South Africa Travel Tips

time

GMT : +2 hours

language(s)

South Africa has 11 official languages. English is spoken almost everywhere.

climate

The Western Cape, Northern Cape & Eastern Cape have a Mediterranean type Climate. The winter months [April - August] are mild and changeable, during these months most of the rainfall occurs; which is opposite to the rest of the country, which experience summer rainfalls. The Kwazulu Natal coastline has a sub-tropical climate with lots of sunshine throughout the year. The summer months [November - April] can become very hot and humid (with up to 80% humidity) where high rainfalls are experienced.

The Freestate, Gauteng and North-West Province enjoy moderately cold winters and warm to hot summers [November - April]. These areas get their rainfall during the summer months. Mpumalanga and Northern Province enjoy mild winters and hot summers [November - April]. During the winter months, there can be a significant difference between day and night temperatures.

health

Food and tap water are generally safe in South Africa. When coming from a country in tropical South America or Sub-Saharan African, a yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required.

This applies to any person over one year of age. In South Africa, there is no risk of yellow fever. Malaria is encountered in northern and eastern Mpumalanga, Northern Kwazulu Natal and some areas in the Northern- and North West Provinces. Transmission of malaria is the highest during the rainy season, i.e. November to April. It is recommended to take anti- malaria tablets before entering any of the above regions (consult your GP or pharmacist for details). Also, ensure that you are well covered with mosquito repellent.

If you are bitten by a wild or domestic animal a rabies and tetanus vaccination is advised. The following vaccines are recommended for health care workers and other persons who will be in close contact with the local population: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid. For adults, as needed, a booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles and a one-time dose of polio vaccine. Important: With effect from 1st July 2011 if you are flying to South Africa (including being in transit) from a Yellow Fever Zone, you must have a Yellow Fever Certificate stating that you have been immunized at least 10 days prior, or an exemption certificate (if applicable). This includes (but is not limited to) travelling from Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda or Kenya.

We suggest you consult your GP or nearest travel clinic for the most up-to-the-minute advice.

medical facilities

In Urban areas as well as in the vicinity of game parks, the medical facilities are good. In other areas, these facilities are often limited. When visiting a doctor / hospital, immediate cash payment is often required (credit cards are generally accepted).

visa/entry requirements

When visiting South Africa for a period of up to 90 days, travellers from the UK and most (not all) visitors from the European Union do not require a visa. Visitors who intend to work in South Africa must apply for a work permit abroad at the South African Consulate or Embassy. Before departing for South Africa, check with the nearest South African Consulate or Embassy for any possible changes regarding the visa requirements. Passports must carry a validity of 30 days beyond intended date of departure from South Africa and have two consecutive blank pages (left & right pages facing each other).

travelling with children

South Africa's immigration laws have recently undergone an intense revision, with two vital amendments that you need to know about if travelling with children under the age of 18:

1. Any traveller requiring a visa, will now have to apply in person at the relevant South African authority (effective 01 July 2014). This does not apply to countries who do not require a visa for South Africa, including the UK, EU, USA, Australia, Brazil and Chile.

2. Parents travelling with children will now be required to provide an unabridged birth certificate of all travelling children. This applies even when both parents are travelling with their children. When children are travelling with guardians, these adults are required to produce affidavits from parents proving permission for the children to travel. This is effective from 01 June 2015.

Top Tips

public holidays

01 May Workers Day
24 September Heritage Day
26 December Day of Goodwill Moveable Holidays: Good Friday Easter Monday / Family Day
16 June Youth Day
16 December Day of Reconciliation
09 August National Women's Day 25 December Christmas Day

Please Note - When a Public Holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is declared a Public Holiday as well.

electricity / voltage

The supply is 220/230 Volts AC, 50 Hz, 3 round pin plugs.

safety / security

Although most visitors enjoy their travels in South Africa without incident visitors are advised to take note of the following points:

  • Avoid using local commuter trains.
  • Avoid walking alone at night in deserted / quiet areas - ask hotel staff for advice.
  • Do not openly carry expensive cameras in city areas.
  • Do not carry large sums of money - credit cards are widely accepted.
  • Ensure that credit cards, credit card numbers and personal identification numbers are protected.
  • While staying at hotels / guesthouses, make use of safety deposit boxes.
  • Avoid nighttime travel when driving in the former homelands of Transkei and Ciskei (Eastern Cape).

tipping

Rand = 100 cents. (ZAR = International symbol for Rand). Please note that ZAR 100.00 notes are not always accepted in rural areas

currency

Most businesses and shops are open between 08h30 and 17h00 on weekdays and between 08h30 and 13h00 on Saturdays. Supermarkets and flea-markets are often open on Sunday morning. Curios can be purchased in curio shops in shopping centres or from street traders and at flea-markets in a more informal shopping environment.

on safari

All large game at the wildlife reserves is to be considered dangerous and therefore the reserve’s rules should be strictly adhered to. To avoid snakebites while on a walking safari, wear boots, socks and long trousers. Neutral coloured clothing is recommended and in the cooler months warm clothing is recommended for game drives. Do not swim in the rivers in wildlife areas. Afternoon / evening game drives typically start between 15h00 – 16h00 so please ensure that you arrive in time.

banking hour

09h00 - 15h30 Monday to Friday 8h30 - 11h00 Saturday

Automated Teller Machines are available in most towns & shopping centres and certain petrol service stations and operate on a 24-hour basis. Foreign Exchange Services are offered by the major banks.

credit cards

All major credit and charge cards (American Express, Diners, Mastercard and Visa) are widely accepted, but not for petrol.

