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Travel Food Guide in South Africa: From Work to Wanderlust

South Africa has always held a special place on my bucket list, even dating back to 2013 when I was tempted to embark on an adventure. However, at the time, my travel fund needed replenishing after my study exchange in Singapore, and I had to postpone my South African dream.

Fast forward to today, as I assumed a new role, the universe smiled upon me. I was informed that I would soon be jetting off to South Africa. Imagine my sheer excitement! If South Africa still needs to find its way onto your bucket list, it absolutely should, especially if you’re a food enthusiast like me! 

This guide is your go-to resource for planning an incredible trip to South Africa. It’s worth noting that my South African adventure spanned ten days, with half of that time dedicated to work commitments. The remaining five days were reserved for my wanderlust-filled journey to Cape Town. I hope this guide will be a helpful resource for your travels to South Africa. 

The Journey

As I’m currently based in Morocco, there are no direct flights to Johannesburg, so I had to take a transit flight from Casablanca to Johannesburg. 

To make the journey more convenient, I decided to spend a few days back home in London. I packed hand luggage so I didn’t have much to drag around and caught an afternoon flight to London. To be honest, I could have travelled to Paris, but it felt convenient to travel to London as I’ve been doing it regularly. 

I then took a direct flight with British Airways from London to Johannesburg, which lasted just over 10 hours.

About South Africa 

South Africa is a captivating contrast and breathtaking beauty country that beckons travellers with its rich tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and experiences. 

  • Weather: The best time to visit South Africa is in February, when Cape Town basks in warm, sunny weather, while Johannesburg shares a similar climate pattern. Alternatively, for a quieter experience and agreeable climate, April to May and September to October are excellent choices. September marks the beginning of spring, though weather conditions might be variable. This is when I visited, which had all kinds of weather. 
  • Rent a Car or Use Uber: You can get Uber or Bolt easily here; the drives are cheap. I recommend booking comfortable rides as they don’t cost much.
  • English is Widely Spoken: While South Africa boasts 11 official languages, English is widely understood in South Africa, simplifying communication. You can make use of Google Translate if needed. 

First Impressions

Johannesburg, or “Jo’burg,” has a deep-rooted history that many of us should know about. It’s the largest city in South Africa. It is known for its economic prominence as a significant African business hub.  

The city bears witness to the struggle against apartheid. It features important historical sites and offers a vibrant mix of art galleries, theatres, music venues, and cultural festivals. During my work trip, I was mainly stationed in one place for a week, the Misty Hills Resort Hotel. This hotel offers a variety of restaurants like the famous Carnivore Restaurant and Boma, which serve local South African dishes and apartment-style rooms nestled in nature.

Cape Town is very different to Jo’burg. It’s often known as the “Mother City. ” It is a captivating coastal metropolis between the dramatic Table Mountain and the stunning shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Town offers a blend of cultures, a vibrant culinary scene, and a rich history, including a role in the anti-apartheid movement. During my trip, I could do a few tourist things in Cape Town.

Load Shedding

Load shedding is a term used in South Africa for scheduled power outages. These outages are planned to reduce the demand on the power grid and prevent blackouts. When visiting South Africa, you must come prepared with a portable charger for your phone or other devices. Try to be mindful if you need to take cash out of an ATM during load shedding. You can check the load-shedding schedule on the local regulator’s website, Eskom.

Entry Requirements

For British Citizens, there’s no need for a visa on arrival in South Africa. The visa requirements for South Africa may vary for travellers from the USA, Canada, and Nigeria. You must check with the South African embassy or consulate in your respective country for the most up-to-date information regarding visa requirements. 

Note: Regardless of your passport, you should always look at the requirements for entering a country, even if you have travelled before because things change. 

Food in South Africa

South African cuisine is a delightful blend of various influences like indigenous African, Dutch, Malay, Indian, and British flavours, resulting in a diverse and flavorful culinary tapestry. Traditional dishes such as bobotie – like a traditional mince pie, a spiced, baked mince dish with an egg-based topping, boerewors (spiced sausage), and bunny chow (hollowed-out bread filled with curry).  

The country’s vibrant food scene includes iconic dishes like peri-peri chicken, samoosas, and the beloved South African braai (barbecue), where meats like boerewors and steaks are cooked over an open flame. 

Pair these dishes with South Africa’s renowned wines, and you have a culinary experience that showcases the nation’s diverse heritage and flavours of South Africa. Below are some restaurants you will be able to try these dishes. 

Work Travel Trips

Since it was a work trip, I aimed to pack light and only took hand luggage to avoid heavy carrying. Here are some tips I’ve gained from travelling for work:

  • Packing – Plan your wardrobe for different types of weather. When I travelled to South Africa, it was their spring, which can be variable. Some days it poured with rain, then other days the sun was out shining. 
  • Tools– Remember a notebook, pens, and a reusable water bottle for conferences and work events. These simple tools can be invaluable during meetings and work events, allowing you to take notes, jot down important information, and stay organised.
  • Networking – Carry business cards; you never know who you might meet, and a role like this expects you to expand your network of people. 
  • Team Spirits – Embrace team socials. As a team player, don’t hesitate to participate in team social events. These gatherings foster camaraderie, build stronger working relationships, and provide opportunities for meaningful interactions beyond the workplace.

From Work to Wanderlust in South Africa 

After the work events, I decided to explore South Africa more. I caught a flight from Jo’burg to Cape Town for a few nights. Here’s a breakdown of my experience:

Cape Town Adventure

My flight was found via Skyscanner with FlySafari. It cost me around 2,450 South African Rand, about £105/$126 and didn’t include luggage. I was happy as I only packed hand luggage, which allowed me to save more money for my trip. The flight with FlySafari was comfortable, and they were punctual.

