How to Do Cape Town on a Budget

By Kimberly Wilson
January 12, 2022
God's Window in Cape Town, South Africa
Courtesy alexgbaguio/myBudgetTravel

Best known for its history, culture and breathtaking scenic views, Cape Town is a must-add destination to any 2015 travel agenda. But let's face it: traveling can be expensive, especially when you're traveling abroad. Though not as cheap as traveling to other less developed African countries, if you plan ahead and plan effectively, visiting Cape Town, South Africa, doesn't have to be a daunting experience if you're on a budget. If you're able to look past the initial price tag of airfare costs on South African Airways or Delta for the 15+ hour ride, you'll find surprising value in travel to the "Mother City." The currency exchange rate of the South African rand to the U.S. dollar combined with the country's highly developed tourism infrastructure makes vacation planning and excursions for the frugal traveler easier than most may think.

Budgeting for your vacay and don't know where to begin? Here are a few additions you should add to your Cape Town itinerary.

Explore Kruger National Park

Widely known as one of the best national parks in Africa for its wildlife and landscape, this is one of the best places to do a safari if you are interested in coming face to face with South Africa's "Big 5" (the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard). Located in the northeastern part of the country, Kruger has many different sights and a great infrastructure which makes it easy to explore. For an entrance fee of about $20, you can set your sights on this natural world wonder.

Head to the top of Table Mountain

Want to experience spectacular views of Cape Town and Table Bay? Arguably one of the most popular mountains in the world, Table Mountain is appropriately titled one of the world's new seven wonders of nature—and is home to one of Budget Travel's favorite cable car rides in the world. For approximately $20, you can head to the top of the mountain after a quick five-minute cable car ride offering an out of this world view. Adventure seekers can even opt to hike up and down the mountain.

Visit Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

On the southern end of the Cape Peninsula, you will find Cape Point, part of a rocky peninsula jutting out from the Atlantic Ocean. Whether hiking, enjoying a picnic, or just taking in the views of this World Heritage site, you'll be able to enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the world. Not to mention, the Cape of Good Hope is also the southernmost point on the African continent, offering many bragging rights and photo ops for first time travelers. Open daily, Cape Point costs approximately $12 for adults and about $6 for children.

Take a tour of Robben Island through the Nelson Mandela Gateway

Historic Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela would go on to spend 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment during South African apartheid. As one of the world's most legendary political leaders, Mandela, affectionately known as "Madiba" is a huge contribution to the legacy of South African history, and the Robben Island museum is an important addition to any Cape Town experience. The tour, led by former political prisoners, begins at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Victoria and Allen Waterfront, and includes a short ferry ride over to the maximum security prison. The cost of the tour is a mere $13 for adults ($6.50 for children) but the fee is priceless as it will be a lasting memory of your time in Cape Town.

Walk through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

On a beautiful, breezy afternoon, enjoy a stroll through the beautiful African gardens of Kirstenbosch, one of the most highly acclaimed botanical gardens in the world. Entrance to the garden is a mere $3.50 and features only indigenous South African plants. The 36-hectare landscaped gardens feature more than 9,000 of South Africa's 22,000 species, offering some of the most beautiful and photographic backdrops in the world.

Camp's Bay

A suburb of Cape Town, Camp's Bay is reminiscent of Ocean Ave. in Miami, offering the beach, restaurants, shops, and the breathtaking Twelve Apostles Mountain range. Just 15 minutes from the center of Cape Town, this outing is perfect for a day of swimming in the ocean, or an afternoon picnic along the bay. Offering more than 20 restaurants and various shops, Camp's Bay is your perfect escape for a day of relaxation and exploring.

Visit Boulders Penguin Colony

Home to the endangered species of a land-based colony of African Penguins, this site is a growing tourist destination for animal enthusiasts and intrigued tourists. As you walk through the boardwalks, you're able to view the penguin families in their natural habitat on the coastal beach in Simons Town. Be careful however, as you will be fined about $45 if you touch, feed, poke, or disturb the penguins while within the viewing area.

