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Cheap Ways to Visit South Africa

Written By
By Munira Maricar
Travel Writer

South Africa, a jewel at the southern tip of the African continent, is renowned for its varied landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and stunning biodiversity. Yet, many travelers assume this destination is beyond their budget. 

The good news? With a bit of savvy planning and insider knowledge, South Africa can be surprisingly affordable. Here’s how to experience the beauty and diversity of South Africa without breaking the bank.

Discover Cheap Places to Visit in South Africa

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Cape Town and Beyond: While Cape Town is a must-see, budget-friendly things to do abound in and around the city. Explore the vibrant streets, visit the iconic Table Mountain, and enjoy the stunning beaches without spending a fortune. The city is also a great starting point for finding affordable places to visit in South Africa.

The Garden Route: This scenic stretch along the southeast coast is a road-tripper’s dream. It’s one of the cheapest places to visit in South Africa, offering breathtaking views, charming towns, and numerous free or low-cost attractions.

Kruger National Park: For wildlife enthusiasts, Kruger offers one of the best values for a safari experience. Opt for self-drive tours and stay in rest camps for an affordable yet unforgettable adventure.

What is Cheaper in South Africa?

South Africa is known for its affordable luxury, especially in terms of accommodation and dining. Local markets and street food offer delicious meals at a fraction of restaurant prices, and many of the country’s natural wonders are free to explore. 

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Best Time to Visit

Visiting South Africa during the off-season can save you money. The winter months (June to August) are ideal for wildlife viewing and offer lower rates on accommodations, making it one of the best times to visit South Africa.

Cheapest Way to Travel to South Africa

Flights: The cheapest way to get to South Africa is by booking flights well in advance and keeping an eye out for deals. Websites that compare flights can help you find the best prices for your journey. Fly into Johannesburg for cheaper flights if possible

Local Transport: Once in South Africa, the best way to get around on a budget is by using local buses and shared minibus taxis. Renting a car might be more convenient for exploring remote areas, especially for those wondering how to visit South Africa’s less accessible attractions.

Explore Meaningful Experiences in South Africa

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South Africa is a country with a rich mix of cultures and breathtaking landscapes, but it also faces its fair share of challenges, such as poverty, health issues, and environmental concerns. This is why many organizations have volunteer projects in South Africa to help improve the lives of its people and protect its stunning natural environment. 

Additionally, the country’s history of overcoming obstacles, like apartheid, inspires volunteers to contribute to its ongoing efforts to create a better future for everyone. This spirit of resilience and hope in South Africa opens up countless opportunities for volunteers to learn, grow, and have a positive impact.

The following reputable organizations provide all-inclusive experiences to contribute meaningfully during your time in South Africa, and participating with them is also a great way to save on travel costs. 

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) 

Traveling to South Africa with International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) offers an affordable and impactful way to explore the country while contributing to meaningful projects. IVHQ’s South Africa volunteer programs are designed to be cost-effective.

  • Accommodation Included: Volunteers stay in local volunteer houses, which are included in the program fee. This not only saves money but also provides a chance to live with and learn from other international volunteers.
  • Meals Provided: Three meals a day are provided from Monday to Friday, helping you save on food expenses.
  • Variety of Duration Options: Whether you want to volunteer for a week or several months, IVHQ offers flexible duration options to fit your budget and schedule.

Explore IVHQ Programs in South Africa:

  • Surf Outreach Volunteer Project in Cape Town: Perfect for those who love the ocean, this program involves teaching children to surf while promoting environmental conservation. Starting at $345 for a week, it includes accommodation, meals, and support, making it a unique and affordable way to contribute and learn to surf. 
  • Wildlife Conservation in Kruger National Park: For $975 for two weeks, volunteers can contribute to conservation efforts in one of Africa’s largest game reserves. This program offers a chance to see Africa’s iconic wildlife up close while helping protect it. 
  • Holiday Club Volunteer Project in Table View: Starting at $350 for a week, volunteers run fun and educational programs for local children during school holidays. It’s a great way to engage with the community and explore Cape Town’s surroundings. 
  • Animal Care Volunteer Project in Cape Town: Animal lovers can assist in shelters for abandoned or neglected animals, starting at $275 for a week. This program offers a fulfilling way to care for animals in need while experiencing the beautiful Cape Town area. 
  • Surf, Skate, and Swim Volunteer Project in Table View: Starting at $395 for a week, this after-school program allows volunteers to teach surfing, skateboarding, and swimming to children from disadvantaged communities, promoting physical activity and teamwork.


GoEco’s volunteer programs in South Africa are designed to be budget-friendly, ensuring that you get the most out of your volunteering experience without breaking the bank. 

