The whole ‘country of contrasts’ thing has become a bit of a cliche.

But what else do you call a place where (in a three week period) you could happily slalom between penguins waddling on the Cape and lions stalking the bushveld, cinematic coastal switchbacks and burnt Kalahari sand, the oldest wine industry outside Europe and cutting edge fusion cuisine? ‘Contrast’, doesn’t really do South Africa justice. The beauty of a South Africa tour (besides the peace of mind that comes with an expert local guide) is being able to fit so much Africa into so little time. From the Stellenbosch winelands to Kruger, Blyde River and beyond, this is a place where you can take your safari with a side of espresso

Top South Africa travel deals

Departing Days From CHF
14 Oct 2018
Essential African Safari
Ages 18 to 29
9 CHF 1,095
CHF 876
View Trip
14 Oct 2018
South Africa Family Safari with teenagers
12 CHF 1,770
CHF 1,505
View Trip
20 Oct 2018
Real Southern Africa
Ages 18 to 29
17 CHF 2,155
CHF 1,724
View Trip
4 Nov 2018
Vic Falls to Kruger
9 CHF 1,090
CHF 927
View Trip
2 Dec 2018
Garden Route Adventure
14 CHF 1,240
CHF 1,178
View Trip

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Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

South Africa tour reviews

Our South Africa trips score an average of 4.54 out of 5 based on 528 reviews in the last year.

Kruger & Coast, August 2018

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South Africa Family Safari with teenagers, August 2018

Brenda Maguire

Articles on South Africa

South Africa travel highlights

Transport in South Africa

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun. 

Depending on which trip you're on while in South Africa, you may find yourself travelling by:

The Intrepid overland vehicle that will take you through South Africa

Overland Vehicle

Journey through some of the world’s most famous national parks aboard a customised safari vehicle, specifically designed to enhance wildlife viewing opportunities – you won’t miss a thing.

Kruger, Coast & Cape

Kruger & Coast

Vic Falls to Kruger

Accommodation in South Africa

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible. 

When travelling with us in South Africa you may find yourself staying in a:

Experience a South African homestay on tour

Homestay

Experience the ultimate in African hospitality while staying with a local family in Zululand. Pick up some local language, be exposed to new customs and sample traditional cuisine on a homestay to remember.

Kruger, Coast & Cape

Kruger & Coast

South Africa holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit South Africa

Culture and customs

Eating and drinking

Geography and environment

History and government

Top 10 Places of South Africa

Shopping

Festivals and Events

Health and Safety

Further reading

South Africa travel FAQs

Currently in Cape Town there are water shortages due to a severe ongoing drought in this area. The municipality of Cape Town has reduced the daily water quota to 50 litres, so while water limited there is still adequate water for traveller's essential daily needs such as washing, using the toilet, and other daily hygiene. Travellers need to treat this scarce resource with the utmost respect. Mandated guidelines suggest a shower of no longer than 2 minutes, while the use of baths is entirely discouraged. Some swimming pools at hotels have been converted to salt (ocean) water, while restaurants have amended menus by removing dish types that require a lot of water to prepare. Please also take the shortage into consideration when planning laundry days within your itinerary.

Many countries do not need visas to visit South Africa as a tourist for up to three months. Please check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required

New Zealand passport holders:

All New Zealand visitors to South Africa are required to arrange a visa prior to departure via the South African High Commission in Wellington or Auckland. Applicants may be required to apply for the visa in person, or can apply through Travcour NZ if applying in person is not possible. Please visit www.dha.gov.za for further information as well as details on required supporting documents that may need to accompany a visa application. Supporting documentation can be requested via your booking agent.

Entry Requirements – Passports:

Please note that non-machine readable passports are no longer accepted by South African immigration. All visitors to South Africa must have a machine readable travel document (e-passport). Failure to present an e-passport will result in denied entry. Passengers with a valid visa issued in a non-machine readable passport will be handled on a case by case basis, but a fine will still be applicable.

Entry Requirements - Yellow Fever Certificate:

A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for all passengers over one year of age who arrive or are transiting through South Africa, from a country or region listed by the World Health Organization as infected by yellow fever. Travellers unable to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate issued at least 10 days before arrival in South Africa will be refused entry. There is no option for travellers without a vaccination certificate to be vaccinated on arrival. Please note this also includes transiting through an infected country or region.

Entry Requirements - Travelling with Children:

Parents need to produce an original unabridged birth certificate if they are travelling with children. This regulation has been put in place to protect children from being abducted, kidnapped and trafficked. The Department of Home Affairs has urged all parents to apply for unabridged certificates for their children. Additionally, further documentation including permission to travel, may be required if only one parent is travelling. These are requirements of the immigration regulation 6 (12)(a) for parents travelling with children.

It's considered polite to tip service workers in South Africa, as most receive a small wage. As a general rule, add 10-15% to bills at cafes, bars and restaurants (if it hasn’t already been added). Tour guides, drivers, valets and porters also should be tipped (5-10 ZAR should be sufficient).

Travellers will be able to access the internet quite easily in the internet cafes of South Africa’s large cities but limited to no access should be expected in rural areas.

Mobile phone coverage is very good in South Africa’s large cities and towns, but less so in rural and mountainous areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile phone. However a cheaper option may be to buy a sim card at the airport and purchase a plan with both calls and data.

South Africa is modern country with mostly flushable toilets. However, areas like national parks and villages may have squat toilets.

Can of soft drink = 6 ZAR
Coffee in a cafe = 12 ZAR
Beer in a bar = 15 ZAR
Simple takeaway meal = 30 ZAR
Bottle of wine = 30 ZAR
Three-course restaurant meal = 300 ZAR

Tap water can be drunk in South Africa’s cities, however drinking tap water in rural areas isn't recommended. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found, some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.

Credit cards are usually accepted by large hotels, modern shops and western-style restaurants but not by smaller vendors. Ensure you have adequate cash to cover purchases not able to be made on credit.

There are many ATMs in the big cities and regional towns of South Africa. Rural areas, national parks and small villages will have limited to no ATMs, so be sure to carry other payment options before travelling out of the big cities.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

  • 1 Jan New Year's Day
  • 2 Jan Public Holiday
  • 21 Mar Human Rights Day
  • 14 Apr Good Friday (Friday before Easter Sunday)
  • 17 Apr Family Day (Monday after Easter Sunday)
  • 27 Apr Freedom Day
  • 1 May Workers' Day
  • 16 Jun Youth Day
  • 9 Aug National Women's Day
  • 24 Sep Heritage Day
  • 25 Sep Public Holiday
  • 16 Dec Day of Reconciliation
  • 25 Dec Christmas Day
  • 26 Dec Day of Goodwill

Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in South Africa go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/south-africa/public-holidays

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

South African children playing together in the school yard

Top responsible travel tips for South Africa

  1. Be considerate of South Africa’s customs, traditions, religions and culture.
  2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
  3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
  4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
  5. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
  6. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
  7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
  8. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
  9. Avoid purchasing ivory and products harvested from endangered animals.
  10. Be sensitive towards South Africa’s fragile political and social history when talking with locals.

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.

To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org