Backpacking South Africa

Hello to all seasoned and aspiring backpackers!

‘A whole world in one country’ – this is how many travellers describe South Africa. Nowhere else in the world are there so many different landscapes – from high mountains, deserts and swamps to forests, coasts, meadows, subtropical and many more. This wild landscape is home to a variety of animal species, including penguins, giraffes, elephants, hippos, hyenas, lions, rhinos, and leopards among other animals. For those who have always dreamed of going on a safari, South Africa is the 'place to be'.

The countless national parks are a paradise for nature lovers and adrenaline junkies. Whether it is hiking, riding, surfing, diving, sky diving, kayaking or bungee jumping – the list of offered outdoor activities is endless as well. Not only does South Africa have a varied flora and fauna, but it is also characterised by its cultural diversity. Apartheid left its mark on the rainbow nation, as is evident in the townships.

In terms of weather, the country is mostly sunny, typically dry, and pleasantly warm. South Africa, a destination that until recently relatively few backpackers had on their bucket list, is the perfect African starting point, due to its great infrastructure and wide range of affordable, beautiful hostels.

The best way to travel South Africa is to road trip, as you can rent a car for 25 days starting from just €500. This gives you the freedom of independent travelling and allows you to explore the country on your own. Alternatively, there is also the Baz Bus system, which you can use for a certain period after buying a bus pass. The disadvantage of this is that the bus only stops at certain hostels, meaning you cannot plan your route individually.

Safety is very important when travelling in South Africa. Don’t be put off by the country’s reputation. Like everywhere else, always take care of your valuables, avoid walking around after dark and cover short distances by car or taxi. Find out in advance if you can explore certain areas on your own or whether you should visit them in a group. As long as you follow these principles, there should not be any problems. South Africa is not only a super diverse country, but it also has many contrasts, which makes backpacking at the southern tip of Africa incredibly exciting and absolutely worthwhile. Start your personal South African adventure and see for yourself!



See below for the perfect South Africa itinerary for an unforgettable trip:


Important Basics

Official Language

Afrikaans and English among 9 other languages

Basic Vocabulary
EnglishAfrikaans
HelloHaai/Hallo/Hoi
GoodbyeTotsiens
Thank youDankie
YesJa
NoNee
Capital city

Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judicial)

Form of government

Parliamentary Republic

Telephone area code

+27

Currency

South African rand (ZAR)

Best time to visit

May to September

Climate

ø Maximum temperature: 22 degrees in December and January

Ø Minimum temperature: 11 degrees in June and July

Fun Fact

South Africa is the second-largest fruit producer in the world.

In South Africa, there’s the longest wine route in the world, Route 62.

Cities

Cape Town

The ‘Mother City’ is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it also offers the best nightlife in Africa, as well as unique nature experiences.

The best way to explore the vibrant metropolis is with a Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour. This tour will take you to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a popular harbour district with countless cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and pubs. Not to mention, it has a great view of Cape Town’s chief landmark: Table Mountain.

Make sure to hike up this mighty mountain, as the view over the city is even more spectacular than you can imagine.

Also, definitely explore the Cape of Good Hope, Lion's Head and the Twelve Apostles. Drive along the beautiful coastal road Chapman's Peak Drive and watch the sunset on Signal Hill or relax on Camps Bay Beach and watch the penguins on Boulders Beach.

The backpackers’ hot spot in Cape Town is Long Street with its hip bars, clubs, and hostels. In Cape Town Backpackers, a room in a six-bed dorm costs only €18 per night.

Hermanus

The coastal town of Hermanus is famous for its whale watching, especially from July to November.

We recommend the cliff walk along Walker Bay, which leads along the coast past washed-out caves and several viewpoints. The steep slope provides a perfect view of the ocean and the passing whales.

If you want to get even closer, you can book a sea kayaking tour. Besides the southern right whale, you will often encounter penguins and seals.

At Hermanus Backpackers & Budget Accommodation, one night in a six-bed dorm costs €13.

Mossel Bay

Mossel Bay is a paradise for nature lovers.

On numerous coastal trails, such as the St. Blaize Hiking Trail, you can hike along the Indian Ocean on cliffs that are more than 30 metres high. Always keep your eyes open for dolphins, whales and seals.

