Destinations / Miscellaneous / Ten (10) to Inspire

How To Be A Lekker Guest In South Africa

Updated Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Guests can be totally lekker but then there are some that could do with a little improvement. I think we all know this, possibly because we’ve been a bit rubbish ourselves sometimes … From demanding refunds for lions roaring too loudly near their rooms, to rocking up with 3 children they didn’t mention when booking (“but they can just sleep in our beds?”), guests can be the actual worst. Can we get a rating system like Uber drivers have about their passengers already?  The Lekker Rating System?!

Growing up in the hospitality industry, I’ve seen my fair share of visitors to our gorgeous country, and locals, who could do with a good blast from a high-powered hose, so it’s been on my mind to share a few ideas about how we could rank higher on The Lekker Rating System.

How To Be A Lekker Guest In South Africa

Good manners. They go such a long way. I’ve always found that being as sweet as melktert at the bank or at Telkom gets me so much further! The same applies to everyone in the hospitality industry. Be kind to them. They’re working over Christmas for you.

South Africa is not Europe or America. It will never be Europe or America. I mean, we sometimes don’t even have electricity! Just dunk an Ouma rusk and settle into it. Most people in hospitality in this country wake up every day wondering what madness they’ll encounter, from water rationing – through to petrol trucks that didn’t make it to their town that week. South Africans encounter hurdles daily that foreigners from first world countries probably can’t fathom, which I think plays a huge role in what makes us such unique people.

South Africa welcomes millions of tourists a year. Arrive with an open heart, good manners and a smile and just like anything else in life, the country will open up for you like it’s in bloom. You will never forget your time in our crazy, loud, colourful and wild country.

Thoroughly research your trip: the areas you’re staying in; the weather; what to expect; what to pack; whether it’s a malaria area or not and what precautions to take if it is; how far you’ll be from civilization; whether they cater for food allergies, and everything else in between. Bring along your own sunscreen, basic travel medication, mosquito repellant, mobile phone chargers, sun hats, plugs, warm clothing, comfortable shoes and gluten-free bread (if you’re so inclined) and anything else that your research reveals that you’ll need, and you should be good for your trip to South Africa. There are many talented travel bloggers in South Africa who share tons of tips about every region on the must-visit list for our country, including on the blog section of this website!

Foreigners, please don’t haggle with the locals out in the sticks. That piece of fabric, hand-carved curio, beaded love letter or basket you’re buying is supporting families, so do the right thing and pay what they’re asking. Your currency is worth up to 20 times ours, after all.

Nature can be loud, bold and plentiful, that’s why you’re here. Enjoy the wild ocean, the wildlife, noisy insects and singing birds and know that sometimes, they’ll make their way into your accommodation. It’s about as much the hotel’s fault as rainy weather…

On that subject; rain, wind, storms, sun – we’ve got it in spades. Make friends with the weather here. Lord knows you’ll need to, especially in Cape Town, hence why it was once named, The Cape of Storms’ by Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias. It would be completely un-lekker to write a bad review of your accommodation based on weather you didn’t like when we promise you that not even a South African with powerful juju can control it.

Cape Town Accommodation

Honour your restaurant reservations, without exception. Not showing up for a booking for 6 is an earth-shattering event to a small restaurant. South Africans tip their servers between 10 – 20% of their bill and we encourage you to do the same in order to rank high on The Lekker Rating System.

I read a wonderful sign in a self-catering cottage years ago that said something along the lines of, “Clean up after yourself. These are not colonial times” and I’ve never forgotten it. Another human being will be cleaning up after your mess once you’ve checked out, so spare some thought about what you can do to make their life a little better that day. Do the dishes and be lekker.

South Africa is at the forefront of animal conservation and is streets ahead of most countries in the world in their policies and care of wild animals. In fact, most legitimate destinations with animals on their property have to adhere to a laundry list of rules that are so strict that barely an ostrich feather is allowed to be there without written permission.

The chances are that the experts and conservationists at that game reserve or animal conservation facility know what they’re doing. (This definitely does not apply to lion-cub-petting, which is something you should never, ever do!) If you’re allowed to ride elephants, hold cubs or touch any wild animals, that place is not lekker and you shouldn’t support it.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our ideas of how you can be a lekker guest in South Africa and we wish you a wonderful time here.