Your Go-To Guide for Traveling to South Africa on a Budget

Your Go-To Guide for Traveling to South Africa on a Budget

When it comes to budget destinations, South Africa might not be the first place that comes to mind. However, it is possible to travel around South Africa on a budget – and there are many practical ways you can cut back on costs during your travels.

In this guide, we’ll give you some real tips that you can use to stretch your travel funds further as you explore beautiful and exciting South Africa.

Travel Outside of High Season

If you visit South Africa in the off-peak season, you’ll find that rates are significantly cheaper. The good news is that even though the dry winter season (between May and September) is considered the low season, it’s actually a great time for game viewing in the northern regions.

This is because in the drier months, animals congregate around the waterholes – making it a lot easier to spot them. So, not only will this be a cheaper time to visit, but you might even get to see more wild creatures.

Make sure you book ahead as much as possible. The earlier you plan your trip, the more options you will have.

Travel With a Group

You can really cut the costs of a safari in South Africa if you book it with a group of friends. The experience becomes cheaper, as you will share the cost of the guide and the vehicle – and avoid any single supplements. You can also save money by booking in advance.

Another way to stay on budget is to book several nights for your group at the same hotel or lodge group and take advantage of their long stay rates. Many hotels and lodges will have discounts when you book for 4-5 days or more. They may also have loyalty programs that reward you with better prices if you stay with their sister properties.

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Stay Outside of the National Parks

South Africa’s national parks are renowned for their gorgeous scenery and abundant wildlife. You might want to consider sleeping outside of the limits of the parks to save on costs. You can always book guided game drives during the day instead.

The accommodations that are outside of the limits of the national parks are much more affordable. They also tend to offer great wildlife viewing opportunities. Plus, they are more likely to be an upgrade to the accommodations within the park.

For example, if you want to explore Kruger National Park, consider staying in the small town of Hazyview – which is only 15 minutes outside of the part and has a number of great, mid-range hotels.

You can even enter the national park yourself and explore with your own vehicle for a small fee (usually less than $25 per day). Simply follow the network of roads and skip paying for a daily guide (which is usually the most significant expense).

Of course, it can be difficult to spot animals on your own – so make sure you do lots of research and pack a good guide book. (Or, bring a guide on the first day, learn from them, and then venture out on your own afterward.)

Getting Around

There are several bus companies in South Africa, including Baz Bus, Greyhound and Intercape. Many of the major bus lines will offer senior citizen, student and frequent traveler discounts, so make sure you check their website to see if you qualify.

You can buy your tickets through the bus offices, online at Computicket Travel and at the Checkers or Shoprite supermarkets.

It’s important to note that short bus journeys are disproportionately expensive in South Africa. A journey of only a couple hours might be similar in price to a longer haul trip. It might make more sense to take the bus for long journeys and get better value for your money.

Uber is an affordable option in major cities such as Cape Town. Renting a car can also be an easy and cheap way to get around in South Africa. Plus, if you are traveling in a group, the cost of renting a car will be spread out among your travel companions, which makes it much more affordable.

Affordable Activities

Looking for some affordable deals on activities in South Africa? A great site for travelers in this country is Daddy’s Deals. It’s similar to Groupon and offers discounts on adventure activities, spa vouchers and much more. For example, currently on the front page there’s a quad biking experience in the countryside, a discounted foodie platter with wine, and a gondola ride along Point Waterfront Canal in Durban.

Dining Out For Less

South Africa has a fantastic food scene. If you’re not careful, the restaurant bills can add up. When you’re trying to budget, consider staying in accommodation where you have your own kitchen. This will allow you to avoid eating out for every meal. Groceries at the local supermarket will be far cheaper, especially for breakfast items.

When you do want to check out a local restaurant, consider visiting for lunch instead of dinner. The prices will generally be cheaper, and you’ll be more likely to drink less.

Look for wineries in South Africa that offer free or very affordable wine tastings (around $2 USD per person). This is a great chance to taste some delicious South African wines, without breaking your budget.

Explore South Africa – For Less

These are just some of the ways you can cut down on costs when planning a trip to South Africa – and explore this beautiful part of the world for less.

Need help planning a trip? Traveler’s Q are experts on group travel – contact us today to learn more about how we can help.