Relax on the beautiful sandy beaches of Mossel Bay. Dive to old shipwrecks and explore the fantastic colourful underwater world.

At the Mile Crunchers Hostel, you can stay in a 10-bed dorm for €10 per night.

Wilderness

The picturesque village is known for its eight-kilometre white sandy beach and idyllic lagoons.

The surrounding areas also have a lot to offer. Hike on the Kingfisher Trail to the Touw River Waterfall. Follow the disused railway tracks towards Victoria Bay, visit the Caveman Clifford Brandon Cave and discover scenic little bays. The best viewpoints around Wilderness are Dolphin Point and Map of Africa Point.

A double room at The Wild Farm Backpackers costs €28 per night.

Storms River

The charming Storms River Village is the starting point for excursions into the Tsitsikamma National Park and to the Storms River Mouth.

Explore the impressive nature of the park, walk across the Suspension Bridge, and take a boat trip into Storms River Gorge. Storms River is also a hotspot for adrenaline junkies – from the world's highest bungee jump to black water tubing and a treetop canopy tour through the rainforest.

At Djembe Backpackers Hostel you can stay for €11 in a 10-bed dorm.

Jeffreys Bay

This fishing village is considered the best surf spot in South Africa and attracts surfers from all over the world. Try surfing or watch the pros ride the long, fast, breaking waves. With a little luck, you might even spot whales and dolphins.

Jeffreys Bay also offers many other water activities such as diving, kayaking, kitesurfing or – for those who prefer to keep dry – sandboarding. The Kabeljous Nature Reserve Park is also a hiker's paradise.

An overnight stay in a four-bed dorm costs €12 at the Island Vibe Backpackers.

Hogsback

The small town of Hogsback is located in the hinterland of the Eastern Cape in the middle of the Amathole Mountains.

Here you can experience a completely different side of Africa. Discover the wonderful mountains around Hogsback with countless waterfalls and mountain ranges. Be sure to hike to the numerous viewpoints and enjoy the view of the valley and the fantastic landscape.

Alternatively, you can explore the area by mountain bike or on horseback.

In the idyllic Away with the Fairies Hostel, it is only €13 for an overnight stay in a six-bed dorm.

Coffee Bay 

The small town of Coffee Bay is one of the most beautiful spots on the Wild Coast.

Simply relax and switch off on the beautiful pristine sandy beach.

We recommend a hike to the Hole in the Wall – a prominent rock formation with a huge hole in the middle. The path leads through the beautiful green hilly landscape, past steep rocks and lagoons. With a bit of luck, you can even watch dolphins and whales in the bay.

A night in a six-bed dorm in the Coffee Shack Hostel costs €12.

Durban

Durban is also called the 'Miami of the South' because of its subtropical temperatures all year round. Not to mention, it is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the country.

The multicultural metropolis also offers numerous attractions for those interested in culture. Besides mosques, churches and Hindu temples, the other attractions particularly worth seeing are the city hall, the Durban Art Gallery, and the KwaMuhle Museum, which focuses on the apartheid era.

Stroll along the 'Golden Mile' beach promenade, have a picnic in the botanical garden or take part in a guided township tour.

At Aweh Africa Backpackers you will pay €12 per night for a six-bed dorm.

Drakensberg 

The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Africa.

With a height of up to 3,500 metres, the mountain range offers breathtaking scenery for hiking and jeep tours. Explore the Drakensberg landscape on your own and discover waterfalls, viewpoints, and natural pools.

Hike to Tiger Falls, enjoy the panoramic view at Lockout Rock and swim in the icy mountain water of the Cascades. Another popular destination is the Sani Pass, a beautiful mountain pass with the highest pub in Africa waiting at the end.

Amidst the impressive mountain scenery is the village of Bergville, where a double room at the Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge costs €33.

Kruger National Park

Marloth Park is the best starting point for trips to the Kruger National Park.

A safari is a must on any trip to South Africa! Don’t miss the chance to see Africa's Big Five on this full-day safari drive.

Discover the impressive landscape of the Kruger National Park in an open safari jeep and admire wild animals such as lions, leopards, water buffaloes and many more – an unforgettable experience. For €70 per person, the game drive includes pick-up and return transfer, a certified guide and food costs.

