Photo Credit: Photo: Aniesia Williams
How To Enjoy Cape Town, South Africa & Nairobi, Kenya On A Budget
Written by: Aniesia Williams
If you’ve always dreamed of visiting Africa and want to make your visit affordable, the off-season is the way to make that dream come true.
Visit during the months of May-June or August-September (which is Fall and Spring in the southern hemisphere) and many hotels, airlines, and tour organizers may be looking to make a deal. Calling instead of booking online can improve your chances of getting reduced rates for tickets and accommodations.
While in Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, and Nairobi, Kenya, are the two cities where you’ll most easily find your bliss without breaking the bank.
Below you’ll find a guide for budget-friendly things to do and places to stay in Cape Town and Nairobi.
Cape Town Activities
See all that Cape Town has to offer with one of the daily free tours organized by Free Walking Tours. Just show up and tag along with the knowledgeable tour guide who will tell you all about the exciting history of South Africa’s capital, as well as landmarks and cultural sites.
Head off the beaten path in a mini-bus with Kiff Kombi Tours for fun and playful introduction to the city’s culinary scene, culture, and natural features. A Cape Town City Pass allows access to more than 90 attractions. Available as one single day and multi-day passes, you can order yours up to six months in advance. Visit Groot Drakenstein Correctional Centre to see the statue commemorating Nelson Mandela at the prison gates.
Explore the wineries that make South Africa’s Winelands famous with the Franschhoek Wine Farms Experience. A charming double-decker bus takes you on a winery tour that includes lunch and wine tastings. Get a fresh perspective on Cape Town with a helicopter tour through Uyaphi. Marvel at the natural beauty of Table Mountain, the coastline, and the Winelands. Spend time along the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront for a relaxing window shopping experience.
The Best Cape Town Hotels
In Camps Bay, you’ll find The Marly Hotel, a small boutique hotel with stunning architecture and an equally stunning view of the sea from the rooftop pool. With less than a dozen rooms, you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself.
At Birkenhead House in Hermanus, a beachside resort and spa offers high-end amenities plus the opportunity for the adventure of a lifetime; nearby activities include shark cage diving and surfing.
Cellars-Hohenort is a storybook-style chateau with picturesque garden tucked at the foot of the mountains; enjoy spa treatments, lawn games, and nature walks.
A more high-end experience is available to you at The Silo, located right on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Abundant glass offers maximum light and scenic views of mountains and the harbor. Fine dining on-site offers convenience and ease.
A countryside stay at La Residence in Franschhoek offers you the chance to stay on a working estate, where farm-to-table dining is part of the charm. Spend your time hiking, cycling, and walking the well-kept grounds, including orchards and vineyards.
Cape Grace in Cape Town is located on a private quay and embraces absolute elegance, from accommodations to dining, spa services, and on-site activities. A stay at Cape Grace lets you get away from it all while still being close to everything you want to see and do in Cape Town.
Where to Eat in Cape Town
Many Cape Town hotels offer on-site dining but you may want to explore the many great restaurants the city has to offer, too. From casual options at The Commissary and Surfshack to sophisticated dining at Janse & Co. and Salsify, you can be assured of a good meal served with warm hospitality and the freshest ingredients.
Things to Do in Nairobi
Go on the safari of your dreams in Nairobi. From the Giraffe Center to the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary, you can not only learn about Kenya’s diverse wildlife and conservation efforts to protect it but also see animals up close.
The Kenya National Museum spotlights the history of Kenya and its people. Linger over the botanical gardens and art galleries, and walk the nature trail. Shop City Market for souvenirs as well as fresh produce and meats from local vendors. And take note of the unusual great hall that is City Market — it’s a former airplane hangar.
For a more in-depth animal experience, make a day trip to Nairobi National Park or book a tour to see the Great Migration across Masai Mara National Reserve. See cheetahs, lions, wildebeest, zebras, and more, active in their natural habitat. You can also see Kenyan wildlife when taking the train from Mombasa on the coast to the capital city of Nairobi; the new single gauge train replaces the previous one, which was more than 100 years old.
Where to Stay in Nairobi
If you don’t want the safari experience to end, book a tent at Mara Ngeche Safari Camp, Basecamp Masai Mara or Leopard Hill Camp. Each offers increasingly luxurious camping with tents outfitted in high-end furnishings. Animals can freely access campgrounds as these areas aren’t fenced in. You can also participate in nature walks, educational lectures, and cultural experiences with neighboring villages.
For a more traditional hotel experience in Nairobi, book a room at the Sankara Nairobi hotel. It’s in close proximity to museums, restaurants, shops, parks, and spas. Swim in the rooftop pool, enjoy live weekend jazz, and toast to your traveling companions in the hotel’s champagne bar.
Where to Eat in Nairobi
At Talisman Restaurant, the owners’ commitment to their community is evident through their approach to local and sustainable menus as well as local art adorning the walls. Thorn Tree Cafe offers bistro-style dishes for alfresco dining. And for those missing a taste of home, book a table at Trattoria for Italian standards like pizza and freshly made pasta.
Africa is the place to live your best days on vacation. It’s an affordable trip on the off-season, and the plethora of high-end and luxury experiences certainly won’t leave you feeling like you’re skimping at all. Cape Town and Nairobi provide the worldly and safari adventures you’ll remember forever, juxtaposed to highlight the uniqueness of each.