South Africa is considered one of my favourite locations on the planet — particularly to journey alone. It’s a rustic I fell in love with immediately, a rustic I’ve gone on to journey extensively on three totally different journeys. South Africa fills me with a deep happiness that I’ve discovered only a few locations in the world.
But is it secure?
That’s the query most individuals ask about South Africa. And for good purpose — South Africa has a excessive crime charge and it’s a must to guard in opposition to theft and assault in ways in which you wouldn’t even want to consider in different nations.
Is it loopy for a girl to think about touring to South Africa alone? No. It’s not loopy. I firmly consider that with the proper analysis and preparation, virtually any vacation spot on the planet may be traveled safely by a lady on her personal. I wrote this information to function a robust useful resource to your analysis.
There are numerous South Africa journey guides for ladies that both downplay the hazards (“Just have common sense, you’ll be fine!”) or are overwhelmingly fearmongering (“DON’T GO THERE, IT’S NOT SAFE!”). I disagree with each approaches. The reality is in between, and there are a whole lot of issues of safety particular to South Africa. You should be cautious of panhandlers who don’t simply keep in one place however observe you. You can take the Gautrain, certain, however the Metrorail may be dicey. And vacuum-wrapping your baggage is often pointless, however you must do it if you happen to’re flying by Johannesburg.
I’ve traveled South Africa a number of occasions and spent a few of that point touring alone. I’ve stayed secure and had fun — then once more, I’m a really skilled solo traveler who writes about solo feminine journey for a residing. I believe touring solo in South Africa is greatest for skilled girls vacationers with a whole lot of solo journey expertise beneath their belts.
Why Travel to South Africa?
Because it is likely one of the most lovely nations on the planet. I consider this fervently. South Africa doesn’t get sufficient credit score for its astounding pure magnificence. The shoreline, the mountains, the deserts, even Kruger is beautiful. And Cape Town is likely one of the most superbly located cities on the planet.
Because it has a number of the greatest wildlife viewing in the world. Kruger National Park is likely one of the excellent wildlife locations on the planet. There are tons of animals, from elephants to giraffes to zebras to lions to rhinos, and so they’re extremely concentrated. Safari guides say that you just shouldn’t plan on seeing the Big Five — leopards are all the time the hardest — however it’s rather a lot simpler right here than a number of the different safari hotspots in Africa.
Because the journey actions are excellent. New Zealand might need the popularity of being the world’s journey capital — however South Africa has a LOT to supply (and it’s cheaper right here, too). Bungee leaping off the bridge in Storms River, crocodile cage diving in Outdtshoorn, paragliding off Lion’s Head in Cape Town, cage diving with nice white sharks in Mossel Bay, leaping off one of many world’s scariest swings in Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Because the wine is a number of the greatest in the world. South Africa is definitely my favourite wine nation! If you don’t suppose you’re a fan of chardonnay, wait till you strive South African chardonnay, with its magical vanilla notes. Chenin blanc and Pinotage are two native standouts, and it’s absurd how low-cost the bottles are.
Because it’s extraordinarily reasonably priced. South Africa is an reasonably priced nation to start with, and on prime of that, the native forex has taken some hits in the previous few years. You can go to South Africa and have an impressive, adventure-filled journey for much lower than what a visit to Australia or New Zealand would value.
Is South Africa Safe Today?
There is a whole lot of fearmongering about South Africa, notably in my dwelling nation of the United States. If you watch American cable information, you’d suppose that it’s a hotbed of carjackings and robberies and that apartheid ended yesterday.
That’s overblown, after all — however when you arrive and see that each dwelling has an enormous fence constructed round it, which will unnerve you a bit. Then discuss with middle-class South Africans and listen to about how a lot they speak about their safety methods and it will unnerve you extra.
South Africa has a excessive charge of crime, together with violent crime like rape and homicide. Much of it is localized (notably in neighborhoods the place no vacationers will go). Here is GOV.UK (the British authorities’s journey advisory website, which I discover to be much less alarmist than the US website) with what they should say about South Africa:
South Africa has a really excessive stage of crime, together with rape and homicide. The threat of violent crime to guests travelling to the principle vacationer locations is usually low. The South African authorities give excessive precedence to defending vacationers and tourism police are deployed in a number of massive cities. The threat of crime will increase in city areas throughout South Africa, notably in central enterprise districts in main cities, and townships on the outskirts of main cities. A better state of consciousness is required if travelling by these areas. Most circumstances of violent crime and homicide are likely to happen in townships distant and remoted areas. Consult a dependable tour information if you happen to go to a township.
