South Africa

South Africa is a beautiful country where you can see lions in the wild, penguins on a beach, and drink some of the world’s best wines. One of the top things to do in South Africa is of course a safari where you can see all of the Big Five – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros – on a game drive. From there, travel to gorgeous Cape Town where you can climb to the top of Table Mountain (or take a cable car), tour the famed V&A waterfront, or visit the luxurious beaches. Nearby are the famous winelands where you can sip some of the top wines at Stellenbosch or Franschhoek.

This is definitely a country for your travel bucket list.

Quick Facts

  • Language = Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
    • 11 official languages
    • English spoken in most areas
  • Money = South African Rand
    • Credit cards widely accepted
    • Current exchange rate is great for tourists – you’ll find most things relatively cheap. Safaris – especially luxury lodges – are an exception to this and are quite expensive, so a travel agent may be able to get you a better rate.
  • Transportation =  Uber is best in cities (taxis available, but must negotiate rate)
    • Johannesberg (O. R. Tambo International Airport) – The main airport that most international flights from U.S. will arrive, this is also where you’d fly in for a safari. You will most likely have to transfer to a smaller airport to get to your lodge (such as FedAir Terminal which charters small planes to get to your safari destination).
    • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport – Smaller than Johannesburg, this airport is also easy access to many safari lodges within Kruger National Park. It’s outside of the park so it’s still a bit of a drive from the airport to wherever you’re going within the bush.
    • Cape Town International Airport – The second busiest airport in South Africa, this airport is your destination for the city of Cape Town and the surrounding winelands.
  • Best Time to Visit = year-round
    • For beaches = December-March
    • Whale watching = July-November

Tipping Guide

Gratuities are “at your discretion” as a tourist but South Africans’ friendly nature will have you wanting to tip staff.

Restaurants10%
BarRound up (change)
Valet/Car GuardR5
Hotel StaffR5 – R10
TaxiRound up to nearest 10; up to R20 for out of city
(or negotiate ahead of time)
Safari Drives – ranger and tracker70 R per day per person (more for luxury safari)  

Things to Note

Overall, South Africa is a safe country but you must stay alert and keep belongings close to you, especially in cities. After dark it’s best to take a taxi to anywhere you are going.

  • Foods to Try
    • Bobbatie – The traditional African dish with various minced meats, spices, and with an egg-based topping.
    • Biltong – Like their version of beef jerky, made with varying types of meats
    • Amarula – A cream liqueur that can be drank on the rocks or mixed into coffee.
    • Pinotage – South Africa’s signature red wine, it’s a grape that crosses Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (“Hermitage”)
  • Top 3 Must-See Spots
    • Safari (Kruger National Park or surrounding private game reserves)
    • Cape Town
    • Cape Winelands (Stellenbosch or Franschhoek)
GEO TRAVEL GUIDE

South Africa Map

Check out some of our favorite locations in South Africa via the map below.

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South Africa Blog Posts

Read more about the top things to see in this destination.