Traveling to South Africa: What to Expect

Is South Africa Safe?
Cape Town, South Africa

Before choosing a vacation destination to an exotic locale, all travelers are guilty of conducting the following search: “Is [Insert Name of Country] safe?” Such an open-ended question will always turn up a few less-than-flattering results.

It’s important to feel safe and be informed when planning a vacation to a new destination. It’s equally important to understand that asking the same questions of cities like New York, London, or Paris would yield the same, sometimes concerning, results for would-be travelers. And to make the question as broad as “Is France safe?” isn’t helpful.

South Africa is a naturally stunning, extremely diverse country that makes up one small part of Africa. Within its borders you can find a variety of cultural scenes, a plethora of outdoor and adventure activities, booming cities with rich histories, and absolutely beautiful stretches of coastline and beaches.

South Africa is a remarkably unique country to visit. This is why 15 million people travel to South Africa annually. You’ll be in good company, but what should you expect?

Traveling to South Africa: What to Expect

Safety, Transportation, and Culture in South Africa

1. Is South Africa safe?

The same common sense tactics that apply in your home country also apply in South Africa. It’s important to keep your wits about you and learn where you shouldn’t wander late at night, whether you’re a tourist or not. An easy way to stay safe in any environment is to be discreet and be respectful. Being loud, drunk, and flashing money isn’t a well-received way of conducting yourself anywhere, including South Africa.

You can get neighborhood-by-neighborhood information from your tour agency, your country’s embassy, your airline, or from your hotel or resort. When on safari you will be with a guide who is an expert in both showing you a good time and keeping you safe.

2. South Africa Vaccinations

South Africa’s vaccine recommendations are not very different from other countries. When you visit your doctor you will find that you have already received most of these vaccinations at birth:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
  • Influenza
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid

The real concern on the minds of most would-be travelers is malaria. Take the necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites with repellant and light clothing that covers your body when you are in a designated malaria area.

Before your trip, check with your hotel, resort, travel agency, or tour guides to see if you will be visiting these areas during your vacation. They will be clearly indicated. If so, your doctor will prescribe anti-malaria medication for your trip which you will need to take before, during, and after your vacation. As long as you’re taking the medication, you’re free to travel without worry.

While we can’t guarantee you won’t fall ill from eating a bad oyster at a roadside dive — none of us are immune to a little bad luck! — we can tell you that after a couple shots you’ll be able to travel without fear of major illnesses.

In the event you are feeling under the weather, the cities of South Africa are home to world-class doctors and care as are many of the resorts of in the country. If you’re in a rural or remote area, your tour guides are trained to ensure your comfort, safety, and transportation to a medical facility, so there’s no need to stress about “what if.”

What is public transportation like in Cape Town?
Cable car rides over stunning vistas in Cape Town.

3. Getting around in South Africa.

The roadways in South Africa are extensive, paved, and well-marked, especially in the areas where the tourists flock. When you arrive at the airport it is best to take transportation that has been pre-arranged through a transport service or hotel. While public transportation in Cape Town is safe for tourists to use, this is not necessarily the case in the rest of the country.

You can absolutely rent a car and use a GPS to get around. Many tourists rent cars and drive up the coast to take in the sights, as you would on Amalfi Drive or Route 1. Drives to South Africa’s internationally famous wine country are as popular as driving through Tuscany or Napa Valley. These are some of the scenic drives that we recommend.

4. South Africa’s cosmopolitan cities.

When considering the lodging during a trip to South Africa, many travelers conjure up images of sleeping in tents under the stars in a sprawling natural landscape. Frolicking with a baby elephants and giraffes can certainly be arranged, but if the wilderness lifestyle isn’t for you, don’t worry. There are a number of unique experiences and 5-star options in South Africa that will meet your needs.

Both Cape Town and Johannesburg have vibrant cultural scenes if you’d like to take in art and music. You can also time your trip to one of our many festivals. Enjoy world class shopping, fine dining, spas, and wine tours through picturesque vineyards with the most spectacular views.

There are also a number of over-the-top luxury safari or boat charter options if you’d like to experience the wildlife with a glass of champagne.

South Africa is perfect for a family holiday.
Beautiful beaches and miles of pristine coastline.

5. Welcome to South Africa! We’re happy to see you and your family.

South Africa is tourist-friendly. South Africans, and the country’s large expat population, embrace tourism and the local economies that tourism supports. We will be eager to tell you where to go, what to do, and what to eat.

The eco tourism that South Africa offers with its wildlife reserves and extraordinary marine safaris where you can see seals, whales, Great Whites, and everything in between are unparalleled. This eco tourism also gives the world a chance to experience the benefits of international conservation efforts.

South Africa is perfect for a family holiday because there is so much to do and see for people of all ages and abilities. There is no shortage of kid-friendly resorts, restaurants, and activities where the whole family is welcome. South Africa more often than not becomes an annual affair for many of the families who visit. We’re always hoping our visitors make it back for a return trip.

For more tips, ideas, and advice for seeing all there is to see in South Africa, visit us at vacationtosouthafrica.com