When you make memories that last a lifetime, you'll want someone to share 'em with.
South Africa has so much to offer, from once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings on a safari to magical splashing whales to postcard-perfect beaches, you'll need someone to pinch you to believe it's real. When you join us as a solo traveller on a small group tour, not only will you have peace of mind that all of the nitty-gritty details will be taken care of, but a new group of friends that you'll be able to make memories with. So whether you're doing the pinching or getting pinched, catching a glimpse of the Big Five with your group is sure to bond you for life.
Our South Africa solo tours
The perks of solo travel in South Africa with Intrepid
Travelling in South Africa with Intrepid might be a little different than your typical vacation. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodations as unique and traditional as possible. When travelling on an Overland trip you may find yourself staying in a traditional homestay, in which case sleeping arrangements will be shared and pretty basic, or a dormitory, in which case you'll share with group members of the same gender as per the gender marker on their passport.
When in cities and towns we often stay in hotels, but on the majority of South Africa Overland tours you’ll be camping in two-person tents– sometimes in campsites that you’ll share with other tour groups, and sometimes in the middle of the wilderness. By purchasing a single supplement, you will be able to have your own tent and hotel room when applicable. Unfortunately, spare tents cannot be used for a single person unless the supplement is purchased ahead of time. This is to ensure the tents avoid wear and tear, or are clean and ready for the customers arriving on the next section of the trip.
It depends on the trip you've chosen! Each of our South Africa trips is different; on Overland/camping trips, everyone is expected to participate and carry their share of the workload/duties, making camp chores easier. The duties rota system is adopted where all members share in general camp duties – cooking, shopping, washing up, etc. If the whole group participates it will be quicker, easier, and more fun.
Most of our itineraries outside of Overland trips have free days built-in and optional activities. If you choose to set off on your own, our local guides will help you find activities more suited to your likes in the safest manner possible.
Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels. Keep in mind that if we are staying in dormitory accommodation, you may have to share with other passengers or be split into same-gender rooms.
Campsites do have facilities but they usually aren't to the same standard you would find in western countries. For example, the bathroom facilities can be very basic. Sometimes the showers are cold, and some toilets are of the squat or hole-in-the-ground variety. There is rarely toilet paper provided and shower facilities can be as simple as a hose pipe spurting out cold water. Wild camps have no facilities at all. You’ll be expected to pitch your own tent each night, but the two-person canvas tents provided are easy to set up and come with built-in mosquito screens. While it can sound intimidating, it's all part of the journey!
You sure do. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. 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 trip.
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
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 who are 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 immigration regulation 6 (12)(a) for parents travelling with children.
Some Overland trips in Southern Africa have a smaller group size of 16 people maximum while others will have a maximum of 22 people of all ages and nationalities, from all walks of life. That’s what overland travel is all about, sharing experiences with like-minded adventurers from around the world. On our longer combination trips, your crew and group may change halfway through. Be prepared to spend a lot of time with each other and to make some new friends; it happens a lot.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them toward the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Our solo travel safety guide
Good advice for us all, but particularly for people travelling solo. Make copies of your itinerary, contact details, passport and travel insurance, then email them to yourself and to one or two friends/family at home. Check-in on social media when you can so people can keep track of where you are.
If you’re arriving late in a city by yourself, book a hotel with a front desk or concierge service (many hotels also offer private transfers that don’t cost the earth from the airport or train station). If you're travelling with us, we can help you organise an arrival transfer. Read your maps before you head out for a walk (you can use a map app on your smartphone – or take screenshots of where you’re going if you don’t want to use up your precious data). If you need to check your map when you’re out and about, duck into a shop or café to do it. Leave the blingy jewellery, wedding rings and designer clothes at home, and aim to dress like the locals do – hit up the local markets if you haven’t packed the right outfits. Aim to keep track of travel times, so you’re not caught out after dark.
Most mobile/cell providers now offer travel passes to help manage your international roaming costs (which, let’s face it, are expensive!). For a few dollars a day, you’ll have access to data, which means you can log into your apps (like Skype, email and WhatsApp) when you’re out of WiFi zones and quickly get in touch with someone – a friend at home, someone in your group, or the police – if you need to. It might also be worth checking out the local cell/mobile providers as these can be quite cost effective.
Solo travellers are way more likely to be ‘taken for a ride’ at the airport by unscrupulous taxi drivers, so do your research before you arrive. Make sure you get a cab from the airport/station taxi rank – if you’re not sure where to go, just head to the information desk for help. Touts tend to hang out in the arrivals area and promise cheaper rates, but can often be dodgy. When you get to the cab rank, ask the driver to use the meter or request a cost estimate before you hop in the car – if it’s way higher than it should be, pick another vehicle. A lot of airports have train stations attached as well, so consider public transport if you want to save a dollar or two.
It’s one of the advantages of travelling solo on a group tour: safety in numbers. The big, 50-person bus groups stand out on the road, but a small Intrepid group of eight or nine people, with a local leader showing the way – including areas to avoid and getting around safely – won’t draw much attention. Plus, it’s a great way to see parts of the world you may feel uncomfortable exploring on your own. If you want to do things on your own, consider a day tour to familiarise yourself with a city and get to know the local way of life.
Solo travel is all about confidence. If you’re relaxed and self-assured on the street, you’re more likely to blend in. When you meet new people, don’t assume they’re all out to get you, but be sensible too and trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Remember: the popular tourist areas are often the most well-lit and secure, but they’re often a juicier target for pickpockets and scammers. Just use your common sense; half of travel safety is simply being aware of your surroundings.