A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to South Africa for my birthday and had a great time with a group of friends. Initially, South Africa wasn’t on my radar, but when a friend of mine mentioned that he was planning a trip there, I took the opportunity to invite myself on his trip. The trip was especially a no brainer when we were able to get our flights for $565 with 15 hours layover in London, which allowed us to explore two countries for the price of one. We bought our ticket using Priceline and flew into Johannesburg, which tends to be cheaper than flying straight to Cape Town. We spent a day and a half in Johannesburg and the remainder of our time in Cape Town, which was ideal for our group since the majority of our activities were in Cape Town. If you do decide to visit, be prepared to fall in love with Cape Town. The city is entirely picturesque with mountains surrounding the entire city and provides the perfect balance of city living with the accessibility to nature right outside your doorsteps.
Before getting into the travel guide specifics, it would be remiss of me not to mention apartheid and how the effect can still be seen and felt today. To put it simply, apartheid is a system of institutionalized racial segregation that ended less than 30 years ago. Black people make up roughly 76% of the population in South Africa. Still, while we were in Cape Town, we hardly saw any black people, which highlighted to me the disparity of the wealth in the country and the lack of diversity. Before traveling to South Africa, I read Nelson Mandela autobiography A Long Walk to Freedom and, as such, expected to encounter a diverse country in regards to wealth and class. Unfortunately, undoing the damage that was done during Apartheid will take many more years, but hopefully, if I am able to visit South Africa again I will visit a more diverse country.
Segueing back to the travel guide, I did have a great time and will be sharing where we stayed, ate, played, and partied.
Currency : The currency in South Africa is the Rand. 1R = $0.062 US dollars. The US dollar goes a long way in South Africa, which makes the country a very budget-friendly destination.
Good to know
· Vaccines: There are some recommended vaccines to get before traveling to South Africa. You can find out what shots are recommended by doing a quick google search, or your primary care doctor should be able to provide that information. Personally, I got the hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine before going on the trip. Also, keep in mind that your insurance does not cover the typhoid vaccine, so that would be an out of the pocket expense. Overall I paid $165 to get the typhoid vaccine
· Adapter: South Africa has a round 3 pin plug, which you will need an adaptor for. You can purchase an adapter on Amazon for roughly $10.
· Getting around: Uber is available in the country is dirt cheap, so I would highly recommend using Uber to get around.
· Night Life: The nigh life scene in Cape Town is pretty quite Monday – Thursday, so you might want to keep that in mind if you are looking to party in the city.
Where we stayed
We stayed at three different Airbnb's , which helped us with keeping our accommodation cost for seven nights relatively low. Overall we spent $390 per person for our entire stay split between 5 people.
The stayed at this Airbnb for one night in Johannesburg and would highly recommend booking there if visiting the area. It was great value for the money, plus breakfast was also included in the price.
The second Airbnb we stayed at was in the Camps Bay area in Cape Town, which is reminiscent of Malibu in California. I also highly recommend staying at this Airbnb, especially if exploring the beaches is on your agenda. It was walking distance to the beach and a plethora of restaurants.
The third Airbnb we stayed at was close to the V&A waterfront and was also walking distances to many restaurants and long and loop street which is known for its nightlife.
Where to eat :
South Africa is very affordable, so it goes without saying that we didn’t miss a meal. Below are some of the spots we tried and wished we tried.
· Marble – Fine dining with impeccable taste that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I had my pre-birthday dinner here and was impressed with my overall experience there.
· Tashas in Rosebank
· News Café Vibez
Georgeous George – Gorgeous rooftop spot.
Truth Coffee Roasting – Stem Punk theme coffee shop.
Clarke’s Bar and Dinning Room
Jessy’s Waffle – Vegan friendly spot.
FYN – 5 star restaurant with innovative dishes and the décor to match
GOLD Restaurant – Offer 6 course African meal with live entertainment and face painting.
Asoka – I had my birthday dinner here and would highly recommend it. The ambiance is very Moroccan inspired with a big tree in the missile of the restaurant, and the food was very tasty.
Kloof Street House – Sister restaurant of Asoka
Si Cantina Sociale
Kolonaki Greek Kouzina
Nightlife – There are several bars on long street and loop street , but below are some of the spots we checked out.
Roxa Hookah Lounge
What to do
Zeitz MOCCA Museum
Hiking Lion Head
Robben Island – If you’re unable to make the tour then I would recommend reading Nelson Mandela book, A Long Walk to Freedom. You would get the same information from the book as you would the tour.
Safari @ Aquila Game Reserve – If you limited on time/ looking for a budget-friendly safari, then I would recommend Aquila.
Did I miss anything cool in Johannesburg or Cape Town?
Leave a comment with your faves!