Backpacking on a Budget in Wilderness

Wilderness is the perfect destination in South Africa for backpackers, containing a diverse mixture of terrain and sights to see. If you’re on a budget while traveling, then it’s even better because your value for money in South Africa doesn’t get much better due to the exchange rate.

Daily Budget

The amount you’ll need to budget for per day based on 2 people is about $120/day. It includes car rental, petrol costs, visiting National parks which require an entry fee, grocery costs (no restaurants), beer and wine. You may find if you’re thrifty and do your research that you can get away with less.


You certainly have the lion’s share of places to choose from in South Africa that are backpacker friendly, but the best we’ve stayed in has been Wilderness on Sea which allows for cooking the food you’ve bought for yourself, as well as some really comfortable amenities, and with the amount that you’re saving overall by choosing South Africa as your destination, getting a nicer place than a hostel is something that can be very easily justified.


Restaurants are a lot cheaper than in the USA or the UK easily, with the bill from a fine dining restaurant coming in at $36 (or 33 Euros) and that includes a bottle of wine bought at the restaurant, and the most expensive meals they have there, for two people. There’s no restaurants in the USA or European Union that can boast that, or even come close. Considering most of us backpackers aren’t going to be eating at a 5 star restaurant maybe more than once during the entire trip, that means that restaurant costs are starkly lower by a lot.

National Parks

Wilderness has an amazing array of things to see, and the Outeniqua Mountains are just one of many, you can backpack the trails that go on for what seems like forever, and even get a horse to take you up to a waterfall hidden from the rest of the world. Some of the parks and bird hides may have an entry fee, so it is included in the daily budget for two people as a standard. Nobody wants to hike all the way to a destination they’re excited about and find out they cannot afford the gate fee.

Wine & Beer

Wine costs anywhere from $5 – $10 a bottle, and beer comes in at about $1 – $3, and it should be said now that South Africa has easily one of the world’s best wines, award winning and with good cause. If you’ve never had the opportunity to taste it, you must do so while here because you’ll be a convert, we promise. With it being so affordable, just be sure not to overdo it so you can be up with the sun the next morning!

Car Rental

Definitely consider renting a car while there, but be sure you have your international drivers license before you do so. Keep in mind that in South Africa, people have the steering wheel on the right side of the car, and drive on the left side of the road. If you think this will foul you up driving around, you may want to reconsider or get a taxi to head to far flung areas. There are bicycle rentals also, so there’s another option. Renting your own vehicle means you have freedom to go as far as you like, as long as you like, and can be totally spontaneous.

A Few Things To Look Forward To

Hiking in the Outeniqua mountains is easily one of the best backpacking opportunities there is anywhere, with views to rival even the most picturesque location. You just don’t know until you get here, and cannot appreciate just how much scenery there is to take in, not to mention the vibe of the country itself.

There’s so many birds here, most of which we’ve never seen before in our home countries, and they’re as bright, vibrant and beautiful as the place they call home. You’ll see other wildlife while here also, not to mention the tropical growth, forests and rolling hills. If animals are your thing, you’ll not be disappointed, so bring your camera.

The people are something else that is extraordinary here, they’re adventurous, friendly and hospitable, and very knowledgeable about their country, so ask away when you meet them!

The food… the food here is amazing, it’s got as much diversity as the people, with Michelin star restaurants and award winning chefs full of Dutch and Indian influences as well as Western standards. Some of the best food to be had comes from the traditional African restaurants, and you’ll find something you’ll love easily within Wilderness.

Extreme Sports

Yep, that’s here too. You can shark dive, bungee jump, parasail, paraglide, abseil, zip-line, whale watch, scuba dive, surf and so much more. So if you get tired of just hiking, consider one of these other activities, you’ll find no shortage of things to do.

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