And there are outlying incidents — once I was on the Blue Train again in 2012, considered one of most luxurious trains in the world, farmers protested by throwing rocks on the prepare, breaking the home windows of a number of the cabins. Nobody was harm, although glass shattered throughout my pal’s cabin. (I used to be in the bathe and missed the entire thing.)
One factor I discover in my travels is that so many individuals affiliate 90s conflicts with right this moment. Colombia is an ideal instance of that — folks assume that the drug wars and kidnappings of the 90s are nonetheless in full swing. So lots of people, notably of older generations (i.e. your mother and father) haven’t heard a lot about South Africa on the information for the reason that finish of apartheid, and people pictures are burned into their head.
In the previous decade, solely two tales about South Africa acquired mainstream protection in the US: the dying of Nelson Mandela and Oscar Pistorious murdering his girlfriend. Not precisely tales that extol the fantastic thing about the nation.
South Africa may be traveled safely — however it’s essential to learn about this context. Read on for how one can keep secure in South Africa.
Is South Africa Safe?
Is South Africa Good for First-Time Solo Female Travelers?
I don’t suggest South Africa for first-time solo feminine vacationers. This is a rustic the place it’s a must to be in your guard continuously, notably when it involves theft, and I believe first-timers are higher off getting their ft moist in one other vacation spot.
Instead, in case you have your coronary heart set on South Africa, I like to recommend that you just be part of a bunch tour as an alternative.
G Adventures provides dozens of excursions to South Africa. I’ve traveled with G earlier than and suggest them, as they make use of native guides, concentrate on sustainability, and maintain their tour sizes small. They’re a whole lot of enjoyable, too! Here are a few of their South Africa excursions:
- South Africa & Swazi Quest (17 days, Johannesburg to Cape Town) — This finances, 18-30-somethings journey covers a lot of the main highlights in South Africa, together with safari in Kruger, with a fast Swaziland detour. You also can do the Johannesburg to Durban half (9 days) or the Durban to Cape Town half (10 days).
- Hiking South Africa (17 days, Cape Town to Johannesburg) — This journey takes you to a number of the most gorgeous components of the nation and contains climbing in the Drakensburg Mountains, the Tsitsikamma Rainforest, plus stops in Lesotho and Swaziland.
- Mozambique, Kruger, & Swazi Discoverer (13 days, from Johannesburg) — This tour combines safari time in Kruger and Swaziland with seashore time in Mozambique.
A much less structured tour choice is the Baz Bus.
The Baz Bus is a hop-on, hop-off backpacker bus that travels alongside the coast and drops you off at hostels. While I’ve by no means used it, I’ve all the time needed to strive it, and I’d positively use it if I deliberate a South Africa journey that traveled alongside the route.
- The hop-on, hop-off bus route travels from Cape Town to Johannesburg and reverse, together with widespread cities alongside the Garden Route and harder-to-reach spots like Cintsa and Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast.
- You can add on a Kruger National Park safari or quite a lot of different day excursions, rounding out essentially the most difficult a part of touring solo.
Is South Africa Good for Experienced Solo Female Travelers?
Yes! South Africa is improbable for ladies who’ve already traveled solo! I did my first solo travels in South Africa after I had just a few years of solo journey expertise beneath my belt (in addition to 10 days touring with a bunch in South Africa) and I didn’t have any points by any means.
If you’re an skilled solo feminine traveler, you are able to do no matter you need. Nothing in South Africa is just too touristy for you. Oh, and don’t suppose you’re too good for the hop-on, hop-off bus in Cape Town — I really suppose it’s top-of-the-line methods to see Cape Town! I’ve achieved it on two totally different journeys!
Getting Around South Africa as a Solo Traveler
It is usually a problem to get round South Africa — the general public transportation right here isn’t almost nearly as good as Europe, for instance. Public transportation is proscribed in some locations and nonexistent in others. So what’s the easiest way to get across the nation?
You can get round by flying and utilizing public transportation. If you’re basing in just a few areas in the course of the journey, you may get by this fashion. South Africa has tons of home airline routes, together with on finances airways like Kulula. I went on safaris that picked me up from Hoedspruit airport; I acquired round utilizing Uber in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Stellenbosch; and whereas a neighborhood pal drove me the hourlong journey from Cape Town to Stellenbosch, I may have employed an Uber or non-public automobile to do the identical.
In Johannesburg I loved taking the Gautrain, a modern, fashionable prepare operating between the town middle and the airport. I don’t suggest taking the Metrorail, the prepare system in and round a number of South African cities, as a result of poor infrastructure and threat of theft.
