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Is South Africa a safe place to visit?

Yes, we have heard that question before. If you want to visit South Africa, and when you told your friends and family, they told you it’s dangerous. We would like to reassure your friends and family; things are ok here. The question of safe shouldn’t be a reason why you miss out on the country ranked as the world’s most beautiful by BuzzFeed and Conde Nast Traveller UK. Millions and millions of tourists visit every year perfectly safely. Here is the truth about safety in SA and what you need to know.

Safe in south africa

Food and water
We’re always amused hearing about tourists offloading cans of food from their luggage on arrival at their first hotel. South Africa has exceptionally good, fresh food of almost every type. Conde Nast named Cape Town the best food city in the world in its 2016 Readers Choice Awards. Even far-flung game lodges in neighboring Botswana and Namibia manage to produce superb multi-course meals. And water is safe to drink from the taps in cities.

Petty crime
Tourists are normally the victims of petty crime in many popular tourist cities around the world – Barcelona, Rome and Rio all have bad reputations for it. Sadly, so does South African cities, despite it feeling so relaxed, with laid-back locals drinking flat whites while working on their laptops at downtown sidewalk cafes, vibrant all-night parties in gorgeous locations, well-patrolled central areas and lots of security cameras. Tourist hotspots, shopping malls and busy shopping streets are generally fine, South Africa doesn’t have a pickpocketing problem like some European cities. Credit/debit cards are accepted almost everywhere so there’s no need for lots of cash.

Disease
Thousands of tourists cancelled their trips to South Africa when Ebola broke out in West Africa a few years ago. If they’d checked a map, they’d have seen that the Ebola outbreak was closer to London, Rio and Rome than South Africa. Africa is really, really big and West Africa is really far from South Africa. There is malaria in small parts of the country, the low-lying safari areas in the north. There’s no malaria in the cities of Joburg, Cape Town and Durban, and there are malaria-free game reserves like Welgevonden and Madikwe. If you are travelling to a malarial area, wear long clothes at dusk and dawn (the mosquito which carries malaria is only active then) and most doctors recommend a prophylaxis.

Safari safety
The best safaris are done in open vehicles, where you’ll feel worryingly close to big dangerous animals with little between you. The funny thing is that they don’t see you as potential lunch when you’re in a vehicle, so you’re safe, and the experience is thrilling. But that changes when you step out – so listen to your guide, talk quietly, don’t feed wild animals (ever), don’t stand up in the vehicle, and don’t leave the vehicle unless your guide says its ok.

Hiking
Get advice from you hosts on recommended routes, and inform them of your intended time of return. Pack a daypack with water, a jersey and something to eat – this sounds elementary, but visitors in South Africa constantly get in trouble as the mountains are bigger than they seem from below, and weather can change quickly. Carry a cellphone in case of emergency.

Medical treatment
Private and public health systems exist in parallel; the latter serves most of the population and service levels vary, but can be poor. However, the large network of private hospitals ranks amongst the best in the world. If you get sick when travelling, you’ll be well looked after at one of these, and so we recommend taking out travel insurance.

General safety tips for South Africa
When exploring your surroundings, get advice from your hosts on the best areas around your accommodation for walking or driving through. Hitchhiking is not recommended, and Uber is widely available in cities. Pay attention to where you park your car, preferably in a designated parking area, most of which will have official or unofficial car guards (the latter should be tipped afterwards) and it’s best not to leave valuables in the car.

Luckily for you if you are coming to South Africa through the assistance of Travel2Africa, we make sure you have a tour guide present with you all the time. Your safety and security is our priority.
 

Explore Knysna

Embracing an exquisitely beautiful lagoon and surrounded by ancient forests, Knysna (pronounced ny-znah) is probably the most famous town on the Garden Route. There is no definite discovery of the meaning of its name but most consider it derived from the Khoisan word for ‘fern’. Locals and regular visitors sometimes refer to her as ‘Nice-Naa’. Knysna is considered by many to be the prettiest town in South Africa. The lagoon is popular with sailing enthusiasts, and there are plenty of boat trips on offer. Knysna, on the Garden Route, offers an eclectic mix of attractions and activities - something for everyone.

Knysa

Diverse in its mix of people and its surroundings, this diversity is reflected in a range of choices of eco-tourism, cultural-tourism and heritage-tourism. Knysna is situated on South Africa's only National Lake, which is also the country's largest permanent estuary. Knysna has so many stunning features, it's indescribable. It is also a good whale watching destination in South Africa. Knysna lies between the Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean, with stunning forests surrounding. Dominated by its beautiful lagoon and the spectacular Knysna Heads, which guard it from the sea, makes Knysna is an attractive seaside town.

