We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

South Africa in December - cost???

6 posts
Save Topic
South Africa in December - cost???

My family - 2 Adults and 2 children aged 11 and 14 - want to visit South Africa in December. Ideally, we would like to take in the following sites:-

* Cape Town,

* Winelands

* Garden Route

* Game Park (around the Eastern Cape)

* Drakensberg Mountains

We need to come over the Christmas School holidays and want to spend 3 weeks there. I knew it would be more expensive going in December but I have just been quoted over £13000.00 for the 4 of us! And of course we will need spending money in addition as not everywhere includes meals!

I was hoping to bring the cost of the holiday in at £10000.00 including spending money! Am I being totally unrealistic??

Would it be cheaper for me to book direct rather than through a tour operator? Although I have had a quick look at some places direct and not sure it would be any cheaper!

I would appreciate any hints and advice.



Cape Town
Level Contributor
10,111 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

Hi SarahB

Yes Christmas/New Year is peak time. As well as overseas tourists this is the main South African Holiday period and all the schools are on holiday. Most of the northern cities (Joburg, Pretoria etc) head either south or east to the coast. Accommodation is difficult to get and prices are at peak rates.

That said £13,000 for four of you sounds way over the top. I am sure that by taking advice on here and booking everything yourself you can get away with half this price!

So here are a few pointers to start with. Anywhere slightly inland is not so expensive and certainly not so busy. Even the Winelands, half an hours drive from the coast will not be crowded. The Drakensberg should also be OK. I would look at National Park accommodation for some of the trip – maybe Addo in the Eastern Cape (one of the best Wildlife Parks in South Africa - and maybe THE best Elephant viewing) and some of the parks on the Garden Route - such as Wilderness, Natures Valley and Stoms River. Also the Provinical Parks in the Drakensberg are definitely the best places to stay here.

Especially for a family of 4 they are comfortable and great value at any time of the year. During peak times they are even a bigger bargain as their prices are constant through the whole year – no peak seasons! Typically a two bedroomed Cottage with one or two private bathrooms, airconditioning and, in game parks, often a private terrace overlooking the game area - In mountain parks an open terrace with magnificent mountain views – is going to cost around R1,200 per night for all four of you – that’s just over £100 per night depending on the exchange rate when you book. Some parks are even less.

Start by looking at www.sanparks.org to get some ideas. Look at Addo and the Garden Route parks

This accommodation is self-catering and, for a family of 4 with kids your ages, I would recommend this for all the stops of more than a day. Having an apartment or cottage, especially with outside space gives the whole family much more room to spread out, get away from each other if needed and maybe make a bit of noise without disturbing other guests! South Africa is very much geared to this type of accommodation and not just in National Parks. There are excellent, high quality places in holiday areas and also around cities. You could stay in an apartment in central Cape Town but that would be expensive. There are excellent areas maybe 20-25 mins from the city centre in areas close to mountains and beaches with great facilities. Look at Houtkapperspoort between Hout Bay and Constantia on the flank of Table Mountain looking down a valley to the sea with vineyards all around. A Village type holiday estate with lots of grounds for the kids to get out in walks up the mountain straight from the cottage. The cottages themselves are lovely. It is much more in the country but still only 25 mins from the centre of the city via an easy, spectacular drive. I know the cottages personally as friends have stayed there. And they are beautifully equipped and furnished.

A two bedroomed, two bathroom cottage over the peak Christmas period will cost R1,490 per night (that’s about £135 per night for the four of you). If you book for 6 nights it is 25% cheaper than this – just on £100 a night.


As I say South Africa is geared to Self Catering. Staying somewhere like this you are 5 mins away from a selection of big supermarkets with excellent food choices significantly cheaper than the UK. But then again within 10 mins you have a huge choice of restaurants ranging from some of the world’s very best (La Colombe in Constantia has just been rated the 12th best restaurant in the world) through every price and possibility to excellent Fish restaurants right by the sea where freshly cooked Fish and Chips will cost R39 - £3.50.

