What you need to know before you leave…

Time difference

South Africa is GMT +2.

Visa formalities

Many nationalities do not require a visa prior to arrival: French, Belgian, Swiss, American, Canadian etc. However, please check the list on the official consulate website (http://www.saembassy.org/), as it may be updated at any time. The passport must be valid for at least 30 days after departure from South Africa and a return air ticket must be supplied. It is imperative that there be at least two blank pages in the passport for the visa stamp. A tourist visa is issued by South African customs at the airport or border post upon arrival, for a three month period.

As of 1 October 2014, the South African authorities and airlines require children under the age of 18 to carry their own passport and birth certificate with them (certified copy of the unabridged birth certificate accompanied by an English translation by a sworn translator or Unabridged Birth Certificate for binational passport holders)

Useful contacts

In France

South African Bureau of Tourism: 0810-203-403

Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm

South African Embassy and Consulate: 59, quai d’Orsay, 75343 Paris.

Tel: 01-53-59-23-23. Open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.15pm (from 9am to 12pm for visas).

In Belgium

South African Embassy: Montoyerstraat, 17-19, Brussels 1000.

Tel: 02-285-44-53.

In Switzerland

South African Embassy: Alpenstrasse 29, 3006 Bern. Tel: (031) 350-13-13.

South African Consulate: Rue du Rhône 65, 1204. Tel: (022) 849-54-54.

In Canada

South African Embassy and Consulate (High Commission): 15 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1M-1M8. Tel: (613) 744-03-30.

Health

The vaccine against yellow fever is not required unless you are travelling from an infected area (such as Zambia). In this case, when passing through customs, your vaccination certificate will be required. You can be vaccinated only in approved centres.

It is essential to follow an anti-malarial treatment if you go to the national parks and game reserves to the east of the country (Kruger, Umfolozi, Hluhluwe, St. Lucia), and the northern Limpopo region. We also recommend that you bring mosquito repellent ointment and/or sprays (Malaria is transmitted by mosquito bite).

We advise you to consult your doctor or an approved centre who will indicate the most appropriate prophylaxis to take. This is a zone 3. Your vaccinations against diphtheria, polio and tetanus should be kept updated.

We encourage you to get inoculated against yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A and B. This recommendation applies to all destinations worldwide.

Tap water is generally safe throughout the country. Bottled mineral water can be purchased almost anywhere. Food purchased in shops and restaurants can generally be consumed without fear of contamination.

Money

The currency is the Rand which is divided into 100 Cents

10 Rand = approximately 1.40 € (01/08/2014)

The bank notes are depicted by 5 large animals (Big Five): 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 Rand

The coins are: 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and 1, 2 and 5 Rand

Credit cards are accepted in most establishments

Visa, Mastercard, Diners can be used to withdraw cash from the many ATM’s countrywide

You can take foreign currency with you which you can easily change.

Banks

The South African banking system is as developed as in Europe and America. There are many local banks such as Standard, ABSA and First National Bank.

Opening hours: Generally, Monday through Friday from 9am to 3h30pm or 4pm and Saturday from 9am to 11am

ATM’s are found everywhere from small towns to large cities. Visa and MasterCard are the two best-established networks.

Post

The South African Postal service works impeccably after a complete overhaul of the entire national system. Post offices are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm or 5.30pm. Saturday from 8am to 1pm.Stamps are also sold in the shops (newsagents, grocery stores). The postcard sent overseas will cost approximately R4.50

Tipping

Tips are not mandatory but are of course much appreciated when justified. The amount varies depending on the quality of the guides’ and staffs’ service but generally between 10% and 15% of the bill.

