To travel in Southern Africa, would be no different to any other country in the world. It has become a safe region to visit, provided that one follows some basic common sense precautions, the same precautions you would take when visiting any other country in the world.
The South African currency is Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Refer to the currency converter on our websites to find out the appropriate exchange rate of the South African Rand (ZAR). The South African Rand (ZAR) is accepted in Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho. The US $ is best for Zimbabwe and Zambia or use the actual currency of each country:
- Namibia – Namibian $
- Mozambique – Meticais
- Swaziland – Emalangeni
- Botswana – Pula
- Lesotho – Loti
- Zimbabwe – Any currency except Zimbabwe $
- Zambia – Kwacha
- Traveller’s cheques, although still the safest option they are no longer readily use. But if purchased, make sure they are issued in South African Rand.
- Do not counter sign all your traveller’s cheques.
- I would recommend credit cards, debit cards or normal bank cards, as ATM (Automated Teller Machines) are readily available throughout the region. Use the same precautions you would use at home when using these cards. Most importantly – do not let anyone offer you any assistance.
- Keep your traveller’s cheques, cash and credit cards separate when travelling.
- It would be ideal to always have about R750.00 in cash per person available whilst travelling.
- If available – always make use of your room or hotel safe, to store the bulk of your money.
- Write down your traveller’s cheque and credit card numbers as well as the customer service number of issuing bank (s) , keep in an envelope and in a safe place.
- Make use of foreign exchange outlets and banks to obtain the best exchange rates.
- Banks open Monday to Friday from 09h00 – 15h30, Saturday from 08h30 – 11h00 and foreign exchange outlets are available in all the airports and big centres.
- Airport taxes are usually included when purchasing your air ticket – check on this.
- We have a 14 % VAT (Value Added Tax) system on most goods purchased in SA, which may be claimed back before your departure. No claims are possible for services rendered.
- VAT claim applications are obtainable at the “VAT Claim Office” at all international airports, harbours, major border posts or at the various “VAT Claim Offices” in major centres. E.g. Cape Town, Johannesburg – inquire about where to find these offices at your accommodation establishment, local tourism information centre or guide.
- VAT refunds are paid out at the tax office at all international airports, harbours and major border posts, if you produce and / or your claim complies with the following:
- If the total VAT paid on all items purchased, exceeds R250.00.
- Produce your travel ticket, example – air ticket.
- Produce your passport.
- Supply VAT invoices for all goods purchased.
- Hand in your completed VAT claim application.
- You might be asked to produce the goods that you have purchased, for example – very expensive jewellery.
- One needs a valid passport before travelling to any Southern African country, it must have at least 2 x blank pages and must be valid for at least 6 months.
- Visas can be obtained on entrance to Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- No Visas are required for South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Lesotho or Botswana when travelling from the US, European Union or Britain.
- If possible, travel with certified photocopies of your valuable documents, keep separate from originals and in a safe place.
- Report lost passports and/or visas as soon as possible to your countries` embassy or consulate and the SA police.
- Vaccinations are not compulsory.
- South Africa and surrounding countries are all relatively hygienic. Medical assistance is of a very high standard, if you have travel insurance.
- If you are on medication make sure you carry enough for the duration of your tour.
- It is always handy to carry your own medical kit that contains some basic items, e.g. Headache tablets, sun protection – min factor 30, plasters, ointments, etc.
- Consult your local doctor or clinic about the following vaccinations and/or illnesses:
- – if you have not been vaccinated before – 1 injection every 15 years.
- – One vaccination will give one years protection, best is 2 weeks before departure.
Yellow Fever Card
- – It is compulsory to have a Yellow Fever vaccination, if you wish to visit South Africa from African countries that are basically situated north of the Zambezi River.
- – Always be careful, mainly transmitted via unsafe sex or direct contact with blood from a HIV infected person. Avoid getting tattoo’s or body piercing done in Southern African countries.
- – It is present during Southern Africa’s summers (September to April), in the following areas: – in and around the Kruger National Park, Swaziland, the northern parts of KwaZulu Natal, Mozambique, Vic Falls, Chobe, the Okavango Delta and northern Namibia – Etosha. It would be advisable to take a course of anti-malaria tablets, please discuss this with your doctor. We find that most visitors to Southern Africa are over concerned about malaria, this should not be the case. Millions of people live and work in malaria areas without taking anti-malaria medication and they never have problems, especially when they following these basic precautions:
- Use mosquito repellent (Bug spray, cream or roll-on).
- Ladies – when exposed at night, do not wear too much perfume.
- When outside at night – cover those sensitive parts of your body, e.g. ankles.
- Do not leave your room lights on at night, as this will attract insects unnecessarily.
- If available and comfortable, keep your room AC or fan on at night.
- Never leave your room doors or windows open, unless they have a gauze screen for protection – you never know what else could crawl in.
- If available – make use of the mosquito nets in your room.
- Important: If you are not feeling well and you have similar symptoms to the flue – headache or fever, within 7 – 21 days of visiting a malaria area, consult a Doctor and mention to him / her that you have been in a malaria area.
- South Africa has 11 official languages, English and Afrikaans are the most common languages. English is also common throughout Southern Africa.
- Afrikaans will be understood by either the Dutch or Flemish speaking tourist.
- GMT + 2 hours.
FOOD AND WATER:
- Food and water is generally of good quality in urban areas, in restaurants and hotels, bottled water is readily available, be prepared to go on a diet after your visit to South Africa, you will know what we are talking about once you have visited.
- Avoid buying food on the streets.
- Only eat clean or properly prepared food.
- Only drink water, if you know where it comes from.
- Summer (September to April) – Generally Southern Africa has great weather, warm to hot, it can get cool, take some warm clothes with. Never forget your swimming costume.
- Winter (May to August) – It can become very cold, nights cold and the days can be warm, take some light clothes with.
- Always pack in a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a hat.
- Some establishments stipulate “smart casual” requiring jacket and tie, or cocktail dresses for the evening.
- At game reserves, neutral colours, such as browns, beige’s, khakis are preferred on game drives.
- There is a chance of rain throughout the year, take clothes to keep you dry.
- Western Cape Province (Cape Town) – winter rainfall.
- Western Cape Province (Garden Route) – all year round rainfall.
- Rest of the region – summer rainfall.
- Most hotels and lodges, etc – have a laundry service.
- Most local airlines only allow 20 kg per person and some hand luggage, this is usually enough for travelling, too much luggage can become awkward.
- If you are taking any charter flights on tour / safari, then you will need to carry a smaller bag, as these airlines only allow 10 kg per person and your other luggage will need to be stored at your place of departure.
AVERAGE TEMPERATURES (°C):
- Electricity supply is 220 volts.
- Round – two point and three point plugs are used. It is advisable to purchase a multi-plug on arrival, as the so called international plugs purchased overseas are not compatible for our very unusual three point sockets.
PHOTOGRAPHIC AND OTHER EQUIPMENT:
- A digital camera with plenty of memory is ideal.
- A zoom lens would be handy for wildlife photography.
- For all enthusiastic photographers – a camera UV / skylight filter is advisable.
- A digital recorder is ideal, but video recorder tapes are readily available, although it would be easier if you bring a sufficient supply with you.
- All batteries are readily available, but it would be easier if you brought a sufficient supply with you.
- Binoculars will improve your game viewing considerably.
- A small torch is a good idea, especially to find your way around the camps at night.
- Self-drive – Although, Southern Africa is an extremely easy region to navigate around, if you have a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite), you might as well bring it along to help you get around.
- Only make use of official airport porters, they carry ID cards and sometimes have airport company uniforms.
- Porter-age is normally (ZAR) R10.00 per bag – if it has not already been included in the tour price.
- Guides (only make use of registered / accredited tourist guides) – (ZAR) R30.00 to R40.00 per person per day.
- If not already included – 10 to 15 % of the bill at restaurants, bars, etc.
