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South Africa

Thrilling safaris, stunning beaches and cosmopolitan Cape Town await gay travellers in South Africa.

Vibrant South Africa is one of its namesake continent’s most popular destinations among gay travellers. And it is easy to see why. For starters, it’s a leader in LGBT rights. In fact, it was the first country in the entire world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Beyond the country’s gay-welcoming laws, Cape Town in particular has carved out a name for itself as a must-visit gay hot spot. LGBT jet-setters spend their days here hiking world-famous Table Mountain, driving The Cape of Good Hope or uncorking New World Wines in nearby Stellenbosch. By night they flock to De Waterkant—aka the heart of gay Cape Town—to clink pints with sun-kissed locals. If this coastal capital is on your itinerary, be sure to read our gay Cape Town guide here.

Outside of South Africa’s cities, a world of natural beauty awaits. Most prominently in Kruger Park—one of the largest and best-managed national parks anywhere in Africa. By hiking, biking or 4wd-ing through the park’s 19,485km² (7,523mi²) limits you may encounter one or all of the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo). You can traverse gradual hills in the south, the Lebombo Mountains in the east and tropical jungles in the north. And if you’re looking to photograph some otherworldly landscapes, consider visiting Golden Gate Highlands National Park where Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains loom.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t draw attention to South Africa’s extraordinary beaches such as Boulders Beach (hello African penguins!), Golden Mile (Durban’s impressive urban beach) and Grotto Beach on the Western Cape (humpback and right whales breach just off the shores). Are you ready to dive in?


Quick Facts

  • Capital City: Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein
  • Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Swati, Tshivenda, Tsonga, North Sotho
  • Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer (November to February) & Winter (June to October)

LGBT Rights in South Africa

Lesbian South Africa Travel

Best Places to Visit in South Africa

More Info

South Africa was actually the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was also the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, a forward thinking political climate hasn’t translated to public acceptance as social stigma is still thick across the country, especially in rural areas. When asked “Should Society Accept Homosexuality?” over 61% of locals said ‘No’.

Gay Activity: Legal
Lesbian Activity: Legal
Gay Marriage: Legal
Right to Change Gender: Legal, but requires surgery
Same-Sex Adoption: Legal
LGBT Discrimination: Illegal
Equal Age of Consent: Equal

Gay nightlife revolves around Johannesburg and Cape Town, and both cities have thriving LGBT communities. To a lesser degree both Pretoria and Durban have small gay communities. While South Africa is certainly leagues better than neighbourhoring countries, we still recommend gay travellers practice discretion in South Africa, especially in rural areas and townships.

Gay Villages in South Africa

Cape Town: De Waterkant

Pride Festivals & Events in South Africa

Cape Town: Annually in Late February/March
Joburg PrideAnnually in October
Pretoria PrideAnnually in October
Durban Pride: June
Cape Town & Johannesburg: Out In Africa Film Festival. Annual.

Best Gay Beaches in South Africa

Cape Town: Clifton Third beach
Cape Town: Sandy Bay (Nude)
Durban: Virginia
Durban: The Northern point of Umhlanga (Nude)

Best Gay Bars in South Africa

Cape Town: Crew Bar (Bar and Club)
Cape Town: Pink Panther (Club)
Cape Town: Cafe Manhattan (Bar and Restaurant)
Johannesburg: Beefcakes (Bar and Restaurant)
Johannesburg: Trouble (Bar)
Johannesburg: Ratz (Bar)
Durban: Club Altitude
Pretoria: Rasputin

Best Lesbian Bars in South Africa

There are no lesbian-specific bars in South Africa. However, regular lesbian parties are thrown in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Here’s a helpful Facebook Group that lists lots of Lesbian Events.

5. Victoria Falls

Located right on the border of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is one of Africa’s (and the world’s) largest spectacles – literally one of the largest, as it is nearly twice as tall as Canada’s Niagra Falls.

4. Cape of Good Hope

Deserted beaches, excellent bird watching and some exceptional biking and hiking await travellers visiting this small stretch of Table Mountain National Park.

3. Stellenbosch

This gorgeous and historic town is surrounded by South Africa’s best vineyards. Spend your day biking between estates sipping and supping.

2. Kruger National Park

This massive wilderness oasis in South Africa’s northeastern border is renowned for its biodiversity. On any typical game drive you’ll likely spot most (if not all) the Big Five safari animals: lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros.

1. Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the world’s most recognizable citylines (thanks, Table Mountain), and is unlike anywhere else in Africa. It is a melting pot of culture, cuisine, language and religion. Travellers are delighted by the wealth of activities available from cultural highlights like museums and gardens, to active adventures like world-class surfing and hiking. Be sure to indulge in the incredible restaurant scene and the raucous LGBT nightlife.