postal services

Post Office hours are as follows: 08h30 - 16h30 Monday to Friday 08h00 - 12h00 Saturday

tax

Value Added Tax (V.A.T.) is currently at 14% and is included in most products and services. Goods purchased from shops which are part of the export incentive scheme (recognizable by the V.A.T. logo) and are taken back to the country of residence of the traveller, qualify for the refund of V.A.T. The total value of items for which a refund is being claimed must exceed R250, 00

telecommunications

South African telecommunication facilities are of a high standard. Facilities available are IDD, telex, facsimile, e-mail and cellular telephones. The international country code for South Africa is : 27.

traveller cheque

Widely accepted at banks, hotels, restaurants and shops.

driving

Driving is on the left-hand side. Requirements for driving in South Africa are a valid national licence provided that it carries a recent photograph or an International Driving Licence. In general, road conditions are good. Along the main highways, petrol is available 24 hours a day. While driving, do not pick up hitch-hikers and ensure that your car doors are locked at all times. As driving in South Africa is an adventurous affair, travellers are advised to drive defensively.

On the toll-roads, there are telephones available in case of breakdown or in case of an accident. Along these roads, petrol stations operate on a 24 hour basis. Some of these petrol stations include a workshop. Always wear seatbelts. It is a law in South Africa that back-seat passengers should wear their seatbelts as well. Cellular telephones are not allowed to be used in a car without a handsfree kit. Cellular telephone rental services are available at all international airports.

hitch-hiking

Travellers are strongly discouraged to hitch-hike in South Africa.

public transport

Although the public transport is under-performing regarding the needs and requirements, a public transport system is available but mainly in the bigger cities. The public busses face fierce competition from minibuses (of which many operate illegally). Travellers are advised to be careful in choosing minibusses as a means of transport as occasional violence between the drivers of minibuses does erupt and many of the (illegal) minibuses are not roadworthy.

taxis

Taxis are available at most airports and hotels. With regard to other venues, taxis should be called from a rank.

bed levy

A voluntary tourism levy scheme is operated in South Africa, with the levy being equal to 1% of the nightly accommodation rate. Where possible we will indicate where this has been paid, in some instances you may be asked to pay locally.

day tours

There are many day tours available in South Africa, visiting some wonderful sights. Please note that a few of the day tours (i.e. Robben Island) need to be pre-booked. See www.robben-island.org.za, to book tickets online.

national emergency numbers

Department of Home Affairs 012 810 8911
Medical Rescue Netcare 911 082 911
ER 24 084 124 / 011 803 7707
Automobile Association 083 843 22 (Toll free – select options 1 or 2)
Life Line 13 11 14
Police 10111
Ambulance 1011
If you are calling from a mobile you are able to contact emergency services by dialling 112.

africa collection

Office Hours: 09h00 – 17h30 - Tel - + 44 (0) 1403 256655, Fax - + 44 (0) 1403 253325
Africa Collection after hours/emergencies: + 44 (0) 7785 344648 OR + 44 (0) 7904 324368

Cape Town Top Tips

  • Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain for breathtaking views of the Peninsula and to learn what a “dassie” is!. To avoid the queues - pre-book online at http://tablemountain.net
  • Our top tips for romantic moments: take a bottle of champagne to the top of Signal Hill for sundowners OR purchase a picnic basket from the Deli at Kirstenbosch and find yourself a quiet spot amongst the flowers
  • Catch the ferry across to Robben Island from the Waterfront where you can join a guided tour with an ex political prisoner from the island – Must be pre-booked. Please ask us.
  • Enjoy shopping African style at the Pan African Market (76 Long Street) and at historic Greenmarket Square
  • For trendy fashions and interiors walk the length of Kloof Street or drive out to Cavendish Square
  • Get a bird’s eye view of the city and the Peninsula with a helicopter flip over the Atlantic seaboard
  • For people watching: try one of the pavement cafes at Camp’s Bay – also great for al fresco lunches and sundowners
  • Discover the Cape of Good Hope via the little harbour town of Hout Bay and join a cruise here to Seal Island
  • For the best coastal drives: Chapman’s Peak via the sweeping beaches of Noordhoek and the Platinum Mile, from Gordon’s Bay to Hermanus, via Pringle Bay
  • Off the beaten track – take a drive up the West Coast via Darling and end up at Saldanha for lunch at the Strandloper – an open restaurant on the beach where fish is cooked on an open fire
  • Explore the Winelands, including Paarl and Stellenbosch. Our secret tip: Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West is the best of the bunch and is free from tourist hoards – drive from here via Theewaterskloof to Franschhoek in time for lunch.
  • Visit the suburb of Constantia – renowned for restaurants, gardens and the oldest wine estates in Africa, including Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia and Buitenverwachting – wine tastings at the latter two are free
  • Missing the cricket? Stop by at Constantia Uitsig on a Saturday where local teams play on the private pitch and enjoy local wine and food amongst the vineyards while others do the hard work
  • Take an evening harbour cruise on Table Bay or a catamaran cruise during the day to some of the more isolated bays along the coast including Llandudno and Sandy Bay
  • Take a walking tour of the city, including the Company Gardens, the Houses of Parliament, the historic city centre and the cobbled streets and cafes of De Waterkant
  • The Waterfront is a must – if not only for the buzz!
  • Finish the day in style with drinks at The Bascule at the Cape Grace on the Waterfront or The Planet Bar at the Mount Nelson
  • Between May and November, take a drive to Hermanus for some of the best land based whale watching in the world. For some more solitude and some say even better sightings, drive a further 40 minutes to De Kelders near Gansbaai

childcare

For all your childcare & babysitting needs in Cape Town and Winelands, we recommend Chantal at www.jjjchildcare.com/