For longer distances, you may get round on South Africa’s bus networks. Two bus strains are Greyhound South Africa and Intercape. I took Intercape from Cape Town to Knysna and again, and although it was a protracted journey (eight hours every method!), it was pretty comfy. (Interestingly, Intercape is a Christian enterprise and there’s a prayer earlier than the journey.)
You can hire a automobile. South Africa is such an amazing nation for a street journey — I beloved my street journey alongside the Garden Route! It offers you the utmost freedom, and a lot of the enjoyable is stopping on the weird locations alongside the street (you MUST examine my go to to Ronnie’s Sex Shop). Keep in thoughts that in South Africa they drive on the left.
If you hire a automobile, keep away from driving in the key cities at night time. While carjacking is not as massive of a menace as it was once, it nonetheless occurs in tough neighborhoods right this moment. Some of my South African pals don’t cease for pink lights in sure neighborhoods at night time. Since you don’t know the neighborhoods, keep away from driving in the key cities at night time.
Smash-and-grab automobile robberies will not be unusual. For that purpose, maintain valuables out of sight in your parked automobile. In reality, you may need to keep away from retaining ANYTHING in your automobile altogether.
Finally, there’s the Baz Bus, a backpacker bus that takes you alongside the coast and from hostel to hostel. The advantage of the Baz Bus is that it stops solely in locations for vacationers, it connects you to a community of vacationers, and it takes you from hostel to hostel so that you don’t have to fret about extra transport. (And South African hostels typically have non-public rooms if dorms aren’t your factor.)
I’ve by no means taken the Baz Bus, however I’ve all the time needed to! If I plan one other journey alongside the route that the Baz Bus takes, I’ll positively strive it.
Travel and Safety Tips for South Africa
My #1 tip for solo feminine journey in South Africa is to not put your self in isolating conditions. Every time I am going to South Africa, that is one thing that locals continuously warn me about. If I had been using a motorcycle round Thailand or Italy and noticed a stunning empty seashore, I wouldn’t hesitate to go down and take some pictures — however that is one thing that I wouldn’t do in South Africa as a result of threat of theft or sexual assault.
Stay in locations the place individuals are round. That’s the one neatest thing you are able to do to maintain your self secure.
Get a SIM card from Vodacom. SIM playing cards are vital as a result of they allow you to navigate round cities and let you name Ubers. Get a giant information package deal — it’s low-cost right here. Remember to convey your passport to the shop.
Use UberBLACK when you possibly can. Uber was a game-changer for South Africa — it made it attainable for locals to get dependable taxis. While UberX is filth low-cost, UberBLACK is staffed by skilled drivers. Rides on UberBLACK value twice as a lot as UberX, however they’re nonetheless low-cost sufficient to be price it. Uber is out there in most main cities in South Africa, together with Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Stellenbosch.
I had one scary expertise with an UberX driver in Cape Town who didn’t know what he was doing and acquired misplaced. I demanded he take us again to the restaurant the place he had picked us up. After that, I solely employed UberBLACK drivers and didn’t have any incidents.
Do not stroll round alone after darkish. This is usually given as recommendation to girls touring alone wherever, which I believe it ridiculous — most cities are completely secure to stroll round alone. I wouldn’t suppose twice about strolling alone at night time in Paris or Buenos Aires or Bangkok or New York, the place I stay. But South Africa is totally different. You shouldn’t actually stroll round alone after darkish in any respect; if you happen to’re in doubt, ask a employees member at your lodging or restaurant. Just use Ubers for ridiculously quick distances; drivers are used to it.
Panhandlers will typically stand up and observe you in South Africa, generally for a very long time. This is uncommon and it scared me the primary time it occurred, however my native pals stored me calm. If this occurs to you, simply ignore them and maintain strolling. 99% of the time they’ll finally lose curiosity and go away you alone.
People will typically rip-off you by providing that will help you in an airport or discovering an ATM in a vacationer space, then will ask you for a tip. If you say no, they’ll change into indignant and make a scene till you give them cash. If anybody provides that will help you in a vacationer zone, you possibly can say sure, however be ready for this to occur.
Consider vacuum-wrapping your baggage if you happen to’re transiting by O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. I by no means wrap my baggage wherever else, however I do right here. It’s not unusual for baggage to be burglarized whereas in transit, however thieves are much less probably to decide on a wrapped bag and make it apparent. As all the time, maintain all of your valuables in your carry-on baggage.
