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Travel Tips for South Africa Visitors
Travel Tips for Visitors to South Africa
Best time to Visit
South Africa is a destination that can be visited year round. South Africa's seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere, with winter from June to August and summer from December to February. But there is sunshine the year round.
Summer in South Africa is often hot, with afternoon showers that end with pleasantly warm evenings. Autumn begin to cool down but weather is very pleasant; it is generally warm and dry with days getting shorter. Winter is generally dry and cool; warm and bright days with cold early mornings and evenings.
You can enjoy Safari Game viewing all year round. Kruger National Park, its adjacent Private Game Reserves, and Pilanesberg National Park are home to a huge variety of wildlife and many distinct regions; you are guaranteed to encounter the "Big Five" and more under the guidance of expert Safari Rangers.
If you want to visit South Africa's famous Cape Winelands the best time is between September to April.
Cape Town is the southernmost part of South Africa along with the well known Garden route that runs from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, can be visited year round since this region enjoys a great Mediterranean type climate.
Whale watching peak season runs from July to October. Shark Cage Diving can be done throughout the year.
Average Day Time Temperatures/ Fahrenheit Summer (Dec. - Feb.) Winter (June – July)
Kruger Park and surrounding Private Game Reserves 90 79
Cape Town 80 65
Johannesburg 77 62
Passport, Visa, and Vaccination, Requirements
You need a valid Canadian or American passport with at least four consecutive sides by blank side pages. If there is insufficient space in the passport, you will be denied boarding.
Your passport should expire six months after your intended departure date from South Africa; Even a day difference will deny you boarding.
Canadian and American passport holders do not require a visa to travel to South Africa, other passport holders, please consult your local Consulate before traveling.
For passengers who continue to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (or Livingstone, Zambia) Canadian and American Passport Holders need to purchase a Tourist Visa; You need to obtain a MULTI-ENTRY KAZA UNIVISA, it is valid for thirty days and will allow you to visit Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana (for your Chobe Day Trip). Upon arrival inform them you are visiting Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, and you need a multi-entry tourist visa. The present cost of the Kaza Visa is $50 USD Per person paid in exact cash.
For your day trip into Botswana, you need the KAZA visa plus a $30 USD Botswana Tourism Levy Fee. The fee to be paid upon arrival in cash per person.
Please note although we make every effort to keep you updated, fees/regulations are subject to change without prior notice.
There is no vaccination required to enter South Africa. However, it is advisable to visit your Family Doctor to check your personal medical needs.
Yellow fever certificates; You are required a yellow fever vaccination certificate for entry in to South Africa if coming from: Angola, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, Congo, Cote d Ivoire, Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, French Guyana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Tanzania, Venezuela.
If you are traveling to another Country after your South Africa Tour such as Greece, Egypt, Jordan, Dubai, Turkey or Israel, you will need a yellow fever certificate to enter those Countries.
It is recommended that you have the yellow fever inoculation four to six weeks before you travel to South Africa.
A yellow fever inoculation certificate only becomes valid 10 days after inoculation - after which it remains valid for 10 years.
Make copies of your passports and prescription medication and keep separate as a backup.
There is no departure tax for South Africa.
South African authorities require that all children under 18 years, traveling to/from South Africa, be in possession of their original unabridged birth certificate reflecting both parents full names and surname. Children traveling with one parent, or other person/s, or where parent/s are deceased, must be in possession of an affidavit from the remaining parent/s or guardian permitting the child to travel.
Airline Fees
Airline seat assignment. Advance seat selection is subject to airline fees, paid directly to the airline at the time you select your seats.
Please note that airlines reserve the right to change/cancel the pre-selected seats due to schedule changes or Flight equipment change.
Note that there also some airlines that they do not allow advance seat selection.
Checked Baggage Fees. Many airlines have checked baggage fees; once you receive your tickets contact the airline with your airline reservation code for specific charges + terms and conditions.
You can also visit the airline's website, for more details: Click Here >>
Airline tickets are 100% non-refundable/ unchangeable. If the airline allows a change, the change is always subject to change fees that vary from USD250 and up + the difference in fare; charges are per ticket, and every airline has specific policies and fees.