In a restaurant / bar – between 10% and 15% of the bill

In a spa / hairdresser – between 10% and 15% of the bill

Guide / chauffeur – for a full day excursion 50 rand per person and per participant

Porters – R5 per piece of luggage

Car guards, window cleaners, petrol attendants – R5 to R10

On Safari (depending on the level of accommodation):

Your guide (Ranger) – Approximately R100 per person per day

Your tracker – Approximately R50 per person per day

Lodge staff – Approximately R50 per person per day

Cost of living

  • Price per litre of petrol: approximately 14 rand (1 euro)
  • Entrance fee to the Kruger Park (Conservation Fee) For visitors traveling into the national park and not in private game reserves, the price is R 250 per adult and R125 per child per day.
  • Entrance fee to Hluhluwe / Umfolozi National Park: R120 per adult and R60 per child per day
  • Entrance fee to Addo Elephant National Park: R200 per adult and R100 per child per day
  • Entrance fee to the Garden Route National Park (Tsitsikamma, Knysna, Wilderness): R100 per adult and R50 per child per day
  • Average price for a buffet meal: R150 for dinner and R90 for lunch
  • Average price for a bottle of wine in a restaurant: R100 to R200
  • Price per person for a guided 4×4 safari or walking safari in the Kruger R350
  • Toll road between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth: R40 per vehicle
  • Toll roadway between Johannesburg and the Kruger Park: R 190 per vehicle

Languages

There are 11 official languages ​​that correspond to each of the ethnic groups that make up the country. English remains the most commonly spoken language.

Electricity

220 volts is the norm in South Africa. The plugs are made up of three large rounded pins which form a triangle or two smaller round pins. They are different from English and American plugs. Adapters can easily be found in the shops or in the hotels/lodges.

Telephone

The country code for South Africa is 27

From South Africa to abroad: 00 + country code (32 for Belgium, 33 for France, 41 for Switzerland, 1 for Canada) + phone number without the 0. In case of an emergency, the easiest way is to contact a person travelling is to call the Go Tourism emergency number: +27 (0)83 254 5813

Keep your R1, R2 and R5 for payphones. You can also purchase telephone cards at the post office, the airport and in various different stores across the country.

Vodacom and Cell C rent mobile phones at reasonable prices. You will find their stores in all the airports and main shopping centres throughout the country. Formalities are very simple: you fill out an application form, present a valid credit card and your ID. A phone number is assigned to you which is valid for the duration of your stay. If you rent, a mobile phone in Johannesburg airport upon arrival, for example, you can return it at the end of trip to any other airport within the country. You will pay an amount equal to the rental of equipment and another for the amount of calls you have made and messages sent. The invoice will be sent to you (by email) and the full amount debited from your bank account once you have handed the phone back.

Public Holidays

1 January: New Year’s Day

21 March: Human Rights Day

6 April: Day Foundation

March/April: Good Friday

March/April: Easter Monday (Family Day)

27 April: Freedom Day

1 May: Workers’ Day

May: Ascension Day (Easter Sunday)

16 June: Youth Day

9 August: National Women’s Day

24 September: Heritage Day

16 December: Day of Reconciliation

25 December: Christmas Day

26 December: Boxing Day

Accommodation

The hotels, guest houses, villas and lodges selected by GO Tourism are renowned for their high quality of service, hospitality, cuisine, activities and charm. We are able to recommend a wide range of accommodation within various categories and price ranges.

Climate and Temperatures

South Africa is situated in the southern hemisphere. Its seasons are inversed compared to Europe. The months of December, January and February correspond to the austral summer (and main holidays). The climate varies hugely from one region to another.

Cape Town (Cape Town) has a Mediterranean climate in summer (October to April) These months are hot and dry, with temperatures around 28°C. Winter (May to August) is temperate (17°C), but the temperature can drop to 8°C.

In Durban and on the Indian Ocean coast, the climate varies from temperate to subtropical. The coolest months are June and July. The warmer and wetter months are December, January and February.

In Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria) and the Free State, the climate is dry and sunny in winter (20°C during the day and 5°C at night). From October to April, the hot days are punctuated with showers and impressive electric afternoon storms.

In the region of Mpumalanga, summers are very hot and punctuated by violent storms. The winters are mild and sunny.

In the Karoo, the heat is extreme just as in the American deserts

What to pack

It is imperative to respect the weight of your luggage unless you are prepared to pay extra for overweight luggage.

