If this is your first trip to South Africa and your first time visiting a developing country, you may experience culture shock. But don’t be put off by what you hear in the news; South Africa is riddled with myths. South Africa is a fantastic destination for all types of visitors. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re an adventure junkie or you let your belly influence your travels.
Find out what to expect from your first trip to South Africa.
South Africa is big
South Africa is about twice the size of France, so you won’t be able to see it all in a week. Make a plan for your first trip to South Africa by deciding which cities, towns, and areas you want to visit. The larger cities, such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, attract the majority of tourists, but there is much more to see than just the main attractions.
Check out our Top 10 Reasons to Visit South Africa
Major Airports in South Africa
South Africa has three major international airports purposefully located throughout the country. OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) serves Johannesburg and Pretoria, while King Shaka International Airport (DUR) serves Durban and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) serves Cape Town.
Getting around during your first trip to South Africa
You might be surprised to learn that South Africa has excellent road infrastructure. Driving is your best option for getting around the country as long as you stay within the major cities and attractions. Picking up your rental car from the airport is the most convenient option. Europcar has good deals in Cape Town, and Avis has the SUV you might need for a safari in South Africa.
When it comes to major cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, Uber is present in all of them. If you don’t want to rent a car during your first trip to South Africa, this is the preferred mode of transportation.
MyCiTi, Cape Town’s dependable scheduled bus service, makes exploring the central city and the Atlantic Seaboard a breeze. Because the buses are cashless, you must obtain a myconnect card from any MyCiTi bus station and load it with money or Mover points.
Safety and security
South Africa has people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and it is no secret that crime is widespread. As with any country, visitors should exercise caution and use common sense. These include placing valuable items, such as tablets, laptops, and phones, in hotel safes, and considering leaving any valuable jewellery at home. On flights, never leave valuables or electronics in checked baggage, and always lock and secure luggage or use the wrapping service at the airport. As is customary, adequate travel insurance is advised.
South Africa is great for travelling on a budget
The South African Rand is the currency unit, and everything, including food and alcohol, is reasonably priced in comparison to Western countries. Accommodation is also affordable, whether you choose a hotel, a guest house, or a self-catering option.
The food is diverse and cheap
South Africa is a foodie’s dream, with amazing restaurants ranging from fine dining to casual eateries and markets, as well as some award-winning wineries. South Africa has it all, whether you want to try traditional dishes, eat a world-class steak, or discover delicious international cuisine.
You need to go to the bush to see wildlife
Wild animals do not roam freely throughout the country; if you want to see the Big Five, you must travel to the bushveld. The Kruger National Park is a popular destination, but there are numerous other outstanding reserves throughout the country.
South Africa’s dramatic landscapes and sheer variety of scenery regularly awe visitors — the country has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including four cultural sites.