5 Precious Tips for Travelling Solo in South Africa

south africa coastline

I love traveling on my own whenever I can: it’s always a journey of self-discovery, where I find time to listen to my thoughts, and experience unique adventures in a much more intimate way.

While traveling with a buddy surely has its benefits (here you can find 10 of them!), traveling alone is a meditative experience which can also have a great impact on ourselves and our personal growth.

Said that, with benefits come also the cons, and an important “con” of traveling alone is that it requires much more preparedness to the unexpected that might arise on the road!

In some parts of the word, preparedness is not always enough to stay safe and enjoy your journey, and you’ll also need preparation!

In this article, I will share with you 5 precious tips for traveling South Africa as a solo traveler (from my experience).


Let’s get started!

1. Stick to Well-Known Attractions


cape town frame - from waterfront

While South Africa is a top destination for solo travel enthusiasts (each year, thousands of tourists flock here to experience the stunning beaches, bustling cities and vast, untamed safari parks), I found this country quite “untamed” on its own.

it’s gorgeous, but chaotic!

South Africa is a country of extremes patched up together: rich luxury neighborhoods on one side, slums (called “informal settlements” to be politically correct) just down the road.

The wide scissor of inequality among the population of course creates friction, and some areas are pretty dangerous to venture yourself in (I am usually pretty bold when I travel, but in South Africa I often felt a sense of “uneasiness” on my neck. 

Because of that, the personal tip I would like to give you, is to keep an eye on where you travel, and perhaps stick to well-known attractions, at least in big cities (such Cape Town, Johannesburg etc.) where crime rates are higher.

I am not saying to be scared to walk around (that would ruin your trip, and there’s no reason to!), just be sure to check ahead the places you’ll be visiting and their safety.

If you need some ideas on where to start, here you might check out our fun facts list about Cape Town to get you going 😉

You could also visit the Cape Winelands, or the Cradle of Humankind – a paleoanthropological UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Each of these attractions offers an authentic experience of South Africa. But, being well-established sites, they’re also safe for solo travellers to visit.

2. Consider Guided Tours


hop on hop off south africa

I am not a “guided tours” type. I almost always hike, trek or explore by myself whenever I can: I love the feeling of freedom when tracing my own path!

Said that, I am not blind, and I recognize that sometimes organised tours can provide greater value: they can give you precious information to put places into context, they can organize better timetables and of course, bring you to places you would not otherwise find (although, when going alone, the opposite is also true!).

In South Africa, an added bonus of organised tours is that they take care of your safety: they know where to go, when to go, and can give you precious tips to get the most out of your journey while avoiding misfortunes.

Personally, I took quite some tours in South Africa (from the wineyards of Stellenbosch, to the iconic Robben Island, passing through the whole Flower Route etc. ), and I have to say that whenever on tour, I had the peace of mind that otherwise I didn’t have (and it’s strange, because I usually feel at ease everywhere in the world!).

That’s why I am telling you, solo traveling is great, but if you can join a tour, I believe in South Africa it will just enrich your journey (and consider that you might also make good friends while traveling too!).

To start looking for tours, I would suggest you to start your research from AirBnb Experiences or Get your Guide (you’ll find plenty!).

Two awesome adventures I might recommend you, are the Cape Town sunset cruise and the Cape Town Helicopter Adventure!

If instead you’re looking for the ultimate safari experience, both the Kruger and the Madikwe are popular safari choices.

In this parks, you can either join one of the many guided tours, or if you’re a daring adventurer, also go alone.

In either case, my tip for you is to make sure you’re fully equipped for your self-drive safari experience by speaking to a tour guide for essential safety and wildlife spotting tips.

3. Be Aware of the Most Common Scams


nilaveli beach in sri lanka

Something that truly hit my nerves while traveling in South Africa, was the high amount of scam artists you might find on the road.

Hereafter, I will quote you the ones we found more often, and some tips to avoid them:

Fake Parkers: whenever there is a parking space, there’s a guy asking for money. They usually wear yellow gilets, to give themselves an aura of authority, but there’s usually nothing official about it! Sure, for few of them that’s their job and mean to earn a living, I understand it! Said that, parking can get expensive pretty rapidly, and some of them ask for outrageous amounts (truly…scammers!). Personally, I would suggest to always refer to what cartels say, and yeah, have your car fully insured if you plan to drive there! 🙂

Fake Charity Organisations: some scammers, see “white tourists” as “walking dollars”, and can become very pitiful in their effort to push you to make a donation for their “charity” organisation. Personally, I recommend you to avoid crossing eyes or exchanging words and walk your path: avoid getting tangled up with them! If you want to donate to charity, you should be doing when you feel like and not being pushed to do it. 