On international flights, the maximum weight of checked-in baggage allowed is on average 20kgs per person. On regional routes or charter flights it’s not uncommon that weight is limited to 15kgs per person maximum (cameras and hand luggage included). Please check this important detail with your consultant or airline before departure.

Clothing

It is strongly recommended to avoid bulky clothing in your suitcase. Pack instead practical, lightweight clothes. If you are going on safari, bright colours are not recommended as it alerts and frightens the animals away. Opt instead for khaki, beige, brown or dark neutral colours and a pair of good walking shoes. White is to be avoided for the same reason as above but also because the dust gets in everywhere. Simple and casual attire is the norm, however some hotels, restaurants and lodges require a slightly more formal attire.

Dress according to the region and the season and bring at least one warm sweater for cool/cold mornings and evenings. In winter (June to September), the nights can be extremely cold. Even in summer, wear long sleeved T-shirts to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evenings. Do not forget your Swimsuit as most hotels and lodges have swimming pools.

The dress code in the luxury lodges remains fairly casual.

  • Hat or bob
  • Cotton shirts, T-shirts and shorts
  • Swimsuit
  • Pull-over for early chilly mornings and evenings
  • Trousers or long skirts for the evening
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • Windbreaker
  • Anorak, fleece, gloves, scarves, hat. (Dry winter season)

Footwear

  • Pair of walking shoes (if you are planning on hiking.  Example, itineraries including the Drakensberg or the Blyde River Canyon River)
  • Pair of lightweight shoes for day or evening wear.
  • Pair of sandals

Luggage and accessories

  •  A soft sided sports bag or suitcase.
  •  A sunhat or cap.
  •  A camera
  •  A pair of good quality sunglasses

If you are going on safari

  •  A small backpack for the day.
  •  A thermos flask.
  •  A pair of binoculars.

Toiletries and First Aid Kit

There are pharmacies all over the place. In actual fact they are Drugstores, so you will find a vast array of products. We do however advise you to travel with your own personal first aid kit. Doctors and medical institutions in South Africa are of the Western worlds’ standards – don’t forget that the first heart transplant was performed here.

  •  Anti-mosquito products (spray, cream)
  •  Cream for stings
  •  Dressings, Aspirin, anti-diarrheal, lip balm, eye drops (for dust).
  •  If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you take your pair of glasses too.
  •  High factor sunscreen

Photography

It’s essential to use a UV filter on your camera and/or video recorder. A brush and a waterproof cover are necessary to protect your camera from dust which gets in everywhere. Plastic zip-lock bags are a great protection. It’s possible to recharge the batteries of your camera in most of the hotels, lodges and rental cars (Don’t forget the necessary cables).

We recommend you bring a zoom lens of 200 mm / 300 mm minimum on safari. You will need to practice speed, silence and patience in order to get good photographs of animals and birds.

Driving

For those who are not used to left hand driving, utmost caution is advised, especially at intersections. When you come to a four way stop street, priority is determined based on the chronological order of arrival.

As a general rule, it is advisable to drive your vehicle with the windows closed and doors locked and never to leave your luggage or valuables on the seats.

Be warned, the country is vast! Here are some driving times between major sites.

Johannesbourg / Hazyview                            4h30

Johannesbourg / parc Kruger             5h30

Hazyview / Mbabane (Swaziland)                  4h00

Mbabane / Hluhluwe                                       4h00

Hluhluwe / Durban                                          3h00

Durban / Royal Natal Park                             3h00

Royal Natal / Golden Gate                             2h00

Golden Gate / Johannesbourg                       3h30

Port Elizabeth / Plettenberg                            2h30

Plettenberg / Knysna                                      0h30

Knysna / Oudtshoorn                                      2h00

Oudtshoorn / Stellenbosch                             5h30

Stellenbosch / Cape Town                              0h30

Safety

If you take heed of the basic precautions it’s generally considered safe to travel anywhere in South Africa. It’s a popular tourist destination with an excellent infrastructure and thousands of visitors travel to South Africa yearly without the slightest security problem.

Vigilance is recommended however, especially in the big cities and towns. South Africa unfortunately has a high crime rate but it is not specifically directed against tourists.