Gone are the days where travellers are swallowed up by maps, lost on public transport or have to lug around two-way phrasebooks. Instead, our adventures have been made easier with a slew of useful travel apps.
From language translators to finding cheap flights or the best place to eat travel apps have us covered every step of the way. This, of course, means that exploring South Africa has never been easier. So put your worries aside, sit back and let your phone do all the hard work.
Here are 9 of the best apps for travel in South Africa you need to make the most of your stay on our sunny shores.
1. My CiTi Bus
Photo by: My CiTi
If you are going to be visiting the Mother City, this should be the first app you download onto your phone. The My CiTi Bus is the quintessential guide to getting around one of the most beautiful cities in the world at the fraction of the price. The app helps you find your nearest My Citi bus station, gives you up to the minute bus times and comes with a handy fare calculator.
But the best part of this public transport option is undoubtedly the fact that it stops along all the major tourist spots making it the easiest and most budget-friendly way to explore the city.
Photo by: VoiceMap
I first discovered this amazing little app when a bunch of South African travel bloggers joined forces for a weekend of audio exploring in Groot Constantia. VoiceMap is all about taking yourself on a walking tour or telling you a story as you explore the area. Listen to audio tours about the famous Bo Kaap, tales about fairies or take yourself on a street art tour in Woodstock.
Prices for the tours range from $0.99 to $9.99 and there are even a handful of free ones in Cape Town to choose from. Plus if you are feeling creative, you can even create your own tour for a spot back home!
Photo by: Uber USA
Whether you are bar hopping in Cape Town, Durban or Johannesburg, Uber is one of the best ways to enjoy South Africa’s nightlife. With the app giving you your drivers name, car registration, phone number and rating it’s perfect for nervous travellers who don’t feel comfortable getting into a taxi outside of a club.
If you aren’t using this app in your own country, get a free ride using my promo code.
With 11 official languages, communicating while travelling in South Africa can get a little complicated at times, to say the least. But thanks to Aweza that is becoming a thing of the past. It is South Africa’s first multi-lingual language phrase translator app that uses crowd-sourced audio pronunciations.
It is pretty much the holy grail of apps for travellers especially once you leave the touristy areas and start exploring places where English is not widely spoken.
Download on Android
5. Awesome South Africa
If you are having a hard time deciding what to do in South Africa and you are on a tight budget – download Awesome South Africa. This free location-based travel app gives you a comprehensive run down on specials, events or promotions within your area in 15 categories. These include restaurants, hotels, adventure activities, spa treatments, wine and beer tasting, entertainment, nightlife, tours and much more.
Bonus features that make this app a must-have are the currency converter, information about foreign exchange and important emergency numbers for travellers.
6. Africa: Live
I was a bit sceptical about including a wildlife spotting app on this list until I came across Africa: Live. This location-based app allows visitors at South Africa’s National Parks to report sightings of wildlife, upload photos and include a quick description.
My initial reservations about an animal tracking app is that while it is a great resource for travellers on a safari, in the wrong hands it is potentially lethal to some of South Africa’s endangered species.
However, Africa: Live is the only wildlife tracking app I’ve come across that not only has a built-in anti-poaching tool, where users can alert the authorities about suspicious activity, but it also hides sightings of animals like the rhino which are targeted by poachers.
Photo by: Gautrain
Getting around Johannesburg can be a bit of mission. Nothing is just around the corner and the traffic jams will have you losing your mind in no time. Instead of putting yourself through that stress on your trip to South Africa, download the Gautrain app.
It’s the most efficient way to get to and from O R Tambo International airport, has a built in fare calculator including your parking and bus fare costs, where you can find your nearest station and bus stops, and lets you view peak and off-peak timetables so you can plan your day stress-free.
All we need now is for someone to invent an app to travel by the floo network and Jozi traffic jams will be a thing of the past.
8. Happy Cow
If you a traveller with dietary restrictions finding food can be an adventure in itself. Luckily for vegetarians and vegans around the world, Happy Cow’s restaurant app has listings for ethical eats throughout South Africa. Search by the filters, view the closest options around you and with a tap of a button get directions, reviews and website information for the restaurant or store of your choice.
9. Gauteng Travel Guide
Photo: South African Tourism
Let’s face it. Johannesburg is Cape Town’s ugly sister that everyone always overlooks. I have been guilty of rejecting my Joburger heritage many a time in favour for my new coastal home base. But Gauteng should not be written off as a travel destination.
The Gauteng Tourism Authority has released a fantastic app that is available completely offline after an initial setup. It contains more than 380 Points of Interest (POI’s) including audio content on some of the most popular tourist attractions. Discover what to do in the province and explore the many museums, nature reserves, art galleries, restaurants, accommodation and adventure activities.
What are your favourite travel apps to use in South Africa?