Knysna is accessed by road as it lies on the N2 between Cape Town 500 kilometres (310 miles) and Port Elizabeth 260 kilometres (161 miles). Bus coaches provide a daily service to Knysna from both these cities and car rental facilities are available. Flights can also be taken from Plettenberg Bay and George.

The lagoon has many good features, but one of the tastiest is the oysters which are cultivated in its clear depths. Visitors could spend a whole day at the oyster farm, guzzling these squirmy little delicacies or paddle out on a canoe to see them in their nurseries and then munch them or take some along. Leisurely sail on a luxury yacht, again enjoying bubbly and oysters. Knysna has a number of museums, all dedicated to fishing, forestry and the abortive gold mining industry, which was started (and soon abandoned) in the forest.

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Knysna is also well known as the mecca of indigenous wood furniture, and the beauty of the area serves as an inspiration to artists, working with only the finest indigenous timber, carefully selected with pattern, grain and texture in mind, making every piece of furniture a masterpiece. Knysna will not fail to capture your imagination and sensitize you to this beautiful and fragile area, whose destiny hangs delicately between the very sensitive issues of development and conservation. 

Knysna is now very much a tourist destination, providing an unforgettable time, to the adventurer or the discerning traveler. It is a place where past, present and future merge as one, and capture you in their web, forever.

The Affordable South African holiday guide

When mentioning a holiday to South Africa, “cheap”, “low cost”, and “budget” aren’t exactly the words that come to mind at first!

Think about it, you are travelling to the southern most country in Africa, you will be visiting Cape Town, a city consistently ranked as one of the best cities in the world. Wine tasting on world class vineyards. Visiting a safari park which has Africa’s big 5 animals (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, & rhino). Surely a holiday containing all this must be expensive?

Well, not really! While a holiday to South Africa might not be as cheap as a holiday to somewhere like east Asia, it certainly can be made highly affordable if you know what you’re doing. In this guide, we’ll show you some tips on how to get an unforgettable South Africa holiday at a low price! From booking cheap flights to South Africa, to low cost local transport, and even big 5 safari parks.

Cape

It’s all about timing
We can’t emphasize this enough. The cost of your holiday will greatly depend on what time of the year you visit South Africa. To get an affordable South Africa holiday, timing is the secret! As South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, our summer is from December to February, while our winter is from June to August. In the South African tourism industry, the year is often divided in three periods: low season, high season, and peak season.

Low season is usually from May to the end of September, while high season is usually from the October to the end of April. Low season is the least busy in terms of tourists, while high season is the “busy season”. Peak season is from the middle of December to the middle of January. This the peak busy period during the South Africa holiday season. This is because this is the South African summer holiday times. Schools and universities are closed, and most adults take time off from work as well. The cheapest time to visit South Africa is low season! Not only will flights to and from South Africa be cheaper, but so will accommodation and a lot of the prices of activities.

Book cheap flights to South Africa
Flying “all the way” to South Africa must be expensive. Nope, not really. Especially if you are flying from Europe, you can find some really cheap flights to South Africa. This is the biggest and easiest way to save money and make your South Africa holiday a whole lot cheaper.

The easiest way to get cheap transport and accommodation
Great you’ve made it to South Africa! Now what? The next part of your cheap South Africa holiday is your transport and accommodation in South Africa. Unfortunately, the South African public transport systems are dismal to say in the least. In order to travel from town to town, you will need private transport. The easiest way to turn your vacation from cheap to expensive is to start using what are known as “transfers”.

The simple solution is to hire a car. Fortunately for you Travel2Africa has a car to take you from the airport on your arrival. Hiring a car is by far the cheapest way to travel, especially if you are travelling in a group of two or more! Also, hire a car that suites your needs. Some companies will try sell you a hire car bigger than you need, e.g. a Toyota Corolla instead of Volkswagen Polo for 2 people. Don’t worry. Driving in South Africa is pretty easy, especially along the tourist routes. Just remember that we drive on the left-hand side of the road and you should be fine!

