Now is the time to travel to South Africa

JUNE 2016 - Over the past year, South Africa's currency, the Rand, has weakened significantly.

South Africa

This is not great for South Africans traveling abroad, but great news for foreign travellers, because it has translated into an exchange rate that is higher than it's been in decades.

If you're coming from the USA, the EU or the UK, your incentive to visit just increased exponentially. Here is why:

As of 26 May 2016, the exchange rate was R15.60 to the Dollar, R22.95 to the Pound, and R17.44 to the Euro. To put things in perspective, the rate was R11.00 to the Dollar across most of 2015, and R7 to the Dollar in 2011.

Travellers opting to explore South Africa will be able to live larger than they normally would on holiday, because their currency will go SO MUCH further now.

Normally expensive hotels in Johannesburg like Sandton's four-star Radisson Blu Gautrain or the ritzy Palazzo Montecasino are currently available for just USD57 a night and USD175 per night, respectively.

An expensive meal at a restaurant might only cost you USD10 per plate after the exchange rate is taken into account, where the same meal in Los Angeles would cost USD100, or in London, GBP50.

South Africa

Likewise, a night out could see beer and wine flowing freely rather watching the pennies. Frugal travellers could stretch their money even further by foregoing restaurants and bars entirely by purchasing food and drink directly from grocery stores like Woolworths or SPAR.

South Africa

The savings extends to hiring a car for a safari, road trip or a wonderful winelands tour. A spot check of current rates shows that a compact car can currently be rented from First Car Rental in Johannesburg for around R240 per day, equivalent to just US$16. In contrast, a similar compact car in Orlando, Florida, costs USD75 per day. Prices like this might just make some travellers reconsider their holiday destination.

If you don't want to drive distances between major cities in the different provinces, air travel within South Africa is shockingly cheap as well. A one way flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town on FlySafair, a South African low cost carrier, can be bought for around R499, equivalent to just USD33.

One expense that might be perceived as expensive due to the fact that it is calculated within your relevant foreign currency, and the fact that South Africa is certainly a long-haul destination, is the airfare.

For instance, if you're a family of four coming from North America, the cost of flights might make South Africa seem like a pretty tough sell, especially when compared to the cost of piling the kids in the car and driving to Disney World.

However, whether you are a family of four, a solo traveller or a couple, South Africa is a real deal when compared to vacations in Europe, Australia and Asia, and most important of all - once the cost of getting around, the level of accommodation available, and just general cost of meals and attractions are factored in, one will find it difficult to secure a more affordable destination.

The longer you stay in the country, the higher your total savings could be. If you spent three or four weeks in South Africa, the price of your plane ticket could be completely paid for in what you save on the ground. But no matter how long you stay, now is definitely the time to go for huge savings.

South Africa

Planning a trip to South Africa? Read our guide to South Africa's tourist visa requirements here.

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