Fake Tour Operators: on the road, happened to me to find ticket sellers for the most diverse activities. While few could be real, many were screaming “scam” from miles away. Personally, I would suggest you to always research on Tripadvisor and Social Medias for real tours and book on authoritative platforms whenever possible. Avoid paying before seeing a service or a product!

ATM Scams: luckely didn’t happen to me, but I heard is quite a thing. When going to ATM, be sure to avoid having anyone seeing your PIN. If the ATM is not working, and somebody is offering for help, is better to politely decline and search for another ATM. Also, before insering your car, examine the ATM and see if it’s correctly configured and if someone already withdrew cash before you. If you notice anything suspicious, get in contact with your bank immediately!


4. Keep your Belongings Close to You


backpacker in south africa - solo travel

Thefts are a thing in South Africa, and when traveling solo there’s only yourself guarding yourself, so extra-care should be taken!

My tips for you, would be to:

  • cross crowded areas with your backpack on the front (to avoid feather hands reaching out to it)
  • don’t keep nothing in view while in a car (to avoid “smash and grab” at stops and roundabouts)
  • join other foreign travelers when on hike trails (I heard horrible stories and robberies are slightly too common)
  • avoid minibuses and non-metered taxis (are the places where most armed extortions take place)
  • beware of fake authorities (a fake policeman wanted to fine me for a supposedly “not-allowed” parking. If a real one would not have come in my aid, I would have paid the fine and get scammed.) If something seems fishy, try to ask for help or just take time. Don’t let anyone touch your belongings ever, and remember that “tourist police” doesn’t exist in South Africa, it’s a total scam! 😉

5. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Preparation



I will repeat it: when travelling solo, you only have yourself to rely on!

To avoid ugly experiences, feeling prepared prior to setting off on your adventure is key – particularly when it comes to any unexpected issues that may or may not crop up.

Because of that, I recommend you to prepare yourself an itinerary, and try to get the vast majority of your experiences booked ahead of time – this way, you won’t be left to navigate your bookings on your own once you’ve arrived.

Think where you want to go, check out the accommodation options, traveling times and modes of transport.

By making your “homeworks”, you’ll have an idea of fair prices and it’ll be harder to fall prey of scams of extra-fees: knowledge is power! 🙂

While the locals in South Africa are likely to always be friendly and willing to assist a traveller in need, planning ahead of time in my opinion, will make for a much smoother, stress-free travel experience.



And here we are at the end of this article 😀

In this post, we have seen few tips for traveling South Africa as a solo traveler!

Before going I’d like to ask you what you think about this article:

Have you been to South Africa before?

How was your experience?

Do you have any other tip you would like to share with other fellow travelers?

If yes, then let us know in the comments below! (we always like chatting and meeting new people!).

Thanks for reading, and I wish you a happy life!

See you in the next article 🙂


Discover More:


15 Curious Fun Facts about Liverpool that will Surprise you!

15 Curious Fun Facts about Liverpool that will Surprise you!

Liverpool is a lively city and metropolitan borough located on the north-west coast of English and the capital of the English county of Merseyside, which is visited yearly by more than 1 million international tourists and 1,5 domestic visitors annually. A stunning...

10 Fun Facts about Cyprus that Will Surprise You!

10 Fun Facts about Cyprus that Will Surprise You!

Cyprus is a gorgeous island on the east side of the Mediterranean Sea, about 90km South of Turkey and 100km west of Lebanon. From a natural standpoint, the island of Cyprus is a natural marvel, overflowing with idyllic beaches, azure waters, and nature. From a...

10 Reasons why Traveling Europe by TRAIN is Awesome!

10 Reasons why Traveling Europe by TRAIN is Awesome!

Europe is probably the most inter-connected continent in the world: low-cost airlines, long-haul buses, generally well-maintained roads, and of course...trains! The European rail network is extremely vast, as trains have played a major role in developing the whole...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *