South Africa Travel Guide

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Where is South Africa?About South Africa
South Africa Visa RequirementsSouth Africa Travel Health
What is South Africa Local Currency?What is South Africa Weather?
Culture of South AfricaWhat Languages Are Spoken In South Africa?
South Africa Transport OptionsSouth Africa Travel Tips
South Africa Local FoodSouth Africa Local Timezones
South Africa Dutyfree Limits

Where is South Africa?

Located at the southern-most part of the African continent, South Africa has coasts on both the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It has borders with Botswana (which runs for 1840 km), Lesotho (909 km), Mozambique (491 km), Namibia (969 km), Swaziland (430 km), and Zimbabwe (225km).

About South Africa

Republic of South Africa or general used name South Africa as in the name basically understandable South Africa in part of Africa Continent country.

Bloemfontein, where the Supreme Court of Appeal is located. This article takes a closer look at these 3 unofficial capital cities.
Republic of South Africa has not one capital city, it has 3 capital cities.
Cape Town is legislative capital city.
Pretoria city is capital city of executive branch of governement.
Bloemfontein is judicial capital.

South Africa Visa Requirements

South Africa is a relatively easy country to travel to as tourism is strongly encouraged by the government. Residents of many countries do not require a visa to visit for up to 90 days – this includes citizens from Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland and many EU countries. 

If you are from a country where a visa is required make sure you get one before arriving as visas are not issued on arrival. You must have at least two blank pages in your passport and it must be valid for at least 30 days after your intended departure date. 

You may be required to show immigration officials that you have return or onward tickets and adequate means of support and accommodation upon entering South Africa and may be asked other questions to verify your intention and ability to leave the country following your visit.

If you have travelled to a country affected by Yellow Fever you will be required to produce a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate. If you can’t produce evidence of vaccination you may be quarantined until a copy of the certificate can be obtained or be vaccinated at the port of entry prior to clearance.

As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements.

South Africa Travel Health

Malaria is prevalent in some remote areas of South Africa in particular the far north and east of of the country, including Kruger National Park. A strip running along the border of Mozambique and Zimbabwe is designated as a risk zone for malaria. 

Food and water borne diseases occur in South Africa including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, rabies and drug-resistant tuberculosis. Visitors are advised to boil drinking water and avoid ice cubes when outside urban areas. It is advisable to seek medical advice if you are suffering from fever or diarrhoea. The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in South Africa is very high and precautions should be taken if engaging in risky activities.

The standard and availability of medical facilities varies considerably around the country. Medical facilities are good in the main urban areas and around some of the game parks, but may be limited elsewhere. Public and private facilities may require a deposit for services or confirmation of medical insurance before commencement of treatment. If you are injured or fall seriously ill while in a remote area you may need evacuation to a major city which can be very expensive. Full travel insurance is highly recommended.

It main seem an obvious point but care should be taken when viewing wildlife. Keep your distance and follow the advice of tour guides carefully. Always wear good covered footwear when walking in the bush and if you are driving inside a wildlife park, stick to the speed limit and stay in your car. Take care when swimming as you may encounter crocodiles or hippos in fresh water or sharks in the ocean. The main beaches are generally safe, but it is best to ask a local to be sure.

Perhaps the major concern for safety in South Africa is the high level of violent crime. This can be avoided by being vigilant and following some simple guidelines. a great number of tourists visit South Africa every year and the vast majority have no problems. Do not walk around at night, especially in deserted areas. Do not wear bum or tummy bags, or display other obvious signs of wealth. Do not accept offers from friendly strangers or stop for apparent breakdowns to offer assistance. If you are driving, keep your doors locked and windows wound up – and make sure you know where you are going. In general try to avoid looking like a tourist.

Emergency numbers are different if dialing from a fixed line or from mobile. From a fixed line dial 107 for emergency or 112 from a mobile.

What is South Africa Local Currency?

The Rand is the currency unit of South Africa, a name derived from the Witwatersrand Ridge, upon which the city of Johannesburg was built. The currency is also used by Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland in conjunction with their own currencies. 

1 Rand = 100 cents. The Rand has coins worth 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, 1R, 2R and 5R, while there are 5 notes, worth 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 rand. Each of the 5 notes has one of the ‘big five’ animals – the rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and cheetah respectively. The notes are printed in English on one side, and two of the other ten official languages on the reverse. 

The Rand has weakened in recent years, to a level of approximately 8 to 10 rand to one US dollar, making South Africa appealing from a cost perspective for many tourists.

ATM’s are in wide use throughout the country and are linked with the major banking networks around the world. It is advisable to use ATM’s only when you can be sure of your safety and be very careful with your PIN number. 

A 14% VAT (Value Added Tax) is levied on products purchased and the displayed price will usually include this unless stated otherwise.

Visa and MasterCard are accepted almost everywhere and American Express or Diners in some places.

What is South Africa’s Weather?

South Africa experiences conditions that are subtropical, which goes with warm and sunny weather. However, several factors mean that SA’s weather can be varied. 

The altitude of the high veldt mountains (mostly above 1500m) in the centre of the country mean that their summer highs are usually slightly below the rest of the country, while minimum temperatures in winter get close to freezing. 

The Eastern Cape experiences the warm Agulhas current from the Pacific while the Western Cape’s weather is somewhat dictated by the cold Benguela current that comes from Antarctica. Consequently, temperatures on the Western Cape are generally around 6 degrees cooler than those on the Eastern Cape at the same latitude. Rain patterns also differ: the high veldt and Eastern Cape tend to experience most of their rains in short, afternoon, summer thunderstorms, while rainfall is mostly in winter on the Western Cape. South Africa’s relatively low rainfall and year-round sunny, warm weather make it ideal for tourism. 

As South Africa is southern hemisphere Summer occurs in December, January and February with winter in June July and August. In general – summer averages sit in the high 20’s to low 30’s and winter minimums around four to ten degrees.

Culture of South Africa

South Africans in general are polite and welcoming to visitors, and the feel of the place is very western. Greeting is most commonly by way of a firm handshake with men or a kiss on the cheek continental style for women. 

South Africans are very proud of their country and may take offence at judgements by outsiders even though they are happy to criticize their own shortcomings. When in South Africa, respect the various racial groups and take special care to ensure that you avoid doing anything that could be construed as being racist. It is best to avoid conversations about rascism or politics altogether, even though you may still hear overtly rascist remarks from South Africans of any colour.

Tippling is normal in South Africa at restaurants and also gas stations which are full service. a tip of about 10% is normal.

In retail outlets the price displayed is the price paid, however in street markets and stalls bartering is acceptable.

Around two thirds of the country follow christian beliefs with a small percentage of Hindu and Muslims. The remainder have indigenous or animist beliefs.

What Languages Are Spoken In South Africa?

South Africa has 11 official languages. However, English is the most commonly spoken language, as well as being the main tourist language. 

Afrikaans is also commonly spoken/ This language is an adapted version of Dutch and German – a result of a few hundred years of Boer occupation of South Africa. Most Europeans are able to understand some Afrikaans. The remainder are various tribal dialects with Zulu the most widely spoken. Other official languages are: Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa.

The international dialling code to call South Africa is +27. To dial out to another country dial 00 and then the country code and number.

There is an extensive GSM mobile network with good 3G coverage in the larger urban centres.

Internet cafes are common and cheap to access, another option is to access the internet though the mobile network, data plans for compatible mobiles are fairly cheap and readily available. There are also WiFi access points in some urban centres and in some airports, hotels and restaurants. You can connect to these and then follow the prompts to pay for the connection.

South Africa Transport Options

South Africa has two main international airports: Soekarno-Hatta near Jakarta, Java and Ngurah Rai at Denpasar, Bali. These airports service flights to and from Europe, USA, Australia and other regions.

South Africa is a relatively large country. As a result, there are a multitude of travel options. 

There are 10 international airports with the biggest being in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Many countries in Europe, Asia, America and the Pacific region fly into South Africa and also many African centres. Additionally South Africa has a well established domestic air network and visitors can fly between all the major centres.

South Africa’s major cities are also connected by rail and both budget and luxury services are available.

South Africa has a modern road system and the major highways are excellent. If you are some distance from a major centre the roads may only be single lane in either direction or in rural areas, even dirt. Remember cars drive on the left in South Africa. There are plenty of fuel stations which typically have food, ATMs and other facilities. 

Driving is a good option to enjoy the stunning landscapes and many people opt for a 4WD vehicle if they are planning to visit a wildlife park. There are plenty of options for hiring cars with all of the major car rental companies represented as well as some local ones. Motorhomes are also becoming popular with tourists and some companies can include camping gear with your 4WD hire vehicle as another option.

Remember if you are driving through a wildlife park make sure you do not leave your vehicle and keep your windows up. It is also wise to exercise caution driving through some urban areas, again keep your windows up and doors locked. Keep valuables out of site and be alert. If stopping at traffic lights keep a bit of distance between yourself and the car in front as some car jackers will box people in as part of their tactics.

There are a number of bus companies which operate services around the country. These link the main centres and some also have a hop-on hop-off service along tourist routes.

South Africa Travel Tips

South Africa Local Food

South African food is an exotic blend combining the culinary influences Chinese, Indian, Portuguese and Dutch cuisines. 

There is no definitive ‘South African cuisine’. Instead, food has been influenced by the various inhabitants of the country over the centuries, including the indigenous cultures, British, Dutch, German and others. Spicy sausages feature heavily as do various varieties of roast meats, often cooked over a fire on a barbeque or “Braai”. Other commonly seen foods include “Pap” which is a type of corn porridge, there are also other varieties of corn porridge of varying consistencies. Stews and meat-loafs are also often found.

There are a good variety of restaurants of various persuasions in the main cities, and take-aways and fast food are commonly available.

Beer and wine are commonly drank and South Africa has some excellent home grown wines from a well established industry.

South Africa Local Timezones

In South Africa, electricity is supplied at both 230V / 50Hz and in some places 120 volts. Power outlets generally accept the two pin European “Schuko” type plug, but other types are in use also. If you plan on using your own electrical equipment in the South Africa, be particularly careful to determine the voltage and phase delivered by the outlet before plugging in. If your electrical equipment is of a different voltage or phase, a power convertor will be required. Plug adaptors can be easily purchased at most duty free shops and some convenience stores and are sometimes available at the reception desk of hotels.

South Africa’s timezone is GMT +2 making it very friendly for tourists coming from Europe. However, tourist from other continents will find that they have to adjust to large timezone differences.

South Africa uses a 220-240V/50HZ. This is known as the South African plug. Most hotels have converters for other major electricity systems.

South Africa Dutyfree Limits

Certain items are controlled and require a licence including Chinese medicines and printings, narcotics, firearms and ammunition, pornography, fresh fruit and cordless telephones. Prohibited items include any commercial or merchandised goods contained in baggage.

Visitors can bring in new or used items up to R3000 with any duty being payable. You may also bring in the following:

– Up to 2 litres of wine

– up to 1 litre of spirits or other alchohol

– up to 200 cigarettes

– up to 20 cigars or 250g of tobacco

– up to 50ml perfume or 250 ml of Eau de toilette

Alchohol and tobacco is only allowed for those over 18.

All currency must be declared upon entering the country, and you may only take R500 out of the country. As with many countries you may claim back the VAT on goods purchased in South Africa when you leave, you must have the tax invoice for these items to do this.

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