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During our three months in South Africa we stayed in some truly special places from rustic safari lodges in Kruger to luxurious secluded cottages in wine country.
While there are plenty of opportunities to splurge, accommodation doesn’t have to break the budget—we even had an amazing sea view in a hostel room.
If you are trying to decide where to stay in South Africa, here are our favourites with luxury and budget options:
Luxury Places to Stay in South Africa
1) Klaserie Sands River Camp, Greater Kruger
Update October 2021: Since we visited, Klaserie Sands has been renamed Tulela and is under new management.
Klaserie Sands was not only our favourite accommodation in South Africa, but it is the best place we’ve ever stayed (and there’s a lot of competition!).
Klaserie Sands is located in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve which shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park. We saw elephants and warthogs at the camp and on our twice daily game drives we got up close to lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffe, zebra, and much more.
The lodge is just as special as the wildlife opportunities. It’s run by a lovely South African couple and there are just four rooms so it feels intimate and friendly. The rooms are spacious and luxurious with a high thatched ceiling, comfy four-poster beds, and large glass doors so you might even spot an elephant wandering past.
We loved all the different spaces to relax—at the bar (most drinks are included), in the comfy lounge, by the infinity pool overlooking the waterhole, and on the stunning terrace that feels like a fancy treehouse with trees growing up through the wooden floor.
If you are looking for an intimate but luxurious safari lodge off the beaten track, we can’t recommend Klaserie Sands enough.
Read our detailed Klaserie Sands review for more details.
You can book Klaserie Sands (now Tulela) on their website. Prices start from 4100R ($317) per person per night all inclusive.
2) Orange Grove Farm, Robertson
Robertson is one of the less well known wine regions near Cape Town so prices are lower. Orange Grove Farm is fantastic value for the quality and the isolated setting at the foot of craggy mountains amongst vineyards and olive groves.
The spacious cottages are spread out for privacy so it’s a real get away from it all experience. We loved Mosesberg Cottage which has high ceilings, a big comfy couch, armchairs, fireplace, well-equipped kitchen, and braai (barbecue). A highlight is the terrace with a plunge pool and loungers to enjoy the view.
Gourmet braai and breakfast baskets can be delivered, so we enjoyed feasts in the comfort of our cottage.
Orange Grove is ideal for tranquility and relaxation and wineries aren’t too far away. We will definitely be back.
You can check availability and book Orange Grove Farm on Booking.com. We paid 1980R ($153) per night.
3) La Providence, Franschhoek
La Providence is a small boutique guesthouse on a wine farm just 15 minutes walk from Franschhoek village, but in tranquil countryside surrounded by rugged mountains. It’s the perfect location for winery hopping on the wine tram in this beautiful valley.
After wine tasting you can return to La Providence and recover on a comfortable sun lounger by the stunning infinity pool overlooking the vines and mountains. If you need more to drink, there’s a self-service bar. A superb breakfast is served by the pool.
We loved our stylish room overlooking the duck pond with all mod cons including a Nespresso machine and good WiFi (a rarity in South Africa).
La Providence is another couple-run place with exceptional hospitality and attention to detail—South Africans really are the best hosts.
Read our Franschhoek guide for more details on La Providence and this wonderful area. It’s only an hour from Cape Town so don’t miss it!
You can check availability and book La Providence on Booking.com. We paid 3700R ($286) per night.
4) Sea Star Cliff Lodge, De Kelders
We stayed in one of the two penthouse suites, which I definitely recommend. The sea views were so good that we felt like we were on a ship. The massive terrace has 180º views of the ocean and we spent most of the weekend here sunbathing, drinking bubbly, watching the sunset, and stargazing. From July to November you can even see whales (we’ll be back for that!).
The bed was so huge I lost Simon, the soft bath robes were perfect for lounging after a bath, and the room features a Nespresso machine and good WiFi. There’s a small pool but the water was chilly in early autumn. Breakfast is served on the terrace with a continental buffet followed by a hot breakfast to order—the pancakes with nutella and bananas were yummy.
Sea Star is a 10 minute walk from the Walker Bay Nature Reserve where there’s a beautiful beach, hikes, and ancient caves. In the area you can also take boat trips, go shark diving, and visit wineries. On our way back to Cape Town, we stopped at the penguin colony in Betty’s Bay and it was a much quieter experience than busy Boulders Beach.
You can check availability and book Sea Star Cliff Lodge on Booking.com. We paid 3000R ($232) per night.
Budget Places to Stay in South Africa
5) Umlani Bushcamp, Greater Kruger
At over $200 a night per person, Umlani Bushcamp may not seem like it belongs in the budget section, but it’s one of the most affordable safari lodges in Greater Kruger and it includes all food, drinks, and two game drives a day. If you can’t afford Umlani, consider a Kruger self-drive safari instead.
