South Africa seems, to some, as though it sits at the end of the world. And isn’t the end of the world a fantastic place to begin any vacation?
Its Cape of Good Hope, the lowest part of Africa, boasts a fabulous coastal ecosystem that makes for epic adventures.
Hiking along its forests and inland plains, viewing stars in its deserts, visiting Cape Town, and enjoying beach adventures are just a few of the activities you’ll enjoy in this one-of-a-kind country.
And the beaches – oh, the beaches! Try Sodwana Bay, where sunsets and warm rays will make your heart swell with relaxation and joy. Or Boulders Beach, where penguins – you heard me, penguins – waddle all over and weave amongst the visitors.
You’ll have no lack of delicious food, either. Bobotie (a personal favorite of mine), biltong (a softer, saltier form of jerky), and malva pudding (spongy apricot heaven) will make your tastebuds melt.
Pair them with a cool glass of lemonade or white wine, and you’ve got yourself heaven on Earth.
While you’ll pay a pretty penny to get to South Africa, it’s quite affordable once you’re there. Let’s discuss the best ways to experience adventure without breaking the bank!
Average Trip to South Africa Cost in 2023
An average one-week trip to South Africa for two people will cost around $4,700:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $100 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $1,300 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $75 per person, per day
- Transportation: $300 total
- Total Cost: $4,700
South Africa is a land of adventure, and it knows it. Much of the country caters to tourism… and indeed, today it contributes more than 3% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Note that, according to Statista, “The share declined notably from 6.4 percent in 2019, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the sector.” So it has been more important before and, by all tells, the country is working hard to get those numbers back up.
Point being? South Africa is equipped to make sure you have a good time, and they work at it. You’ll find lovely hotels and guesthouses, nice restaurants with views, and fun tours all over the country.
The best news: paying for it is pretty affordable.
South Africa Trip Cost: Average by Item
Creating an average trip price is always difficult. Everyone is unique, and so are their adventures. Your costs will have to factor in when you want to travel, what you want to do there, where you want to stay, and with whom you’re going.
The best bet for making a budget to which you’ll actually stick is to read through the average prices, then be honest about what you’re going to want when you’re there.
If you love eating out, don’t plan to shop at the grocery store and cook; just budget a bit more into that category, and if that means saving a bit longer, do it!
The bottom line is, you should enjoy your vacation. Chances are you’ll only go once, so use this info to make the best of it!
Hotels in South Africa don’t need to make you sweat. You can stay at a 4-star hotel with a spa, rooftop pool, and WiFi for $80 a night in Cape Town.
Or you can choose a budget option for about $40 a night, one of the recent deals we found at DoubleTree in the city. Johannesburg prices are much the same, with budget hotels around $25 to $50 and nicer options at about $80.
Honeymooning? Celebrating an anniversary? Blowing it out for a family reunion?
You can spend hundreds, if you like, at beautiful places with stunning views and 5-star accommodations, such as The Westcliff, a Four Seasons hotel in Johannesburg – which goes for about $300 a night if you’re lucky.
Near major tourist destinations, you’ll spend a little bit more. For instance, near world-famous Kruger National Park, you’ll pay about $150 a night for lodging (and frankly that’s a steal, so you’ll need to price-shop).
On average, plan to spend about $100 a night. That will ensure you can stay at the nicer budget hotels in the city and have a goodly amount to spend out in the bush, if you want to be near the game parks or other activities.
Flights to South Africa are expensive, but then, that’s to be expected from “the end of the world,” right? From New York City to Johannesburg, you’ll pay about $1,100 on average.
New York to Cape Town is slightly more expensive at an average of $1,200. From Los Angeles to Johannesburg, you should expect to pay $1,200 on average as well, while to Cape Town, it’s about $1,250.
If you don’t live in an international hub city – New York, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, etc. – you will pay more for the cost of getting to an airport that services Africa. That usually runs between $100 and $200.
Looking to save money on flights? Our best recommendation is to use miles wherever possible. Miles go further on international flights than they do on domestic ones, typically, so save them for the long hauls.
You should also try price-shopping in incognito mode. This helps you avoid alerting browsers to your interest, which can return higher-priced results from airlines and travel sites.
If you price shop, you may get the average price of a ticket down quite a bit.
Taking that into account, as well as averaging out prices based on travel dates, departure location, and destination, you should expect to pay about $1,300 a ticket – pretty standard for an African country.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
If you have time, definitely check out the Boulders Beach penguins. They are so cute, and for less than $10 per person, you won’t be disappointed.