Know that late afternoon is usually a widespread time for petty crime. Not all over the place — however some neighborhoods, together with the extremely Instagrammable neighborhood of Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, are likely to have extra crimes happen in the course of the late afternoon hours. If you’re in considered one of these neighborhoods, the locals will let you know that you must get going.
Driving requires further warning. Smash-and-grab robberies in vehicles are widespread; you’re greatest off retaining nothing in view in your automobile when it’s parked. Carjacking nonetheless occurs right this moment, although it’s much less widespread than it was once and is often confined to sure neighborhoods. It’s greatest to not drive in cities at night time.
Don’t go to a township with out a information. Plain and easy. Visiting a township alone opens you as much as the danger of theft.
There was a drought on the Western Cape just a few years in the past, so dangerous that public restrooms in Cape Town provided hand sanitizer in lieu of water. These rules had been relaxed in October 2018 when the state of affairs improved, however you must make an effort to reduce your water utilization whereas in South Africa.
Listen to your safari guides. It could seem secure on safari, however that’s solely as a result of your guides are in management of the state of affairs. NEVER get out of the safari car except your information tells you it’s secure to take action. Be cautious about standing up except you’re in a car with a roof.
Many of South Africa’s seashores have sturdy currents however there’s typically no signage reflecting this. Only swim in the ocean after you verify with locals that it’s secure to take action.
Be cautious about your ingesting. Drink lower than you ordinarily would at dwelling — two drinks is an efficient restrict. Only take drinks from bartenders, by no means take a drink from a stranger, and all the time maintain it with you and keep watch over it.
Be cautious about wine tourism in South Africa. Getting intoxicated implies that you lose your inhibitions, which can make you inclined to theft or assault. I like to recommend doing wine tasting as a part of a tour — there are many nice wine excursions based mostly in Cape Town, in addition to the the hop-on, hop-off Vine Hopper wine tasting tour in Stellenbosch — however attempt to maintain your consumption low. There’s no disgrace in not ending your sampler glass — or spitting!
Don’t flash your valuables or put on costly jewellery. If you’re out taking pictures with an expensive-looking digital camera, be further cautious. Only take out your digital camera and telephone whenever you want them — don’t stroll round absentmindedly with them in your hand.
Keep a watch in your belongings always. If you carry a handbag, maintain it near you. I suggest a crossbody purse, made out of a tricky materials like leather-based or faux leather-based, that zips shut. I like to recommend many purses in this submit. Never let it grasp behind you — all the time maintain it in a spot the place you possibly can see it, and maintain your hand on it if you happen to’re in a crowd.
If you carry a pockets with out a purse, don’t maintain it in your again pocket. This is clear to thieves and they’ll seize it and run.
If you utilize a small backpack, lock it. I exploit a Pacsafe backpack the place you possibly can lock the compartments shut.
If somebody robs you, GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT. Things may be changed. Nothing is price your life.
Keep your valuables locked up in your lodging and solely take with you what you want that day. I do that with my Pacsafe Travelsafe and I think about it a very powerful factor I pack. Keep an additional debit card and a minimum of $100 hidden in obscure components of your baggage.
Bring a Speakeasy Travel Supply scarf. These scarves are top-of-the-line methods to cover your valuables. They include a secret pocket to your passport or different valuables that no thief will ever learn about. Check out those I designed right here.
Never go away your luggage wherever unattended. Even if you happen to’re used to asking somebody to look at your issues when you use the lavatory in a coffeeshop at dwelling, don’t do this in South Africa. Take your belongings with you. If you’re retaining your bag beneath the desk or in any other case out of sight, maintain it between your ft or hook the strap round one of many chair legs.
Don’t carry tons of money round with you. You can use bank cards virtually all over the place in South Africa, and carrying masses of cash leaves you weak to theft. Don’t be the traveler who loses her pockets and the $500 in it.
Only use ATMs at banks in the course of the day, indoors. Don’t use standalone ATMs in comfort shops. Not solely do they go away you inclined to theft, in case your card will get eaten, it’s rather a lot simpler to retrieve it from an actual financial institution’s ATM. If you possibly can’t discover a financial institution, use an ATM in a shopping center.
The web in South Africa shouldn’t be nice. It’s rather a lot higher than it was once, however numerous resorts and companies providing wifi nonetheless have absurdly low information caps. Know this if you happen to’re planning to work or do a whole lot of importing in South Africa. I discover having a SIM card with a giant information plan is usually a good substitute for this, particularly if you happen to tether.