Enjoy nightlife on Long Street

Looking for a night on the town to wind down after a long day of sightseeing? In the heart of Cape Town, Long Street offers a vibrant and thriving nightlife scene. Enjoy live music, dance to your heart's content, or walk the strip encountering new friends and old. The bonus? Your money will get you far at clubs and restaurants. Four shots of alcohol (namely, vodka) will run you about $8. No matter what you're in the mood for—a bar, club, lounge, or restaurant—Long Street will satisfy your appetite.


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Exploring Bahía Bustamante, Argentina

Called the "Argentine answer to the Galapagos" by the New York Times, the town of Bahía Bustamante is the ideal place for adventure-seeking and nature-loving travelers to explore beautiful Atlantic Patagonia. Although fairly isolated from the major tourist destinations of Argentina, Bahía Bustamante can still be reached by a quick plane ride from Buenos Aires. Flying into either Trelew, 250 km to the north, or Comodoro Rivadavia, 180 km to the south, travelers can take a private transfer of about three hours the rest of the way. Alternatively, for a cheaper option, visitors can take a bus from Buenos Aires to the town of Garayalde, about 60 km away, and from there take a private transfer. A final option, and the most adventurous of the three, is renting a car and driving down the coast along the scenic Route 3.  Open for tourism from October until April, Bahía Bustamante is known for its seaweed industry and ancient petrified forest. With a slower-paced lifestyle and an intimate connection to the land, locals are passionate about educating visitors on the area's abundant natural resources and eager to see them interact with the diverse, native flora and fauna. Housing hundreds of wildlife species including sea lions, penguins, and marine birds, the Atlantic coast of Bahía Bustamante is truly a nature lover's paradise. Here are our favorite must-do activities for your trip: See Sea Lion and Seabird Colonies by Boat Sail through the Malaspina Coast to observe seaweed harvesting in action and learn about the infinite species of seaweed and mussels that grow in the coves. Sail on over to the islands in the bay to search for wildlife including sea lions, marine bird colonies, and penguins. Get up close and personal with these animals, who enjoy sunbathing just as much as you! Hike in the Petrified Forest Journey back to ancient Patagonia more than 60,000,000 years ago! The Petrified Forest, known as "The Pyramid," remains one of the region's top attractions for a glimpse into the past. Hikes along moon-like landscape afford sightings of foxes, armadillos, and skunks living among petrified tree trunks and colorful rock fossils. A walk towards its highest point gives way to a stunning view of the desert steppe below. As much as modern society has changed the natural landscape, it's refreshing to visit the "original Patagonia" that is still intact and thriving. Visit a Patagonia Estancia Surrounded by expansive Patagonian estancias (Argentine ranches) that raise sheep, Bahía Bustamante gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the gaucho culture of Argentina in a unique way. Spanning 80,000 hectares, these estancias mostly funcution to produce sheep wool and meat. Visit the corrals and learn about daily farm tasks like shearing, weaning, classification, and the marking of the sheep. Depending on the season, you can even try out one of the ranch activities. For example, those who plan their trip for the Argentine spring will be able to shear a sheep—one of the 20,000 being sheared during this season! Seaweed Harvesting Ever wonder what makes dulce de leche so sweet and rich? It may come as a surprise, but the natural gelling agent in seaweed is widely used in the food industry, especially for thickening dulce de leche. Learn about the health benefits, the widespread uses of seaweed, and the importance of the industry in the area at a local harvesting factory.  Of course, there is always the possibility of just relaxing on the beach with a glass of malbec and enjoying life. This article was written by Will Collier on behalf of Say Hueque, a company specializing in tours to Argentina and Chile. 


Don't Miss These Epic Super Bowl Sunday Ski Deals From Liftopia!

