At a glance …
South Africa undoubtedly has the most advanced infrastructure in Africa. With a great road and air transport network, first class internet, banking and communications (at least in the cities!), all making it the ideal “first time” destination for visitors to Africa. In addition to the incredible safari options there is so much to see.
Cities like Cape Town provide a perfect starting point. Blending the western world facilities with the vibrancy, colours and flavours of Africa. After a few days in the “Mother City” you will feel ready to delve deeper into Africa.
Hire a car and explore the beauty of the wine country, the Route 62 or the beguiling Garden Route. Maybe catch a plane and in two hours be in the heart of Zulu culture. Maybe, exploring human origins in the Cradle of Humankind is on your list. Perhaps the bright lights of Johannesburg’s shopping mall, nightlife and fascinating history are calling.
Let’s also not forget the incredible beaches. From the windswept beauty of the Atlantic coast to the subtropical beaches of the Indian Ocean coast. There is bound to be a little stretch of sand that has your name on it.
Many people are concerned with malaria, especially those travelling with children. The good news is that there is a huge range of excellent malaria free options available. From the great Madiwe Game Revere or the Addo Elephant National Park, to many excellent private game reserves scattered across the country.
Known as “The World In One Country”, there really is too much to be able to sum South Africa up in a few pages. Rather, use the link below to send us a mail and let’s talk you through the best options for you!
Kruger National Park
Addo Elephant & Eastern Cape Private Reserves
Madikwe Game Reserve
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Hluhluwe-Umfolosi & surrounds
The Garden Route
Cradle of Humankind
The Panorama Route
Discover vibrant townships
Hot Air ballooning
Diving with Great Whites Sharks
Spring Flower Magic
Learn to surf
Travel info …
There is extensive mobile phone coverage throughout South Africa, even in some of the most remote areas and national parks.
To use your own mobile phone in South Africa activate international roaming. Check if your provider has an international plan that covers South Africa as pure roaming rates can be very expensive.
Many people though opt to buy a local pay as you go sim in South Africa – this works out by far the most economical if you will be using your phone on a regular basis, and especially if using the internet.
There are 4 main service providers in South Africa, Vodacom, MTN, CellC and Telkom. From a reliability and coverage point of view, we would recommend either Vodacom or MTN.
There are Vodacom and MTN outlets at all major airports and you can simply go in, provide your passport (and you may be asked for proof of address) and you can buy and activate a sim card immediately. Remember that to do this you have to have an unlocked phone!!
If you would prefer to have a local number before arriving in South Africa, and save some time on arrival you can buy your local sim and add airtime and data in advance through B4i.travel – this way your sim will be ready, loaded and activated when you arrive – although prices may be a little higher than some of the other specials on offer.
There are no required vaccines for visiting South Africa (except Yellow Fever – see below) – however, some medical sources recommend that travellers inoculations against Hepatitis A and Diphtheria. As always, it is best to consult your doctor.
In line with the International Health Regulations (2005), South Africa requires a valid yellow fever certificate from all citizens and non-citizens (over one year of age) travelling from a yellow fever risk country. Vaccination certificates are routinely checked at the South African port of entry for travellers arriving from countries designated as high risk for yellow fever transmission. For full details please click here. Please note that if you are coming from a yellow fever risk country that you need to carry your yellow fever certificate with you!
Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal (low risk), Swaziland, the whole of Kruger, parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces and the Limpopo valley are malaria areas. The risk varies during the year, generally lower during South Africa’s winter (May – August), but please consult a medical professional with regards malaria precautions if travelling to these areas.
The rest of South Africa (including Cape Town, winelands, Garden Route, Johannesburg, the Eastern Cape, Madikwe, Pilanesberg, Northern Cape and most of Kwa-Zulu Natal) is malaria free.
South Africa has a very poor reputation for safety and security, and the stats appear to back this up. However, the reality is that much of the violence and crime happens away from the areas most tourists will visit. Often it is gang related. Millions of people visit South Africa every year, and serious crime against tourists is rare. As with any unusual environment we would caution all visitors to take common sense precautions: do not walk around displaying lots of valuables; always keep your personal belongings with you; do not walk the streets alone at night; always make use of the safes provided in your rooms for your valuables ; don’t venture into areas that look or feel unsafe, and if unsure ask a local!
If you have questions you can follow the official advise of the British Foreign Office here and the US Sate Department here.
The South African Rand is the only legal currency in South Africa. The Rand comes in notes of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. One Rand is made up of 100 cents. In addition to the notes you will find coins in the value of 10c, 20c, 50c, R1 and R5.
Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted in shops, petrol stations, hotels and restaurants. American Express less so and virtually nowhere accepts Diner’s Card.
ATM/cash point machines are available throughout the country, except in the most rural areas. Exchange facilities are available at all major airports as well as most large bank branches, although exchange rates from ATM/cash point machines are generally more favourable.
All visitors to South Africa require a valid passport, valid for 6 months from date of entry.
PLEASE note that visitors must have 2 clean consecutive pages in their passport for entry into South Africa. Without this, passengers will not be able to board their flight to South Africa.
Holders of full United Kingdom, United States, Canadian and Australian passports do not require a visa to visit South Africa for tourism purposes up for stays up to 90 days.
For full details please click here to view the South African Department of Home Affairs website.
On the 1st of June 2015 South Africa has implemented stringent conditions with regards travelling with children under 18 years of age. HOWEVER, as of the 11th November these conditions have been revoked, and children travelling with accompanying adults to South Africa from visa free destinations now only need to have a valid passport.
There is a slight possibility that while the new relaxed regulations come into effect that some airlines may still ask you to provide a birth certificate before allowing you to travel to South Africa – if this is the case please refer them to the relevant updated Department of Home Affairs site here
Children travelling to South Africa from countries that do require a visa will still need to supply copies of their birth certificates at the time of visa application.
You drive on the left in South Africa. Car rental is recommended in South Africa and a wide range of international brand rental agencies are found throughout the country.
When hiring a car a valid photo driver’s license (if in English the original is fine, if not you will need an international license), and a credit card (please note pure debit cards are NOT accepted by the car rental companies.
Note – unless otherwise most rental cars in South Africa will be manual transmission (shift), make sure you request automatic if that is what you want.
Satelite Navigation/GPS systems are available to hire at an additional charge with most rental companies, and are highly recommended.
Note that if hiring a car in Johannesburg your vehicle will come fitted with a toll adaptor which electronically registers each time you pass an e-toll, these charges will be charged to your card once you terminate your rental.
In South Africa the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in South Africa, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V – 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you may need a voltage converter in South Africa. Many small electronic devices now have dual voltage converters as standard.
The standard plug in South Africa is a three round pinned plug as shown above – often referred to as a type M. We suggest travelling with an adaptor – although most hotels and lodges will be able to assist (a deposit may be required).
South African seasons are reversed to those in the northern hemisphere.
Spring: September – November
Summer: December – February
Autumn: March – May
Winter: June – August
There tends to be less of a distinction between the seasons that is typical in countries like the UK and USA.
As a general rule, the south-western part of the country has a Mediterranean climate, with warm to hot dry summers and cool, wetter winters.
The rest of the country has warm (although cold at night) dry winters and warm to hot rainy summers. The summer rains tend often come in heavy afternoon downpours rather than continuous rain.
As with most areas of the world, South Africa is experiencing a changing weather pattern, with more extremes.