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South Africa travel guide

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South Africa is diverse in more ways than one. Aside from its post-apartheid name, the 'Rainbow Nation' is a land of opportunity when it comes to unique travel experiences. From the wild parties of Cape Town's nightclubs to the wild animals of Kruger National Park, our South Africa travel guide can help you plan the ultimate adventure. Find out where to go, how to travel around and get the full experience with our South Africa tours.

South Africa fast facts

south african language

Languages spoken

There are 11 official language spoken in South Africa! A few of these are English, Southern Sotho, Swati and Zulu.

south africa currency

Currency

South African Rand (ZAR).
Symbol: R
100 South African Rand is approximately $7.33

time zone south africa

Time zone

South African Standard Time is UTC +02:00, and is ahead of Washington DC by 7 hours.

Prices in South Africa

cost of beer in south africa

Drinks

A bottle of local South African beer costs on average 25R (around $1.80).

cost of food in south africa

Meals

A sit-down meal in an inexpensive restaurant will be about 100R (approx $7.33), or street food from as little as 16R!

cost of accomodation in south africa

Hostels

A basic dorm bed in South Africa can cost you as little as 103R (about $7.50) per night.

south africa hotel cost

Hotels

For a mid-range double room in a hotel or guesthouse, it costs between 400-1500R (approx $29-$110).

taxi cost south africa

Taxis

Taxi journeys in Cape Town starting at 10R (approx 73c) and the starting rate in Johannesburg is around 22R (approx $1.60).

transport cost south africa

Transport

Hop-on hop-off is a great way to travel. We offer passes with Baz Bus, with fixed routes starting at $166.

Top things to do in South Africa

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Safaris

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Volunteering

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Adventure tours

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Bus passes

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The most popular places to visit in South Africa

two people walking on a beach
Cape Town
Cape Town has it all - it has heaps of history and an exciting culture to go with it. Visit and you'll find dramatic scenery (rugged cliffs and a beautiful coastline), a vibrant urban scene (hipsters welcome), and loads to get stuck in to. Ride the luxurious and stylish Blue Train between Cape Town and Pretoria, stay at Addo Elephant National Park - one of the world's greatest conservation projects, sip cocktails and dine on fresh seafood, search for the Big 5, or chill out and go for a surf.
view of a vineyard under the blue sky
The Winelands
Within easy distance of Cape Town sits one of the world's best wine regions, perfect for a day trip or for exploring further.  The Cape's wine region features green vines, rolling valleys and rugged mountains. Taste some of the world's best wines and explore the stunning vineyards by bike or horseback. Opt to stay in charming Stellenbosch, awash with Dutch colonial architecture, or in idyllic Franschhoek.
viewpoints along the green coastline by the sea
The Garden Route
Stretching 300km from Mossel Bay to just past Plettenberg Bay, the Garden Route is one of the greatest driving routes in the world. Discover the breathtaking coastline dotted with hidden beaches, world-class surf breaks and colonies of seals. Inland, hike through indigenous forests, swim in prostine lagoons and admire the stunning mountainous landscape.
group of zebras standing in the wilderness
Johannesburg & Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of Africa's most iconic safari destinations. Split between the national park and private game reserves, Africa's Big 5 (and all the rest of the wildlife) know no such boundaries and wander freely amongst the savannahs, river plains and rocky outcrops of this vast wilderness area. Wherever you stay in the park, you're guaranteed to see an abundance of wildlife.

Traveling to South Africa

There are some direct flights from the US to South Africa, depending on where you're flying from and to (NYC and Atlanta are direct) whereas others have one or two stops. Flight times on average take around 11.5 hours, but can take over 17 hours. Secure your flight now with a deposit, or search our student/youth fares.
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Adventure tours in South Africa

cave paintings of some animals
Southern Africa Encompasses | 15 days
When it comes to raw, in-your-face wildness, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are incredible and from the vantage of the overland adventure vehicle, even more spectacular. Witness traditional dancing, explore the Okavango Delta with a game walk and bush camping, track rhinos on foot in Zimbabwes Matobo National Park, and capture the Big Five (with your camera, of course) in South Africas Kruger National Park. 
front view of a leopard
Cape to Kruger Adventure | 16 days
Southern Africa is one of the continents most fascinating destinations, and on this two-week trip, youll get the best of what this dynamic region has to offer. Going from Cape Town to Johannesburg, you'll experience the mountains of Lesotho, coastal Zululand, and the hiking terrain of Tugela Gorge, capping it off with wildlife safari drives in Addo and Kruger national parks.
a baby elephant and a mother elephant drinking water
South Africa Discoverer | 10 days
Explore South Africa's fascinating cultural diversity on this exciting journey through the 'Rainbow Nation'. Chase stunning views through Tsitsikamma National Park, drive the iconic Garden Route and track big game across Addo Elephant National Park.  With an itinerary taking in the best of the Garden Route, you'll be talking about this ten-day adventure for a long, long time.

When is the best time to visit South Africa?

The best time to visit South Africa depends on why you're visiting. If you're going for a safari then the best time would be between May-September, this is the dry season, so you'll have a better chance to see more wildlife. But this time of year can actually get quite cold in the evenings. The hotter months are during the summer (between November-February), but the safari might not be as good in these months. The heavy tourist season is around April-May and September-October, so outside of these months it's less busy. South Africa is a year-round destination, due to varying regional climates, so it's always best to check the area where you'll be visiting and the activities you want to do.

Do US citizens need a visa for South Africa?

US passport holders can travel to South Africa for either tourism or business for up to 90 days without a visa. However, any stay longer than this will require a visa.

*Visa and entry requirements are subject to change at any time. Please always check the current status with your applicable embassy prior to travel.

Need a little more inspiration? Check out the STA Travel blog!

STA Travel Blog

How to make the most of a week in Cape Town

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STA Travel Blog

10 reasons why it's time you went to South Africa

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STA Travel Blog

South Africa cheat sheet

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