Travel Doctor: South Africa

Before you travel it’s always important to ask as many questions as possible. Whether chatting with friends or seeking help from in-the-know experts, you can never be too curious when travel is concerned.

At Black Tomato, we’ve been answering these kinds of questions for years, from packing tips to route plans and guides to the best local restaurants, and recently we’ve decided to publish a few of the most frequently questions about a some of our favourite destinations. Last month we talked safari and seasonality in Sri Lanka, and this month we’ve cast our eyes to South Africa and have been quizzing our Travel Expert, Tessa with some of our client’s most frequently asked travel queries.

When’s best to visit South Africa?

This is a tricky one – in terms of game viewing, June-September is generally considered the best as it is driest, so animals head to the water holes to drink and you have the best chances of seeing them. But I’d say South Africa is a bit of an all-rounder; there is always somewhere you can go at any given time that has plenty to do and good weather. That said, in terms of weather Cape Town from November to February is hard to beat – it’s hot and dry and simply gorgeous.

What are the best family friendly hotels in the country?

South Africa is well geared up to families; many of the lodges have private accommodation that can be taken exclusively for a family, where you will have your own safari vehicle and everything from meals to activities can be run on your own schedule. Lots of lodges also have family rooms where two rooms are connected for parents and children.

What’s the ultimate route to incorporate South Africa’s best bits?

So many best bits to choose from, but for first timers I would definitely say start in Cape Town for 3 or 4 nights, head in to the Winelands for 2/3 nights and then finish off with some time on safari in the Sabi Sands.

What kind of budget should I be looking at to get the most out of a 2 week trip?

The great thing about South Africa is that there is a good range of accommodation; I would say for 2 weeks to get the best out of the place, £5-6k per person would be ideal.

What are Black Tomato’s best/favourite experiences in South Africa?

Gosh, too many but just a few include: Stand-up paddle boarding in the early morning along the water front in Cape Town; shark cage diving at Gaansbai; visiting the battlefields at Rorke’s Drift and being on safari and observing wildlife in its natural habitat, particularly rhino as numbers are struggling due to poaching. We can also organise an incredible evening on Robben Island where you can spend the night in a prison cell to truly appreciate the isolation of the off-shore heritage site.

How would you rate the safari experience in comparison to the rest of Africa?

Different; no two safaris are the same, that’s the beauty of it! I would say South Africa has some of the best game viewing on the continent, it is totally different to the likes of Botswana and Kenya and Tanzania, party due to the topography of the land but also species vary in each location, but it is certainly a great place to see the Big Five and much more in strong numbers.