- Shops open from Monday to Friday from 08h30 – 17h30 and Saturday from 08h30 – 13h00. In the bigger centres – the opening hours are most likely to be longer and shops will be open on a Sunday morning.
ON THE STREET:
- Keep mobile phones and wallets tucked away and avoid ostentatious display of expensive jewellery, cameras and other valuables.
- Avoid counting money in the open.
- Stick to well lit and busy streets, especially at night.
- Do not leave purses or bags on chairs, under tables, on the backs of chairs or on restroom hooks.
- Do not leave your baggage unattended.
ON THE ROAD:
- SA has a very efficient road network and generally good quality roads that have well marked road signs.
- In South Africa – most of the National Roads (N) are also Toll Roads.
- Self-drive clients – petrol available at ± (ZAR) R12.00 per litre.
- Speed limits, unless otherwise demarcated
- National & Major Roads 120 km / hour.
- Approaching crossing, villages and towns 80 km / hour.
- In villages, towns and cities 60 km / hour.
- Familiarise yourself with the rules of the road in Southern Africa. Remember that Southern Africans drive on the left hand side of the road.
- If you choose to use public or other transport, we suggest that you consult the list of recommended taxi services and buses that are available from your hotel.
- At any transport hub – it is recommended that you always keep your luggage where you can see it and never unattended.
- In the big cities – keep your car doors locked at all times and windows up.
- Lock valuable items in the boot.
- Only stop at designated viewing or picnic spots.
- At night – park in well lit areas, hotel parking.
- Never pick up strangers.
- Do not let your car get too low on fuel/gas.
- If you get lost – call our office or go to your nearest petrol station, police station or any business for assistance.
- If you encounter a problem on the road – use the SOS phones, which are located along all national highways. There is also excellent mobile phone coverage throughout the region.
- Pay special attention to speed limits, road signs and road markings.
- It is an offence in SA for the driver of a vehicle to use any communication device while driving, hand-free devices are acceptable.
- It is compulsory to carry translations with regard to driver’s licenses in foreign languages.
- If you are issued with a citation for any traffic violation, you are not required to pay over any amount to the officer.
- Here are some SA driving habits that tourist find unusual:
- The first motorist to arrive at a stop signs or streets has the right of way.
- The left hand-side emergency lane marked with a yellow line may be used during the day to allow others to pass (not at night).
- Courtesy passing signals – flashing of hazard lights, peeping of the hooter.
ON THE BEACH / AT SWIMMING POOLS:
- Never leave your possessions unattended.
- Although topless bathing is becoming more acceptable, most South Africans are generally conservative people, so nude or topless bathing outside such demarcated bathing areas is usually found to be offensive.
- Ask for a list of tourist attractions at each hotel, lodge, etc on arrival.
- Do not leave luggage or hand bags unattended at any accommodation establishment.
- Store valuables in your room safe or the accommodation establishment’s safety deposit box.
- Do not leave room keys lying around.
- Keep your room locked at all times and if someone knocks – check who it is before opening the door.
- Hand your room keys in at the front desk / reception, whenever you leave the accommodation establishment.
NATIONAL PARKS AND RESERVES:
- Please familiarise yourself with the visitors “Rules and Regulations”, they are displayed at the entrance gates and on pamphlets that are issued on your arrival. This is for your own safety and the safety of the wildlife.
- On entry – make sure you receive a list of all the facilities that are available.
- On entry – make sure you receive the opening and closing times for entrance gates and camp gates.
USEFUL PHONE NUMBERS:
- National Tourism Information and Safety Line – 083 123 2345
- Emergency Number from a cell phone – 112
- Police Emergency Number – 10111
- Ambulance / Fire – 10177
- All accommodation establishments have telephones that clients can use.
- There are plenty of public phones available. Telephone cards (World Call) can be bought at service stations, supermarkets, cafés and post offices.
- Mobile / Cell phones – it would be advisable to apply for international roaming with your service provider before departure, as this region has excellent mobile phone coverage.
- You could purchase a cheap phone and “local pay as you go” SIM card on arrival at the airport.