South Africa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. A beautiful country with diverse landscape of craggy mountains, golden savannah, sub-tropical forest and haunting desert, it offers something for everyone. From classic safari experiences in the Kruger National Park to beachside escapes and city living in Cape Town, South Africa has it all.
The picturesque natural scenery and exciting activities are complemented by gorgeous luxury accommodation that is equal parts stylish and comfortable. Expect impeccable service and amenities like onsite spas, gyms and award-winning restaurants.
Another plus when planning a South African getaway is the favourable exchange rate against many international currencies. Which means that luxury is far more affordable than you might expect. To save you the time and effort of weighing up the virtues of different accommodation types, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide you with some of our favourite places to stay for an affordable safari in South Africa for a 5-star luxury getaway that won’t break the bank.
Why visit Cape Town?
- Vibrant, cosmopolitan city living in luxury accommodations
- See world-famous attractions like Table Mountain, Robben Island & Boulders Beach
- Seaside fun on pristine Blue Flag beaches
- Eat at world-class restaurants
- Shop at top boutiques at the V&A Waterfront
- Plenty of adventure activities, including hiking, bike rides, surfing and ziplining
- Breathtaking ocean & mountain views from anywhere in the city
1. Sea Five Boutique Hotel
Sea Five Boutique Hotel promises barefoot luxury in one of Cape Town’s most glamourous neighbourhoods. The Camps Bay strip is a gateway to the finer things in life – think pristine beaches filled with bronzed bodies, retail therapy in upscale boutique stores and fine dining in world-class restaurants with the tranquil ocean water as your view. And the Mediterranean-style accommodation and hospitality ensure that you’re comfortable and well looked after throughout your stay.
2. The Clarendon Fresnaye
If you happen to be visiting during Cape Town’s windy months (October to January), then there’s no better place to hide out than the protected seaside suburb of Fresnaye. The Clarendon is a beautiful boutique hotel that exudes style and glamour with its modern interiors, lush green lawns, two swimming pools and views of the Atlantic Ocean. Not to mention, the hotel’s central location is the ideal base from which to explore all that the Mother City has to offer.
3. Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel
Steeped in history, the Cape Cadogan’s Victorian building dates back to the 1800s. Now a national monument, the interior of the hotel is a seamless blend of chic, modern design and classic elements. Dramatic fabrics and antique furniture take inspiration from Oscar Wilde’s bohemian lifestyle. Cape Cadogan also boasts a convenient location that is within arm’s reach of popular attractions like trendy Kloof Street, Table Mountain, Camps Bay and the V&A Waterfront.
4. Victoria & Alfred Hotel
The award-winning Victoria & Alfred Hotel can be found within the Quays District of Cape Town’s iconic V&A Waterfront. The hotel has an elegant, historic feel to it and features wooden staircases, spacious bedrooms and breathtaking views of the Alfred Harbour Basin and the majestic Table Mountain. Besides the stunning vistas, staying in such a central location will make exploring the rest of this beautiful city a breeze.
5. Cellars-Hohenhort Country House Hotel
A 15-minute drive out of Cape Town takes you to the beautiful Constantia Valley, an area known for its wine estates and picturesque natural scenery. Cellars-Hohenhort offers understated luxury and gracious living in comfortable yet elegant living spaces. Here, you enjoy dips in the solar-heated swimming pool, strolls through the award-winning gardens, tennis matches and treatments at the Fresh Wellness Spa.
6. Alphen Boutique Hotel
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place from which to explore all that the Constantia Valley has to offer than the Alphen Boutique Hotel. The historic Cape Dutch building that houses the Alphen dates back 400 years and exudes the casual elegance of a grand country estate. From here, you’ll be able to explore some of the Cape Winelands most historic wine estates as well as Cape Town’s famous attractions, including Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Point, Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront.
Why visit the Winelands?
- Wine tasting at award-winning farms in Franschhoek & Stellenbosch
- Best food and wine on offer in South Africa
- Outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking and canoeing
- Franschhoek Wine Tram – a unique hop-on hop-off wine-tasting experience
- Golf at Pearl Valley, a Jack Nicklaus designed course
- Small-town living in a tranquil, charming villages
The simplistic yet elegant Cape Dutch home at Babylonstoren offers a slice of 18th-century farm life that doesn’t compromise on modern comforts and luxuries. Ideal for families and romantics alike, Babylonstoren lies in the heart of the famous Cape Winelands and promises a relaxing stay filled with scenic walks or jogs up Babylonstoren Koppie, slow bike rides through vineyards and lazy paddling on the farm dam in a canoe.
