I’ll be honest. Apart from a few countries in Africa, the continent remains mostly unexplored and unpopular to the typical tourist (or even traveler). This is due to all the (mostly) negative news and images spread by the media from this part of the world on a regular basis. But one can really be familiar with the reality by visiting a certain place and finding out the truth on your own.
Personally, I have always been fascinated by Africa because of its beautiful nature, cultural diversity, and my own curiosity. I have read about many African countries before, seen pictures, and even scenes from some movies (which were shot in Africa) made me want to visit this continent someday. And I thought when that happens, I would like to start off with not Egypt or Morocco or Kenya, but South Africa!
Why South Africa?
I actually wanted to visit South Africa for a long time. Around the time when I was at school, to be exact. I was going to an international school and many of my teachers (some of them even favorites!) and classmates were from South Africa. So naturally I got familiar with South African people, their language, and culture. This encouraged me to visit their country even more! Back in Asia and Middle East, a lot of people are quite familiar with South Africa – whether it be cuz of Apartheid or Nelson Mandela or Rugby or Cricket. But here in Europe, I noticed a lot of people are still unfamiliar with the country unfortunately. Though things got slightly better after South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010. But this is where me and my blog come in – through my upcoming travel to this beautiful country, I hope to introduce South Africa to not only to Europeans, but everyone around the world!
Where to start though? Most visited cities are Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Although I was already aware that Cape Town is the most beautiful and most worthy place to visit in South Africa, I had to do some research to make sure it was indeed, better than Johannesburg or Durban. I started thinking about traveling to Cape Town sometime last year (2015) but it took me until March 2016 to finally reach a decision. Soon after, I decided on a week’s travel sometime in mid-August 2016.
First decisions have been taken. Now it’s time to search flights, plan and budget my ‘big’ trip!
Flight + Hostel Bookings + Visa
Once again, my first and obvious choice for the flight was Emirates. Though KLM, Turkish Airlines, and British Airways offer flights to Cape Town, they don’t exactly have what Emirates offers. Let me ask you, would you rather choose to fly an airline which is not only #1 in the world, but also offers a good connection and layover time AND is also value for money OR an airline with longer connecting/flying time offering older aircraft and/or less amenities for about the same price? Your call 😉 . As usual, I have been checking Emirates’ featured fares on their website and a return ticket from Hamburg to Cape Town via Dubai at the time was starting at about € 750. Though other times, you can get this special fare for as low as from € 650 return!
I booked my departing flight from Hamburg on 11th August 2016 and returning flight from Cape Town on 17th August 2016 for around € 800. I was apparently ‘bit late’ for catching € 750 offer, even though I made this flight booking on 3rd May – which was over 3 months in advance! Though according to my search, the price remained more or less the same even less than a month before my flight.
Let’s hope the seats next to me remain empty 😉 . Btw, I will be earning 6,563 Miles on this trip as I am an Emirates Skywards frequent flyer member.
Soo…Flight booked? Window seats chosen? It’s time to look for and book a hostel and then apply for visa!
After google searching “Hostels in Cape Town” it didn’t take me long to find the perfect accommodation. As I came across Long Street Backpackers, I was excited – not only this place offers cheap dorm rooms, but it’s located in the best location possible – right in the heart of Cape Town on Long Street! I will mention more about Long Street and the hostel on my reviews later so I won’t say much now. Though I’ll mention that it is one of the most important streets in the city center of Cape Town and all the main tourist attractions in the city center as well as numerous cafés, restaurants, pubs, shops, mosques, and churches are all within easy walking distance! With only 170 ZAR (South African Rand) ≈ € 11 per night, this was such a great bargain that I immediately booked a place there!
Then on 24th May 2016, I traveled to the South African Embassy in Berlin to submit my visa application and documents in order to obtain a tourist visa. Within just three days, I was handed back my passport with the visa stamped on it – pretty fast process I must say! I will write more about South African visa requirements and procedures on a later post.
