A pool at a safari lodge in South Africa
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Accommodation options in South Africa

Sam Botes

Contributing writer

Accommodation in South Africa ranges from beachside resorts offering relaxation and recreation along the stunning coastline, to boutique hotels and guesthouses providing personalized service and unique charm in cities and towns.

However, some of South Africa's most interesting unusual places to stay are outside the cities. Stay in a game lodge or camp in a national park to immerse yourself in nature and see wildlife up close.

Relax on a farm stay or wine estate in pretty surroundings. Or, for a completely different experience, see what it's like living in a rural town with a community homestay.

Game lodges in South Africa

If you want to experience a South African safari, book a few nights in a game lodge. These lodges can vary from comfortable 3-star establishments to extravagant ultra-luxurious 5-star retreats.

To really feel as if you are on safari, choose a game lodge that is completely open to the bush - the chances are quite high that you could be watching the wildlife up close from your room or tent.

Most game lodges offer all-inclusive packages which means that your accommodation, all meals, high teas, snacks and two scheduled game activities a day are included in the rate, but confirm these details beforehand. Game activities include game drives or accompanied game walks that really get you into the depths of nature. 

Campsites in National Parks

If you are the type of traveller who likes a more rustic style, you can select to stay in one of South Africa's National Parks. It is a cheaper alternative but only your accommodation is included in the rate.

You can cook or braai (barbeque) yourself, or enjoy a simple meal in the onsite restaurant, however not all campsites offer this facility.

Within the national parks, you are free to drive your own vehicle or rental, but if you are nervous of this, you can book and pay for a game drive with an experienced guide who can provide you with a more insightful experience. 

Airbnbs and holiday homes

When booking these sorts of accommodation, it’s advisable to do a bit of research on the area you’re considering staying in. Chat with others online on TripAdvisor, or in Facebook Groups, and ask for honest feedback.

One point to highlight is that you need to find out if the property has secure entrances, functioning locks, and fire safety equipment. The hosts should also provide emergency contact information and instructions on what to do in case of any emergencies.

In addition to Air Bnb, other secure online booking platforms you can safely consider using for accommodation bookings in South Africa, include LekkeSlaap, Safari Now, and Sleeping-OUT.

Farm stays and country retreats

The farm stays and country retreats are often situated in more rural settings. However, they are usually close enough to a village or town so that you can pop down to the local store for goods if needed, try local food and visit the markets.

The activities available at these stays and retreats are usually based on the natural surroundings and vary from place to place. Sometimes you can participate in farm activities like fruit picking, harvesting, or even learning about winemaking processes on wine estates.

Depending on the location, activities may also include guided nature walks, farm tours, cooking classes using local produce, and wine tastings. Children can also often help milk cows and collect eggs.

While animals may not be the main focus of farm stays and country retreats, it is not uncommon to encounter wildlife on the properties or in the surrounding areas.

Depending on the location, you might see indigenous birds, small mammals, and occasionally larger wildlife like antelope or zebras. However, it's important to note that the presence and frequency of animal sightings may vary.

Community homestays

Community homestays in South Africa offer a unique and immersive way for travellers to experience local culture, engage with communities, and support sustainable tourism initiatives.

These homestays provide an opportunity to stay with local families or in community-run accommodations, allowing visitors to gain firsthand insights into the customs, traditions, and daily lives of South African communities.

Traditional African Homestays South Africa (TAHS-SA) runs several community-based homestays around the country

Safety considerations are important when planning community homestays. It is advisable to choose accommodations and communities that have established safety measures in place.

Chat openly with the hosts before arrival as this can also help address any concerns and ensure a comfortable and secure stay.

Accommodation costs

Approximate costs for per person per night sharing in June 2023 are as follows:

  • Luxury game lodges: R2,000 - R50,000+ per night

  • Beachside resorts: R1,500 - R10,000+ per night

  • Boutique hotels and guesthouses: R1,500 - R8,000+ per night

  • Farm stays and country retreats: R 1,000 - R5,000+ per night

  • City hotels: Prices can vary significantly depending on location, ranging from R1,500 - R12,000+ per night. More for Penthouse Suites, of course!

  • Hostels: Dormitory-style rooms range from R300 - R1,000+per night, while private rooms or self-catering units can cost more.

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Sam Botes

Author - Sam Botes

Sam is a freelance writer, social media manager and mother of three, with over two decades' experience in travel and tourism. Safaris are her ultimate adventure and next on the list is Antarctica.

Last Updated 28 January 2024

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