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South Africa Gay Travel

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 worldwide 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, 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 the 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)

LGBTQ+ Rights in South Africa

Gay South Africa Travel

Best Places to Visit in South Africa

More Info

South Africa was 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 neighbouring 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 on South Africa’s northeastern border is renowned for its biodiversity. On any typical game drive, you’ll likely spot most (if not all) of 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 city lines (thanks, Table Mountain), unlike elsewhere 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 most 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

Covid-19 Vaccination Requirements: We’re dedicated to ensuring our tours are safe for everyone, but it is our belief that each traveler has a responsibility to protect themselves and their fellow travellers from COVID-19. As of May 1, 2023, Out Adventures no longer requires guests to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination on most of our tours. If vaccination is a requirement for entry, or on select cruises, this will be communicated at the time a trip is confirmed to depart. Before booking, we recommend that you read our COVID-19 Information Page and our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions to understand what we’re doing to minimize risk, and what will happen if you contract COVID-19 before or during an Out Adventures tour.

Other Vaccinations: Based on the entry requirements for South Africa, there are no other vaccinations needed. To determine if you should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness, you should consult your doctor or a travel medical clinic, as Out Adventures cannot provide vaccination recommendations.

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 the point of entry.

Last updated on Sept 24, 2021. Disclaimer: The information provided was accurate at the time of publishing, but cannot be guaranteed.
LGBT Rights in South Africa

South Africa was 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 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 neighbouring 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 on South Africa’s northeastern border is renowned for its biodiversity. On any typical game drive, you’ll likely spot most (if not all) of 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 city lines (thanks, Table Mountain), unlike elsewhere 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 most 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

Covid-19 Vaccination Requirements: We’re dedicated to ensuring our tours are safe for everyone, but it is our belief that each traveler has a responsibility to protect themselves and their fellow travellers from COVID-19. As of May 1, 2023, Out Adventures no longer requires guests to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination on most of our tours. If vaccination is a requirement for entry, or on select cruises, this will be communicated at the time a trip is confirmed to depart. Before booking, we recommend that you read our COVID-19 Information Page and our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions to understand what we’re doing to minimize risk, and what will happen if you contract COVID-19 before or during an Out Adventures tour.

Other Vaccinations: Based on the entry requirements for South Africa, there are no other vaccinations needed. To determine if you should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness, you should consult your doctor or a travel medical clinic, as Out Adventures cannot provide vaccination recommendations.

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 the point of entry.

Last updated on Sept 24, 2021. Disclaimer: The information provided was accurate at the time of publishing, but cannot be guaranteed.
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Reviews

Some from our travellers

Daniel & Joe

It’s amazing to travel with a gay (lgbt+) organization

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
Rating:

It’s amazing to travel with a gay (lgbt+) organization who has vetted all of the people and destinations for not just tolerance but a welcoming and accepting atmosphere. But on top of that the level of service from OA is top quality concierge-like service.

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Rich & Steve

We saw a lot more than we normally would on a vacation of our own.

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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Interesting destinations, great excursions and GAY! It was a great experience with a ton of activities. We saw a lot more than we normally would on a vacation of our own. Rob was exceptionally patient and helpful, he made sure that everyone’s needs were met and tried to anticipate as much as possible

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Ken & Kerry

Meticulously planned and executed activities.

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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Africa highlights with gay sensibilities, all organized and planned by someone else (ie not me). Meticulously planned and executed activities.

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Jules & Roeland V

The best safari and sightseeing experience!

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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An amazing itinerary that brings the best of safari experience with sightseeing experience with high-end accommodations, in a great group social environment. Great host as well!

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Nik S

These trips are the best way to experience a foreign country!

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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Organized and efficient, these trips are the best way to experience what a foreign country has to offer from every angle.

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David D

Out Adventures organized an incredible itinerary and the perfect survey trip for the southern part of Africa.

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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With all of the highlights of Cape Town as well as an amazing safari experience and Victoria Falls, the trip really touched on the best of what Africa has to offer. Accommodations in Cape Town were incredible and other highlights included our day with the Wine Fairy, our many animal encounters, and our exploration of the falls.

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David R

Out Adventures did a fantastic job putting together this tour of South Africa and Zambia.

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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Not only were the visits to Cape Town, Sabi Sands and Victoria Falls perfect in every way, Robert and the Out Adventures Team put together an outstanding set of hotels, guides, events, restaurants and tours.

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Jon S

Wonderful experience.

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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Highly recommended. Out Adventures really delivers a fantastic gay South Africa experience for LGBT travelers.

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Brian H

Excellent Trip!

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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Excellent gay South Africa trip with every single detail addressed perfectly. The group size was great and Robert couldn’t have been better!!

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Mike K & MJ

We all gathered as strangers but departed as friends

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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Visiting South Africa was a “bucket list” vacation years in the making. OA delivered on EVERY expectation of this trip and made it so much more special in many ways. We all gathered as strangers but departed as friends, sharing our time together! After several days, it felt like we were simply partying with our Saturday night friends back home. Thank you to OA and our host, Scott, for making our dreams come true!

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Marcos G & Mike R

Victoria Falls & South Africa was a trip of a lifetime

South Africa & Victoria Falls In Style
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Victoria Falls & South Africa was a trip of a lifetime. The perfect mix of sites, safari days, adventure, leisure, and fun with new friends over food, cocktails, wine and SA Rugby Championship game watching. We loved it all!

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