I spent approximately five days in Cape Town, which needed more. I felt like Cape Town was somewhere I could honestly live! Maybe one day! 

Five days in Itinerary in Cape Town

I stayed at an Airbnb for the first few days, which was fantastic after so many days in the hotel. I stayed at Onyx Apartments Hotel for my last night, which was truly splendid. Here’s everything I did, saw and ate, which you should do for a perfect stay in South Africa: 

Day 1:
  • Visit Bo-Kaap – In the morning, you can visit Bo-Kaap and take a walking tour of the streets lined with brightly coloured houses and learn about the neighbourhood’s unique Cape Malay heritage. As a special bonus, this tour includes a professional photo shoot, allowing you to capture the beauty of Bo-Kaap and create lasting memories. I loved the bright colours of the building, which you can book here
  • Cape Malay Cooking Class – The afternoon will allow you to join a Cape Malay cooking class to learn the unique spices and flavours of Indonesian, Malaysian, and African cuisines. In this class, we were allowed to learn how to prepare traditional dishes like samosas, roti, chicken curry chilli bites and more. A local chef guided us through the cooking process, sharing tips and techniques passed down through generations. This was my favourite activity; you can book the tour here.
  • Wine Tour in Constantia Glen – South Africa, is celebrated for its world-class wines, and a wine tour in Caristone promises an exceptional tasting experience. I was surprised to enjoy the red wine as I’m more of a white wine girly. Wine enthusiasts and novices alike will appreciate the chance to indulge in South Africa’s wine culture and discover their new favourite varietals. You can book a wine tour here
Day 2:
  • Safari Game Drive – Start the morning early for a safari day. I was picked up at 8:30 a.m. and driven for two hours to Aquila Safari. At the Aquila Safari, I saw some of the Big Five lions, elephants, buffalo, and more. The guides were amazing and had a lot of valuable insights into the animals’ behaviours. The day came with a delicious buffet-style lunch with some of the best South African cuisines. You can book this tour here
  • Dinner at Cafe Caprice – after a long day at the Safari, you will want to head out for dinner, where you will enjoy good music and drinks. I was told that Saturdays and Sundays are the best evenings to go. It’s perfect for watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. I ordered the prawn seafood pasta and absolutely loved it. 
Day 3:
  • Wine Tour in Stellenbosh– I started early with a tour to Stellenbosh on a Cape Town wine tour; the first vineyard was Fairview Estate, where we savoured a symphony of wines paired with artisanal cheeses. The next stop was Eikehof, which revealed the magic of Chardonnay, a velvety delight that mirrored the golden sunset. Le Pommier surprised me with a sensory exploration of wine and chocolate pairing, which was a great experience. Remhoogte, a family-owned gem, capped off our adventure with a lavish vineyard lunch celebrating local ingredients. You can book the same tour here
  • Dinner at Yung –  I checked into the Onyx Apartments Hotel, where I was able to enjoy their in-house restaurant. The restaurant is a pan-Asian restaurant with pawn curry, lamb chops, and dumplings. 
Day 4:
  • Breakfast at MKRT – Breakfast at MKRT is also an in-house restaurant at the Onyx Apartments Hotel. You are served a buffet-style breakfast with croissants, bread, other pastries and fruit, and then you can order a cooked breakfast. I ordered the standard English breakfast, which was delightful. 
  • Helicopter ride across the Peak Mountains – A helicopter ride over Cape Town’s Stadium and Lion’s Head was a splendid way to draw the trip to the end. Soaring above the cityscape and taking in the breathtaking panoramic views was an absolute dream. 
  • Late lunch/dinner at Kirubu Restaurant – For the local native South African cuisines, you will want to visit Kirbu restaurant. I enjoyed the flavours of Devils Peak and ordered the Putu and Chakalaka as a side. The restaurant’s service was excellent, and eating my late lunch at the V&A Waterfront was beautiful scenery. 
Day 5:
  • Cable cars – depending on when your flight happens, you can get the first cable cars at 8:30, or if time allows, you can book a tour here
  • Catch your flight and head home; your fantastic tour in Cape Town has ended. 
Other Resources
  • My Instagram page has detailed reels and specifics on visiting South Africa. 
  • I wasn’t always there solo, but my last few days were spent solo, so check out my post on travelling solo confidently – here
  • Before going to any of these countries, I recommend visiting the Foreign Advice Page for U.K. travellers. Check if you need visas here.
  • Lots of my trips are booked with either Viator or Get Your Guide. I highly recommend using them for ease on any of your travels. 
  • Many places in South Africa have access to Wi-Fi, but I purchased 2 GBs with Airlo, an e-sim card, for data. You can buy yours here and use the code ADEBOL5279 for a discount.

Saying see you later, South Africa 

My journey to South Africa was nothing short of a revelation. The country allowed me to reflect so much on our history that needs to be taught in schools. I left the country knowing I would be back again, and maybe I could gain a posting in Cape Town – dreaming!

Cape Town’s culinary scene, from wine tastings in Stellenbosch to exquisite dining at Kirubu Restaurant, was a delightful journey for the taste buds. The warm hospitality of the locals and the ease of communication in English made my travels all the more enjoyable.

As I bid farewell to this remarkable city, I wished I could have seen more of Jo’berg. Either way, I carried not just memories but a deep appreciation for the diversity, resilience, and beauty of South Africa. It’s a destination that welcomes you with open arms and leaves you forever changed until we meet again in South Africa. 

Love MBV XOXO

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