This Sunday, the only thing deflated will be the price of your lift tickets (we hope!) You might even want to skip the big game once you see the kinds of savings happening on Liftopia this Super Bowl Sunday! Here are some of the deals you can find on Liftopia's website for skiing in California, New England, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, the Northern Rockies, the Midwest, and in the Pacific Northwest. Savings shown are based on regular walk-up window rates and are per person. California • Sierra at Tahoe: Up to 47 percent off; lift tickets start at $49• Diamond Peak: Up to 41 percent off; lift tickets start at $38• Bear Valley: Up to 36 percent off; lift tickets from $43• Soda Springs: Up to 36 percent off; lift tickets from $27.99• Mt. Baldy: Up to 62 percent off; lift tickets from $25• Snow Valley: Up to 45 percent off; lift tickets from $34• Boreal: Up to 29 percent off; lift tickets from $41.99• Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows: Up to 20 percent off; lift tickets from $95• Homewood: Up to 13 percent off; lift tickets from $54 Nevada • Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort: Up to 23 percent off; lift tickets from $53.99 New England • Smugglers' Notch: Up to 43 percent off; lift tickets from $45.99• Mt. Abram: Up to 41 percent off; lift tickets from $28.99• Mad River Glen: Up to 44 percent off; lift tickets from $41.99• Sugarbush: Up to 46 percent off; lift tickets from $49• Camden Snow Bowl: Up to 51 percent off; lift tickets from $18.99• Pico: Up to 33 percent off; lift tickets from $44.99• Suicide Six: Up to 49 percent off; lift tickets from $33.99• Granite Gorge: Up to 45 percent off; lift tickets from $26.99• Magic Mountain: Up to 44 percent off; lift tickets from $34.99• Mount Snow: Up to 18 percent off; lift tickets from $74• Sunday River: Up to 20 percent off; lift tickets from $71• Stratton: Up to 15 percent off; lift tickets from $83 Colorado • Arapahoe Basin: Up to 28 percent off; lift tickets from $60.99• Copper Mountain: Up to 30 percent off; lift tickets from $89• Sunlight Mountain: Up to 28 percent off; lift tickets from $42.99• Granby Ranch: Up to 23 percent off; lift tickets from $46.99• Winter Park: Up to 20 percent off; lift tickets from $99.20• Loveland: Up to 21 percent off; lift tickets from $49.99 New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania • Titus Mountain: Up to 31 percent off; lift tickets from $30.99• Whiteface: Up to 30 percent off; lift tickets from $48• Shawnee Mountain: Up to 35 percent off; lift tickets from $38.99• Mountain Creek: Up to 34 percent off; lift tickets from $43.99• Plattekill: Up to 37 percent off; lift tickets from $36.99• Tuxedo Ridge: Up to 41 percent off; lift tickets from $24.99 Utah • Snowbasin: Up to 26 percent off; lift tickets from $65.99• Brighton: Up to 22 percent off; lift tickets from $55.99• Sundance: Up to 46 percent off; lift tickets from $34.99• Alta: Up to 13 percent off; lift tickets from $72.99• Eagle Point: Up to 38 percent off; lift tickets from $29.99 Northern Rockies • Mt. Hood: Up to 32 percent off; lift tickets from $49.99• White Pass: Up to 27 percent off; lift tickets from $44.99• Anthony Lakes: Up to 49 percent off; lift tickets from $17.99• Mt. Ashland:  Up to 37 percent off; lift tickets from $28.99 Midwest • Nordic Mountain: Up to 62 percent off; lift tickets from $16.87• Caberfae Peaks: Up to 57 percent off; lift tickets from $19.99• Little Switzerland: Up to 55 percent off; lift tickets from $18.98• Christmas Mountain: Up to 41 percent off; lift tickets from $23.99• Treetops: Up to 43 percent off; lift tickets from $22.99• Spirit Mountain: Up to 40 percent off; lift tickets from $26.99• Crystal Mountain: Up to 42 percent off; lift tickets from $38.99• Shanty Creek: Up to 40 percent off; lift tickets from $35.99 Pacific Northwest • Grand Targhee: Up to 27 percent off; lift tickets from $52• Red Lodge: Up to 28 percent off; lift tickets from $36• Snowy Range:  Up to 33 percent off; lift tickets from $29• Lost Trail: Up to 40 percent off; lift tickets from $23


