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Plan your trip to South Africa

This page is to help you plan your trip to Southern Africa. It is only a broad guideline. However for the best tours and car rental it is essential to book ahead as the seats and cars go very quickly. You may end up having to pay a lot more for same service.

Travel route

The easiest way to plan if you have a fixed departure date is to work forward from your arrival date, then back from your departure date, and finally fill in the days in between.

The ideal way to see South Africa is to fly into Cape Town and fly out of Johannesburg or the other way around. This means you will not need to backtrack over a course you have already travelled.

If you are flying into Johannesburg, you can go straight to the Kruger Park for a safari. This will be the best introduction to the game and outdoor experiences SA has to offer. If you are flying out of Johannesburg, then plan your trip to end with a trip to the game reserves, flying out the day after your trip ends. Alternatively, you can choose not to go game viewing in the Kruger Park but to visit some of South Africa’s other national parks and private game reserves. Addo Elephant National Park, just outside Port Elizabeth, is a good choice if you’re on a road trip along the coast between Durban and Cape Town. There are also some good reserves a few hours north of Durban.

Money

There are Visa, Mastercard and debit card facilities all around South Africa. It is not recommended that you keep travellers cheques if you have access to a credit card or a Visa or Maestro debit card. The South African currency is called the “Rand”.

Accommodation

There are excellent backpacker hostels all around South Africa, so quality accommodation is no problem. The network has over 200 hostels in Southern Africa and there are several free guide books to help you to decide where to stay. We at the Green Elephant can recommend the best hostels in other towns for you to stay in. Visit Alternative Route for a comprehensive listing of South Africa’s hostels.

Getting around South Africa

Baz Bus

The Baz Bus is a hop-on hop-off shuttle that offers door-to-door service between backpacker hostels. The Baz Bus route is from Johannesburg to Cape Town via Durban and vice versa. There are several ticket options, giving travellers flexibility. It is a convenient and safe way of backpacking South Africa.

Driving

South Africa has good roads with the national speed limit of 120 km/h. We drive on the left hand side. If you are driving yourself, be careful of other cars speeding and especially careful on dirt roads.

If you are short on time and travelling with one or more friends then perhaps renting a car is a good option. You need to be over 23 years old , have had a license for over 2 years and have a credit card, although the car rental company that we recommend has a solution for you if you fall into these categories.

Public transport

Greyhound, Intercape and Translux provide bus services around South Africa. We can book these for you at The Green Elephant.

The rail network in South Africa links the main cities efficiently, but slowly. But it is still good fun.The trains are slow and in season quiet fully booked. Cape Town to Johannesburg takes 26 hours.

Air travel

There are two recommended low cost airlines – Kulula and Mango that fly between major cities. TravelStart is an online travel agent that can also help you find the best deals on flights.

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