Are you gluten-free? You can positively survive in South Africa (and my gluten-free pal Beth ate properly), however know that lots of people in South Africa observe a wheat-free food plan versus a gluten-free food plan. It’s a bit weird that a whole lot of eating places know how one can keep away from wheat however don’t know something about gluten, so be sure to clarify your allergy.
Malaria is current in just a few components of South Africa, together with Kruger National Park. This is the South Africa malaria map from the Center for Disease Control in the US. Some vacationers select to take malaria tablets and a few select to not. Some folks select to get a yellow fever vaccine as properly. I’m not going to let you know what to do as a result of that’s a dialog you and a medical skilled ought to have. I like to recommend seeing a journey physician.
Get a digital guidebook and maintain it in your telephone. Even right this moment, I all the time maintain a guidebook PDF on my telephone — it’s nice for calculating approximate time of journeys, figuring out what days locations are closed, and it lists medical facilities you must go to in case of emergency. I’m a giant fan of Lonely Planet guidebooks — get the digital model of Lonely Planet South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. If you’re touring in Namibia, Botswana, or different surrounding nations, try Lonely Planet Southern Africa.
Spend extra cash on staying secure. If it prices you cash to take an Uber relatively than stroll a brief distance, or to remain in a resort in a nicer neighborhood, do it. It’s definitely worth the peace of thoughts. Don’t pinch pennies in your security.
Most importantly, you don’t have any obligation to be good to anybody. Women typically really feel the should be good and please folks in any respect prices. You don’t should wherever — particularly so in South Africa. If anybody is making you’re feeling uncomfortable, simply go away. Trust me — you gained’t be the rudest individual they meet that day. And so what if you happen to had been? You’re by no means going to see them once more.
Top 10 Travel Safety Tips for Women
Traveling Ethically in South Africa
Many folks touring to South Africa plan to go to a township, volunteer, or do some form of work that helps the much less lucky. While many individuals have the most effective intentions, appearing on these needs can typically trigger extra hurt than good.
Look out for slum tourism masquerading as a cultural exercise. In South Africa slum tourism typically takes the type of township excursions. I’ve personally visited townships in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Knysna, pictured above (all as a part of campaigns with South Africa Tourism). While some township excursions are based mostly on real cultural alternate and supply much-needed revenue to the neighborhood, others deal with locals like human zoos or don’t compensate them pretty.
It’s not simple to discern whether or not or not a township tour is moral. When researching attempt to discover out the place the cash goes, if the corporate is partnered with a neighborhood group, and the dimensions of the group (small is good). Small, native corporations are greatest. One firm I’ve seen extremely advisable is AWOL Tours in Cape Town.
Be very cautious of voluntourism. Many folks need to go to South Africa to allow them to volunteer and make the world a greater place. Unfortunately, too many of those excursions have amateurs performing work that must be achieved by professionals. When you’re constructing a faculty with no masonry expertise, locals will typically should tear down badly constructed partitions and do it themselves.
The greatest form of short-term voluntourism is by expert professionals performing their work for individuals who don’t often have entry — like healthcare professionals.
Do not youngsters. And positively don’t submit their pictures on the web. Children are too younger to consent, and they don’t exist to your leisure. I personally not youngsters except their faces are obscured or they’re a part of a crowd scene.
Do not go to orphanages. This is likely one of the most damaging, merciless, and ego-driven actions in journey. Wealthy white vacationers get their pictures hugging smiling poor black orphan children (who won’t even be orphans, and are stored from their households to maintain the sympathy cash rolling in. Best case state of affairs, if it’s a legit and respectable orphanage, you’re hurting the youngsters by getting near them after which departing, leaving them to wrestle with forming relationships in the long run. Do not go to orphanages — not in South Africa or wherever else on the planet.
Be very cautious of animal actions. The very best animal actions have you ever observe the animals and never work together — actions like safaris. The worst actions contain you strolling with lions, or getting up shut with sleeping (probably sedated) animals for pictures, which I did as soon as and now remorse.
Do not geotag rhinos. Rhinos are an endangered species inclined to poaching. Revealing their geographic location — like on Facebook or Instagram — can put them in hazard. However, a number of the non-public reserves brazenly promote their rhinos and have them guarded 24/7. Talk to your safari guides and see what they recommend.
What folks want essentially the most is sources for their very own folks to construct a greater future. Kids ought to develop up with function fashions who appear to be them and are from their neighborhood — not strangers who drop in for photograph ops. And the easiest way to do that is to donate to a legit native charity to allow them to use the cash themselves. Charity Navigator is an efficient useful resource for researching charities.