While you’re not allowed to make physical contact, they freely waddle between tourists and get close enough to touch, so it’s a great photo op. Boulders Beach is near Simon’s Town, which is roughly 45 minutes away from Cape Town and located on False Bay.
You can get there by renting a car or taking a taxi, but the cheapest way is to take connecting trains. While this will add 2 hours to your trip, it only costs about $2. (More on transportation below.)
Entrance to the beach is about $9.25 and you can stay all day. No need to fret about the cost of food and drink. An inexpensive meal costs about $8, while a nice dinner out for two costs less than $35.
You can easily eat and drink on $50 a day per person. Tours are a bit more expensive, but not much. A 1-hour catamaran ride is about $15, while a 90-minute champagne and sunset cruise is more like $30.
A 3-hour guided hike is $90, while a full-day safari trip leaving from and returning to Cape Town is $150. Overall, planning a few fun tours, plenty of walking, and affordable eating, you can easily get by on about $75 a day.
In South Africa, you should avoid public transportation. Take taxis instead, which will cost more, but are worth it for safety. A 10-mile ride will cost about $20, making private transportation kind of spendy. Budget about $300 for the week and you should be fine.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other things to consider when planning your trip to South Africa:
- Swimming in South Africa is no joke. Those are some rough seas, and if you’re not careful, you can be swept away. The police advise you to check the waters ahead of time to watch where the waves go and avoid the rocks, opt out of swimming in rough weather (yeah, even if you had “a whole plan”), avoid the water entirely when drinking, and only swim in designated areas.
- Sometimes it’s not safe to swim at all. Like when there are sharks, for instance. Again, the police advise caution: “Do not swim in river mouths, in dirty water, very early in the mornings, early evenings or after it had rained as shark activity increases in these conditions. Also do not swim when bluebottles are present as they are poisonous.”
- Look for plane tickets on different days of the week: Airlines release tickets on different days of the week (many of them on Tuesday), when you’ll find some good bargains. Try shopping on different days to see when you get the best results.
- Book well ahead of time: There’s no bonus for waiting until closer to your departure date for international travel. As soon as you see a good ticket price, jump on it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about budgeting your trip to South Africa:
How Long Should I Stay in Cape Town?
Many cite Cape Town as one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world. Its long shorelines, mountainous backdrop, palm-lined streets, and brightly painted houses certainly lend credence to this assertion. We certainly feel it’s worth an extended look-see.
If you’re going to South Africa, plan to spend 2 days in Cape Town.
Check out the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (less than $12 per person), walk along the waterfront, and explore Boulders Beach – frequently populated by adorable penguins (totally worth the price of admission).
Is it safe in South Africa?
South Africa is safe enough, but you should exercise increased caution, says the US Department of State. They explain that “Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles, is common.
There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark.”
Moreover, “Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events have the potential to turn violent.”
In addition to avoiding large gatherings, keep valuables out of sight, stay in groups or inside at night, and don’t travel alone in dangerous areas if you’re female.
Is South Africa expensive?
South Africa is not particularly expensive. The biggest cost is getting there. Once there, however, you’ll find accommodations, transportation, and food to be affordable. Activities can get expensive if you’re not careful, so plan ahead.
When is the best time to visit South Africa?
Winter is a popular time for Northerners to visit South Africa, as it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
This is when you’ll see the most penguin activity (um, have we mentioned the penguins are super duper cute?) and it’s also the nicest time for walking on the beach, engaging in water sports, taking boat tours, or laying in the sun.
For these reasons, November through March are the high season in South Africa. That’s when you’ll pay the most for tickets, lodging, and activities.
If you want to save some dough but still get there when it’s relatively nice, try spring and autumn. There are still plenty of visitors, so you’ll have lots of tour choices, but the crowds are thinner and you’ll get some price breaks.
What should I pack for a trip to South Africa?
What you pack depends on what you plan on doing. If you love beaches, bring all your necessities for fun in the sun. Note that, unlike some other tourist places, accoutrements such as sunblock, suits, or shades are pretty affordable, so you don’t need to fret about bringing extra pairs.
For jungle or alpine hikes, you’ll want sturdy shoes, long pants, and layers. When in the cities, eating out, or seeing the cultural sights, plan to wear light layers that you can peel off easily as the day warms, then put back on in the evening.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$100 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$1,300 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$75 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$300 total|
|💲 Total Cost||$4,700|
The average cost of a one-week trip to South Africa is around $4,700 for two people. That’s a pretty good deal for beautiful scenery, wonderful food, cozy accommodations, and – you said it – penguins.
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that South Africa has to offer. Happy travels!