Our new favorite country: South Africa highlights and budget tips 4

Posted by Beth | May 6, 2016

This is not the first and definitely not the last time you’ll hear us say that Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world! We absolutely adored the city. You have beaches, mountains, a vibrant city, vineyards, adventure activities and a thriving food scene, all for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay in other major cities. One of the best things about Cape Town is that if you have a rental car, which you’ll probably want, you can easily and quickly be out of the city and into a new wine region or little beach town.

If we could tell our friends, family and blog readers to go anywhere in the world for their next vacation, it would be South Africa! In the past week or so we’ve highlighted a few of our favorite activities.

Budget safari in Kruger National Park 

Wine tasting near Cape Town

Driving the Cape Point Route

Five-day itinerary for the Garden Route

Kloofing (South African Canyoneering)

Club Carlson options in Cape Town

A great Airbnb in Plettenberg Bay

Before we get in to the budget recap and points redemptions, we wanted to throw in a few final recommendations for South Africa, specifically in the Cape Town area.


  • Kloof Street—really great dining options. For a quick, casual affordable (it’s all affordable, really) pick go to Sushi Box. Some of the best sushi we’ve had. Skip Rafikis though, they have great drink specials and pretty cool outdoor seating, but the food is terrible.
  • Eastern Food Bazaar-cheap, local food court offering mostly Indian and Turkish foods. The place responsible for Caleb’s recent addiction to curry.
  • Beluga-This is one of the more upscale restaurants in Cape Town but with the currency exchange rate we were able to get a three course meal with wine for only R557 ($33).
  • Caramba-Authentic Mexican food in a hipster neighborhood downtown .

Cape Town Activities/Attractions

  • Table Mountain National Park. We hiked to the top and it was a grueling 1.5 hour hike, much harder than we expected it’d be. There’s also an option to take the cable car up instead, providing great views. (R250, $15USD for two one-way tickets down).
  • District Six Museum. Interesting Apartheid Museum, though I think we left with more questions than answers. Be sure to stop by Truth Coffee’s flagship location while you’re in the neighborhood. (R60, $3.58 for 2 tickets)
  • V&A Waterfront. Lots of tourist activities and dining options. We dabbled at the Food Market, but didn’t spend a lot of time in the area.
  • Greenmarket Square-The place to go for African handicrafts.
  • Old Biscuit Mill Saturday Market-We unfortunately didn’t make it to this but Travis from Extra Pack of Peanuts raves about it. He has a great Cape Town Guide and itinerary and we hit up several of their recommendations.

    We loved everything in South Africa except for these birds that wouldn't leave us alone.

    We loved everything in South Africa except for these birds that wouldn’t leave us alone.

Travel Budget Review

Airline points redeemed: 60,000 United miles (flew from Amsterdam)

Hotel points redeemed: 66,000 Club Carlson points + 2 free night certificates. 22,500 Marriott points, 16,000 Hyatt points

Barclay Arrival points redeemed: 28,463

Citi Thank You points redeemed: 4,746

Total out-of-pocket expense: $1,858.13

Daily average: $58.07 per person. Slightly higher than trip budget of $50/day but we lived like kings. This was definitely not budget travel, as you could do South Africa for a lot cheaper than we did. Click the link below to see our itemized expenses.

South Africa Budget Breakdown

Who wants to go to South Africa now?! Let us know if you are planning a trip and we’ll talk your ear off with even more recommendations.

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4 thoughts on “Our new favorite country: South Africa highlights and budget tips

    • Beth Post author

      The sooner the better because of the current strength of the US Dollar. But in regards to season, we were there in January (middle of summer there) and it was great. Not too hot yet, but still had been dry so we saw a lot of wildlife. Depends on what you want to do. Supposedly for safaris the best time is in winter May to October. But if you want a beach holiday the summer is November to March. If you plan to do whale watching the season is between June and November. I don’t really think you can go wrong anytime though! http://www.go2africa.com/location/510/when-to-go

  • Trav

    Beth, sounds like you had an amazing time (and how could you not in such a great place).

    Bummer you never made it to the Old Biscuit Mill market, but that gives you a reason to head back. Thanks for including links to our itineraries, and glad you found them useful. Anything that you found specifically useful or that you followed our advice on?