So as you can see accommodation does not have to cost you the earth. Maybe only £100 - £150 total per night – that’s around £2,600 for 21 nights.

Then how about the other costs? Flights from the UK to South Africa at this time are at their most expensive. Direct flights to Cape Town are typically well over £1,000pp – some dates closer to £1,300. However there are much cheaper flights to be found via one stop routes via Europe or the Middle East. If you live in the UK other than close to London this can work out more convenient as you can fly from a local airport rather than Heathrow. We have relatives who have just booked BirminghamAmsterdam – Cape Town over Christmas and the New Year (same constraints you have with school holidays) £710 pp. With your routing you could look at Emirates via Dubai as they also fly direct out of Durban. So look at a routing from the UK (London – Heathrow or Gatwick - Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow or Newcastle) – Dubai – Cape Town and then return Durban – Dubai – UK. Quickly looked at this routing and it comes to around £850pp at this time of year but you might be able to find cheaper depending on departure airport and dates.

Then you need a hire car. Suggest you have a car for the whole time – arrival airport to departure airport. Gives you total flexibility and the cheapest way to travel. Driving is the best way to see South Africa. Roads are good and MUCH less busy than the UK, road rules are the same as in the UK and petrol is much cheaper (though like in the UK going up!). To book your car go to one of the UK Internet brokers such as www.carhire4less.co.uk www.carhire3000.com or www.holidayautos.co.uk Again a quick check but a mid sized saloon say a Focus size saloon with aircon for 21 days over Christmas and New Year comes to around £500 with a one way drop off if you drop in Durban around £45. Fuel for the whole trip at current prices around £225. So Car Total about £770.

So the major costs – Flights, Accommodation and Car Hire – from £6200 total. You need to add food but, as I said at the beginning not much more than half what you’ve been quoted.

Of course these are guidelines and not a fully costed Itinerary. You will need some B&B accommodation on the road.

But really do-it-yourself and work with dozens on here who will help you do it. It will then be your trip - not a travel agents!

Good Luck!

Edited: 12 March 2011, 22:48
Cape Town
Destination Expert
for Cape Town
Level Contributor
2,689 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: South Africa in December - cost???


I also think that GBP 13,000 for a family of four for 21 days is far too much. That translates to R6,809 per day. I am sure you will be able to get accommodation plus extras for far less than that and, when you plan your own holiday, you will get a lot of fun (and frustration) but you will be satisfied with the end result especially when you get a lot of help on this forum.

However, recommend that you start making reservations as soon as possible and, as VDC advised, cut costs by staying at Sanparks chalets where possible.

Also, Self-catering units are usually far less expensive than hotels and you will have the added convenience of having more space and kitchen facilities.

A good website for booking accommodation is www.booking.com.

Level Contributor
1,042 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

13 000 pounds is way too much!

I reckon you can get good accomodation in our national parks for all of you for less than 8000 pounds or less for 3 weeks.

Very important: Our government-run national parks (eg. Kruger, Garden Route national park, Addo, etc) charge the same rate in December as the rest of the year. Look at www.sanparks.org - as VDC mentioned

I recommend the following very affordable accomodation:

1. Garden route: Stormsriver rest camp in the Garden Route national park at around 100 pounds per day in a chalet that would sleep 2-3.

Honeymoon cottages are the finest. They aren't really only for honeymooners! But you have to book immediately!

Avoid Ebb and Flow camp in the same park.

2. Drakensberg: Thendele camp at around the same rate, is the best by far. Also government run (read: affordable)

3. Game park: Addo Elephant park in the Eastern Cape as VDC recommended.

Edited: 13 March 2011, 15:11
Dartford, United...
Level Contributor
129 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

13K what are they quoting you for the One and Only hotel and Shamwari Game Park? I always do my own bookings, gives you more options. As people have said you should be able to do it for about half this quote. How old are your kids and what are their intrests?

