The ultimate guide to self-catering accommodation in South Africa
- Self-catering accommodation is the ideal choice for South Africa tourists who prefer a ‘home away from home’ experience. You have the freedom to cater for your family’s needs and to your budget, and you’re under no pressure to get to the restaurant to make meal times. You have the run of the place and can enjoy your surroundings in relative privacy.
- Types of accommodation differ from upmarket apartments on the beachfront to rustic tents in the bush, but they are all equipped with an adequate supply of cutlery, crockery, linen and towels for the size of your group.
- If the unit is not electrified, there will be gas equipment available and there is always a barbeque facility to enjoy a popular South African pastime… a ‘lekker’ braai. If you get tired of self-catering, most resorts have an onsite restaurant where you can treat yourself to a night off from cooking.
- Units may or may not be serviced; you can check this with management before you arrive. If you’re lucky, the resort will have wi-fi and internet access points. If not, turn off your mobiles and soak up the peace and tranquillity of a beautiful African night.
Self-catering lodge accommodation comes with well-equipped kitchens or a more basic kitchenette but there are extra things you’ll need to bring. Here is a list of items you must not forget:
- Briquettes/charcoal for an evening braai. Don’t forget matches and firelighters and if you fancy yourself as a braai master, bring your own tongs.
- Dishwashing liquid, sponges and drying cloths; these are usually provided but often they are not good quality or you need more than what is provided.
- Washing powder; if you’re staying longer than a 2-day weekend, bring your own suds. This is essential if it’s raining and everyone gets muddy.
- Clingfilm and Ziplock bags; units provide basic crockery items but usually there are never enough containers for leftovers. Clingfilm is perfect for covering sugar bowls to stop ants from getting into the bowl.
- Tin foil; another essential for a good South African braai. Wrap vegetables and potatoes in tin foil and throw them on to the braai. Definitely needed if you’re braaing freshly-caught fish. It’s also useful for leftovers to go in the fridge.
- Rubbish bags; there usually aren’t enough provided and there is nothing worse than having stinky, overflowing trash bins.
- Spices and condiments; salt & pepper, braai spices, salad dressing, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, chutney, chili sauce etc. are not provided.
- Hot beverages, milk and sugar; a few units offer complimentary items but they don’t last long. If you’re fussy about your coffee, a lot of people arrive with their own plungers and coffee machines.
- Ice making machine or bags of ice; nobody can enjoy a holiday with warm drinks. South Africans are known to travel with their bulky ice making machines but you can pick up extra bags of ice at the last garage you pass.
- Cooler box; often the fridge in a self-catering unit is small or if it is gas, does not get very cold. Local knowledge dictates that you keep your beers and wine in a cooler box packed with ice to keep everyone happy.
- Two good, sharp knives; one for vegetables and one for meat. The knives in self-catering accommodation are usually blunt after much use or poor quality. Those are the kinds of items that get nicked and owners usually give up on replacing them with good ones.
- A Teflon frying pan; same thing applies. You’re lucky if you get a new frying pan at a self-catering unit, usually the Teflon has been scraped off and they’re a bit grotty.
- Oil; include a bottle of good quality olive oil that can double up for frying and a salad dressing.
- Mineral water; always take at least 5 litres of prepared water. Most places the water is suitable for drinking but you don’t want to take the risk of a dodgy stomach if it doesn’t agree with you. It’s a good idea to fill up ice trays with mineral water.
- Swimming towels; bath towels are usually provided unless otherwise stated but you need extra towels for swimming if you’re on holiday in summer.
- Your own pillows; you may be lucky to get a lovely soft pillow or you could get a lumpy one or one as hard as a rock. Take your own pillows from home to be on the safe side as there’s nothing worse than getting a ‘crick in the neck’ from bad pillows. View the best accommodation in Nelspruit.
- Make sure your meter number is recharged –buy prepaid electricity before you start your journey
Your shopping list
Plan your meals carefully before you go shopping for your holiday groceries. You might overlook something and will have to buy it at the local convenience store. While it’s a good thing to support them, these stores are usually overpriced and stock is limited.
On the other hand, if you’re staying for longer than two days, don’t take too much meat or items that need to be frozen. Usually the little fridge in a unit comes with limited freezer space and there is nothing worse than watching good food go rotten.
Fresh vegetables and fruit are not always available at the local convenience stores so think about taking dried fruit and tinned vegetables. The same applies to fresh bread and rolls. Take wraps that can be kept in the fridge and lots of savoury biscuits for lunchtime snacks.
A braai is not a quick affair and it takes time to get the fire lit and the coals just right for cooking. Take things like 2-minute noodles for the kids to keep them happy until the food is cooked. Every South African goes on holiday with a good supply of crisps, biltong (dried beef) and droëwors (dried sausage). Ask a local to point you in the direction of a good butcher for a bag of delicious biltong and droëwors.
Looking for more self-catering options
Here is a list :
Mpumalanga Accommodation by Sleeping Out