a personalized itinerary tailored to your needs. Please send me an email at :





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