Do your own bookings its easy on the internet. Direct flights with SAA, Virgin or BA, book as soon as possible as they fill up quick over christmas, the costs seem to be cheaper if you can fly before about the 10th (or what ever date the SA schools finish this year, and fly home either between Christmas and New Year, or after about 10th January 2012. (no more than 1k return) or go via Dubai etc and save some £,s but takes 18 - 24 hours.

Book your own accomadation in Addo, www.sanparks.org but book as soon as you can after you got your flight dates, as it tends to fill up early over Christmas with South Africans,

If you stay at Addo its an 8 hour drive from Cape Town, but spend a few days getting there and explore the Garden Route.

Book your own hire car, agents are usually cheaper than the Car Hire companies, Ive use Holiday Autos and Atlas choice ..never had a problem

Look at staying in B+B,S rather than hotel chains, cheaper and more like a 5* hotel and maybe stay slightly outside of Central Cape Town great beaches and slightly cheaper. There are plenty of cheaper places to eat, Spur for good steaks, Ocean Basket for Sea Food as wel of plently of cheaper 'local places, food doesnt get more expensive over the hoildays.

Personaly I wouldnt go all the way upto the Drakensburg mountains, explore that area on your next vist - trust me you will return, but if you do book your flight to Cape Town, drive the Garden Route, Addo then get an internal flight to Nelspruit or Jo,berg, explore the Drakensberg and then fly home from Jo,berg.

Enjoy the planning, its almost as much fun as the holiday.

6 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

I would just like to say a big thank you for all your responses. You have given me the confidence to go it alone! And book everything myself!

I have already looked at several of the places you have recommended and they all look fabulous! I just need to get the flights booked and then start planning the itinery!

Thanks again and keep the advice coming please!

6 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your advice. Such a big help and reassured me that I can go it alone!

My kids are 14 and 11. They are both pretty easy going. My son who is 14 loves geology and history but also beaches, animals and sight seeing. My daughter who is 11 loves beaches, shopping, animals and the cosmopolitan lifestyle! She is way too old for her years!!!

They are just as excited about the holiday as us but if you have any tips on what they might enjoy please let me know.

Thanks again,

Sarah xx

Dartford, United...
Level Contributor
129 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

Hi, your daughter will love the beaches in Cape Town, and the bars do plenty on non-alcoholic cocktails for her as well as ones for you, along with the V+A waterfront.

Plan a drive aong the Garden Route if you are visiting Addo, and if you are comming back to Cape Town maybe come back via Route 62.

Im sure with a few questions on Trip Advisor and maybe on the forums on Sanparks you will find out loads of info. You will find out how much money you can save by booking yourself and buying a good guide book.

No real tips but to put you at ease, everyone speaks english, the Rand is easy to work with 10 = £1 at the moment, self drive is easy cars are right hand drive like the U.K, the main roads are good and everything well signposted. Food and drink is great value compared to the U.K and everyone I have met is freindly

Pretoria, South...
Level Contributor
2,414 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

Hi Sarah,

If you are still thinking of the Drakensberg, have a look at the Cavern, www.cavern.co.za - a long-established, family-friendly hotel in the northern Berg. It would work out more expensive than self-catering (although I don't think unaffordably so) but the plus side is, everything is laid on. There would be a multitude of activities, and other children/teenagers for yours to team up with. Getting accommodation would be the hard part though, because of all the regulars who go back year after year; so if it appeals to you as a possible option, you would definitely have to take cognisance of the "Peak Period" tab on the website menu.

Edited: 19 March 2011, 20:27
Level Contributor
1,573 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

Hi Sarah

You mentioned your son is into geology, perhaps he would like Cango Caves at Oudtshoorn & West Coast Fossil Park near Langebaan.

10. Re: South Africa in December - cost???

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 21 October 2012, 05:16