South Africa is a great destination for all types of travel. Whether you are an adventurer or letting your stomach dictate your travels, there is something for everyone.
If you are busy planning your first trip to the country, follow my suggestions below for stress-free vacations and find out for yourself why I have adopted South Africa as my second home.
Perhaps you have also realized that South Africa is not just a huge land of nomadic breeds and 5 large animal safaris. There are great cities, incredible natural landscapes, millions of people and, of course, many wildlife experiences.
To help you browse the local culture and prepare you for the unexpected, here are the top 10 tips for your first trip to South Africa!
Royal Malewane in the Kruger National Park
Safety in South Africa
The first question I have asked about South Africa is whether it is a safe destination. The simple answer is yes, as long as you use common sense and know your environment.
If you're going to explore Naples of Cape Town or Johannesburg nightlife, always take a Uber and do not walk the night even if your destination is only three blocks away. Just as Harlem in New York is not the safest neighborhood in the city, there are similar places in South Africa.
Always ask a local if a site is safe before you start.
But if you stick to the main tourist areas and do not flash your valuables in the wrong places, your trip to South Africa should be trouble free.
Read more: Is it safe to travel to South Africa?
Woodstock, Cape Town
Learn local slang
South Africa has an enormous 11 official languages. While English is the third language most spoken, South Africans have put their own unique twist on it and throw a mixture of African and Zulu words for good measure.
Here are some of the most common words of South African slang to learn before your trip:
- Aikona: Direct translation does not mean that in your life.
- Babbelas: This is slang for a hangover.
- Eina: This is used to express an acute pain.
- Eish: This is the term Khoi San and is used to express shock or surprise.
- Haiybo: This is a Zulu word that definitely does not mean.
- Howzit: A common greeting used instead of hi, how are you.
- Just now: Although it may seem to mean at this time, it actually means an indefinite amount of time.
- Lekker: This is a word for Africans and means terrible, great or good.
- Now now: This means either now or as soon as possible.
- Robot: The South Africans call the light robots.
- Shame: It's not a slang, but you'll hear that word used when South Africans think something is really cute or nice.
- Pedestrian crossing: A zebra crossing is the local term for walking.
Ending in South Africa
The 10-15% deviation in South African restaurants is common practice. If you are in a bar, people usually leave any small change from the barman account.
If you hire a car in South Africa, you will get in touch with the car guards in the country. These are people who will watch your car for you while you run your own stuff in return for some Rands.
I always advise my drivers Uber, gasoline assistants, etc. Even if it is a R 10, it can go along the way and help service industry workers provide a basic meal.
Read more: Where to find the best food in Cape Town
You can drink the tap water
South Africa has some of the cleanest tap water in the world. It is absolutely safe to drink from the tap, so you do not have to worry about buying water bottles during your trip.
Make sure to bring a reusable bottle of water and fill it all day!
Buy travel insurance
South Africa is an incredible destination for adventurous travelers. You can jump from the highest commercial bungee in the world, go to epic multi-day hikes through Drakensberg or paraglide from the Lion's head in Cape Town.
If you plan to fix your adrenaline during your trip, make sure your travel insurance covers extreme sports!
You will also need general general travel insurance. Since South Africa is such a long way to travel for most people, it's a good idea to make sure you're covered for any cancellations and not planning to travel to the hospital.
Read more: The ultimate travel guide for South Africa
If you throw away from it USA, the cheapest international flights to South Africa usually land in either Johannesburg or Cape Town. However, once you are in the country, there are dozens of super-affordable return flights to Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique!
Why not add an extra week on your itinerary and explore one of the neighboring countries of South Africa?
Read more: The ultimate travel guide of Africa
Camps Bay, Cape Town
Buy a local SIM card
As soon as your flight to South Africa lands and you've collected your luggage, buy a Vodacom sim card from one of the airport vendors. You can get packets of data to help you stay connected and talk time for any phone calls you have to make.
Keep Cash On You
While credit cards are widely accepted in South Africa, you will need to make cash on your entire trip. I recommend withdrawing cash from the ATM when you arrive.
You will have a better exchange rate than the machines by using an exchange service at the airport.
If you are traveling to Cape Town and using a local SIM card (also known as a local number), download the Snapscan application. This is an application associated with your credit cards, so you can pay to various stores and sellers with a QR code. Restaurant and store tons use it for fast credit card payments in one step.
Use the Uber
The best way to spend Cape Town and Johannesburg is with a Uber. The service is reliable, convenient and much cheaper than a taxi.
In addition, South Africa's Uber checks their drivers' checks and ensures driving licenses are real.
Hire a car
If you want to explore the famous South African Gardening Route or go through the Drakensberg Mountains in the highest pub in Africa in Lesotho – you will need a car.
Fortunately, car rental rates are much lower compared to South Africa's neighboring countries. In addition, if you have a number of reels, you can also drive to the Kruger National Park and go to a self-drive safari!
Read more: Top things to look for when choosing a Safari Lodge
With a different mix of cultures, a variety of landscapes and delicious local food – do not let South Africa's bad reputation take you out of exploring this incredible country. Keep these 10 tips for South Africa's journey to your mind, and you'll have a great time exploring the Rainbow Nation!
Do you have any tips for the first travelers visiting South Africa? Please let us know the comments below!