The Best Experiences in South Africa
Seeing animals in the wild. I yelped with pleasure the primary time I noticed a herd of impala leaping throughout the grass. There’s one thing about seeing these animals in the wild that turns you into a toddler once more. Baby elephants are so playful; lions are so regal. Seeing endangered rhinos is especially shifting.
Seeing Cape Town from a helicopter. Some cities are higher to see from a helicopter than others — and in my opinion, Cape Town is the BEST metropolis on the planet to see from above. Go in the late afternoon for the most effective gentle over the town.
Swinging from the highest of Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. This is likely one of the most terrifying-looking swings in the world — not for the faint-hearted! An adrenaline rush like no different. If you’re not into it, watch your pal do it and giggle at their screams.
Cage diving with crocodiles in Oudtshoorn. Get lowered right into a pool crammed with crocodiles as they lazily swim round you — and later, get informed that you just’re loopy by your family and friends.
Stopping at wineries and sampling the libations. South Africa not solely has a number of the most scrumptious wines in the world — it additionally has wonderful worth for cash. If you’re street tripping, think about dropping by little wineries and having samples costing the equal of some .
Watching the penguins play in the surf at Boulders Beach. Just south of Cape Town on the Cape Peninsula is a seashore the place penguins play! Boulders Beach is a good spot in between visiting Hout Bay and the Cape of Good Hope. The penguins even surf!
Trying some animals you’ve by no means tried earlier than. Ever had zebra steak? Or kudu? Or springbok? Or warthog? This is the place to do it. They are all scrumptious.
Finding the proper souvenirs on the Watershed. One good purpose to save lots of Cape Town for the top of your journey is to go memento purchasing on the Watershed by the V&A Waterfront, which is crammed with greater than 150 cubicles by native artisans. The stuff right here is NICE. You can get all the pieces from clothes to jewellery to housewares to children’ toys, all from native creators.
Where to Go in South Africa
It’s so onerous to slim down my favourite locations in South Africa! I’ve tons that I really like.
Cape Town — Truly one of many world’s magnificent cities, and so lovely that it will make your coronary heart ache. Cape Town is beautiful and artsy and adventurous and crammed with good meals and wine. The prime of Table Mountain gives top-of-the-line Instagram spots in the whole nation. Cape Town’s neighborhoods are fairly numerous as properly, and there are such a lot of good day journeys inside a brief distance.
Kruger National Park — If you’re coming to South Africa for the primary time, you must prioritize occurring a safari, and that is the place to do it. Kruger itself is the dimensions of Israel or New Jersey, however it’s surrounded by non-public wildlife reserves with safari lodges. Do a day journey into the park itself if you happen to can; I discovered the wildlife there to be essentially the most concentrated of all.
Johannesburg — Is it price it to go to Johannesburg? It’s not for everybody, however I really like this metropolis rather a lot! Johannesburg is dwelling to the Apartheid Museum, price visiting to grasp the context of South Africa right this moment, in addition to the one avenue dwelling to a number of Nobel Prize winners (Vilakazi St. in Soweto), and I really like the boutique-and-restaurant-filled Parkhurst neighborhood. Johannesburg additionally dwelling to considered one of my favourite boutique resorts in the world, 54 on Bath.
The Garden Route — The Garden Route is a group of small cities strewn alongside the Western Cape, between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. This route is dwelling to beautiful surroundings, wonderful little cities, and a number of the greatest hostels in the nation. I notably love the forested city of Knysna, the beachside city of Plettenberg Bay, the countless seashore at Sedgefield, the Tsitsikamma Forest in Storms River, the surf spot of Jeffreys Bay, and although some don’t think about it a part of the Garden Route, the dusty, ostrich-filled city of Oudtshoorn.
Durban — This metropolis is usually in comparison with Miami — it’s a metropolis with high-rises, an enormous seashore, and heat climate year-round. Durban can also be dwelling to South Africa’s Indian neighborhood, and you may get scrumptious Indian meals wherever you look right here. Be certain to strive a bunny chow (curry in a hollowed out loaf of bread) — you’re purported to maul it whereas holding it in your palms!.
The Wild Coast — This stretch of the Eastern Cape earned its title — the ocean has carved out the panorama into craggy nooks, and simply getting right here on the bumpy roads is usually a problem. I notably love the city of Cintsa; the cities of Coffee Bay and Port St. Johns are price visiting too.
Stellenbosch — This is the middle of wine in South Africa, and it’s additionally a enjoyable college metropolis. Stellenbosch is a good place to go to on the finish of your journey, the place you possibly can spend your days chilling out, wine tasting, and consuming good meals. Nearby Franschoek makes a pleasant facet journey.
