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Essential Safari Travel Apps for 2020

By Madikwe Hills on November 29, 2019

When it comes to planning a trip to Africa, travellers are relying more and more heavily on their devices and smartphones. Travel apps not only provide a handy tool for helping you to make the most of your holiday, but also provide plenty of inspiration and can be extremely useful for booking and managing logistics.

There are thousands of apps out there that can help you make restaurant bookings, serve as local guidebooks, translators and even as currency converters. These are our most loved and top recommended apps for anyone travelling to South Africa in 2020.

For every traveller

Google Maps

If it’s not already on your phone, we’re not sure how you’ve survived into 2020.

Google Maps is an essential when visiting a new place – whether you’re walking, biking, cabbing or driving.

You can map locations, get directions, ride-hailing services and see how crowded roadways are on the way to your destination.

You can also make restaurant reservations, save your favorite spots and write reviews.

Top tip: Make sure to download specific city or area maps ahead of time for offline access if you know you’ll be without internet at your destination.

Uber

In Africa, getting around safely is a top concern for many visitors from overseas. Although relatively new in South Africa, Uber operates in most major cities (most seamlessly in Cape Town and Johannesburg) and offers a safe alternative to public transport and taxis.

If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language, aren’t sure of the exchange rate and don’t know where you’re going having a ride-hailing app on your phone can help get you safely from A to B.

With Uber, you simply enter your pickup and drop-off locations and select your ride option. You’ll be matched with a driver who will pick you up where you request and drive you to your destination.

For the organised (or want-to-be-organised) traveller

TripIt

In a nutshell, TripIt helps declutters your itineraries and documents by keeping them organized in one place. Sound good?

You can automatically set your reservations to be sent to TripIt and then you can view travel confirmations, flight itineraries, tickets, hotel and Airbnb booking info, rental car reservations and driving directions without ever leaving the app.

TripIt Pro subscriptions cost $49 per year and include extras like real-time flight alerts, security wait times, baggage claim info and updates on your loyalty reward programs.

For self-drive travellers

Roadtrippers

Perfect for those interested in a self-drive safari around South Africa. Planning an epic road trip you’ve always wanted to take, Roadtrippers not only plans out your driving route but also lets you book hotels and activities along the way.

The app is especially useful for finding interesting and off-the-beaten-path roadside attractions as well as cool restaurants and can’t-miss landmarks you can bookmark.

For those who tend to miss flights

FlightAware

The FlightAware app allows you to track flights online, see a live map of a flight and check on delays, cancellations and gate changes.

This app is especially helpful if you have a tight connection or want to track your flight. It’s also useful when picking friends and family up at the airport. You can track their flight and see updated landing times or delays.

For those who suffer from jetlag

Timeshifter

In the 21st Century, you can now cure jetlag with an app. So they say.

The Timeshifter app starts helping you to avoid jet lag before your flight takes off, and offers inflight and post-flight suggestions as well.

The basis relies on neuroscience research about sleep and circadian rhythms. It takes into consideration your age, gender and normal sleep patterns — as well as specifics about your trip and travel plans.

Timeshifter helps to determine when you should stay away from or seek light, take a nap or try to stay awake.

For those with long travel times

Netflix

You might already have a subscription, so downloading the app to your phone is a no-brainer.

The Netflix app can be a lifesaver during a long flight or during an unexpected flight delay or long layover.

Top tip: Download your favorite shows onto your device while in Wifi to watch offline. Make sure to check them again pre-flight to make sure they haven’t expired.

For those bad at math

XE Currency Converter

The XE Currency Converter app provides live, up-to-the-minute currency rates and allows you to save and view them later when you might be offline.

In a country like South Africa, with a changing exchange rate, you’ll never need to wonder again if you’re getting a good deal or not.

And for those baffled by the metric system

Metric Conversions

Travellers from the US often have a difficult time dealing in kilograms and centimetres when they get to South Africa. Never be confused about your suitcase weight again with the Metric Conversions app.

Whether you’re figuring out your travel distance in kms, cooking with millilitres in your AirBnB or figuring out the volume of your shampoo allowance, this app has got you covered with easy conversions in volume, weight, temperature, area and more.

For the keen birders

Roberts VII Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa

This comprehensive app presents the information from the well-known 1,296-page, 11-pound reference book at the swipe of a finger!

As well as detailed entries about each bird species, the Roberts app features helpful guides for specific birding locations including what ‘specials’ to seek out.

The app also has a handy feature that shows you similar birds to the species entry you’re on, which lets you rule out other possibilities.

Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa

An alternative is Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa, based on a popular South African field guide.

The Roberts app offers by far the most information, but sometimes for tricky identifications, it can be helpful to have both apps and compare.

For the star-gazers

Star Walk

The Star Walk app helps you to locate and identify over 200,000 stars, planets, constellations and satellites.

It will even show you the past and the future of our night sky. This is a fantastic app to have on hand when sitting around a campfire after dinner.

For the wildlife lovers

The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals

The Kingdon Guide app offers interactive access to information about all major land mammals and generic information about the smaller mammal groups. You can filter by country or region and you can save your sightings to your device (remember to back up your information).

It covers all of Southern Africa – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

For the wildlife lovers

The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals

The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals offers interactive access to plenty of info about all of the continent’s large land mammals and the smaller mammal groups.

The app offers options to filter the info by country or region and you can save your sightings to your device. It covers all of Southern Africa – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

If you’re interested in exploring South Africa on safari, please head over to our accommodation page to check out our beautiful suites. Alternatively, view our packages here or get in touch with our reservations team via to chat about your travel options.

We look forward to welcoming you to Madikwe Game Reserve in the future.

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