A double room in Marloth Park at Jackalberry Ridge Lodge costs €50 per night.

Johannesburg 

Only a few years ago, Johannesburg was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world and therefore rather avoided by tourists.

Today "Joburg" presents itself as a trendy destination for a city getaway full of art and culture. The main attractions are easily accessible on a city sightseeing tour.

In the city centre, go to Gandhi Square and Carlton Centre – the highest building in Africa with a magnificent viewing platform. Visit the hippest bars and clubs in the city, located in the artists' quarter called Newton Precinct, as well as countless galleries, cafes, theatres, and museums.

Don’t miss a visit to the former apartheid ghetto, the South Western Township (Soweto). You should also explore the trendy district of Maboneng and the Arts of Main.

In the end, return your rented car and buy your last few souvenirs at The Grove shopping centre.


Cape Town

Cape Town

The ‘Mother City’ is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it also offers the best nightlife in Africa, as well as unique nature experiences.

The best way to explore the vibrant metropolis is with a Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour. This tour will take you to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a popular harbour district with countless cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and pubs. Not to mention, it has a great view of Cape Town’s chief landmark: Table Mountain.

Make sure to hike up this mighty mountain, as the view over the city is even more spectacular than you can imagine.

Also, definitely explore the Cape of Good Hope, Lion's Head and the Twelve Apostles. Drive along the beautiful coastal road Chapman's Peak Drive and watch the sunset on Signal Hill or relax on Camps Bay Beach and watch the penguins on Boulders Beach.

The backpackers’ hot spot in Cape Town is Long Street with its hip bars, clubs, and hostels. In Cape Town Backpackers, a room in a six-bed dorm costs only €18 per night.

Hermanus

Hermanus

The coastal town of Hermanus is famous for its whale watching, especially from July to November.

We recommend the cliff walk along Walker Bay, which leads along the coast past washed-out caves and several viewpoints. The steep slope provides a perfect view of the ocean and the passing whales.

If you want to get even closer, you can book a sea kayaking tour. Besides the southern right whale, you will often encounter penguins and seals.

At Hermanus Backpackers & Budget Accommodation, one night in a six-bed dorm costs €13.

Mossel Bay

Mossel Bay

Mossel Bay is a paradise for nature lovers.

On numerous coastal trails, such as the St. Blaize Hiking Trail, you can hike along the Indian Ocean on cliffs that are more than 30 metres high. Always keep your eyes open for dolphins, whales and seals.

Relax on the beautiful sandy beaches of Mossel Bay. Dive to old shipwrecks and explore the fantastic colourful underwater world.

At the Mile Crunchers Hostel, you can stay in a 10-bed dorm for €10 per night.

Wilderness

Wilderness

The picturesque village is known for its eight-kilometre white sandy beach and idyllic lagoons.

The surrounding areas also have a lot to offer. Hike on the Kingfisher Trail to the Touw River Waterfall. Follow the disused railway tracks towards Victoria Bay, visit the Caveman Clifford Brandon Cave and discover scenic little bays. The best viewpoints around Wilderness are Dolphin Point and Map of Africa Point.

A double room at The Wild Farm Backpackers costs €28 per night.

Storms River

Storms River

The charming Storms River Village is the starting point for excursions into the Tsitsikamma National Park and to the Storms River Mouth.

Explore the impressive nature of the park, walk across the Suspension Bridge, and take a boat trip into Storms River Gorge. Storms River is also a hotspot for adrenaline junkies – from the world's highest bungee jump to black water tubing and a treetop canopy tour through the rainforest.

At Djembe Backpackers Hostel you can stay for €11 in a 10-bed dorm.

Jeffreys Bay

Jeffreys Bay

This fishing village is considered the best surf spot in South Africa and attracts surfers from all over the world. Try surfing or watch the pros ride the long, fast, breaking waves. With a little luck, you might even spot whales and dolphins.

Jeffreys Bay also offers many other water activities such as diving, kayaking, kitesurfing or – for those who prefer to keep dry – sandboarding. The Kabeljous Nature Reserve Park is also a hiker's paradise.

