If you’re traveling all the way to South Africa for your horseback safari, you might want to add on to it by traveling and seeing some more of the stunning country as well! In this article I’ll tell you all about my favourite places to stay, see and eat in South Africa and what I feel is the perfect itinerary for your travels. It is possible to do this itinerary in just 2 weeks but ofcourse you can stretch it out! The route stretches from Johannesburg to Cape Town but can also be done the other way around.
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Book through the same agency every time so you can save up for discounts.
Use apps like iOverlander to find wild camping spots and great campsites! Use trailwallet to keep an eye on your travel budget.
Backpacking or traveling is a lot easier when you have a high quality and comfortable backpack to take with you. I have been traveling for over 5 years with this bad boy and it’s never once let me down. It was one of the cheapest backpacks I could find but it’s still in great condition after years of traveling.
Choice: drive and camp, drive and hostel or public transport and hostel – Or public transport and camp, however I don’t recommend this as you’ll be dragging around a lot of gear while using public transport or hitchhiking which is not a very good idea. I personally combine all of these but over the years I’ve started to prefer driving and staying in hostels. You can get rental cars at any airport and big city, and if you rent a car in Johannesburg, you can also drop it off in Cape Town and the other way around. Pay attention that you need to be 21, and sometimes 23 years old and have an international drivers licence to rent a car. You can even choose to do half of your travels by car, drop it off and continue by public transport. Keep in mind that public transport takes a lot longer, so if you have a limited amount of time it’s probably nicer to drive yourself.
Safety – South Africa is a beautiful country with amazing people, but with high crime rates. Do not let this scare you off! If you take proper precautions, chances are extremely low something will happen. I’ve traveled through Africa for years and I’ve never felt unsafe despite me being absolutely and completely naive in the first year. Make sure you get advice from locals, like hostel or campsite staff about safety in the place you’re staying. In big cities I always Uber wherever I go or walk in big groups if really necessary. If you do feel like you’re in a sketchy place, don’t wave your cards, cash or phone around and find a store, mall or restaurant to go in and use your phone inside. Keep your valuables on your body and use common sense and you’ll be completely fine!
We start in one of my favourite places in South Africa. Johannesburg and Pretoria are incredibly underrated in my opinion. I’ve stayed at several places but after staying at Lakeview Backpackers for the first time a couple years ago, I try to go there whenever I’m in town! It’s like a little safe haven super close to the big city with a pool, big communal kitchen, very comfortable beds and a beautiful lake and park just across the fence! If you’re short on time I wouldn’t spend too much time in Johannesburg but if you do have more time there are some amazing things to do here.
My dear friend Stephen knows more about Johannesburg than anyone else I know and does amazing private tours of both Pretoria and Johannesburg. You can get more info and book them here. Going on one of Stephen’s tours allows you to experience South Africa as a local instead of a tourist and gives you an amazing point of view on the culture and history.
For a great burger I always go to Lucky Rodrigo in Pretoria, and it’s a great place to hang out after dinner as well. Another place I love to go for a bit of a fancier dinner is the Baobab cafe in Menlyn, Pretoria. The views at Baobab are incredible and I usually hang out on the terrace for hours enjoying the view and some of their delicious cocktails.
Extra – If you have enough time, there is a lovely resort in a small reserve just outside of Pretoria called Golden Impala. It’s absolutely stunning and perfect if you’re looking to unwind for a couple of days. They offer lots of game drives, have several swimming pools and you can order massages to your doorstep. An absolute must-go if you feel like relaxing!
In Sodwana bay, I love to stay at Coral Divers. The hostel is always busy with lots of different people, from avid divers to hitchhikers. The opportunity for diving here is amazing and the restaurant and bar are incredible as well. I usually start my days here by taking a long beach walk and a dip in the sea (or pool, depending on how cold the sea is). Hluhluwe is one of the oldest big 5 reserves of South Africa and very close to Coral Divers. Big 5 means that the reserve has lions, elephants, leopards, rhino and buffalo. I highly recommend taking a trip to this stunning bit of nature.
If there’s one place in South Africa you shouldn’t skip it’s Khotso! Khotso means peace and I can tell you, that name is very accurate. It’s one of the most tranquil and beautiful places in the world. Especially if you love horses, Khotso is the place to be with over 100 horses roaming free over the property. You can take some stunning rides here as well, from 1 hour to full day rides or sunset rides with drinks on top of the mountain while the sun sets over the Drakensberg. I have so much more to tell about this amazing place and have gone into more detail in this post.
Durban is the ultimate beach town and staying at Curiocity allows you to be at the beach as much as possible. Somehow the sea water is always at a perfect temperature here and the hostel Curiocity organizes daily activities. They often do yoga on the beach, have movie nights, have big braai parties and so much more, there is always something fun to do here. Another thing, they have some of the most beautiful dorms I’ve ever seen!
Besides the many activities that Curiocity organizes, I also always love to drop by the Botanical Gardens for a stroll when I’m not at the beach.
Durban is famous for it’s delicious Indian food! My favourite restaurant to go to is Roti and Chai by far. However, to be completely honest, I usually hang out with lots of other backpackers at the hostel bar and order some great indian food with UberEats!
It’s never boring at the Coffee Shack! I’ve been here quite a few times over the past years and I’ve never been disappointed. The atmosphere is amazing and the bar is always full of colorful characters from all over the world. The beach is less than a minute away and the hostel always organizes surfing lessons. They also organize big dinners where all the guests hang out at the bar and eat some proper South African food. You can also do a stunning hike from the hostel to the Hole in the Wall which I have enjoyed so often!
Some stunning nature and scenery at Fairy Knowe Backpackers along the wild coast. You can do lots of hikes here through the forests, along the rivers and through the caves at the beach. The ideal place to relax for a bit before arriving in Cape Town.
Last but not least, CT! If you’re looking to party and stay up all night, please go to Long Street Backpackers, it’s great! However, the last few times I was in CT I chose to stay at an AirBNB instead to get at least some rest. If it’s your first time in the city and want to really experience it I highly recommend Long Street bp though.
There are countless things to do but my personal favourite is Cape of Good Hope. You can spend an entire day here with all the hikes and stunning sights here. Then of course there is Table mountain and Lion’s head. You can definitely do both in one day, but if you only want to do one, I recommend Lion’s head as it’s a lot less busy and just as stunning. There is so much to do in Cape Town and a few days is not nearly enough to see it all, so I will be dedicating an entire blog post to Cape Town.
There are countless great restaurants but if you’re a first timer, I would definitely try Mama Africa. You should try so many more restaurants here but I’ll tell you all about it in my Cape Town blog post.
I have created several itineraries such as an itinerary for 10 days in Morocco, check it out here! I hope this article has been useful! If you have any questions feel free to comment, email or DM me on instagram, you can find my contact details under the contact button in the menu. If this article has been helpful please share it with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to receive more tips and be the first to know when I post new articles!
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