Need help?
Ask on WhatsApp

South Africa Travel Guide

A world in one country

Come discover the incredible diversity and wild beauty of South Africa on a journey that takes you to the country’s famed natural parks, and face-to-face with iconic wildlife.  Visit great game reserves and head out on thrilling safari drives to encounter lions, Cape buffalo, elephants, rhinos, leopards, small antelopes and more. Explore regions of quiet beauty - large green canyons, birdsong, immense waterfalls, and ever-changing skies.

To experience the country to its fullest, make sure your South Africa tour package includes a visit to as many regions as possible. From the wilderness of Kruger National Park to the beaches of Cape Town, from whale-watching to wine-tasting, a world of experiences await.

Read more
Come discover the incredible diversity and wild beauty of South Africa on a journey that takes you to the country’s famed natural parks, and face-to-face with iconic wildlife.  Visit great game reserves and head out on thrilling safari drives to encounter lions, Cape buffalo, elephants, rhinos, leopards, small antelopes and more. Explore regions of quiet beauty - large green canyons, birdsong, immense waterfalls, and ever-changing skies.

To experience the country to its fullest, make sure your South Africa tour package includes a visit to as many regions as possible. From the wilderness of Kruger National Park to the beaches of Cape Town, from whale-watching to wine-tasting, a world of experiences await.

Location

The Republic of South Africa lies at the southern tip of the African continent. Neighbouring countries include Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the North, and Mozambique and Swaziland to the East. In the middle of South Africa lies the land-locked country, Lesotho.

When to go

The country has plenty to offer across the year and regardless of the season. That said, winter months, between May and October, tend to be best for wildlife safaris, while the warmer months are better for exploring cities and vineyards.

Where to go

South Africa travel packages can include anything from wildlife safaris to winter sports due to the different experiences that different regions offer. Besides the obvious attractions that going on safari or the shores of Cape Town offer, you may want to consider travelling to the interior of the country to visit local villages or going for a hike in the snow-capped Drakensberg region. And be sure to visit museums to learn more about the revolution against apartheid.
Read less

At a glance

Language

There are eleven official South African languages, including English, Afrikaans and nine other ethnic languages– Zulu and Xhosa are the most widely spoken among them. English is the official language of business and is spoken by most South Africans.

Currency

South African Rand
South Africa ‘s currency is called the South African Rand. The conversion rate from South Africa’s currency to INR is 1 ZAR = 4.69 INR at this time.

Weather

While choosing South Africa tour packages from India, do keep in mind that South Africa’s weather is generally subtropical but tends to vary across regions due to differences in altitude. The coastal areas show a tendency to be warm all year round, whereas the interior of the country experiences snowfall during the winter (just imagine seeing giraffes in the snow!).

Expert travel advice

Travel tips and insider advice that have made the most difference to us, sourced from our
community of like-minded travellers and global experts.

Visit the penguins at Boulders Beach   

Recommended by The Common Wanderer

“Located about an hours drive south of Cape Town is the incredibly beautiful Boulders beach, famous for being home to over 2,000 endangered African penguins. Here is the only place in the world where you get close to the little cuties, with visitors to the public beach allowed to swim with the penguins in the surrounding waters of False Bay.”

A travel and adventure blog inspiring readers to explore the world in a responsible and ethical way, through exceptional travel guides & tips, in-depth stories, and more.

Explore the Cango caves   

Recommended by NOMADasaurus

“These spectacular caves are situated at the foot of the Swartberg mountains, a quick 25 minute drive from the town of Oudshoorn in the Western Cape. There are two tours you can choose from, the “standard tour” and the “adventure tour”, we highly recommend the latter!”

Australia’s biggest adventure travel blog run award-winning travel writers and photographers Alesha Bradford and Jarryd Salem. They specialise in adventure travel, sustainable tourism, detailed travel guides, off the beaten path destinations, photography and creating a lifestyle around travel. They’ve been featured on Buzzfeed, BBC Travel, the Daily Mail, and other publications.

Bungee jump from the highest bridge in the world   

Recommended by Expert Vagabond

“..stopping along the Garden Route to leap from the 709 foot high Bloukrans Bridge and bouncing around dangling from your ankles by a glorified rubber band. If you’re looking to cure your fear of heights by going to extreme measures, South Africa is the place.”

Matthew Karsten runs this popular adventure travel blog featuring inspirational stories, photography, and budget travel tips from around the world.

Chase the Big 5!   