An overnight stay in a four-bed dorm costs €12 at the Island Vibe Backpackers.

Hogsback

Hogsback

The small town of Hogsback is located in the hinterland of the Eastern Cape in the middle of the Amathole Mountains.

Here you can experience a completely different side of Africa. Discover the wonderful mountains around Hogsback with countless waterfalls and mountain ranges. Be sure to hike to the numerous viewpoints and enjoy the view of the valley and the fantastic landscape.

Alternatively, you can explore the area by mountain bike or on horseback.

In the idyllic Away with the Fairies Hostel, it is only €13 for an overnight stay in a six-bed dorm.

Coffee Bay 

Coffee Bay 

The small town of Coffee Bay is one of the most beautiful spots on the Wild Coast.

Simply relax and switch off on the beautiful pristine sandy beach.

We recommend a hike to the Hole in the Wall – a prominent rock formation with a huge hole in the middle. The path leads through the beautiful green hilly landscape, past steep rocks and lagoons. With a bit of luck, you can even watch dolphins and whales in the bay.

A night in a six-bed dorm in the Coffee Shack Hostel costs €12.

Durban

Durban

Durban is also called the 'Miami of the South' because of its subtropical temperatures all year round. Not to mention, it is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the country.

The multicultural metropolis also offers numerous attractions for those interested in culture. Besides mosques, churches and Hindu temples, the other attractions particularly worth seeing are the city hall, the Durban Art Gallery, and the KwaMuhle Museum, which focuses on the apartheid era.

Stroll along the 'Golden Mile' beach promenade, have a picnic in the botanical garden or take part in a guided township tour.

At Aweh Africa Backpackers you will pay €12 per night for a six-bed dorm.

Drakensberg 

Drakensberg 

The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Africa.

With a height of up to 3,500 metres, the mountain range offers breathtaking scenery for hiking and jeep tours. Explore the Drakensberg landscape on your own and discover waterfalls, viewpoints, and natural pools.

Hike to Tiger Falls, enjoy the panoramic view at Lockout Rock and swim in the icy mountain water of the Cascades. Another popular destination is the Sani Pass, a beautiful mountain pass with the highest pub in Africa waiting at the end.

Amidst the impressive mountain scenery is the village of Bergville, where a double room at the Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge costs €33.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Marloth Park is the best starting point for trips to the Kruger National Park.

A safari is a must on any trip to South Africa! Don’t miss the chance to see Africa's Big Five on this full-day safari drive.

Discover the impressive landscape of the Kruger National Park in an open safari jeep and admire wild animals such as lions, leopards, water buffaloes and many more – an unforgettable experience. For €70 per person, the game drive includes pick-up and return transfer, a certified guide and food costs.

A double room in Marloth Park at Jackalberry Ridge Lodge costs €50 per night.

Johannesburg 

Johannesburg 

Only a few years ago, Johannesburg was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world and therefore rather avoided by tourists.

Today "Joburg" presents itself as a trendy destination for a city getaway full of art and culture. The main attractions are easily accessible on a city sightseeing tour.

In the city centre, go to Gandhi Square and Carlton Centre – the highest building in Africa with a magnificent viewing platform. Visit the hippest bars and clubs in the city, located in the artists' quarter called Newton Precinct, as well as countless galleries, cafes, theatres, and museums.

Don’t miss a visit to the former apartheid ghetto, the South Western Township (Soweto). You should also explore the trendy district of Maboneng and the Arts of Main.

In the end, return your rented car and buy your last few souvenirs at The Grove shopping centre.

