The United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) has been negotiating with its Indian counterpart on the matter but might ultimately settle for a visit "as short as 18 days", a top UCBSA official said.
"I have a pile of correspondence with the Indians and the problem is that there doesn't seem to be a suitable time window for a Test series," Brian Basson, UCBSA's general manager of cricket affairs, was quoted as saying in Sunday Times.
"At the moment it looks as though the tour could be as short as 18 days, which realistically means only a One-day series can be played," said Basson.
South Africa is taking the tour of the subcontinent in October as vitally important as India is at the top of its game now following its recent tours of Australia and Pakistan, the daily said.
Also, South Africa wants to test its strength against India at a time when it is undergoing transformation of its own.
South Africa last toured India in 2000 when the then captain Hansie Cronje was accused of fixing matches in return for money. Cronje was banned for life after a judicial investigation by South African authorities. He died in a plane crash more than a year ago after he was given a job with a private company.