South Africa is a country of diversity and dramatic beauty, with a tumultuous history. Surrounded by both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, some of the most breathtaking scenery on earth can be found here. With game-viewing which equals the best in Africa, and a rich cultural history combined with the warmth and friendly nature of its people, South Africa offers an incredible travelling experience. Discover all of this and more on a South Africa tour with Bunnik Tours. Book a small group tour online today or chat with one of our friendly Travel Specialists.
Small Group Tours
Explore South Africa’s natural wonders on this in-depth journey. Spot wildlife in private game reserves including the iconic Greater Kruger National Park and enjoy spectacular views along the Garden Route.
South Africa Facts & Tips
Did you know?
- South Africa is the only country in the world to have three capital cities.
- There are 11 official languages in South Africa: English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
- About half of the world´s gold is produced in South Africa.
- Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world.
- Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world - and the largest green one.
- South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world, just across the Vaal River near Parys, called the Vredefort Dome. The meteor plummeted to Earth nearly two billion years ago.
- The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both lived in Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
- South Africa has many UNESCO World Heritage Sites including, Greater Saint Lucia Wetland Park, Robben Island, Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, Vredefort Dome and Cape Floral Region Protected Areas.
- Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent.
- In local slang ‘The Cape Doctor’ means, ‘the prevailing South-East wind familiar to anyone who has attempted a picnic on the beach’.
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to South Africa do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
Australian High Commission in South Africa:
292 Orient Street
Ph. +27 12 423 6000
Fax. +27 12 342 8442
The official currency of South Africa is the South African Rand. Notes come in denominations of R 10, R 20, R 50, R 100, R 200. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Rand with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Pretoria is approximately 32 ZAR
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately 150 ZAR
- The price dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately 300 ZAR
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately 55 - 65 ZAR
A visit to South Africa would not be complete without trying its incredible variety of cuisine, heavily influenced by the many cultures that have settled and colonized it over the centuries. From the indigenous San and Khoi people; to the Bantu people of northern Africa bringing traditional farming methods; the Portuguese, British, German, and Dutch settlers; the Dutch East India Company using South Africa as a half-way refueling point along their trade routes; the slaves and indentured workers from Malaysia, Indonesia and India; and the French bringing vines and wine traditions.
Biltong is probably one of the most widely known South African snacks, similar to jerky, it is a dried, cured and spiced meat. Boerewors is a farmer’s sausage often served at a Braai, where food is grilled over hot coals (it’s not a braai if it is cooked on a gas grill!). Other popular dishes at a braai include braaibroodijie (toasted sandwich with cheese, tomato and onion), and sosaties (seasoned meat on a skewer). Potjiekos is a traditional Afrikaans stew made with meat and vegetables cooked over hot coals in a cast iron pot. Pap, or mieliepap, the traditional maize porridge dish similar to polenta, can be served throughout the day from breakfast to dinner, in either sweet or savoury forms.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
South Africa's climatic conditions generally range from Mediterranean in the southwestern corner of the country to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the northeast. A small area in the northwest has a desert climate. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights. Rainfall generally occurs during summer (November through March), although in the southwest, around Cape Town, rainfall occurs in winter (June to August). Temperatures are influenced by variations in elevation, terrain, and ocean currents more than latitude.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
Taxis are available in most South African towns and cities, but they have a reputation for being pricey. They do not cruise around like in most other cities in the world, and must be pre ordered by telephone or through a designated taxi rank. All taxis should have a working taxi meter. Walking in a group is possibly the safest way to see the sights.
When catching taxis, make sure you have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. We recommend you ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from South Africa…
A great way to support the local community is to try to buy your souvenirs in smaller shops rather than larger ones. South Africa offers many shopping opportunities. The various antique shops and fairs have uncovered a rich South African history, which includes explorers, colonial settlers, hunters, prisoners of war and original African artefacts. Collectable books, maps, artwork, furniture and mining memorabilia are all priceless conversation pieces (and surprisingly reasonably priced). Handicrafts are plentiful and wood carvings are one of the most popular souvenirs. These are usually of giraffes or one of the big five, and range from models as big as your palm to towering seven-foot-tall creations that aren't going to fit in your hand-luggage. Gold, silver and diamond jewellery are all big business in this part of the world. If buying diamonds, make sure that they are accompanied by a certificate authenticating their quality - it's not unheard of to be ripped off. The Cape produces some outstanding wines - particularly reds of the cabernet variety. Take to the ‘wine route’ for tastings and tax-free case-lot purchases (these can be sent home to await your return).
- When taking an item from someone, or during any interaction with other people, it is important to use your right hand (regardless of whether you are left-handed). The left hand is considered dirty.
- Learn some of the local slang for example, ‘Howzit?’ means ‘Hello, how are you?’, ‘Lekker’ means ‘Excellent, very nice’, ‘Robot’ means ‘Traffic light’ and ‘Nooit’ means ‘No’.
- Tipping is standard practice in South African restaurants, if a tip is not included in the bill, 10-15% is appropriate.
- Always travel with others, especially after dark. Travelling in groups of three of four is strongly advised. Keep to well-lit, public places such as shopping malls and restaurants. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, as street crimes are commonplace.
- Keep identification on you at all times – a photocopy of your passport page is sufficient.
- Don't take photos indiscriminately. Many people object to having their pictures taken, so ask permission first. Military installations, airports and bridges should never be photographed.
- Don’t carry around nonessentials and valuables. Use your hotel safe and don't flash expensive jewellery, watches and cameras.