South Africa Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Cape Town
Home - Cape Town
Flight
300
Cape Town Backpackers six-bed dorm
18
2. Cape Town
Cape Town
-
Cape Town Backpackers six-bed dorm
18
3. Cape Town
Cape Town
-
Cape Town Backpackers six-bed dorm
18
4. Cape Town
Cape Town
-
Cape Town Backpackers six-bed dorm
18
5. Cape Town - Hermanus
Cape Town - Hermanus
Car
Hermanus Backpackers & Budget Accommodation six-bed dorm
13
6. Hermanus
Hermanus
-
Hermanus Backpackers & Budget Accommodation six-bed dorm
13
7. Hermanus - Mossel Bay
Hermanus - Mossel Bay
Car
Mile Crunches 10-bed dorm
10
8. Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay
-
Mile Crunches 10-bed dorm
10
9. Mossel Bay - Wilderness
Mossel Bay - Wilderness
Car
The Wild Farm Backpackers double room
28
10. Wilderness
Wilderness
-
The Wild Farm Backpackers double room
28
11. Wilderness - Storms River
Wilderness - Storms River
Car
Djembe Backpackers Hostel 10-bed dorm
11
12. Storms River
Storms River
-
Djembe Backpackers Hostel 10-bed dorm
11
13. Storms River - Jeffreys Bay
Storms River - Jeffreys Bay
Car
Island Vibe Backpackers four-bed dorm
12
14. Jeffreys Bay
Jeffreys Bay
-
Island Vibe Backpackers four-bed dorm
12
15. Jeffreys Bay
Jeffreys Bay
-
Island Vibe Backpackers four-bed dorm
12
16. Jeffreys Bay - Hogsback
Jeffreys Bay - Hogsback
Car
Away with the Fairies six-bed dorm
13
17. Hogsback
Hogsback
-
Away with the Fairies six-bed dorm
13
18. Hogsback - Coffee Bay
Hogsback - Coffee Bay
Car
Coffee Shack six-bed dorm
12
19. Coffee Bay
Coffee Bay
-
Coffee Shack six-bed dorm
12
20. Coffee Bay
Coffee Bay
-
Coffee Shack six-bed dorm
12
21. Coffee Bay - Durban
Coffee Bay - Durban
Car
Aweh Africa Backpackers six-bed dorm
12
22. Durban
Durban
-
Aweh Africa Backpackers six-bed dorm
12
23. Durban - Drakensberg
Durban - Drakensberg
Car
Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge double room
33
24. Drakensberg
Drakensberg
-
Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge double room
33
25. Drakensberg - Marloth Park
Drakensberg - Marloth Park
Car
Jackalberry Ridge double room
50
26. Marloth Park
Marloth Park
-
Jackalberry Ridge double room
50
27. Marloth Park - Johannesburg
Marloth Park - Johannesburg
Car
Westmore Lodge double room
22
28. Johannesburg
Johannesburg
-
Westmore Lodge double room
22
29. Johannesburg
Johannesburg
-
Westmore Lodge double room
22
30. Johannesburg - Home
Johannesburg - Home
Flight
300

Total price.

Flights 600,00
Transportation 250,00
Tours 70,00
Accommodation 387,00
Total1307,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Grapefruit: This is a must on the breakfast table – the fruit tastes especially good as a freshly pressed juice.

Toast: Yes, South Africans like it classical – they usually have toast and bacon for breakfast.

Soups

Peanut soup: Peanuts are chopped up with leek and beans in a broth – add a good seasoning and you have a great traditional dish.

Pumpkin soup: Africans love this soup, and it is often served as a starter.

Main courses

Biltong: This is dried meat meant as a snack, which is also eaten with some rice or potatoes.

Samoosa: Dumplings available in variety of filling, ranging from meat to vegetarian.

Boerewors Roll: The South African version of a fried sausage, also served with bread, mustard or tomato sauce. A great meal for little money!

Amagwinya: These are balls made of dough and filled with minced meat or vegetables, which are then fried and eaten with a hot sauce. It tastes like a dream come true!

Bobotie: This dish consists of an egg and minced meat mixture and is often served with rice.

Drinks

Umqombothi: This drink is made from millet and is considered a classic.

Wine: South African wine has an excellent reputation – try a glass.

South Africa

The exchange rate for 10 South African Rand is about €0.61 (as of February 2020). See prices for South African products and living costs below.

Cost of living

Food

Free time

Dos

Shake hands: To greet someone in South Africa, give them your right hand.

Safari: Of course, this unforgettable experience is a must since it is the only way to properly explore the country.

Punctuality: This is a top priority for South Africans.

Don'ts

Empty your plate: Always eat up – it is the greatest compliment you can give the cook.

Nudism: This is strictly forbidden in the whole country.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert-Koch-Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for at least 30 days after the date of departure, as well as at least two blank pages for visa stamps.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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