  • Affordable Program Fees: GoEco’s program fees are competitive, covering accommodation, meals, airport transfers, and comprehensive pre-departure and in-country support.
  • 3rd Week Free Grant: This special promotion allows volunteers to extend their stay by an additional week, at no extra cost, on select programs during certain months of the year. 
  • Free Time for Exploration: Programs often include free weekends or organized excursions, allowing you to explore South Africa’s attractions without the need for excessive spending on additional tours.
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Explore GoEco Programs in South Africa:

  • African Wildlife Ranch: Get up close with African wildlife at a reputable conservation ranch. Volunteer tasks include animal care, enrichment activities, and supporting conservation education efforts. This unique opportunity starts with a two-week commitment and includes accommodation, meals, and airport transfers. 
  • Marine Big 5 Conservation: Dive into marine conservation in Gansbaai, working with sharks, whales, dolphins, penguins, and seals. This program offers hands-on experience in marine research and eco-tourism activities, including shark cage diving and assisting at a penguin sanctuary. 
  • Penguin and Marine Bird Sanctuary: Located in Port Elizabeth, this program focuses on the rehabilitation and conservation of African penguins and other marine birds. Volunteers assist with animal care, and educational tours, and potentially participate in release events. 
  • Cape Town Community Projects: Engage in community development projects in Cape Town, working in education, healthcare, or sustainable farming. This program offers a chance to empower local communities while exploring the cultural and natural beauty of the Western Cape. 
  • Teach, Surf, and Skate in Cape Town: Combine your passion for sports with community service by teaching underprivileged kids to surf, skate, and swim. This program not only helps you make a positive impact on the lives of local youth but also allows you to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Cape Town.

Projects Abroad

Volunteering in Cape Town with Projects Abroad is an enriching and cost-effective way to contribute to meaningful projects in the country.

  • All-Inclusive Program Fees: Projects Abroad’s program fees cover your accommodation, meals, airport pickup, comprehensive pre-departure, and in-country support. This makes budgeting easier because you know most of your essential costs are included.
  • Accommodation with Host Families: Staying with a host family not only offers a unique cultural immersion experience but also helps save on living expenses. You’ll enjoy a comfortable, clean, and safe living environment, and the opportunity to share meals with your host family.
  • Free Time Exploration: Cape Town offers a plethora of activities and sights to explore. Projects Abroad organizes your project schedule in a way that allows ample free time for you to discover the natural beauty, cultural heritage, and culinary delights of South Africa without incurring significant additional costs.

Explore Projects Abroad Programs in South Africa:

  • Volunteer Teaching IT: Teach computer skills to disadvantaged children and adults in Cape Town. Work at a community center and gain practical teaching experience, while helping to bridge the digital divide and empower locals with essential computer knowledge. 
  • Volunteer with Animals: Support staff at a shelter or help rehabilitate seabirds at a rescue center. Contribute to the improvement of the lives of abused domestic animals or sea birds suffering from illness or injury. Gain practical experience with animals in a supportive environment. 
  • Volunteer with Children:  Focus on supporting early childhood development in disadvantaged areas. Assist teachers and caregivers at daycares or preschools to improve literacy, numeracy, and hygiene practices among children. Engage in a variety of educational activities and help create a better learning environment.

African Impact

African Impact provides a broad spectrum of volunteer opportunities that cater to various interests. With years of experience, African Impact provides exceptional support and safety measures for all volunteers. This peace of mind is invaluable and allows you to immerse yourself fully in your volunteer experience. 

  • All-Inclusive Packages: African Impact’s volunteer programs are designed to be budget-friendly, covering accommodation, meals, airport transfers, and more. This inclusive approach ensures you can focus on your volunteer work without worrying about hidden costs.
  • Impactful Work with Long-term Benefits: By choosing to volunteer, you’re investing in projects that offer long-term benefits to local communities and ecosystems. This not only adds value to your travel but ensures your time and efforts contribute to sustainable change.
  • Explore While You Help: African Impact schedules ample downtime for volunteers, allowing you to explore the country’s stunning landscapes and wildlife without the need to spend extra on organized tours.

Explore African Impact Programs in South Africa:

  • Sports Coaching Volunteer Project in Cape Town: Engage with children in township areas through sports, promoting physical health, teamwork, and communication skills. Design and implement fun, creative physical education sessions and after-school sports programs. 
  • Community School Volunteer Project in Cape Town: Support early childhood development by working alongside local teachers in community pre-schools. Engage in enriching activities that foster learning and creativity among young children. 
  • Cape Town Hospice Volunteer Project: Assist in providing care and support in South Africa’s public healthcare system, focusing on children and adults in need of respite care. Contribute to a team offering medical support in impoverished neighborhoods. Engage in meaningful work that supports the physical, mental, and emotional restoration of patients. 
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteer Project: Join a team dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured and lost wildlife near Kruger National Park. Gain hands-on experience in animal care and learn about wildlife conservation efforts. Enjoy safaris and trips to the Blyde River Canyon, immersing yourself in South Africa’s stunning natural landscapes. 
  • Wildlife Photography & Conservation Volunteer Project: Learn from a professional wildlife photographer, enhancing your photography skills with a focus on conservation. Support research and conservation initiatives through your photography, capturing images that aid in animal identification and health monitoring. Experience the thrill of photographing Africa’s iconic wildlife in the Greater Kruger Area, contributing to environmental awareness and conservation efforts.

Volunteering Solutions (VolSol)

Volunteering in South Africa with Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) can be an affordable and life-enriching experience, with program durations ranging from 1 to 24 weeks. 

