I only have limited time, what should I see?
The highlights of South Africa start at Kruger National Park and go along the east coast all the way to Cape Town. This is definitely the most popular and scenic route and has some of the best backpackers along the way. The majority of travellers will start with a trip to Kruger Park and then from there make their way to Durban and down the coast visiting the Wild Coast, Garden Route and head down towards Cape Town.
What’s the best way to travel around South Africa?
A lot of this depends on your budget and personal taste. The three main options are Baz Bus, Car hire and public transport. Each of these has its merits:
The Baz Bus saves you time as you can book one ticket that will take you all the way along the coast to Cape Town, and it drops you off and picks you up either at your hostel, or a transfer point for your chosen backpackers, saving you the hassle of having to find transport. Loads of travellers take the Baz Bus so it’s awesome way to meet cool new people as well. The Baz Bus leaves from Rhodesfield station on the Gautrain line, so if you are leaving from Pretoria, all you need to do is hop on the train and be there by 08:45.
Car hire in South Africa is relatively cheap and frees you up to do what you want, when you want. Most places in South Africa are accessible even in a little car so no need to hire a big off road vehicle (unless that’s exactly what you want to do). We are situated in a quiet neighbourhood so once you have your rental you can get used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road before heading off on your adventure. Chat to us if you need to hire a car, we get better rates because we book a lot.
Public transport is still the cheapest way to get around with Busses serving all the major (and minor) destinations in South Africa and beyond. If you dare you can also make use of local mini bus taxis to get you to almost any place in South Africa.
How much time do I need to see South Africa?
I would say that to do a proper highlight’s tour you would need about two weeks, but you have plenty of options if you have less time. If you have a week or so, you could split your trip between Kruger Park, and then make your way to Cape Town by plane, train or bus. Or take the 7 day Baz ticket and squeeze it all in. You can easily spend a week in Cape Town, with Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Point and all the clubs, bars and people you definitely won’t be getting bored!
What are backpackers hostels like in South Africa?
In general, very cool! South Africa has a very vibrant backpacking community and most hostels are started by travellers who love what they do. Things like convenience, things to do and guest safety are always a high priority for them, so the backpackers you are in will feel a lot like home! Check out Coast to Coast for a list of pretty much every backpackers hostel in South Africa.
Why Pretoria and not Johannesburg?
Quite simply, it’s actually easier to get around Pretoria than Johannesburg (because it’s a lot smaller). We have a high speed train (the Gautrain) that connects, Pretoria , Johannesburg and the Airport so if you are wanting to see Joburg, you just hop on the train and catch the Red Bus tour which takes you to all the sites including the incredibly insightful Apartheid Museum.
Is it better to take a tour to Kruger Park or do the trip ourselves?
A question I get asked a lot, in all honesty if you are a first time visitor to South Africa a tour is much more rewarding then trying to do all the organising yourself. Cruising around with the experienced rangers provides wonderful insight into the majestic Park, and as many people will only get the opportunity once, it’s worth every cent (I have also crunched the numbers and worked out that it’s really not much more expensive than doing it yourself).
Feel free to send me a mail, firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any burning questions you just can’t find the answers to.