Best Time to Visit: Deciding when to visit South Africa depends on what you want to see. Cape Town is lovely from November to February, which is their summer. But it’s also the wet season in Kruger Park (and the majority of other wildlife/safari hotspots). On the flip side, the best time for game viewing is typically June to October…there will be less rain on safari, but it will be cool and wet in Cape Town.

Electricity: A-, B- and C-type sockets.

Time Zone: (GMT+02:00) Harare, Pretoria

Vaccinations: Based on entry requirements, there are no vaccinations needed for entry unless your home country, or a country you are travelling to before or after this tour, has restrictions in place. To determine if you should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness.

Visas: There is no visa requirement for American, Australian, British and Canadian travellers to South Africa. There may be exceptions, and all visas are the responsibility of the traveller. If you are travelling to nearby countries such as Zambia or Zimbabwe, you will likely require a visa which can be obtained at point of entry.

Last updated on Sept 1, 2019. Disclaimer: Out Adventures is not liable for inaccuracies in the above information.
LGBT Rights in South Africa

South Africa was actually the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was also the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, a forward thinking political climate hasn’t translated to public acceptance as social stigma is still thick across the country, especially in rural areas. When asked “Should Society Accept Homosexuality?” over 61% of locals said ‘No’.

Gay Activity: Legal
Lesbian Activity: Legal
Gay Marriage: Legal
Right to Change Gender: Legal, but requires surgery
Same-Sex Adoption: Legal
LGBT Discrimination: Illegal
Equal Age of Consent: Equal

Lesbian South Africa Travel

Gay nightlife revolves around Johannesburg and Cape Town, and both cities have thriving LGBT communities. To a lesser degree both Pretoria and Durban have small gay communities. While South Africa is certainly leagues better than neighbourhoring countries, we still recommend gay travellers practice discretion in South Africa, especially in rural areas and townships.

Gay Villages in South Africa

Cape Town: De Waterkant

Pride Festivals & Events in South Africa

Cape Town: Annually in Late February/March
Joburg PrideAnnually in October
Pretoria PrideAnnually in October
Durban Pride: June
Cape Town & Johannesburg: Out In Africa Film Festival. Annual.

Best Gay Beaches in South Africa

Cape Town: Clifton Third beach
Cape Town: Sandy Bay (Nude)
Durban: Virginia
Durban: The Northern point of Umhlanga (Nude)

Best Gay Bars in South Africa

Cape Town: Crew Bar (Bar and Club)
Cape Town: Pink Panther (Club)
Cape Town: Cafe Manhattan (Bar and Restaurant)
Johannesburg: Beefcakes (Bar and Restaurant)
Johannesburg: Trouble (Bar)
Johannesburg: Ratz (Bar)
Durban: Club Altitude
Pretoria: Rasputin

Best Lesbian Bars in South Africa

There are no lesbian-specific bars in South Africa. However, regular lesbian parties are thrown in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Here’s a helpful Facebook Group that lists lots of Lesbian Events.

Best Places to Visit in South Africa

5. Victoria Falls

Located right on the border of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is one of Africa’s (and the world’s) largest spectacles – literally one of the largest, as it is nearly twice as tall as Canada’s Niagra Falls.

4. Cape of Good Hope

Deserted beaches, excellent bird watching and some exceptional biking and hiking await travellers visiting this small stretch of Table Mountain National Park.

3. Stellenbosch

This gorgeous and historic town is surrounded by South Africa’s best vineyards. Spend your day biking between estates sipping and supping.

2. Kruger National Park

This massive wilderness oasis in South Africa’s northeastern border is renowned for its biodiversity. On any typical game drive you’ll likely spot most (if not all) the Big Five safari animals: lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros.

1. Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the world’s most recognizable citylines (thanks, Table Mountain), and is unlike anywhere else in Africa. It is a melting pot of culture, cuisine, language and religion. Travellers are delighted by the wealth of activities available from cultural highlights like museums and gardens, to active adventures like world-class surfing and hiking. Be sure to indulge in the incredible restaurant scene and the raucous LGBT nightlife.

More Info

Best Time to Visit: Deciding when to visit South Africa depends on what you want to see. Cape Town is lovely from November to February, which is their summer. But it’s also the wet season in Kruger Park (and the majority of other wildlife/safari hotspots). On the flip side, the best time for game viewing is typically June to October…there will be less rain on safari, but it will be cool and wet in Cape Town.

Electricity: A-, B- and C-type sockets.

Time Zone: (GMT+02:00) Harare, Pretoria

Vaccinations: Based on entry requirements, there are no vaccinations needed for entry unless your home country, or a country you are travelling to before or after this tour, has restrictions in place. To determine if you should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness.

Visas: There is no visa requirement for American, Australian, British and Canadian travellers to South Africa. There may be exceptions, and all visas are the responsibility of the traveller. If you are travelling to nearby countries such as Zambia or Zimbabwe, you will likely require a visa which can be obtained at point of entry.

Last updated on Sept 1, 2019. Disclaimer: Out Adventures is not liable for inaccuracies in the above information.


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