Umlani is a rustic, off-the-grid, eco-lodge in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park. The camp is small, friendly, and blends into the bush by using natural materials in a traditional African style. We stayed in a simple but comfortable thatched roof rondavel.
The wildlife viewing was superb—on our first evening we followed a pack of rare wild dogs on the hunt and on another we saw the Big Five. We were amazed how close we got to leopards, lions, elephants, giraffe, zebra and much more.
Umlani also offers the special experience of staying overnight in a treehouse overlooking a dam 1.5km away from the main camp. It was magical sleeping under the stars and waking to the sunrise with giraffe and impala grazing nearby.
Read our detailed Umlani Bushcamp review for more details.
You can book Umlani Buschcamp on their website. Prices start from 3050R ($236) per person per night all inclusive.
6) The Edge Mountain Retreat, Hogsback
Hogsback is a bohemian village in the Eastern Cape where you can visit fairy gardens, walk through magical forest to waterfalls, meditate around a labyrinth, or heal yourself with crystals.
The mountain scenery is beautiful and The Edge is the best place to enjoy the view as the bungalows are perched on the edge of a cliff. Our spacious Over the Edge rondavel has one of the best views from the room and terrace plus a comfortable bed, armchairs by the fireplace, big dining table, and small kitchen.
It’s a wonderfully tranquil setting and there’s a restaurant, labyrinth, gardens, easy access to hikes, and a wide range of bungalows for all budgets.
You can check availability and book The Edge on Booking.com. We paid 1050R ($81) per night but there are cheaper rooms.
7) Wilderness Beach Resort, Wilderness
Sea views like this usually cost a lot more. Wilderness Beach Resort (more of a guesthouse than a resort) has a spectacular setting on the edge of a cliff with steps down to a quiet stretch of Wilderness Beach, one of the loveliest on the Garden Route.
Rooms have sliding glass doors so you can enjoy the view from the bright, comfortable room or from sun loungers on the terrace. Our room had a living room with basic kitchenette as well as a bedroom.
The guesthouse is run by a very friendly couple, a good breakfast is included, and there’s an indoor pool. It’s excellent value.
You can check availability and book Wilderness Beach Resort on Booking.com. We paid 880R ($68) per night.
8) Buccaneers Lodge, Chintsa
Buccaneers wins the prize for the nicest hostel room we’ve ever stayed in. There’s a wide range of accommodation including dorms and self-catering cottages, but the best is the sea view suite. It’s bright and modern with a comfy bed, armchairs, fridge, ensuite, and sliding glass doors onto the terrace with a lagoon and sea view.
Buccaneers is more of a hostel resort. It has an isolated location a few minutes walk from the wild and empty Chintsa beach. There’s a pool, restaurant, bar, shared kitchen, and activities such as surf lessons, volleyball, horse riding, yoga classes, and visits to community projects.
You can check availability and book Buccaneers Lodge on Booking.com. We paid 795R ($61) per night but there are cheaper rooms and dorms.
9) Forellenhof Farm, Wakkerstroom
Wakkerstroom is a tiny town surrounded by meadows, mountains, and wetlands. It’s popular with birders, but we just stopped to break up the journey between Kruger National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains.
It was a great choice as we loved the relaxed town and gorgeous Forellenhof Farm. Our two-bedroom self-catering cottage, Pretty Pig, was homely and well-equipped. From all the rooms and terrace we could enjoy views of a small dam full of birds with lush green meadows and mountains in the background. It was very private and quiet except for the chattering of birds. A perfect spot for relaxation.
You can check availability and book Forellenhof Farm on Booking.com. We paid 840R ($65) per night.
10) Inkosana Lodge, Drakensberg
The Drakensberg Mountains are a highlight of South Africa, especially if you enjoy hiking. Inkosana Lodge is conveniently located just 7km from the Monks Cowl entrance where many hikes start and the owner can advise on routes.
Our rondavel was fairly basic and dark, but it had a comfortable bed and ensuite. What’s really special about Inkosana is the gorgeous setting in lush gardens with a natural swimming pool and mountain views. There’s also a clean shared kitchen where the staff does your washing up for you!
You can check availability and book Inkosana Lodge on Booking.com. We paid 850R ($66) per night but there are cheaper rooms and dorms.
South Africa is full of special places to stay. The elements that stood out most to us were the stunning settings with views of bush, mountains, or sea; the universally comfortable beds; and the welcoming hosts who went out of their way to make our stay special. I hope you enjoy some of these wonderful places on your trip to South Africa.
We visited most of these hotels on our month-long road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town. See our comprehensive South Africa road trip itinerary for all the details.
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Disclosure: We received complimentary stays at Klaserie Sands and Umlani but were under no obligation to include them in this post—they were truly extraordinary experiences. Everywhere else we paid for ourselves.