Stories and Traveltips

ID #1277

Travel Tips, South Africa.


o    Climate: Strictly speaking, winter runs from June to August and summer from November to January. It rains in the Cape in winter and the rest of the country in summer, if at all.
o    Clothing: Although casual clothes are acceptable in most places, some hotels do not permit jeans, shorts and T-shirts in the evening. If you are intending to watch wildlife it is not a good idea to wear white or particularly bright colours.
o    Languages: South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, North Sotho, South Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Most speak English well but you may find people who do not understand it in some remote areas. 
o    Medical facilities: South Africa’s medical facilities are equal to the best in the world, but may be rudimentary in the rural areas. Ensure that you have medical insurance.
o    Accommodation: There is something for almost every taste and budget, including many hotels. Guesthouses are usually smaller and more personal, as are B&B’s, both of which abound. Backpacker’s hostels can be found in all the cities and most of the towns, especially along the coast. Almost all towns have campsites or caravan parks. Game lodges offer accommodation of high standard with appropriately excellent cuisine. Holiday Resorts normally offer inexpensive self-catering accommodation in comfortable bungalows or apartments and are popular with families.
o    Crime: There are criminals in South Africa, as is the case elsewhere, so take basic, common-sense precautions.
o    Wild Animals: Look from a distance, respect their space, do not feed them and you will get along just fine. Do not walk in areas where there is big game unless accompanied by a ranger.
o    Immunisation: Not necessary as the more serious infectious diseases are rare in South Africa. HIV is however the exception.
o    Malaria: The disease is endemic in the Lowveld (Parts of Mpumalanga and the Northern province) and northern Kwa-Zulu Natal but the risks are low in winter. Consult a knowledgeable medical practitioner for advice on whether or not to take precautions. Take all the common sense precautions however, as follows:

•    Avoid high risk malaria area after the rains in summer
•    Most mosquito bites take place on the ankles. Wear long sleeved shirts and trousers with socks in the evenings, sleep under a mosquito net if available. Spray your room and then close the doors and windows before leaving for your evening meal. Always turn ceiling fans on. 
•    Use insect repellent. Make sure it is uniformly applied.

o    Airports: There are three major international airports – i.e., Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Scheduled flights operate to many of the smaller ones such as Port Elizabeth, East London, Upington, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, George, Umtata, Pietermaritzburg, Phalaborwa, Pietersburg and Hoedspruit. Aircraft can be chartered to the many smaller airports and landing strips in South Africa.
o    Currency:  The currency is the Rand, which is divided into 100 cents.
o    Banks: Open between 09h00 and 15h30 and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. One can change money at most banks, at your hotel or at a Foreign Exchange Bureau. Credit cards cannot be used to buy petrol – either a petrol card must be used or alternatively cash.
o    Foreign Exchange: Traveller’s cheques and foreign currency can be exchange at commercial banks. American Express and Rennies offices as well as some hotels have foreign exchange facilities.
o    Bilharzia: A microscopic parasite may be present in stagnant bodies of water. As a rule, find out whether or not there is bilharzia in the water before swimming. Generally speaking this is only an issue north of the Witwatersrand.
o    Power and Electricity: The voltage is 220V AC, 50 Hz. Flashlight batteries are readily available but high-tech batteries for cameras and other equipment should be bought in electronics and photographic stores or pharmacies.

o    Public Holidays:    January 1    New Years Day
January 2    Second New Year
March/April    Easter Weekend and Passover
March 21    Human Rights Day
April 27     Freedom Day
May 1        Worker’s Day
June 16    Youth Day
August 9    National Women’s Day
September 24    Heritage Day
December 16    Day of Reconciliation
December 25    Christmas Day
December 26    Day of Goodwill

o    Value Added Tax: VAT is 14% and is included in the marked price of goods unless otherwise specifically stated. Foreign visitors may qualify for a VAT refund. Make sure that you receive a VAT invoice when making a purchase and claim its return at the airport on departure.
o    Bus Services: There are a number of coach lines that operate between the major centres. A dedicated door-to-door bus operates between backpacker hostels (Baz Bus).
o    Train Services: These are efficient and reasonably priced. Suburban trains operate in most of the urban centres.
o    Charter Flights: A variety of aircraft can be chartered in the major centres. Gauteng is particularly well endowed with small airfields serving the private and charter markets.
o    Driving: On the left-hand side of the road. Wearing of seat belts and helmets on motorcycles is mandatory. Drive with the windows closed in the cities. Carry your driver’s license with you at all times. The roads are good but distances are significant. Guard against fatigue. Watch out for animals in the rural areas that are not fenced. Car rental companies operate from airports, cities and even the smaller towns.
o    Posts and telecommunications: Post offices are open between 08h30 and 16h0 and 08h00 to 12h00 on Saturdays. Cellphones work in all of the major centres and along all of the main roads. Rent a cellphone at the airport on arrival. Remember the following numbers:

•    Local Directory Enquiries        1023
•    Enquiries (cellphones)        110
•    International Enquiries        0903
•    Collect Calls            0023

o    There are internet cafes in most cities, and Internet or e-mail facilities in many hotels. AKTravel

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Last update: 2014-03-28 07:56
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.1

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