A Guide to Stellenbosch: South Africa’s Wine Region
Where to Go After South Africa
If you’ve already traveled this far, why not see one other nation or two? You can simply spend a month in South Africa seeing new locations every single day, however if you wish to go to one other nation, South Africa pairs very properly with the next locations:
Namibia. Namibia’s sensible sand dunes make an amazing distinction to South Africa. Visit the Sossusvlei for unbelievable pictures of the sand and the well-known Deadvlei (useless timber), then head to Swakopmund for journey on the coast, or proceed the safari enjoyable with a visit to Etosha National Park.
Victoria Falls. Located on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border (sure, you possibly can go to each), the thundering falls are dwelling to dozens of journey actions, from whitewater rafting to microlighting to bungee leaping. It’s attainable to do a facet journey to Botswana’s Chobe National Park from right here.
Botswana. If you need extra elephants in your life, Botswana is likely one of the greatest locations in the world for seeing them. Chobe National Park and the Okovango Delta are each wealthy in elephants, in addition to different wildlife. Botswana is a few to some wonderful high-end safari resorts.
Mozambique. Mozambique is dwelling to essentially the most sensible white sand seashores in Africa. Travel in Mozambique is tough and takes ceaselessly — in order for you it to be simpler, do as South Africans do and go for a vacation at a resort close to Vilanculos or Inhambane.
Eswatini (Swaziland) and Lesotho. The two small nations nestled up in opposition to South Africa are every price visiting in their very own proper — Eswatini (it renamed itself in 2018, however the title change has been gradual to choose up internationally) is dwelling to excellent safari and wildlife alternatives; Lesotho good to go to for mountain views and pony trekking.
How to Meet People in South Africa
If you’re trying to meet folks in South Africa, you’re in luck — South Africans are superior! They are so heat and pleasant and open to assembly folks. Befriend a neighborhood and also you’ll be invited to a braai (barbecue) in no time.
Consider staying at a social hostel. You don’t have to remain in a dorm — South Africa has tons of fantastic hostels with non-public rooms, for surprisingly good charges. Two of my favourite social hostels in South Africa with non-public rooms are Afrovibe Beach House, proper on the seashore in Sedgefield on the Garden Route, and Buccaneers Lodge and Backpackers, proper on the seashore in Cintsa.
Go on safari. When you’re on safari you’ll in all probability be sharing a car with the identical folks twice a day — it’s a good way for friendships to spring up. I’m nonetheless in contact with lots of people I met on safari.
Join excursions. Tours are a good way to fulfill new folks! I in all probability made essentially the most pals on my Vine Hopper wine tour in Stellenbosch, then promptly forgot them by the subsequent day. Ha.
Look for Couchsurfing meetup occasions in South Africa. Couchsurfing isn’t simply without spending a dime lodging — in addition they placed on meetup occasions the place everyone seems to be welcome. I’ve gone to those sorts of occasions all around the world.
Join a meetup on Meetup.com. Whether you’re into journey, operating, films, board video games, or simply need to meet a bunch of good folks, there’s a Meetup for that.
Put out feelers on social media. Often a pal of yours could have a cousin or pal residing in South Africa who will supply to fulfill you for espresso, simply so you recognize somebody. Take benefit of this if you happen to can.
Tinder. If you’re trying to date or hook up, have enjoyable! South Africa is filled with lovely folks.
What to Wear in South Africa
There are numerous nations the place it’s essential to gown rigorously, however South Africa shouldn’t be considered one of them. You must be considerate in what you put on, however you don’t want to decorate up for a fashion-conscious nation, like in Italy, nor do it’s essential to be hyper-focused on protecting up, like in extra conservative nations.
That doesn’t imply that South Africans don’t have type — FAR from it! Go out in Rosebank in Johannesburg or Camps Bay in Cape Town and also you’ll see modern folks dressed to the nines in brightly coloured patterns! But it doesn’t imply that it’s essential to gown up in order to mix in.
Safari is one place the place you must pack rigorously. You can’t precisely pop into H&M whenever you’re in the center of the bush! Since safaris happen at daybreak and nightfall, the temperature will differ enormously and also you’ll need to put on layers for the totally different temperature adjustments.
Neutral coloured, layered clothes. This doesn’t imply it’s essential to exit and purchase an all-khaki outfit! Black works simply nice; blue denims are nice. Just don’t put on a neon yellow-and-pink-striped prime. I often put on darkish inexperienced denims, a tan t-shirt, a lightweight tan jacket and my puffer jacket on prime.
