Now that winter has properly arrived in the Western Cape, many of us are feeling the need to escape to sunnier and warmer climes! But the “Green Mamba” can put many South Africans off looking further afield than Namibia or Mozambique. But here is a list of visa-free (or visa on arrival) holiday destinations for South Africans that are only a direct flight away. Brush off those passports and get to the airport!
Asia - Singapore, Hong Kong & beyond
Bright lights, big cities!
While the Singapore Dollar / ZAR exchange rate and the cost of living in Singapore means this is by no means a cheap destination, it is a great place to spend a couple of days, maybe on a stopover to somewhere else in Asia (Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, amongst others, are also visa free for South Africans). Take the kids to Singapore Zoo, enjoy a sundowner from the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, or indulge in some of the incredible food that Singapore has to offer. Singapore is 10.5 hours from JNB.
Despite being part of China, Hong Kong has its own visa regulations, and currently no visa is required to travel there. In many ways it is a similar destination to Singapore, offering a big city cultural experience, but if all the eating, drinking and pace of the city gets too much, you can also find yourself away from the crowd Victoria Park. Hong Kong is another great stop-over destination for other Asian countries. Hong Kong is 13 hours from JNB.
Middle East - Qatar & Israel
Deserts, beaches and cosmpolitan cities
With Doha becoming a major hub for international flights, Qatar is now only a 9 hour direct flight from Johannesburg, or 10.5 hours direct from Cape Town. You will want to pick your season though – in July/August the temperature regularly tops 45 degrees, while over December/January you can expect more mild conditions with maximum temperatures in the mid 20s.
Unlike Qatar, Israel benefits from a more Mediterranean climate, and even in hot weather there are some great beaches where you can cool off. Israel is a tiny country, but packs in a lot in terms of cultural and natural attractions. And it’s only a 9 hour flight from Johannesburg.
Island Paradises - Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar & Seychelles
Are you after an idyllic beach to relax on? Look no further than Mauritius or Reunion (4 hours from Joburg, some direct flights to Mauritius also available from Cape Town) or the Seychelles (5 hours). Looking for a bit more adventure? Madagascar is also 4 hours from Johannesburg. And all are visa free for South Africans.
Africa - Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Diverse & Spectacular
Direct flights access all of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa which are visa free for South Africans, all of which offer diverse travel experiences and range from just over an hour, to 6 hours away by flight.
The beaches, rainforests and wildlife of Gabon are 5 hours away from JNB, while Ghana, with its national parks, waterfalls and coastal villages is 6 hours flight from JNB. Destinations such as Livingstone, Zambia (for Victoria Falls), is only just over an hour and a half from JNB or 3 hours from CPT, or Maun, Botswana (for the Okavango Delta) is around 2.5 hours from either JNB or CPT.
Rwanda is a country you might not have considered travelling to given the events of 1994, but it’s a country on the up, and well worth a visit! One of the highlights of a visit to Rwanda is trekking through the Volcanoes National Park in search of the incredible mountain gorillas. Rwanda is just 4 hours from JNB.
So get packing! And don’t forget your passport.
Note all visa and flight information is provided in good faith. You should contact the relevant consulate and/or a licenced travel agent to confirm the current regulations and schedules before making any travel plans.