Recommended by The Whole World Is A Playground

 “...South Africa is the perfect place to indulge in safari adventures. The country is home to lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, rhinos, buffalo and wild dogs and it's a heartstopping moment to stare into the eyes of some of the world's most fascinating wildlife.”

Elaine & Dave, leading luxury Irish travel bloggers, travel the world in style, sharing everything from luxury flights and hotels to where to eat and drink, sightseeing and experiences in between.

Hike Table Mountain   

Recommended by Journalist On The Run

“No visit to South Africa would be complete without hiking up or, at least around the top of, Table Mountain. The centre piece of the city of Cape Town, one of the most visited spots in South Africa, and by far the most recognisable landmark in all of Africa”

Janet Newenham is the mind behind this adventure travel blog, through which she tries to give readers an insight into what life is like in far flung corners of this beautiful planet. She has been featured in National Geographic Travel, Lonely Planet, Matador Network and The Huffington Post along with various other online publications.

Incredible places to visit in South Africa

Cape Town

Rated as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, the ‘Mother City’ Cape Town has everything you could look for in an ideal travel destination. The influence of the European colonisation is apparent in the town’s architecture, as much as the languages that are spoken in its streets. With a cultural heritage as vibrant  as its colourful lanes, Cape Town will make your holiday in South Africa unforgettable.

Table Mountain

The Table Mountain rises up from inside the city,  towering over Cape Town and the Atlantic, as though its protector, dwarfing the surrounding mountains. It is almost a rite of passage on your holiday to South Africa to make your way to the summit where you’ll be able to look over the city and the bright blue waters of the ocean. You can simply ride the cable car to the top, or you can hike. 

The latter, though more challenging, allows you to get a good workout, a sense of achievement, and  an opportunity to better appreciate the wild beauty of the mountain: its enormous bluegum trees, wild orchids, rock faces studded with tiny fossils (the mountain is over 360 million years old), and the flat topped summit itself.

Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is a headland in South Africa, near Cape Town itself - and is certainly worth your time. It is one of the most famous navigational landmarks in the world. From here, you’ll be able to look out at a dramatic seascape, imagining voyagers and explorers embarking on journeys around the globe.

Kirstenbosch

This is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. To walk through it is to be in a little bubble of all things green, wild and beautiful. There are landscaped gardens;the beds are ablaze with daisies, indigenous flowers of all colours, and unique fynbos. There’s also a natural forest filled with ironwood, yellowwood and red alder. You’ll see prehistoric cycads preserved amongst amazingly crafted dinosaur sculptures. You’ll spot spotted eagle owls and guinea fowls, sugarbirds and sunbirds. Regardless of whether you have a green thumb or not, a visit to Kirstenbosch is a must on your solo trip or group travel package.

Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach, part of the Table Mountain National Park in the Cape Peninsula, is popular amongst locals and tourists alike, because it is home to a large colony of the quirky African penguins. Walk down to the boardwalk to see the vulnerable birds at close range. From just two breeding pairs, there are now over 3,000 birds!

Robben Island

You can reach Robben Island by a short ferry ride from Cape Town. The island has a turbulent history, and is best known for its now-defunct prison that once housed the renowned Nelson Mandela.  You will be able to see the prison cells and  get a glimpse of what life behind bars was like for the former President of South Africa. There are so many untold stories about Robben Island, that you’ll only be able to learn during your visit.

Kruger National Park

You simply cannot miss out on a trip to the Kruger National Park when you visit South Africa. It is just not done. Here, accompanied by highly skilled game rangers, you can set out on early morning and evening game drives and discover the wonder of the African bush. Experience the true essence of safari as you drive onto plains where lions play with their cubs, giraffes sway about tree tops, herds of gazelle and elephants drink at the water’s edge and rhinos and antelope cross the highways. Make sure Kruger National Park features on whichever South Africa travel package you choose.

Hot Air Balloon Safari

Take to the air as the first rays of sunlight glimmer over the horizon. As you soar above Kruger National Park,  look down at the grasslands below, dotted with wildlife below. It’s a perspective of the park that few travellers get to see.

Bush Braai

A bush dinner in Kruger National Park includes a drive through the game reserve at dusk and famous South African barbeque (braai). Your evening safari allows you to see the nocturnal world awakening. Big cats are on the prowl. You may see lions and hyenas fighting over a kill. Cheetahs dragging their prey up a tree. The howl of jackals fills the air. And owls swoop between trees overhead. 

Then sit down for dinner with the African bush and sky as the backdrop. Fill up on local meat grilled to perfection over an open fire, as well as salads, breads and desserts. This is one South African experience that you don’t want to miss.

