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.

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Top South Africa travel deals

Departing Days From USD
1 Apr 2023
Kruger, Coast & Cape
22 3770
1 Apr 2023
Kruger & Coast
9 1570
2 Apr 2023
Vic Falls to Kruger
9 2005
8 Apr 2023
South Africa Family Safari with Teenagers
12 2540
9 Apr 2023
Kruger to Vic Falls
8 2420
9 Apr 2023
Garden Route Adventure
14 2310
22 Apr 2023
Premium Southern Africa
8 6655
29 Jul 2023
Real Southern Africa
Ages 18 to 29
17 3265
6 Aug 2023
Essential African Safari
Ages 18 to 29
9 1760

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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

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 lots more fun. 

Depending on which trip you're on while in South Africa, you may find yourself traveling 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 customized 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

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

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

Group of travelers with their homestay host family


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
Festivals and Events
Health and Safety
Further reading

South Africa travel FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travelers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travelers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

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 13 gallons (50 liters), so while water limited there is still adequate water for traveler's essential daily needs such as washing, using the toilet, and other daily hygiene. Travelers 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

Learn more about visa requirements for South Africa

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. Travelers 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 travelers 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 traveling 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 traveling. These are requirements of immigration regulation 6 (12)(a) for parents traveling 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).

Travelers 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 traveling out of the big cities.

Absolutely. All passengers traveling 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

Check out a full list of public holidays in South Africa.

South Africa’s climate and weather patterns vary across the country. The weather conditions can range from a chilly 5°F in the Northern Cape's Roggeveld Mountains in winter, to a sweaty 104°F in Kruger National Park at the height of summer. The northern, southern and eastern provinces have a subtropical or subtropical-oceanic climate with hot, rainy summers and dry, warm winters, while the Western Cape has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters.

Learn more about the weather in South Africa

South Africa is generally a safe country to travel to as long as you remain vigilant. The crime rate is high and incidents including petty theft, armed robberies and carjacking are common. Protests and political demonstrations can also become violent. It's unlikely that travelers will experience violent crime in major tourist areas, but it's possible. Crimes tend to occur in major towns and cities after dark or during planned blackouts known as load-shedding. You should avoid walking at night and use Ubers or hotel shuttles instead.

Learn more about safety and travel in South Africa

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to traveling 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 behavior, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while traveling.

Group of travelers preparing soup for soup kitchen

How we're giving back

In South Africa, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally-run restaurants and markets where travelers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travelers 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.

In South Africa, The Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:

To learn more or donate, go to:

Similar Destinations

We have a variety of similar destinations, trips and routes that you could consider! Tie another trip into your holiday, or, see how we can help you get from A to B. We have tours departing from a variety of locations around South Africa. The option below may be of interest:

Tours from Johannesburg 
Tours to Johannesburg
Tours from Cape Town
Johannesburg to Cape Town