My goodness it has been far too long since I last posted! Work has been absolutely insanely busy and I have been busy making plans for some future travels! This will be my last post about my time in South Africa (until the next visit) and in a few short weeks I will be en route to Iceland, Greenland and Scotland. So without further ado, here is how much to budget for a backpacking trip through South Africa.
One of my favourite parts about my time in SA was how incredibly affordable everything was. Here we will be doing the sums and working out how much a backpacker should budget for each day – please note that all amounts featured are in Australian dollars.
Firstly, I am leaving the cost of flights out of the equation as this will differ greatly depending on where you are flying from! However, I scored an amazing deal on flights by using the website Adioso. Adioso is a flight search engine with a difference; if you are flexible with dates it easily finds the cheapest days and times for you to fly, and it can be set up to email you if the prices drop. When I first started planning a trip to SA, return flights were sitting at around $1950. I waited patiently for well over five weeks until one magical day the flights dropped to $1500! They didn’t stay discounted for long, but it was enough time for me to snap them up and save myself a significant sum of cash.
Calculate days spent in SA:
49 (7 weeks)
Accommodation, Alcohol and Food:
A dorm bed will set you back on average around $12 per night.
A beer in SA will set you back around $1 in a hostel bar or dive bar. A bottle of wine can cost as little as $1.50. For mixed drinks expect to pay $2-$3 per drink and for cocktails allow up to $6 per drink. I drank lots of wine, beer and cider whilst in South Africa and on average, probably spent around $3 per day on alcohol. This could have been more costly, but by buying cheap bottles of wine, I was able to keep costs down.
Assuming breakfast and either lunch or dinner is self catered and one meal is in a restaurant each day, allow at least $12 per day for meals. If you are going to self cater majority of the time and only eat restaurant meals on occasion (as I did) this drops down to around $6 per day, so lets use this figure.
Accommodation: 49 days x $12 per day in a dorm = $588
Alcohol: 49 days x $3 per day = $147
Food: 49 days x $6 per day = $294
Cost Per Day = $21
The chosen mode of transport will play a huge role in how cheap or pricey a South African adventure is. Choosing to rent a car, while convenient, will dramatically increase your cost per day.
If you choose to use public buses and trains, minibus cabs, uber taxis and/or hitchhiking, your transport budget should be set at $2-$3 per day. It is always better to over budget and have more money than to under budget and find yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel for cash, so for arguments sake, we will use the $3 per day figure.
49 days x $3 per day transport = $147
The cost of tours, activities and attractions will be the biggest expense of any South African trip. There are a million and one different things you could do, but for the sake of this post, I will list every single thing that fits in this activities category and create a dollar average. Please note that activities or trips that were free will not be included in this list eg. hiking Table Mountain.
Seal Island Boat Trip $7
Boulders Beach Entrance Fee $4.50
Cape Town Hop On Hop Off 1 Day Bus $15 (Worth doing for the ease of travel within Constantia Winelands and to and from Kirstenbosch Gardens)
Kirstenbosch Gardens $5
Full Day Wine Tour in Stellenbosch $50
Walking with Lions $59
4 Hour Game Drive $42
Elephant Feeding $14
60 minute African Rungu Massage $50
Cango Ostrich Farm $8
Crocodile Cage Dive $34
Cango Caves Adventure Tour $10.50
Cheetah Encounter $18
Lemur Encounter $18
Cloudbase Paragliding $50
Half Day Kloofing Trip $30
Full Day Canoe Hire $15
Knysna Heads Boat Trip $16
Swim With Sea Lions $55
Plettenberg Bay Skydive $185
Bloukrans Bungee Jump $85
Bo Kaap Cooking Class $60
District 6 Museum $3
Table Mountain Abseil $75
Table Mountain Cableway $23
Shark Cage Diving $95
Total Activities Cost = $1045
Average Cost Per Day: $1045 / 49 days = $21.33 per day
Accommodation = $12 per day
Alcohol = $3 per day
Food = $6 per day
Transport = $3 per day
Activities = $21.33 per day
Average Cost Per Day = $45.33
So there you have it, a guide to budgeting a trip to South Africa! This is of course, just an example. Trips could easily become cheaper or more pricey depending on how you choose to travel, where you choose to stay, how you choose to eat and what you choose to do. However regardless of whether you are more a bargain basement backpacker or a glamourous luxury travel enthusiast, South Africa is amazing value for everyone.