3 Ways Breaking Bad Fans Can Still Get Their Fix

As the commercials said, all bad things must come to an end. Breaking Bad may have ended, but we've got three ways fans of the show can still get their fix. If you're lucky enough to be anywhere near Albuquerque, N.M., where nearly the entire series has been filmed, catch a ride on The BaD Tour by the Albuquerque Trolley Company, a 3.5 hour open-air joyride that covers 38 miles and 13 main locations from the show including the exteriors of Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Gus's houses, the car wash and laundry facilities that act as the meth-maker's storefronts, Tuco's headquarters, the ever-shady Crossroads Motel, and the infamous railroad tracks. To top it all off, you'll get a complimentary drink during a stop at Twisters Grill, the restaurant that doubles as Los Pollos Hermanos on the show. Tickets cost $65 per person including taxes and leave from Hotel Albuquerque at 800 Rio Grande Blvd NW in Old Town. Check website for available dates and to purchase tickets online. Please note that the tour is rated 'R' because of the show's dark subject matter and may not be appropriate for children. If you're short on time or if tickets happen to sell out due to the tour's popularity, the Albuquerque Trolley Company also offers an 85-minute long Best of ABQ City Tour, featuring a peek at several major sites from the show like Jesse Pinkman's house and Hank's DEA office during a fun trip through Historic Old Town, Museum Row, Nob Hill, the University of New Mexico, the historic Barelas neighborhood, and along Historic Route 66. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for children under age 12. Tours leave from Hotel Albuquerque at 800 Rio Grande Blvd NW in Old Town. If you'd rather discover the magic of the Breaking Bad locations yourself, the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau's website lists places of note and information for a self-guided tour of the hotspots like Los Pollos Hermanos and the Octopus Car Wash, both featured in the series. DIe hard fans of the show should not miss the chance to buy iconic "blue ice candy," rock candy colored to look just like the main characters' special product, from The Candy Lady, a specialty sweet shop located in Albuquerque's Historic Old Town. Also for sale are a slew of Breaking Bad t-shirts and other merchandise including Walter White's signature black hat. Blue ice candy packages sell for $1 each and are also available online—five packages for $5 and 10 packages for $10, plus shipping and handling. Walter White's hat replica sells for $45 in the store and online.


Book These Romantic Getaways for Valentine's Day!

Boy, it's COLD here in New York! With Valentine's Day just around the corner, our minds are wandering to some of the coziest, quietest corners of the world, and our friends in the travel biz are not about to let us down. Here, some amazing deals to some of the most luxurious, romantic spots out there! Get All-Inclusive in Antigua!Elite Islands Resorts, AntiguaRelax on a perfect white-sand beach at one of the Elite Islands family of resorts in Antigua and you won't have to touch your wallet the entire stay! Food, booze, and watersports are included in one price. Now that's romantic! Rooms at the affordable Verandah hotel are going fast for Valentine's Day, but the $199 price tag is good through December if you book by February 28! Yes, You CAN Afford the Bahamas!North BiminiYou can have a Caribbean island experience without even taking an international flight! North Bimini is just three hours from Miami on a "SuperFast" boat, and was one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite getaways with his wife Pauline. Find the island's Love Tree-legend says it brings good luck to those who kiss beneath it. Bimini Big Game Club's rooms start at $185 per night-the resort is popular for beach weddings right on the sea. Snuggle by the Sea!Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Falmouth, MassachusettsIf you think Cape Cod is just for summer, well, you're in for a romantic surprise! A gorgeous oceanfront view from the window of your cozy room, private Old Silver Beach waiting for a quiet hand-in-hand stroll, and a candlelit dinner from one of New England's top chefs! The Sea Crest is offering a Valentine's Day package that includes a luxurious setting, fireplace rooms, unforgettable views, and the pleasure of each other's company in an unforgettable setting, from $199 per night. Fall Into a Bed of Rose Petals!Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaNothing is as romantic as an ocean view right from your room. This February, starting at $141 per night, five Myrtle Beach Seaside Resorts locations are offering a "Be Mine" two-night getaway package featuring oceanfront accommodations, champagne, chocolates, a Valentine's Day balloon bouquet, a romantic dinner, and rose-petal turndown service. If you choose the Avista Resort, you also get breakfast in bed. Say Ahhh... at a Spa!Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, New MexicoSpa treatments start at only $12 at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, and rustic rooms with New Mexican furnishings start at $139 per night. Or camp under the stars for only $20 per day. Plus: The entire Springs and Spa area is a strictly enforced "Whisper Zone" so no one interrupts your relaxation time. You can also book a private outdoor pool with a fireplace for only $50 for the whole evening.