South Africa

South Africa is a culturally diverse country with 11 official languages and is considered a rainbow nation which includes citizens not only from Africa but from all over the world which combined, creates a melting pot of cultures.

It’s a land of untamed wilderness which boasts the Big Five (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhino), along with thousands of other species of plants, mammals, birds, fish and amphibians. Visitors to South African shores can enjoy big game safaris in well-known nature reserves such as the Kruger Park and Hluhluwe-iMfolzi Game Park, explore 1000’s of kilometres of shoreline that hug the coast or spend hours simply enjoying South Africas’ wealth of natural, rugged beauty that encompasses different biomes and climates.

Best time to visit South Africa

Travellers to South Africa are advised to take the varied climate of the country into account when planning their trip. South Africa has typical weather for the Southern Hemisphere, with the coldest days being experienced between June and August and the warmest days between December and March. On the central plateau, which includes the Free State and Gauteng provinces, the high altitude keeps the average daytime temperatures below 30 °C in the summer however in winter temperatures can drop to below freezing. During winter the best weather can be found along the eastern coastal regions however in the summer months ( December to end of February ) this region is generally hot and humid. The best time to visit South Africa depends largely on the desired activities travelers would like to partake in but summer is the peak tourist season for coastal regions and winter being the peak tourist season for game viewing. Spring and autumn tend to be mild and pleasant seasons for all types of travel.

What to do

  • Game drive or walk in one of the countries National Parks or Game reserves
  • Take in the sights and sounds of the country by doing one of the many cultural tours available in all the major cities
  • Take a self-drive trip along one of the many tourist routes to experience South Africa’s incredible landscapes and natural beauty
  • Taste as much of the delectable and varied cuisine that is available as possible.
  • Experience as many of the exhilarating adventure activities on offer as possible

Climate and Weather

The average daytime temperatures in the Cape region in the summer range between 16°C and 26°C while during the winter months (June to Aug) they average between 8°C and 18°C. In the high lying areas snow does occasionally fall during the winter months and this region receives winter rainfall. Gauteng, the Central and the Northern regions of the country enjoy a subtropical climate with many hours of sunshine. The summers are hot and thunderstorms regularly occur in the late afternoon and evening. The winters are dry with sunny days and cold crisp nights. Temperatures occasionally drop below freezing at night but the average daytime temperatures range between 15°C and 25C in the summer while temperatures in the winter range between 4°C and 16°C

Essential Travel Information

Passport and Visa Information
Passport Information

  • Passports must be valid for no less than three months beyond the period of intended stay.
  • Visitors must ensure they have a minimum of three blank pages in their passport ( for entry and exit stamps ).
  • Tourists must hold proof of a valid onward ticket. The travel date of this ticket may not exceed three months from the first date of entry.
  • Tourists must be able to prove they have sufficient funds for the duration of their stay in the country

Visa Information

Citizens of the following countries do not require an advance visa to enter South Africa provided their stay does not exceed 90 days. If the stay exceeds 90 days please enquire at your closest South African Embassy / Consulate regarding the visa requirements and application procedures.

http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/index.php/countries-exempt-from-sa-visas

Very Important:

  • Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to always double check the passport and entry requirements for a country with relevant embassy or consulate.
  • Check this website for important information if traveling with children under the age of 18 years.

www.dha.gov.za/index.php/civic-services/traveling-with-children

Health Information
  • If arriving from or having visited an area infected with Yellow Fever all travellers must carry their original vaccination certificate. For countries which have yellow fever please see https://www.santhnet.co.za/index.php/travel-health-advice/travel-advice/yellow-fever-vaccines/item/390-yellow-fever-vaccination-requirements-in-south-africa.html
  • There is a malaria risk in areas such as Northern Province, Mpumalanga and North Easter KZN so it is advised to take the necessary precautions especially if travelling between October and May. Ask your pharmacist for details.
  • No compulsory vaccinations (except yellow fever if travelling from an infected country as stated above.
  • Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid.
  • Tap water in urban areas is safe to drink. If travelling into rural areas it is advisable to take sufficient bottled water for drinking and cooking
  • Private Medical facilities are good in the urban areas of South Africa and travellers are strongly advised to ensure they have travel insurance to cover any unexpected medical expenses
Safety and Security
Visitors to South Africa should exercise caution and basic common sense when travelling throughout the country due to its high crime rate. Avoid travelling to or through high-risk areas unless in the company of a qualified tour guide. Petty, opportunistic crime takes place as it does in most countries throughout the world so visitors are advised to be mindful about carrying expensive camera equipment, jewellery, large sums of money etc on their person and to be vigilant when using ATM’s. Do not walk alone in any area at night, always lock doors and when driving valuables should be kept out of sight.. There have been recent incidents of robbery involving hikers so visitors are advised never to hike or go on nature walks alone. Although crime rates are high in South Africa, it is generally safe at the main tourist sites and hotels.
Customs and Dress Code
  • The South African dress code is generally very westernised. Bear the climatic changes and seasons in mind when packing. If intending to visit cultural or historical places of interest, please be mindful of their particular dress code and dress appropriately.
  • Nude sunbathing is only permissible on a few beaches in South Africa.
  • When doing business in South Africa, it is advisable to be culturally sensitive.
  • Racism remains a very sensitive issue even though interracial relationships are now common and generally widely accepted.
Time Zone
GMT +2
Electricity
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round, three-pin plugs and round, two-pin plugs are standard.

Getting Around

By air

All the major cities have airports with a wide network of domestic, regional and international flights. Charter flights are also available to private game lodges and smaller towns.

By road

If travelling with a tour group, visitors will travel in comfortable, modern, air-conditioned coaches. The public transport system in South Africa is virtually non-existent and visitors are advised to hire a vehicle and self-drive. You will find car rental companies at all the major and even smaller regional airports. South Africans drive on the left-hand side of the road. South Africa has a good road network and for the most part the roads are tarred and well signposted. If travelling off the main roads a vehicle with high clearance ( SUV ) or 4 x 4 is highly recommended.

Metered taxis are readily available in all the major cities. In Johannesburg, the Gauteng Rail System is a good option and offers a fast, reliable and safe option to get from place to place. Make sure your hotel has a train station close by and you may be able to take the train to and from the airport.

Currency
South Africa’s currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at foreign exchange outlets, banks and most of the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available and major international credit cards are widely accepted.
Communication
The international dialling code for South Africa is +27 and each area has an area code. Extensive mobile phone networks are available across the country, and there are roaming agreements with most international mobile operators. Internet cafes are available throughout the country and Wi-Fi is easily available, especially in the larger cities.

Public Holidays

New Year’s Day – 1 January 2018
Human Rights Day – 21 March 2018
Good Friday – 30 March 2018
Easter Monday – 2 April 2018
Freedom Day – 27 April 2018
Worker’s Day – 1 May 2018
Youth Day – 16 June 2018
Women’s Day – 9 August 2018
Heritage Day – 24 September 2018
Day of Reconciliation – 16 December 2018
Christmas Day – 25 December 2018
Day of Goodwill – 26 December 2018

Important Contact Numbers

Nationwide Emergency Response:  10111

Nationwide Ambulance / Fire Brigade: 10177

Private Emergency Response ( Netcare 911 ): 082 911

Mobile phone emergency number: 112

Tourism Helpline : 083 123 6789