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Travel on A Budget in South Africa with these Simple Tips

Travel on A Budget in South Africa with these Simple Tips

Last Updated on January 4, 2024

South Africa’s currency, the Rand, has seen a steady decline against the US Dollar over the past few years, meaning traveling to South Africa has become much cheaper. If planned in the right way, a trip to South Africa can be an incredible bargain now – even with a safari, which is usually pricey. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your trip to South Africa on a budget. Many visitors opt for South Africa group tours, which take care of all your transportation, accommodation and even meals during your trip, as well as ensuring that you get to see the country’s highlights in a short amount of time, but it is also possible to visit South Africa independently.

How to visit South Africa on a budget

Drive yourself

Hiring a car in South Africa is definitely the best way to get around. Use car rental aggregators such as Autoslash, Expedia or Priceline to compare rental prices. Rent a car right upon arrival at the airport to make things easier for you. A road trip around this beautiful country is inexpensive and the best way to experience South Africa. South Africa’s Garden Route is regarded as one of the most scenic road trips on the entire continent. If you’re traveling alone and don’t want to rent a car, check out BAZ bus, South Africa’s backpackers bus which runs between 40 destinations in the country. Addo Elephant Park, South Africa

Keep to a food budget

It can be expensive to eat out every day, and it definitely helps to have one meal in your hostel or vacation rental. Groceries are cheap, and you can have a good homemade breakfast each day before you head out. Visiting a grocery store is especially advised before doing a self-drive safari – the restaurants in the National Parks are overpriced, and you’re much better off packing picnic lunches. Then you can indulge in the delights of ice cream, street food and South African wine along the way as a treat. 
Wine of South Africa

Choose guided game drives

Of course, during your trip you will want to enjoy an African safari – a bucket list item for many, for both the animals as well as the beautiful landscapes of South Africa. However, if you book all-inclusive packages at the national parks you will pay a premium rate that may not suit your budget. By staying outside Kruger or Addo National Parks and choosing day trips into the park in your own vehicle you will save a massive amount of cash for what will still be an amazing experience. Plan your trip wisely and you will get the most out of your visit for as little the cost. It is also cheaper to book your safari trips when you get to South Africa instead of booking it from the U.S. Check out these useful tips on how to safari in South Africa on a budget.Sunset giraffes

Pay for the big stuff

Some activities in South Africa come with a big price tag but are worth the money depending on your desires. So, if you are visiting with your heart set on Shark-cage diving in Gansbaai, bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge or taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain make sure to budget for this. South Africa has plenty of cool activities to offer, and on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you don’t want to miss out on any of them.


Find budget accommodation

Decide which features you want in your accommodation before you book. There are plenty of options ranging from simple camping, hostels and self-catering apartments to hotels and lodges. Hostels are the cheapest option, but there are also great deals on vacation apartments and hotels – especially now thanks to the favorable exchange rate. If you’re planning to eat in some of your meals, make sure your hostel has a kitchen – or go for an Airbnb. Safari Tent Tlopi Tented Camp Marakele South Africa

South Africa has a reputation of being an expensive country – but with these tips, you can travel this fascinating country on a budget, and still feel like you’re not missing out on anything.

Clifton Hot Spot - South Africa
Have any tips to add? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Photo credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licsensing. (1) Elephants by Brian Snelson; (2) Stellenbosch vineyard by Neville Nel; (3) Giraffes in Kruger National Park by Sumarie Slabber; (4) Lions Head and Table Mountain by Jonathan Gill; (5) Safari Tent in South Africa by Amanda; (6) Clifton, South Africa by South Africa Tourism