Cheap accommodation?
Sure, there is plenty of cheap accommodation. All you need to do is go onto websites such as Booking.com or AirBNB to find cheap accommodation. But be warned! Cheap isn’t always good. Pictures can be deceiving, great hotels / guest houses can be in awful locations, and reviews might not always reflect your standards! What we advise for a cheap South Africa holiday, is value for money! Finding amazing guesthouses and boutique hotels which offer both a great price as well as a great location and service. That is the goal.

But how do you find such guesthouses and boutique hotels? You don’t. We do! South African tour operators, such as ourselves, find these guest houses and smaller hotels. The best part? It actually doesn’t cost you anything to book through us, as opposed to booking directly online.

leo

Use South African tour operators!
It will generally cost you the same to book a holiday through a South African tour operator, than if you were to book all the individual hotels, guest houses, safaris, and rental car yourself. Local tour operators such as ourselves know where to find the best value for money. This lets us create a cheap South Africa holiday for you! Plus letting a local tour operator book your cheap South Africa holiday, will help your South Africa holiday go as smooth as possible. Booking mistakes, can end up being very expensive, especially when you need to find accommodation or transport at short notice!

Cheap food and the best worst restaurants
Right, so far, we’ve got your budget South Africa holiday with flights, transport, and accommodation. But there’s another rather vital expense, which will affect your low-cost budget - Food and drinks! The cost of food and drinks can add up really quickly. Especially if you are spending a lot of time in popular tourist areas. We always book our guests in self-catering accommodation; we prepare all our famous South African cousins. The cost of eating lunch at a restaurant will depend mostly where the restaurant is located. In a non-touristy area, you can get a meal and drink for about R70 per person. If you are in a tourist area this can go over R100 per person.

The budget safari
When travelling to anywhere in Africa, a safari is simply a must. But these normally aren’t cheap! Especially if you are looking online. Luckily for you, there are ways of getting a really great safari experience at a low cost. South African tour operators, such as ourselves, are able to organize these safaris for you and move you around.

You can enjoy your holiday without breaking your bank and worrying about how you will cope in Africa. Luckily for you Travel2Africa will all of the above for you at no extra cost to you!

What Makes South Africa a Top Tourist Destination?

From its towns, cities, coastlines and cultures, South Africa is definitely a very diverse place to visit. But what makes it such a tourist hot-spot? For one, it has a range of unique and exciting activities that will make you want to book a flight as soon as possible.  One of the main attractions is the famous Kruger National Park, South Africa’s first national park which contains significant numbers of all the big five wildlife. There are so many more national parks and beautiful natural places to visit in South Africa. 

Kruger

There is also the Table Mountain, a beautiful natural phenomenon that you definitely want to see at least once in your lifetime. Luckily you don’t just have to admire its beauty from afar, you can book a spot on a cable car up to the mountain and admire its diverse flora up close, or you could hike up with a guide. Either option is just as amazing. Also, we have the Robben Island, also known as Seal Island, which you can enjoy as a day outing. This is the same place which kept political prisoners during the Apartheid era. 

And then, of course, there’s 
Monuments and Museums
South Africa isn’t only known for its natural monuments, it also has a very interesting and extensive history, with many places to visit that showcase that. It is more likely that you know who Nelson Mandela was, a great man who ended apartheid and became our democratically elected president. To commemorate that, South Africa has the Apartheid Museum, which tells the story of the 20th Century South Africa and the now-defunct apartheid system. There is also The Nelson Mandela House, a restored dwelling of the South African leader.

On our history menu is definitely not only Apartheid, so many historical monuments are open to visitors to learn, and see, all that was and is South Africa. There is the Castle of Good Hope, an expansive and colonial 17th century castle that is now a provincial heritage site. There is the Pilgrim's Rest, a small museum which offers the visitor a fascinating window into the past, and captures the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest for gold. There is also the Voortrekker Monument which commemorates the Afrikaans settlers who arrived in 1830. There are so many more museums and historical sites that tell South Africa’s story and are amazing places to visit.

A lot of tourists when they think Africa, they think wildlife and poverty. South Africa has a great urban lifestyle, and places that city lovers will never want to leave. One of the most popular international sites for tourists is the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, the mother city.