8. Mont Rochelle
When staying in food and wine country, you are guaranteed to indulge in delicious culinary masterpieces and some of the best wines you’ll ever taste. And there’s no better place to experience Cape Town’s French corner than from the comfort of Mont Rochelle. Boasting exceptional views of the Franschhoek Valley’s rolling vineyards and majestic mountain ranges, this quiet retreat promises an elegant and stylish respite after a day of exploring the expansive wine estate on foot, horseback or mountain bike.
9. Franschhoek Country House & Villas
Let the elegant suites and villas of Franschhoek Country House transport you back in time to an era of romance and sophistication. Perfectly situated on the outskirts of the charming village of Franschhoek, this country house provides easy access to the historic buildings and monuments that serve as a love letter to France. Better yet, indulge in a spot of wine tasting at some of the famous wine estates and farms that the region is known for, such as Leeu Estates, Grande Provence and Chamonix.
Why visit Johannesburg?
- Visit iconic freedom fighter Nelson Mandela’s home & learn more about his history
- Enjoy art, culture, food and shopping in the vibrant Maboneng Precinct
- Experience the glitz and glamour of Sandton
- Stay in 5-star, luxury accommodations
10. The Peech Hotel
Set in the leafy neighbourhood of Melrose in Johannesburg, The Peech Hotel offers everything you’d expect from a luxury stay in an elegant and chic retreat. Ideal for an overnight stay before or after a safari in one of South Africa’s game-rich regions, guests can expect a sparkling pool, manicured gardens, spacious rooms, heavenly rainfall showers and a delectable bistro menu. And, of course, the hotel’s central location provides convenient access to the city’s museums and the glamorous shopping hub of Sandton.
11. Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
The world’s youngest metropolis and Africa’s city that never sleeps, Johannesburg is more than just a travel hub for Southern Africa. Brimming with art galleries, museums, historical sites, great restaurants and exciting outdoor activities, it is probably South Africa’s best-kept travel secret. Fairlawns, in Joburg’s upscale Sandton neighbourhood, has individually decorated suites and villas, a massive gym, a spacious spa and outdoor areas perfectly positioned to make the most of the city’s extremely reliable safari-season sunshine.
Kruger National Park
Why visit Kruger?
- Great year-round game viewing & guaranteed Big 5 sightings
- The most popular safari region in South Africa
- Thrilling game drives with exceptional views of the untamed plains
- One of the best places to see leopard
- Year-round subtropical climate
- Breathtaking sunsets
- Offers some of the most affordable safari lodges in South Africa
12. Arathusa Safari Lodge
Arathusa Safari Lodge sets you right in the middle of a classic Big 5 – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo – destination. Located on a private concession in the northern section of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and bordering the world-famous Kruger National Park, Arathusa is a gateway to an authentic affordable safari in South Africa. With its thrilling wildlife sightings, knowledgeable trackers and guides, and traditional bush lodge feel, you’ll get to rough it just like the explorers from years gone by without compromising on modern comforts and luxuries.
13. Simbavati River Lodge
Simbavati River Lodge offers its guests over 12 000 hectares of wildlife-rich, untamed wilderness to explore in Timbavati Private Game Reserve. The reserve shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, allowing the animals to freely move between the two areas and making it a safari-lovers paradise. When not out on game drives in search of the Big 5, you can still spot all of your favourite game as they gather for a drink at the Nhlaralumi River below from the comfort of the lodge’s extensive deck.
14. Motswari Game Lodge
Motswari Private Game Reserve promises an intimate, elegant safari experience in big game country. Game drives and walking safaris through this wildlife-rich region are an exciting treat as you’re sure to see not only the famous Big 5, but also the rare African wild dog and cheetah. When not out exploring the reserve, Motswari Game Lodge’s spacious, stylishly appointed suites are the perfect place to unwind and relax before enjoying a scrumptious candle-lit dinner in the bush under a canopy of stars.
Madikwe Private Game Reserve
Why visit Madikwe?
- A malaria-free destination perfect for families with young children
- Reliable Big 5 & predator sightings, especially elephant, lion, cheetah & leopard
- Easy access to Sun City Resort & Johannesburg before or after a safari in the reserve
- Exclusivity away from the crowds in a private reserve closed to the general public
- Amazing wilderness views
- Luxurious affordable safari lodges in South Africa’s popular wildlife destination
15. Jaci's Tree Lodge
Jaci’s Tree Lodge offers a lovely tree-top experience in spacious, upscale suites in the malaria-free Madikwe Private Game Reserve. Ideal for romantic getaways and honeymoons, this bush lodge has plenty of subtle luxury touches and intimate adventures that ensures couples enjoy a classic safari experience while still having lots of quality alone-time. In addition to game drives that guarantee exciting wildlife sightings, Jaci’s offers guests the opportunity to spend a night under the African sky in a star-bed. Another not-to-be-missed activity is a visit the Terrapin Hide, an area submerged in the middle of a watering hole that provides a unique perspective of all the various animals drinking at the water.
