If you’re wondering how to elope in South Africa this is the ultimate guide for you! My name is Heidi Straus and I’m a professional Wedding and Elopement Photographer in the US. I’m originally from South Africa and every year my husband and I travel back to South Africa for four months to spend time with family, travel and shoot elopement and destination weddings for couples like YOU! I’ve created this guide to help future couples who want to know how to elope in South Africa. If you’re looking for an amazing stress-free experience, but might not know where to start, I’m here to help!
Why Elope in South Africa?
I am extremely passionate about South Africa! It often gets a bad rap and I really love showing people how amazing my home country truly is! I’ve had couples tell me that South Africa has ruined traveling for them because NOTHING has beaten their trips to South Africa. It’s inexpensive, close to travel to different spots, has wildlife like you’ve never seen in any other country before and it’s breathtakingly beautiful. So let’s dive in on how to elope in South Africa, shall we?
Get Familiar With The Regions
The first thing you need to do to elope in South Africa, is choose the spot you like! It’s true what they say about South Africa having a little bit of EVERYTHING to choose from when it comes to landscapes and sceneries. We have every single back drop from beaches, vineyards, countryside, mountains, and bushveld! The best part is that these different sceneries aren’t days away from each other either! South Africa is such an easy place to travel and get from one spot to the next without hassle! In South Africa, you can get from Safari reserves to beaches to mountains to desert in literally 2-3 hours from each other! It’s one of my many favorite things about this country! So let me start by explaining the main regions and what their sceneries look like.
There are 3 main regions to choose from with an international airport at each of these regions.
The Cape Area
Western, Southern and Northern Cape. Main airport- Cape Town International airport. Here you will mainly find ocean, mountains and beautiful old wine farms as well as game reserves. This is definitely the most popular region!
North East Region
Mpumalanga, Free-state, Limpopo and West Province area. Main airport-Johannesburg International airport. This region is known for its safari lodges with wild animals and game reserves. The Kruger National park is found here and is recognized worldwide for its wild animals and luxurious bush lodges.
South East Region
KwaZulu-Natal. Main airport-King Shaka International airport. Here you will mainly find green, lush mountains and warm ocean waters.
Where Should You Elope in South Africa?
Now that you’re more familiar with the lay of the land, you need to decide where you want to elope in South Africa. South Africa is absolutely beautiful and there are so many places to choose from! I’ve listed some of the best elopement spots below.
Lion’s Head, Western Cape Town
Lion’s head is an iconic mountain in Cape town, South Africa. It’s known for its gorgeous views during sunrise and sunset. From the top of Lion’s Head, you can see so many city attractions namely: the City Bowl, Camps Bay, Sea Point, Robben Island, and so much more. It also has amazing views of the Indian and Atlantic ocean! Lion’s Head is one of the best hikes in Cape Town. It’s a 3mi hike one way and is a little bit challenging. The last part involves ladders and ropes, so you either need to be very comfortable in your wedding attire, or, you can get dressed at the top! Another option is to not go to the top and elope near the top as it is still absolutely stunning!
Camps Bay, Western Cape Town
Camps bay is an extremely fancy neighborhood in Cape Town with beautiful beaches, ice-cold water, luxurious mansions, and posh restaurants all along the mountain ridges. Even if all of this doesn’t exactly sound like your kind of place, it’s still worth coming here for the spectacular view. White sand beaches, huge boulders, blue color water, and an impressive mountain range in the background. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful areas of the city. Camps Bay is definitely a gorgeous spot to elope! It’s a great area to come for a cocktail, to stroll in your bikini along the beach and relax while taking in the views with your spouse!
Melozhori, Western Cape Town
Melozhori is a beautiful Private Game Reserve located less than 2 hours from Cape Town and at the start of the Garden Route. It offers you an exquisite and unique natural wilderness with luxurious and secluded accommodation to relax, breathe and feel rejuvenated. This place is absolutely breathtaking and fully inclusive!
Kagga Kamma, Western Cape
Kagga Kamma is Nestled against natural rock formations in a place called Cederberg. It’s about 3.5hrs away from Cape Town. This place is out of this world cool and offers amazing honeymoon suites as well! There are even options to sleep in an open cave where you can lie underneath the stars! What a dream!
Garden Route, Western Cape
The Garden route stretches for 124 miles through the Western Cape between Mossel Bay and Storms River along the coast. This route is an extremely popular road trip that locals absolutely love. With countless detours and pit stops showcasing the region’s beauty, culture and hospitality. It sure has some breathtaking views and stops to elope at with amazing options to dine in and stay at a long the way.
Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga
There are SO many amazing luxury safari lodges that are ALL INCLUSIVE in Kruger National Park. If you’re interested in the full African Safari experience, then this is the elopement destination for you! Experience daily safari drives where you can see the wild animals up close, swimming pools where elephants come and drink out of the pool while you’re sitting in them, massages, bush walks and so much more! Some of my absolute favorite places to do safari elopements include:
- Isambane Bush Camp
- Londolozi Private Game Reserve
- Nsala Wilderness Camp
- Sasenka Tented Camp
- Sabi Sands Luxury Game Reserves
These are all different types of game reserves with different prices ranging from super affordable to more expensive. Eloping here between the animals would be absolutely breathtaking!
The Drakensberg is the main mountain range of South Africa. The Drakensberg rises to more than 11,400 feet and extends roughly northeast to southwest for 700 miles parallel to the southeastern coast of South Africa. It’s absolutely beautiful! With lush green mountains stretching as far as the eye can see, you will definitely find some beautiful spots to elope here! Some beautiful elopement spots along the Drakensberg include Cathedral Peak, God’s Window, Champagne Castle, The three rondawesl, Blyde River Canyon, Giant’s Castle and the top of Sani Pass is spectacular! These are all excellent elopement spots and honestly, I could make a blog on each one of these!
Golden Gate Highlands National Park, KwaZulu-Natal
Golden gate highlands national park is an absolutely breathtaking place with Mountains that appear “gold” as the sun sets. This is definitely a very intimate place and not overcrowded at all. it’s peaceful and quiet and has an amazing small town nearby called Clarens. Clarens is known for its local art, amazing local restaurants and shops.
Know The Legal Requirements
Eloping in South Africa can be tough if you’re not a South African citizen. It is possible though…but a little risky. Home affairs is where you would need to go to get your paperwork done in South Africa and it can be an extremely slow and frustrating process. I would recommend getting legally married in your country of origin by signing your marriage certificate and then eloping in South Africa and doing a vow exchange there. However, if you are set on getting legally married in South Africa, you can find all the details you need HERE.
You don’t need a visa to enter South Africa but make sure you have a valid passport that is not expiring within the next 30 days.
Find The Right Photographer
There are SO many amazing photographers out there, however, it is SO important to find one who can truly provide an exceptional, stress-free experience for you. Especially when eloping in South Africa! Having a photographer who KNOWS South Africa is KEY! Many photographers promise the world when you reach out about a destination elopement just because they really want the content. But do they truly know the Country? Do they truly know where the best little secret spots are that mostly only locals know about? Can they really provide you with the BEST experience?
About Heidi Straus Photography
I feel extremely lucky to be able to ensure you that I know South Africa very well. I’ve traveled the whole country. I was born and raised there for 22 years. I have amazing connections. Being a South African living in the US has helped me understand the differences in cultures and expectations of Americans and other countries who want to visit and elope in South Africa. If you’re looking for a photographer to capture your amazing destination wedding or elopement in South Africa- I would absolutely LOVE to connect with you! Please reach out HERE to get more information on the South African elopement packages that I offer.
What Activities Can You Do in South Africa?
When you’re traveling all this way to elope in South Africa, you’re going to want to do some of the amazing activities that South Africa has to offer! All nine of South Africa’s provinces offer a wide range of activities from deep sea diving and shark cage diving to mountain climbing, hiking and abseiling, elephant-back safaris, fishing, surfing, hang gliding, hot-air ballooning, whale watching, wine tasting, the list is endless. I’ll highlight a couple FAVS!
- Lion’s Head Hike in Cape Town (Free)
- Take the Cable Car up Table Mountain
- Wine Tasting in Constantia
- Helicopter ride in Cape Town
- Safari drive in Kruger National Park
- Shopping at the V&A waterfront in Cape Town
- Driving up to Sani Pass and having a drink at the highest pub in Africa
- Shongweni Farmers Market in KwaZulu-Natal
- Driving through the midlands meander in KwaZulu-Natal
- Horseback riding in Golden Gate
- Going to Boulder’s Beach to see the penguins roam freely
Where Should You Stay in South Africa?
There are SO many unique options to stay at in South Africa depending on what you’re looking for. You can choose between a luxurious beach stay, a luxury bush resort in the wild, an intimate honeymoon suite nestled against a cave or even a combination of all of them!
- Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve
- Melozhori Game reserve
- Camps Bay Beach Hotel
- Waterfront Resort
- 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa
- Castle Rock Luxury Villa
- Deluxe Villa Rooftop deck
- Mountain house with a view
- Villa Del Mar
- Slangkop Beach villa
- Home in Camps Bay
- Abrikoos Kloof Luxury Pod
- Solace Cabins
Kruger National Park
- Sabi Sands Game reserve
- Thornybush Game Reserve
- Nsala Wilderness Camp
- Isambane Bush Camp
- Royal Malaweni
- Singita Boulderd Lodge
- The Cathedral Peak Hotel
- Thabo Mofu
- Frost House Clarens
- Clarens golf and leisure estate
- Protea Hotel Clarens
- Sani Pass Mountain Lodges
When is the Best Time to Elope in South Africa?
South Africa is in the Southern hemisphere, which means their Summer is from November-March and their Winter from May-August. South Africa has some hot summers and super mild Winters. They don’t have much of a fall or spring as those two seasons are pretty similar to summer! South Africa has much to offer all year round but here’s what I’d recommend depending on what you would like to do when eloping in South Africa:
Winter is the best time to view big game (wildlife animals) as the vegetation isn’t as dense as in the summer, meaning you can see the animals more clearly. The animals also like the cooler temperatures in the Winter. They are more active in the day during the winter months, whereas in the Summer, they lie underneath the trees or hide out in the thick bushes to escape the heat. Whale watching is also best in the Winter, especially during September. Average Winter Temps 63F/17C.
Summer is the best time to do Cape Town, Garden Route or if you simply want to escape the Winter in the US or Europe and you’re ready for a beautiful warm getaway at the beautiful beaches. Average Temps 77F/25C.
How Much Does a South African Elopement Cost?
If you’ve come this far you might be thinking man, these places and options look great! But what will it cost me? Good question! First thing to know is that the South African currency (ZAR) is called the Rand and is about R18-$1 against the US dollar (at the moment at least). This means the dollar and the euro is very powerful in South Africa. Most things will be extremely affordable! You don’t need to exchange your currency for rand as most credit cards will work! You can also download Zapper as that is the “Venmo” of South Africa.
Average Costs of Flights, Accommodation & Food:
The most expensive thing about this trip will be your flights which can range from about $1300-$1700per person for a round trip ticket. After your flights are paid, things become super affordable for non South African citizens! Which is why this is one of my favorite places to go and travel! Luxurious lodges can range anywhere from $80-$300per person per night. It all depends on how fancy you want to go! Dining out is extremely inexpensive, ranging from $10-$50 per person as well. The activities are pretty affordable too! One thing I do want to point out is that often times if you’re not a local, the price will be increased by almost triple as they know that foreigners usually have the money! This is where I come in handy. I will make sure to get you the South African rates ;)!
I offer a range of different elopement packages from all inclusive to just photo and/or Video. They range from $12k – $30K. It all depends on what you want to do and see. Once again, if you’re interested to learn more, you can reach out HERE.
Frequently Asked Questions About South Africa:
Now that you know how to elope in South Africa, here are some frequently asked questions.
Q-Do I need any vaccines or medication when traveling to South Africa?
A-No, you don’t need anything to enter the country.
Q-Is South Africa safe?
A-South Africa is mostly a perfectly safe place to
visit and experience amazing beauty! However, petty theft and crime are high. Don’t leave
valuable things in plain sight. Don’t walk around alone at night. Exercise the same caution you
would in a new city.
Q-Do I need to exchange my dollars for rand?
A-No, most debit/credit cards work in South Africa.
Q- Is there Wifi?
A- Most places will have wifi, however, it definitely isn’t as readily available as in the US. Most US providers work in South Africa for an added cost. They also sell sim cards at the airport. There are many vendors to choose from inside the airport, with Vodacom, MTN and Cell-C being the most popular service providers. Here you will be able to buy data bundles, as well as airtime to make calls- guaranteeing you stay connected. Data bundles go for roughly R150 for 1GB (less than 10 USD).
Q- What wall adapter do I need to charge my phone/laptop etc?
A-The standard voltage in South Africa is 230V with a frequency of 50Hz. The plugs are type C, D, M and N. (Mainly M type).
Q-How do I get around in South Africa?
A-Renting a car or using services like Uber would be the best way to get around in South Africa. There aren’t many public transportation available like there is in the UK and New York. Also, remember that South Africa drives on left hand side of the road. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think to make the switch! I do it every year!
I hope you found this guide helpful! Please reach out HERE if you have any other questions! I would absolutely love to assist you!