Travel Tips for South Africa

Some things to keep in mind when traveling to South Africa...

Location

At the southern tip of Africa, the Republic of South Africa is famous for its wildlife and excellent tourism infrastructure, offering the most ideal and varied opportunities to view Africa's exotic animals in their natural state

Climate

South Africa has a generally temperate climate, due in part to being surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides, by its location in the climatically milder southern hemisphere and due to the average elevation rising steadily towards the north (towards the equator) and further inland. Due to this varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist.

Entry Requirements

Nationals of the USA and Canada who hold valid passports do not require visas to enter South Africa for a maximum of ninety (90) days if the purpose of such a visit is for a bona fide vacation, business or conference attendance. Passport must be valid for a minimum of 30 days beyond your return date of travel. Your passport must have at least two blank pages that face each other when the passport is open.

Language

Many different peoples make up South Africa, each with their own language and history. The country has 11 official languages and even more unofficial ones.

Health

Vaccinations for cholera and smallpox are not required, but travelers from a yellow fever zone must have a valid certificate. Visitors to game parks should take anti-malaria tablets, which are available across the counter at any pharmacy (drugstore). Malaria regions include Northern Province, Mpumalanga and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. The rest of the country is malaria-free. South Africa has no national health service, so medical treatment and hospital fees must be paid direct. Special travel insurance is recommended. Most hotels have a list of doctors, whose names may also be found in the 'medical' section of telephone directories.

We recommend you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine prior to your departure. Advise the health care provider what countries you are visiting. In addition to up to date routine vaccinations, the following vaccinations and immunizations are recommended: typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, rabies and malaria. Several of these vaccines require more than one dose, or take time to become effective. It is always best to seek advice on immunization well in advance, if possible around 6 weeks before departure.

Currency & Exchange, Credit Cards, and Banking

Major credit cards are accepted. However, use may be restricted in small towns and country areas and in some retail shops. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are situated outside most banks in towns and cities, and operate 24 hours a day. Be careful around isolated ATMs. The currency unit is the rand, denoted by the R. symbol. R1 = 100 cents. The current bank-to-bank exchange rate for the USD/Rand is US$100 = R

Currency data courtesy coinmill.com

Electricity

Electricity in South Africa is 230V and frequency is 50Hz. The socket/plug types are Type C and D. They look like this:

C socket/plug and D socket/plug

Tipping

A service charge is not usually included in restaurants; a tip of 10% of the bill is standard, with exceptional service qualifying for 15%. Tipping of porters, taxi drivers and petrol attendants is common, but not obligatory.

While on safari it is customary to tip your ranger guide $10 per person per day; trackers $5 per person per day and $5 person per day for the 'Staff General Fund' (housekeepers/waiters/cooks).

Taxes

There is currently a 14% VAT levied on all goods and services manufactured or rendered within South Africa. On goods only where the total value exceeds R250, you may reclaim the 14% VAT on departure from Johannesburg International Airport before you embark on your flight home and will have to produce the original tax invoice of the items that you have purchased.

Jet Lag

Westbound flights appear to be the worst for jet lag but many people report feelings of jet lag with any long haul flights. To prevent feeling the worse for wear when you arrive at your destination try the following tips: Be well rested before boarding your flight, drink plenty of fluids and cut back on the alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, try to exercise by stretching in your seat or strolling the isle. One of the best tips is to try to set your body clock to your destination’s time while in flight. Waiting until you land can leave you literally in the wrong time zone.

In an Emergency

The emergency telephone number for the Police, the Fire Service, Ambulance or Search and Rescue in South Africa is 112. It is a free phone call.

What to Pack

The dress code in South Africa is casual, except in some restaurants and clubs that require formal attire.

  • Sun block, moisturizing lotion, lip balm and a hat

  • Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots

  • Swimsuits

  • Flashlight

  • Emergency numbers and contacts

  • A good camera

  • Rehydrating solutions or concentrates