Proudly South African here, always lauding our beautifully sunshiny weather and glorious beaches, we extol the virtues of our Camps Bay and our beach babes. Home to natural wonders, several UNESCO sites, homegrown topnotch talent, a rainbow nation, eleven languages and of course, the tantalizing culinary bunnies. South Africa has it all…
Blessed with almost year round warm sunshine, her winters can drop to zero in some places….It sends us in a flurry of excitement , which generally entails a road trip to the Drakensberg Mountains for a snow viewing adventure.
Looking forward to unchartered territories, new experiences, a safari adventure and a viewing of Africa’s Big Five, here are some facts and information to help you plan your holidays in South Africa.
Our Seasons :
Summer : Mid-December to Mid-January.
Autumn : Mid-March to mid-April.
Winter : Mid-June to mid-July
Spring : End September to early October
Basic Costs :
(Remember to factor in the exchange rates.)
1. Flight expenses.
2. Travel packages
3. Travelling alone? Suggest paying extra for an upmarket establishment.
4. Fastidious about accommodation, especially with regard to smoking and non-smoking zones, then rather budget for ease and comfort at a hotel (±R1500 to R2000) a night, inclusive of breakfast.
5. Bed and bed breakfasts have become rather popular especially in the north of Durban and are a decent bet. Check if they are wi-fi friendly.
6. Want to wing it on a budget, then backpacker dorms and self catering outlets are advisable.
7. Lunch and Dinner Meals , depending on your palate R400-R500 per meal + snacks.
8. Particular about water? No worries, SA’S drinking water is safe and clean.
9. Car Hire.
11. Outdoor activities (horse-riding, safaris, walking tours).
12. Entrance Fees.
As South Africa enjoys the school and tertiary breaks, roads may be quieter in the mornings and afternoons but daytime hours are far busier, especially at malls and movies. Our peak holiday periods can be obtained from the government website. Businesses and construction companies shutdown as workers enjoy their annual leave in December. Parks and reserves need to be booked at least six months in advance.
South Africa’s electricity supply runs at 220/230V, 50Hz AC. Sockets take unique round-pinned plugs. Most hotel rooms have sockets but for other appliances, visitors will need to bring an adaptor.
Entry requirements :
1) A valid passport.
2) Two blank pages in your passport.
3) Visa – free 90-day visa for Europeans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans.
4) South African Money (Rands).
5) Return ticket.
6) Full unabridged birth certificate for children under 18 travelling with parents (with details of both parents).
7) Basic English, Afrikaans, Zulu.
8) Prebooked Accommodation.
Travel essentials :
1. Memory cards for all those photos.
4. The favoured playlist.
5. A good paperback.
6. Swimsuits (sarongs are easily available).
7. Basic Medical Supplies,
• Lip Balm.
• Malaria Tablets.
• Insecticide spray.
• Shoe inners for increased walking comfort.
• Eye Drops.
An insurance policy is essential for coverage of theft, loss and illness or injury prior to visiting South Africa. If your intention is an adventure filled holiday which includes activities such as diving with sharks in Cape Town, whitewater rafting or bungee jumping, consider paying extra for peace of mind. Keep all receipts for possible claims.
South Africa is wifi friendly with the internet available in most areas. Expect to pay a relatively small premium outlay of an hour for online access.
Intent on making a sizable purchase and prefer to mail it home? I’d forget the post office as past experience equates it to snail mail. Consider instead courier services such as:
Internet Express, Fedex, DHL Ideally, postal stamps (±R5.00) can be sourced from accommodation facilities, post offices and supermarkets. For peace of mind, invest in a mini map from MapStudio which identifies places of interest.
South Africa’s currency is the rand (R.)
– Notes are available in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 .
– Coins of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, as well as R1, R2 and R5.
– R10 and R20’s are ideal for tipping.
Money can be changed at American Express, Rennies Travel and Bureaux de change .
Banks operational hours are Monday to Fridays 9am to 3.30pm and Saturdays 9am to 11am. Expect to experience delays around the 25th to 30th of the month, South Africa’s salary payment dates.
Credit and debit cards are ideal to access your cash and convenient for transactions almost everywhere but essential for car rental. To prevent your card from being blocked, advise your bank in advance of your travel destination and expected transactions.
Travellers’ cheques make a useful backup as they can be replaced if lost or stolen. For safari regions and other remote areas, rather carry cash safely in a money belt concealed under your garments.
Trading hours and holidays :
Mondays to Fridays, opening hours are 8.30am or 9am and shutdown hours are 4.30pm or 5pm.
Malls are open from 8.30am to 16.00pm.
Moslem traders temporarily close from 12.00 to 13.30pm for prayer sessions.
In remote areas, allow for an hour luncheon between 12.00pm to 13.00pm.
South Africa’s telephone system generally works well. Public phone booths are found in every city and town, and are either coin- or card-operated. While international calls can be made from virtually any phone, it helps to have a phone. A far cheaper alternative is to buy a local SIM card that replaces your home SIM card while you’re in South Africa. The local SIM card contains your South African phone number, and airtime allotment. Very inexpensive starter packs (R100 or less) containing a SIM card and some airtime can be bought from the inescapable mobile phone shops and a number of other outlets, including supermarkets .
An easier option is to rent a South African SIM card or a phone and SIM card when you arrive. Cards start at R5 a day and phones at R7. Phone (and GPS) rental can also be arranged when you arrange car rental.
Value-added tax (VAT) of fifteen percent is levied on most goods and services, usually already included in any quoted price.
Ten to fifteen percent of the tab is the normal tip at restaurants and for taxis – but don’t feel obliged to tip if the service is lacking. Keep in mind that many of the people who’ll be serving you rely on tips to supplement a meagre wage on which they support huge extended families. Many establishments, especially private game lodges, take (voluntary) communal tips at the check out counter to ensure fair and equal distribution to all staff.
Keen on self-driving, google maps and a good GPS will make life easier. Travel light, it is always easier to wash or send it to the laundromat. Besides, packing space needs to be reserved for all the purchased presents.
Gay and lesbian travelers :
South Africa’s Constitution was the first in the world to prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Equality for gay and lesbian people are guaranteed. Cape Town ranks as the one of the world’s top gay hotspots. Research the gay pride festivals depending on your destination in South Africa, you will be well received.
Wildlife sanctuaries, wineries, shark diving, dolphin spotting, humming street markets, delectable cuisine, tantalizing seafood, a throbbing nightlife, warm people rich in culture and more, South Africa has it all. Come on over to the sunny side…