Lesedi Village

In and Around South Africa
Once you are in South Africa, in no particular order, we will make sure that we take you to the Lion & Safari park to get intimate with lions and a few other cats. We visit with you the Lesedi Cultural Village to live and share in the South African cultural diversity. We then take you to the historically rich township, Soweto where the famous Valakazi Street is found. We are not done with you as we are still to take you to the Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest canyons on Earth, and it may be the largest 'green canyon' due to its lush subtropical foliage, offering you the Three Rondavels and God's Window. Also, on the list is Drakensberg “Ukhahlamba”, the Great Escarpment which takes a portion of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga province and Lesotho. As if that’s not enough, there is also Knysna, the heart of the Garden Route, which is surrounded by forests, lakes, mountains and sea, and is an ever-popular tourist destination and town of legends.

Lastly is South Africa’s culture. South Africa is very rich in, and well known for, it’s many diverse cultures. After all, it’s not known as ‘The Rainbow Nation’ for nothing.  South Africa has 11 official languages and 8 other recognized languages, all of these coming from the natives and the colonizers.  

As South Africa was being developed, more labor was required and slaves from Madagascar, East Africa, East Indies, India, and China were brought in. Visit Chinatown in Johannesburg, The Grey Street Musjid in Durban's CBD, and Cape Malays in Cape Town to learn more about the different cultures that aren’t originally from South Africa.

After learning all of this it probably comes as no surprise that tourists love South Africa so much, and that you’ll probably love it too.

The Pilgrim's Rest

Pilgrim's Rest is a small museum town situated on the magnificent Panorama Route in the Kruger Lowveld region of the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.  The area is richly imbued with a diversity of natural, cultural and historic gems. The entire town of Pilgrim’s rest has been declared a national monument. Here, visitors can relive the days of the old Transvaal gold rush.

The uniqueness of this historic village is vividly evident in its museums and historic sites.  It offers the visitor a fascinating window into the past, and captures the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest for gold.

Bank

The entire town of Pilgrim's Rest was declared a National Monument in 1986 as a living memory of the early gold rush days in South Africa during the late 1800s / early 1900s. Since then a dedicated team of historians, architects, curators and special interest groups closely monitor all developments and refurbishments in the village to maintain its historic appearance.

The history of this quaint and delightful village dates back to 1873 when a miner, Alec "Wheelbarrow" Patterson had found gold deposits in Pilgrim's Creek, on the farm named Ponieskrantz. Though the discovery was kept as a secret, once a second prospector named William Trafford also discovered gold close by, the inevitable happened. Soon after, optimistic panners and prospectors from all over the country and the World came to the area. The Valley proved to be rich in gold and by the end of the year, there where about 1500 diggers working in the area. As a result, Pilgrim's Rest became a social center of the diggings. 

Hotel

On 22nd September 1873 Pilgrim's Rest was officially proclaimed a gold field and the scatter of tents and elementary shacks soon grew into a flourishing little village complete with sturdy brick houses, shops, churches, canteens, a newspaper and the well-known Royal Hotel. Within a year there were 21 stores, 18 canteens, 3 bakeries and all sorts of other interesting establishments. Interestingly, the diggers called it Pilgrim's Rest because here, at long last, after so many failed dreams they had truly found their home.

Mining was active until 1971 when Beta Mine was closed down. Tranvaal Gold Mining Estates opened again in 1999 and there is active gold mining in the hills around Pilgrim's Rest.

Today, Gold Panning is still supported and practiced by people from all races, genders and ages. There is plenty to do and experience here. From exciting curio and craft shops to fascinating historical sights, one can never be bored. Interesting historical sites include old church buildings, namely Sacred Heart Church, St Mary's Church, Methodist Church and Dutch Reformed Church, Dredzen Shop and House Museum, Historic Cemetery, Joubert Bridge, Digging Museum & Gold Panning and the Printing Museum.

Garage

Mining was active until 1971 when Beta Mine was closed down. Tranvaal Gold Mining Estates opened again in 1999 and there is active gold mining in the hills around Pilgrim's Rest.

There is an abundance of gorgeous arts and crafts shops where one can purchase pottery, stained glass, weaving, hot glass and even custom crockery. Other exciting activities include horse riding, bird watching, hiking, mountain biking and golfing. The Mount Sheba Nature Reserve boasts a series of outstanding walks offering spectacular scenery.

There never was a more beautiful or romantic spot to have a gold rush than Pilgrim’s Rest. This spectacular area is richly imbued with a diversity of natural, cultural and historic gems. The uniqueness of this historic village is vividly evident in its museums and historic sites. The beauty here is unsurpassed. Pilgrims Rest offers all visitors a fascinating look into the past and captures the spirit of a former era and its people in their quest for gold. It is definitely well worth a visit.