This article recaps tips for traveling in South Africa from our personal experiences during our visit in August 2018. The trip was a truly memorable and joyful experience. It was great to be organized and prepared. These tips will help you be well prepared too.
General Tips for Traveling in South Africa
- August is winter in Southern Africa. It’s a great time to visit because the slightly cool weather is perfect for travels. School is back in session so there are very local family vacationers.
- Be sure to carry layers of warm clothing. It can be cold in the evenings and morning. It is particularly cold on top of Table Mountain and but the African Penguin Colony.
Tips for Visiting Kruger National Park
- Fly into Kruger. There are three airports in Kruger. The drive from Johannesburg is long and said to be unsafe. The Skukuza airport inside Kruger National Park is a must-have experience.
- Bring binoculars and the best camera lens possible. Many avid Safari and bird watching enthusiasts carried huge lens the entire time and it makes a huge difference. They can spot birds and wildlife not visible to naked eyes, with perfect clarity.
- Kruger National Park has many rules. Everyone follows the rules as far as we could tell or get hefty fines. For example, the Park closes at 6 pm. No one but ranger trucks are allowed to be out, even those living in camps within the National park. Stepping or leaning out vehicles is prohibited in the Park (the animals are free and we are in our car/truck cage)
- Purchase the Kruger National Park entrance pass for all days ahead of time, including the arrival date because the park pass will be needed even when leaving the airport.
- Rent a car and take a couple of ranger-led safaris. Driving in the Park is very easy and extremely well marked. It also gives the flexibility to drive anywhere and stop anywhere at any time. We took a sunrise and a night Safari when only the National Park Service is allowed to be out in the Park.
- Follow the Park signs. We got paper maps and offline Google maps. Best to follows the marked signs and use the paper maps purchased in the Park. None of the others well fully correct.
- Drive slowly and stay within the speed limits. Wild animals constantly cross streets to get to & from their home and the rivers. Impala and monkeys tend to hang out by the road and leap on the road without warning.
- All visitors help each other spot wildlife. If a car is passing its common for both cars to stop and exchange notes on sightings. There are display boards in Skukuza and other places for that day’s sightings. if a car is stopped on the road, it probably a wildlife sighting. If there are multiple cars, its likely a big cat sighting.
- Carry some food. While there are some restaurants and nice resorts, when on long drives through Kruger National Park, you may not find one for many miles. It can be handy to have some food in the car.
- Check out our amazing 14 Days in Southern Africa itinerary.
- Here is a comprehensive Packing list for an African Safari on Boarding Call.
- Here are some facts about Kruger National Park on Ala Jode.
Tips for Visiting Cape Town
- Cape Town is a modern, happening and beautiful city, but there are dark sides to it that are hidden in the townships. While in Cape Town, do visit all aspects of it.
- Cape Town has many vegan and vegetarian restaurants that serve awesome food.
- Cape Town has had water shortages for many years. 2018 was particularly bad. Conserve water. Signs everywhere remind to the water shortage.
- If traveling during South African summer, purchase Table Mountain tickets ahead of time as the line is hours long. In winter, plan the trip around the fog and clouds instead of buying tickets and getting locked in.
- There is no parking at the base of Table Mountain, people park on the streets leading up to Table Mountain and walk up a kilometer or more to the ticketing and cable car center.
- There is no food at the base of Table Mountain. The cafe on top of Table Mountain is ok but extremely time-consuming. If possible, carry food with you.
- When visiting Bo-Kaap, take pictures of the houses. But, before taking pictures of the people, make sure to ask. Many residents don’t like to be photographed. While in Bo-Kaap, be sure to eat at Bismillah and visit the oldest mosque in South Africa.
- When visiting Robben Island, plan for extra time. The boarding lines and the process can take over an hour on each side.
- Rent a car in Cape Town for convenience. It’s a very drivable city with good directions in Apple maps and possible Google maps too. Parking is plentiful. It didn’t seem like a great city for walking.
- Take good walking shoes. There are beautiful hiking trails and walk in and near the city.
- Car theft and break-ins are rampant in Cape Town and in much of South Africa. Never leave valuables in the car. Most parking spaces are watched by a person. Do tip them for taking care of your car while you’re away.
- Cape Town is filled with cops, guards and the homeless.
- Give any leftover foods to the locals, especially to the many homeless Cape Town. We packed food from restaurants and our apartment every day and the people were so happy. We were happy that we didn’t have to waste anything.
- Check out our well thought through (and executed) itinerary.
- Check out this itinerary if you have 2 weeks in South Africa
- 14 Day itinerary through Southern Africa
- Visiting Kenya
- South African Wildlife
- Bo-Kaap, Cape Town
- A few Pictures from South African
- Boulders Penguin Colony in South Africa
- Kruger Airport at Skukuza
- Tips for Driving in Namibia by Ala Jode
- Top safari destinations around the world