Flight booking – check. Hostel – check. Visa – check. It’s now time to plan my days in Cape Town.
Planning my time in Cape Town
From my arrival into Cape Town until departure, I have exactly 6 days to visit. At first I thought this would be enough to get to experience almost all of Cape Town …. wrong I was! And regrettably (cuz everything was now booked), I came to realize that as I started planning my days and visits to different places in Cape Town. But still, 6 days are quite good to experience much of Cape Town. However, I would recommend anyone planning to visit there in the future to have at least 8 days time.
Now that I think about it, I’m not sure this is the right place to mention what I have planned for those 6 days. Because that would give away spoilers about what I am hoping to write later after my trip. I will just say this though – part of my planning included looking for places to visit there, booking different tours, searching for good but cheap restaurants or cafés to grab breakfast or dinners, a google map ‘research’ on how to get around on foot easily, and of course, estimating my budget. Which is the final thing I will mention here before I wrap up 🙂 .
Budget of this Trip
The South African currency is called South African Rand (ZAR). Not counting the flight ticket, my initial budget totaled altogether at around € 270. When I did this budget, it was € 1 ≈ 16 ZAR (June 2016). And here is the breakdown in Euros (converted from Rand of course) :
Hostel Stay: € 53 (5 nights)
Airport Transfer: € 26 (both ways)
Food + Drinks: € 70 (6-days estimate)
Transport: € 10 (Public city bus)
Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tour: € 11
Table Mountain + Robben Island: € 15 + € 20 = € 35
Cape Point + Simon’s Town Tour: € 47
Extra: € 15
That altogether makes about € 270 right? Btw at this point if anyone is thinking about skipping the tours, he/she is doing a big mistake! Cape Town visit is incomplete without those tours and I will mention them in more details later on 😉 . I have booked and paid for those tours online so that I could already get my tickets at home and I wouldn’t have to queue or waste time later on.
After booking and paying for those tours, I had to recalculate or revise my budget. This was mainly because the value of Euro went down a lot lately (July 2016) and the exchange rate was € 1 ≈ 15 ZAR instead of 16 ! Obviously this meant I would need to add and spend more Euros on my budget. Plus I’m a foodie and I love trying out native dishes, so I decided to increase the budget on food a little more 😀
This is how my revised budget looked :
Hostel Stay: € 55 (5 nights)
Airport Transfer: € 28 (both ways)
Food + Drinks: € 90 (6-days estimate)
Transport (Taxi): € 15
Tours (total): € 93
Extra: € 35
That now adds up to nearly € 320 ! Now adding the flight of € 800 with that gives us a total budget of € 1120. Looks a bit expensive? I think it’s not so bad considering the distance you will be flying, the time you will be spending there exploring and experiencing a whole new place and culture. It should all be worth it in the end! After all, Cape Town, as well as South Africa in general, is still a lot cheaper than many European cities.
I hope this post gave you an idea of how much to spend if you are planning to visit Cape Town sometime in the future. I should note here that prices are relatively cheaper during the southern winter months – June to August …. that is actually one of the reasons why I chose to travel there in August. In the summer months of December to February, the prices do go up slightly – that includes flights as well. So you should expect to add about € 100 – € 150 extra to your budget. Of course if you can catch a relatively cheaper flight than me with Emirates, your budget can be much lower 😉 All in all, I would say the budget can be anywhere between € 900 to € 1300 at max.
To finish off, I’d like to say that I am really, really excited to visit Cape Town soon! I am counting down the days and literally can’t wait to board my flight – which I just realized a few days ago that hopefully (God willing) I’m about to have the longest flight of my life from Dubai to Cape Town – lasting about 9.5 hours long! So I better go and start packing and thinking about how to survive or avoid jet lag! 😉
Please do keep following and stay tuned for my upcoming posts on my Cape Town visit, future travel plans, flight and other reviews, and much more. Cheers!
P.S. I had to google for pictures as I haven’t been been there yet. Pictures belonging to specific photographers (if any) have been credited.