Visit the Hippo Pool

Don’t be fooled. Hippos are not to be trifled with. At the Hippo Pool, they may look mild, submerged lazily in the water with only their eyes and ears visible. But if you wait around, you’ll be able to see why they’re considered among the most dangerous animals in the world. As they can be argumentative, short-tempered or grumpy, you may be able to spot hippos arguing with each other, fighting amongst themselves, or even attacking long green crocodiles in the river! With hippos, you just never know what they’re capable of - and that’s why visiting the Hippo Pool is such a necessity.

Do the Mananga 4x4 trail

The Mananga 4x4 Trail is a 48 km long circular self-drive route that takes around 4 to 6 hours to
complete. It will lead you over riverbeds, long sandy stretches as well as grassy valleys. The bush in this area is considerably open– an excellent opportunity for game- viewing and bird-watching. It is not a challenging drive, and the thrill of driving yourself through the wilderness is unparallelled.

Timbavati Game Reserve

The Timbavati Game Reserve is a private reserve that shares a border with the Greater Kruger National Park but tends to be less crowded.  You can choose between a range of accommodations that suit your budget and desire, such as tented camps and lodges to private villas befitting luxury South Africa holidays. Timbavati also offers safari options from an open vehicle, and even on foot.

The Drakensberg Mountains

The Drakensberg (which means Dragon’s Mountain in Afrikaans) is the highest mountain range in South Africa, reaching around 3500 m above sea level. It is so majestic and captivating that it’s hard to find room for it all at once – the eyes forever looking from one rugged peak to another, that turn a burnished gold with sunset.  Its many peaks, valleys and wildlife makes it popular with nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts, And at the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, travellers can see around 600 San cave paintings in caves and rock-shelters. It is the largest group of Bushmen paintings south of the Sahara.

Knysna

Knysna is a small but charming town which is a part of the Garden Route in South Africa, and is called “South Africa's Favourite Town.” Surfers, nature-lovers and families will love visiting this destination as there are a huge range of outdoor activities available such as sailing, whale-watching, mountain biking, or even golfing. In town, you’ll find art galleries and artisan woodcarvers to explore. And the town throws an annual Knysna Oyster Festival too!

Hermanus

Hermanus is a seaside town nestled on the southern tip of South Africa. It is best known as one of the best whale-watching spots in the country. Indeed, as you sunbathe on the beach, you can spot pods of whales also enjoying the warmth and the waters. For a more up-close thrilling experience, you can go kayaking out in the waters, with whales swimming alongside.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg is a cosmopolitan city with some of the country’s most impressive skyscrapers. It’s also a city with myriad pasts and peoples. To visit this city is to truly get an insight into South Africa’s history (Mandela and Gandhi learnt the ropes of resistance here), and how far the country has come. Today the city is filled with a zest for life; there’s colour, culture and fun around every corner.

Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg documents the rise and fall of South Africa’s era of segregation and oppression. It is immensely informative, and will teach you everything you need to know about the events that  shaped this country into its present socio-cultural state.

Mandela House

The Mandela House is the residence in which Nelson Mandela lived with his first wife, Evelyn, and later with his second wife, Winnie. The quaint redbrick house, just off Vilakazi Street, has four rooms and has now been converted into a museum. A visit to the exhibition space that contains Nelson Mandela’s personal belongings, paintings and old family photos, is an integral part of any holiday to South Africa.

Croc City Crocodile & Reptile Park

You can zip-line five meters above the ground over crocodiles! Need we say more? If this activity doesn’t sate your desire for a thrill, you can also hold a baby crocodile or touch exotic snakes and spiders, including tarantulas! Also on display, although you’re not allowed to touch them, are the black and green mamba, and boomslang. A visit to the park is great for families with inquisitive kids and for the brave at heart.

Lindfield Victorian House Museum

This living museum takes you back to the Victorian era, helping you imagine life in Johannesburg 100 years ago.  Katherine Love, the collector, lives in the house, and dressed as a parlour maid, leads you on a tour through the museum, using the exhibits to create a picture of life in the past. For instance, there are libraries filled with books of the time; the kitchen is stocked with gadgets from the era such as an icebox; there’s a huge doll’s house filled with miniature items that Love used to play with as a little girl. A visit to the Lindfield needs to be booked in advance, but it is a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Take a city walking tour

Walking tours are perfect for travellers who want to explore the city like a local. There are guided graffiti tours that take you around town to discover beautiful hidden street art. Others will take you to the city’s landmarks and give you more information and insight as to their importance; for instance The Money, Banks & Vaults tour takes you through the City of Gold’s financial history by prominent buildings and bank vaults. For a unique way to get around, try the City Skate Tour.