Celebrations & Public Holidays
There are many cultures that make up South Africa, and they all have their own celebrations through the year. From Jazz to Arts, Dance to Oysters, there is something for everyone! The year starts with the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival (Kaapse Klopse), a multi-day extravaganza in the first week of January with teams of costumed minstrels parading through the streets of Cape Town playing traditional music. Cape Town also has an International Jazz Festival in March/April, and the Joy of Jazz Festival takes place in Johannesburg in September. In July, the Grahamstown National Arts Festival is the biggest annual celebration of arts on the African continent including dance, theatre, comedy, music, visual art, film, and craft. Also in July, the Knysna Oyster Festival celebrates the humble oyster with shucking contests and eating challenges, as well as marathons and cycling tours to work off all the amazing food!
One of the biggest Zulu Festivals is the Royal Reed Dance in September, where up to 10,000 Zulu maidens dressed in traditional clothing make their way to KwaNyokeni Palace in KwaZulu-Natal National Province. In the lead up to the 4-day processional, the women design and make the beads for use during the ceremony, where reeds from the riverbed are collected and presented to the King with traditional regional songs and dances.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year’s Day
- Human Rights Day (March 21st)
- Good Friday
- Family Day (Easter Monday)
- Freedom Day (April 27th)
- Worker’s Day (May 1st)
- Youth Day (June 16th)
- National Women’s Day (August 9th)
- Heritage Day (September 24th)
- Day of Reconciliation (December 16th)
- Christmas Day
- Day of Goodwill (December 26th)
South Africa Highlights
Located at the southern tip of Africa, Cape Town is South Africa's most European city, stunningly framed between mountains and sea. Cape Town has a lot going for it, it is multi-racial, relaxed, and trendy, and it looks good in any season. Apart from Cape Town’s stunning natural features, the city is blessed with a laid-back ambience that meets with the approval of bohemians and holidaymakers alike. Not far from the compact city centre, visitors can choose from a magnificent portfolio of world-class attractions including Table Mountain, Camps Bay Beach, the Winelands, Robben Island and Cape Point nature reserve. Photo by Emily Fraser.
Approximately 45 minutes east of Cape Town lies the town of Franschhoek (French Corner). This traditionally French town, founded by the Huguenots escaping religious persecution in France in the late 1600s, is the food and wine capital of the country. Franschhoek is filled with a superb collection of art and antique shops and the main streets are lined with restaurants and coffee shops. Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve is located just outside of the town and boasts a variety of walking/hiking trails leading to spectacular views over the Franschhoek Valley. Photo by Annelieke Huijgens
In a short period of time, Johannesburg has become one of the world's most amazing cities. Bigger in size than London or New York, it is a sky-scraping, crowded oasis of humanity in otherwise spacious South Africa. Although it doesn't boast the stunning natural backdrop of Cape Town, Johannesburg isn't without its charms. The remnants of its 19th-century industrial past were for years left to rust as the city moved on, but today they are being polished up and assimilated into its new, cleaner image. Johannesburg is an international metropolis in every sense of the word, you'll find the best available entertainment, cuisine and nightlife here. Photo by Frank Bunnik.
South Africa FAQs
How much is a tour in South Africa?
A South Africa holiday is affordable for travellers! Bunnik Tours offers a group tour, starting from $10,995 per person. Airfares, tipping and entry fees to national parks are included in our South Africa tours.
What is the best time to travel to South Africa?
The best time to book a South Africa tour package is from February to November, as the colder months are the perfect time to visit game reserves and spot unique wildlife! The summer months, from December to March are generally warmer, but the rainfall may be inconvenient during game drives.
How many days are enough for South Africa?
It's ultimately up to you! There is plenty to do and see on a South Africa group tour including venturing to Cape Town to explore the iconic Table Mountain, take a relaxing stroll through the Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden, spot fascinating wildlife in the Featherbed Island Nature Reserve and Kruger National Park, taste some fresh local produce and so much more! So, we recommend spending at least 6 days to discover all the wonderful highlights of South Africa!
Is tourism safe in South Africa?
South Africa is a safe destination for tourists. The crime rate is low in South Africa and there are rare occasions of pickpockets. But, as we always advise with international travel, please ensure that your personal possessions and valuables are kept secure, and avoid walking in distant areas alone. South Africans are very friendly, so you will always feel welcome. Just ensure that you are respectful of their culture and customs.
How can I tour South Africa as a responsible traveller?
At Bunnik Tours, we believe in responsible travel and sustainable tourism. For more information, visit our Sustainable Tourism hub.
What luggage can I take on tour to Africa?
Because of the limited storage space in light aircraft and safari vehicles in Africa, we do impose restrictions on the luggage you can take on your tour to Africa. This means:
- A soft bag is required
- There is a maximum weight of 15kg per person
If you have any other questions about luggage requirements, please feel free to call one of our Travel Specialists on 1800 286 645 or email us.
Can't find the answers you're looking for? Check out our FAQs.
Discover wildlife gems like the Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta & more on our Botswana tours.
Experience breathtaking wildlife at Maasai Mara, discover stunning landscapes in Nairobi & a colourful tribal culture.
Enjoy stunning views at Isalo National Park, spot an amazing array of wildlife in Andasibe National Park and discover the warmth of the people on this beautiful island.
Explore endless horizons, unique wildlife & rich culture that will enchant even the most discerning traveller.
Discover intriguing history, track gorillas and golden monkeys at Volcanoes National Park and immerse yourself in Rwandan culture.
Discover the abundant fauna and flora of the many national parks and game reserves such as the Serengeti and Tarangire National Park, the ancient Ngorongoro Crater , the Olduvai Gorge and the impressive Lake Victoria