16. Madikwe Safari Lodge
If you’re looking for the perfect place to enjoy a classic safari experience with your family, then look no further than Madikwe Safari Lodge. The stylish and elegant lodge is located in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve and is made up of three different buildings. Lelapa caters for families with children under 16 years, while Kopano and Dithaba are for couples or families with older kids only. Children are especially well catered for at the lodge with a dedicated late-morning kids’ game drives and age-appropriate bush orientation courses, ‘Bug CSI’, spoor and dung tracking, stargazing, and cooking and baking in the lodge kitchen.
17. Sanctuary Makanyane
Designed by award-winning architects, Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge offers genuine 5-star luxury in South Africa’s Madikwe Private Game Reserve at an affordable rate when compared to other properties in the region. Set on the edge of a ravine and overlooking a riverside forest, Makanyane boasts exception views of the surrounding nature and promises an exciting safari adventure in Big 5 country. Spend your days watching of all your favourite African wildlife in their natural habitat while on game drives or from the comfort of viewing hides that overlook well-frequented watering holes. Your nights are spent enjoying open-air sleep-outs on a raised sleeping platform under a canopy of stars.
18. The Palace of the Lost, Sun City
Sun City is Africa’s most well-known and lavishly built resort that has all the resort favourites like water slides, casinos, golf courses and action-packed activities for young and old. Its most exclusive hotel – The Palace of the Lost City – was designed to look like the opulent ruins of an ancient civilization and is packed with sculptures, mosaics and friezes. It’s a fun place to end off an African honeymoon or a malaria-free Madikwe safari.
Why visit the Eastern Cape?
- Malaria-free region perfect for families travelling with young children
- Exceptional forest & mountain landscapes
- Tranquil stays in luxury accommodations
- Perfect stop after a self-drive trip along the beautiful Garden Route
- Home to five of South Africa’s seven biomes
- Exciting wildlife sightings on game drives through the reserves
19. Kariega Settler's Drift
A pleasant stay in the malaria-free, pristine forest of the Kariega Game Reserve is the perfect way to end off a self-drive holiday along the scenic coastal Garden Route. Kariega has a range of accommodation options with Settlers Drift being the most contemporary and luxurious of them all. This modern tented camp uses minimalist furnishing, monochrome colours and the textures of nature – like rock, stone, timber and metal – to craft exquisite, spacious suites that make for a perfect respite after a day of adventuring around the reserve on guided walks, game drive, cruises and canoeing on the Bushman’s and Kariega Rivers.
20. Bayethe Tented Lodge
Situated in the award-winning, malaria-free Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Bayethe Tented Lodge offers the ultimate in luxury accommodation in this Garden Route region. Being home to five of South Africa’s seven ecological biomes, guests can expect to see an extraordinarily diverse range of plants and animals, which includes the Big 5. When not out on game drives with your personal ranger, sit back and relax on the lodge’s viewing deck and enjoy the sights of the wildlife as they drink at the nearby watering hole, or book a rejuvenating beauty treatment or massage at the Bayethe Bush Spa.
Why visit KwaZulu-Natal?
- Reliable sightings of the Big 5 & other plains game
- Picturesque views of the lush surroundings
- Easy to combine with a beach stay on the coast
- Visit the coastal city of Durban & enjoy all that it has to offer
- Some of the most affordable safari lodges in South Africa
21. Phinda Mountain Lodge
Phinda Mountain Lodge promises a unique safari experience in the beautiful mountains of the Phinda Private Game Reserve, a large protected wildlife area well-known for its excellent game viewing and Big 5 sightings. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Lebombo Mountains and the dramatic surrounding landscape in the comfort of your beautifully designed and stylishly decorated suites from your lofty mountain-top position.
22. Phinda Forest Lodge
Once an assorted collection of farmland and pineapple plantations, Phinda Private Game Reserve is a crowning testament to the difference a concerted conservation effort can make. Since the 1990s, the reserve has been slowly returning to its natural state and all of the Big 5 – leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo – have been reintroduced. Forest Lodge is a grown-up's childhood daydream come true. A glass-encased suite in the middle of a swathe of indigenous forest means that you’re surrounded by lush greenery wherever you look – even from your egg-shaped bathtub and king-sized bed – for a true treehouse feel.
23. The Oyster Box
Exuding grandeur reminiscent of a bygone era, The Oyster Box seamlessly blends timeless elegance with contemporary conveniences. A national treasure and one of South Africa’s top hotels, it boasts views of the Indian Ocean and Umhlanga’s iconic lighthouse. From the opulent rooms with stylish furnishings and spectacular balcony views to indulgent high tea and award-winning spa set amid tropical gardens, the hotel provides a relaxing getaway sure to leave you feeling refreshed and renewed.