  • Inclusive Program Fees: VolSol’s program fees are comprehensive, covering accommodation, meals, airport transfers, and project transportation. This bundled approach makes budgeting easier and helps avoid unexpected costs. Volunteers stay in either volunteer houses or with host families, offering a chance to immerse in local culture while saving on living costs.
  • Meals Included: Most programs include two or three meals a day, significantly reducing food expenses.
  • Group Discounts and Special Offers: VolSol often provides discounts for groups and early bird bookings, making it even more affordable to travel.

Explore VolSol Programs in South Africa:

  • Township Volunteering Program in Port Elizabeth: Dive into community work in the Walmer Township, focusing on education and childcare for children affected by poverty and HIV/AIDS. It’s a chance to teach, play, and make a tangible difference in the lives of kids while experiencing authentic South African culture. 
  • Sports Development in Cape Town: Engage with children in local schools through sports coaching, promoting physical fitness, teamwork, and leadership skills. This program integrates with the school curriculum, allowing volunteers to mentor and inspire children both on and off the field. 
  • Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation in Cape Town: Work hands-on in an animal shelter, helping to rescue, treat, and rehabilitate stray dogs and cats. This project offers a unique opportunity to contribute to animal welfare while experiencing life in Cape Town’s communities. 
  • Volunteer Teaching in Cape Town: Assist in local schools by teaching English, Math, or Geography. This program is perfect for those passionate about education and eager to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds improve their academic skills and confidence. 
  • Childcare & Social Welfare in Cape Town: Support childcare centers, safe houses, and homes for disabled children. Volunteers help with daily care, educational activities, and creating a nurturing environment for children in need.


If you’re a surfer, Surfpop’s volunteer programs and packages are just for you! As a volunteer at Surfpop, your tasks are vital in supporting the holistic development of children from disadvantaged communities. Your involvement will primarily be in two key areas:

  • Surf Coach: Volunteers will assist in interactive surf sessions with Surfpop children. These sessions are vital in instilling confidence, discipline, and a sense of achievement among the children. As a surf coach, your role will be hands-on in the water, helping to ensure the safety and progress of each child as they learn to navigate the waves. 
  • School Mentor: Beyond the surf, you’ll support the children with their homework, focusing on subjects like English and Maths. You’ll also design life skills activities and fun games to broaden their horizons and foster a positive learning environment. 

Moreover, Surfpop encourages volunteers to share any unique skills or ideas they may have, whether it’s organizing a photography workshop, initiating a fundraiser, or assisting with social media and PR. The organization values the diverse contributions of volunteers, recognizing that fresh perspectives and new initiatives can significantly enhance the program’s impact​​. 

Their Basic package includes airport transfers, a welcome dinner, accommodation at a surf hostel, healthy breakfasts, professional surf lessons with surf gear rental, and more. 

This structure allows volunteers to experience surfing, mentorship, and explore the Cape Peninsula without worrying about the logistics and additional costs​​.

Global Vision International (GVI)

GVI’s programs in South Africa offer a unique combination of hands-on conservation work, learning opportunities, and adventure, all while being mindful of costs. Participants not only gain invaluable experience but also contribute to meaningful projects that have a real impact on wildlife and communities.

  • Inclusive Packages: GVI offers comprehensive volunteer packages that include accommodation, meals, airport transfers, and all project-related activities. This bundled approach can be more economical than arranging each component separately.
  • Group Rates: Traveling and working as part of a group can lower costs through shared accommodations and group discounts on local attractions.

Explore GVI Programs in South Africa:

  • Cheetah Conservation and Research Project: Volunteers assist in research and conservation efforts to protect the vulnerable cheetah population, gaining hands-on experience in wildlife monitoring and data collection. 
  • Rhino Poaching Awareness: This program focuses on anti-poaching efforts and environmental education, where volunteers contribute to the preservation of rhinos through research and community engagement. 
  • Elephant, Rhino, and Buffalo Research and Conservation: Participate in tracking and monitoring these iconic species, contributing to conservation strategies and gaining insight into the management of megaherbivores. 
  • Big Cat Conservation Research: Work on conservation initiatives aimed at protecting big cats such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs, engaging in activities like tracking, monitoring, and data collection. 
  • Shark, Whale, and Penguin Conservation: In the coastal town of Gansbaai, volunteers support marine conservation efforts focusing on sharks, whales, and penguins, engaging in habitat monitoring and eco-tourism projects.

More than just a Vacation


South Africa offers a rich tapestry of experiences that cater to every traveler’s budget and interests. From the vibrant streets of Cape Town to the majestic wildlife of Kruger National Park, the opportunities for exploration and contribution are boundless. With careful planning, savvy travel choices, and a willingness to engage with local communities and conservation efforts, your journey to South Africa can be both affordable and deeply impactful.

Whether you’re gazing at the sunset from Table Mountain, volunteering in a local township, or spotting the Big Five on a safari, South Africa promises an adventure that’s as enriching as it is economical. So pack your bags, and embark on a journey to South Africa, where adventure meets purpose, without draining your bank account.