Durban

Set in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban is a coastal city with a loud heartbeat. A bustling port, golden sands and pleasantly warm water all-year-round make it a beach holiday paradise. The city’s multifaceted lifestyle is thanks to its Indian, British and African influences, making it a fun, interesting, energetic destination on any South Africa tour you choose.

Follow the Golden Mile

The Golden Mile is a stretch of several beaches including South Beach and Addington Beach. Due to its proximity to the city centre, the Golden Mile is also a lively, multicultural area, where you will also find the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World. It’s a great stretch to sun yourself on the beach in the sun or go swimming. Don’t be afraid to swim along the coast, as the water is netted off from sharks.

Walk Among “Living Fossils” at the Botanical Gardens

The Durban Botanical Gardens are a carefully tended institution in the city. Its special collections include heritage trees, delicate orchids and tropical palms. Its most prized collection, however, is cycads, also known as ‘living fossils’; these are plants that pre-date even the dinosaurs! After having survived three mass extinctions, cycads are now still endangered and well worth a visit. It is free to enter the Gardens.

Go on a bushwalk at Tala Game Reserve

The Tala Game Reserve is a 3000-hectare large wildlife sanctuary, home to hippos, rhinos and giraffes. The private park conducts bush walks for daring travellers, leading you straight through the dense vegetation of the South African wilderness.

Watch a Rugby Match

Just imagine the atmosphere at the stadium as two local teams go head to head, their fans cheering them on and on! It’s one of the most thrilling experiences you’ll have in South Africa that’s not a safari. If you aren’t able to book a ticket in time for a match, head to a bar, grab a beer and kick back with the locals as you watch it on TV instead.

Follow the Inanda Heritage Trail

The Inanda Heritage Trail takes travellers to Durban’s historical sites such as the Phoenix Settlement which was founded by Mahatma Gandhi and where he developed his philosophy of passive resistance, the Indanda Seminary which is one of South Africa’s oldest school for girls, or the Ohlange Institute where Nelson Mandela cast a historic vote in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

The Cape Winelands

A country famous for its wine is bound to have some of the most bountiful wine farms on the continent. The Cape Winelands is a region filled with vineyards against a backdrop of rugged green mountains. To really take in the best of the Winelands, travellers should go vineyard-hopping, filling up their days with tastings, pairing fruity, unoaked chardonnay, full bodied savignons, pinot noirs and more with fresh, local food - pumpkin gnocchi, oak-grilled trout, or sweet potato mash. Couples will definitely want to choose a South Africa honeymoon package with plenty of time in the Winelands.

The Panorama Route

The aptly named Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, the Paradise country, takes you through some of South Africa’s most beautiful wilderness, where - without exaggeration - there is a striking view around every corner. The changing skies, the thick, high forests, dramatic waterfalls, and the 
largest green canyon in the world, Blyde River Canyon, conspire to render you speechless.Highlights include The Pinnacle, God's Window, Wonder View, Lisbon Falls and Berlin Falls, Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Three Rondavel.

Take a ride on the Blue Train

It is said that a ride on the Blue Train will show you the true soul of Africa. The train currently runs between Pretoria and Cape Town (a 31-hour journey) with more routes to soon follow. Riding on the Blue Train is a luxurious experience; there are a variety of suites for guests to sleep in, a lounge, a dining car, observation car, a smoking lounge, and even a butler who is available 24 hours.

The train winds through vineyards, mountainous terrain, and valleys, and by iconic sights as Victoria Falls and the Table Mountain. Along the route, the Blue Train pauses at historic towns and interesting places like Kimberley where travellers can visit a diamond museum. Book your seats on the train in advance, as a last minute holiday to South Africa could mean you miss out on this unique experience.

Top things to do & experience in South Africa

Nobody wants to be a tourist. Here are curated experiences in art, music, food, culture and communities
to help you have an authentic and memorable trip.

Byond Postpaid

Travel now.
Pay us later.

Starting at 16,000 per month

Recommended tours

See all our departures to South Africa. Choose from a wide variety of travel styles, hundreds of departure dates and budget choices.

More country guides

Become a Byond Insider

Be the very first to hear about new trips and special discounts (get up to 15% off on regular prices!). Get exclusive tools and expert advice to keep you inspired and help you travel better.It's completely free!

  
  

Our website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience, showing content and offers that are most relevant to you. To learn more about this or to change your settings, see our cookies policy