Uniqlo down puffer jacket. I LOVE this little jacket! It’s so versatile and packs down so small. It was the proper prime layer for safari.
Boots. I purchased a pair of Steve Madden fight boots, purchased secondhand on Poshmark. You can get away with sneakers.
Sun safety. Bring a wide-brimmed hat (ideally one which has a strap or holds tight to your head), sunblock, SPF-containing lip balm, and sun shades. Pull your hair again; your hair will go loopy in the wind if you happen to go away it down! I often wore mine in a braid.
What else do you have to pack for South Africa?
Comfortable footwear. I’ve dangerous arches so virtually all the pieces I personal is from The Walking Company. Depending on the place you go in South Africa, I extremely suggest their orthotic flip-flops (sure, orthotic flip-flops exist and they’re a GAME-CHANGER!), black ABEO flats (this model is excellent and so they have wonderful arch assist) or a pair of trainers. If you intend on climbing, you’ll need to convey climbing boots.
Speakeasy Travel Supply scarf. These lovely scarves are designed and sewn by my pal and have a hidden passport pocket in them that no thief will know exists. I really like these scarves (I even designed my very own!) and they’re so good at retaining your valuables hidden.
Crossbody purse. I suggest utilizing a crossbody purse, made out of a tricky materials like leather-based or faux leather-based, that zips shut. This is the form of purse that’s a lot tougher for thieves to grab. I like to recommend many purses in this submit.
Light jacket. I discovered my little leather-based moto jacket to be very best for South Africa in the winter — heat sufficient when paired with a shawl on a cold however clear July day in Cape Town. On safari, the place we had been in the chilly extra typically, I most popular my Uniqlo down puffer jacket.
Travel Insurance for South Africa
Travel insurance coverage is important for journeys to South Africa — or every other nation. If you get appendicitis whereas in Durban or break your ankle whereas climbing up Table Mountain, journey insurance coverage will allow you to in your time of want and defend you from monetary wreck. If it’s essential to be flown dwelling, it may prevent properly over $100,000.
And it’s not nearly harm. If you get robbed, journey insurance coverage can refund you for what was stolen from you. If your flights are cancelled on account of climate, journey insurance coverage can refund you. And in case you have a dying in the household and must get dwelling instantly, journey insurance coverage will allow you to get dwelling quick. I exploit and suggest World Nomads journey insurance coverage for journeys to South Africa.
The Worst South Africa Travel Tip and What to Do Instead
I typically see the e-book Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee advisable for folks touring to South Africa. It’s a e-book by a South African creator going down in South Africa, and it gained the Nobel Prize in Literature, so why not learn it?
The reality? THIS IS THE WORST BOOK YOU CAN POSSIBLY RECOMMEND. It’s a few professor sexually coercing his a lot youthful pupil, then he loses his job, then his daughter will get gang-raped in the countryside. It’s actually the e-book I’d give to somebody I needed to scare away from ever touring in South Africa.
If somebody recommends that e-book to folks planning a visit to South Africa, both they haven’t really learn it or they’re grotesquely tone-deaf.
Instead, learn Born a Crime: Stories of a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. This e-book is so good it’s unreal. Trevor Noah has a novel story — because the son of a black mom and white father born in 1984 throughout Apartheid, his existence was actually a criminal offense. He needed to stay in the shadows for a lot of his life till Apartheid ended.
This e-book is about Noah’s seek for id and his uncommon upbringing. Hustling and performing as a child, being the odd one out in his massive household, defending his mom from home violence. It’s riveting — and as he’s a comic, the e-book is each heartfelt and hilarious. There isn’t any different e-book like this, and it offers you an introduction to so many points of South African life.
I notably suggest getting this as an audiobook. In the audio model Noah does so many alternative voices, accents, and speaks totally different languages — it’s a pure pleasure to listen to.
South Africa is ready for you!
I’m so jealous that you just’re about to embark in your first journey to South Africa. It was an expertise I’ll always remember — and that’s why I maintain returning. Every journey is fantastic, however there’s nothing just like the magic of your first time.
South Africa requires extra preparation and security consciousness than different nations, however that doesn’t imply it’s not price it. For skilled solo feminine vacationers, South Africa is a phenomenal, thrilling, and memorable vacation spot.
Go have the time of your life in South Africa. Then come again and inform me all about it!
The Ultimate South Africa Road Trip Itinerary
Adventurous Kate’s Offbeat Guide to Cape Town
Have you traveled to South Africa solo? Do you’ve got any ideas? Share away!
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