Airline flight schedules are always subject to change, we will always try our best to accommodate to these changes, but we are not responsible for any losses incurred due to missed-connections, flight cancellations or flight schedule changes. Is strongly recommended you purchase Travel insurance to cover these circumstances.
Language
There are 11 official languages in South Africa. English is the language of the administration and is widely spoken. The other languages are Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu.
Currency and Banking
USD is widely accepted, We recommend bringing a mix or small and larger USD notes.
Visa and Mastercard are also accepted at most major Hotels, Restaurants, and Gift Shops, use, however, may be limited in small towns and some small retail shops.
ATM's are only available in larger Cities and will issue only local currency. ATM's are situated on the outside of most banks and operate 24 hours a day.
The currency is the South African Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. There are R200, R50, R20, and R10 notes.
Coins come in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c, and 5c. You can exchange currency at the airport, hotel, or bank.
Banks are open 09:00 to 15:30 Monday to Friday and only half day on Saturdays (08:30 to 11:00) closed on Sundays.
Consider bringing two credit cards in case one is lost or compromised, and always be sure to advise your bank of your travel plans.
Please note when visiting Victoria Falls Zimbabwe and Botswana is recommended to bring plenty of USD cash for tips and small purchases.
This area frequently experiences a shortage of currency and is difficult to obtain any cash from ATM's and possible banks.
Optional tours and purchases at restaurants or big retail/gift shops will accept credit cards.
Since upon arrival in Victoria Falls you need to pay for your KAZA Visa in exact cash USD, please make sure you have this amount with you.
Same is recommended for the Botswana Levy Fee on your Chobe day excursion.
Clothing and other suggested items
South Africa is a relaxed destination that is generally warm and sunny. We suggest lightweight cotton clothing with extra layers for evenings and mornings when it can cool down quickly. Light jackets and sweaters as well as a warm hat are recommended for early morning Safaris when traveling in the winter months. Please ensure you bring sturdy shoes with warm socks, and preferably wear neutral colors in these areas. A light raincoat is recommended if traveling in the summer months (November to March). Always bring a Swimming suit.
A sturdy Sun Hat and good sunglasses is also recommended.
While dining out in cities and other metropolitan areas a smart casual style will be acceptable everywhere. Same goes for Hotels and Game Reserves Restaurants.
Other items to remember: binoculars, bird reference books if you are an avid bird watcher, Plenty of sun block, antihistamine and insect bite lotion. Bring a soft sided bag carryon bag for Safari day trips.
Laundry service is always available and is inexpensive.
We suggest you do not bring any expensive jewelry with you.
Suggested Travel Essentials
Valid Passport for six months past your return date with blank pages (blank two sided), please note insufficient blank pages will deny you boarding.
Travel Insurance/numbers who to call for emergency assistance.
Flight Tickets.
Trip invoice confirmation.
Photocopy of passport.
Money (cash / debit / credit cards).
Money belt or pouch.
Pens.
Suggested Packing:
Two T-Shirts and one long sleeved cotton shirt.
Two Pairs of Shorts or Two Skirts.
Two Pairs of long pants.
Underwear and socks.
Comfortable walking shoes.
Sandals.
Lightweight jacket.
Warm sweater or jacket for early mornings or evenings.
Hat/wind proof, and brimmed hat.
Swimsuit/cover up.
Sunscreen.
Toiletries including moisturizer.
Insect repellent that contains DEET for safari areas.
Good Quality Sunglasses.
Sleepwear.
Personal medication/prescriptions copy in case of need to refill.
First aid kit / over-counter essentials.
Extra Eye glasses/contact lenses.
Antibacterial gels/wipes.
Batteries / Charger / USB chord.
Small Binoculars.
Electrical adapter.
Please note you will not require a great deal of clothing; Laundry Service is available at most hotels and Safari Lodges and is generally inexpensive.
Electricity - Time Zone
Electricity is generally 220/240 volts, 15 amps, and is supplied through either 15-amp three-prong or 5-amp two-prong plugs, in both cases with round pins. If you're bringing anything electrical, bring an adapter, or buy one South Africa, they are packaged as "Visitor into SA". Generally, 110V video chargers work safely on the 220V supply. Television is on the PAL system.
South Africa operates on Central African Standard Time, making it seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. All of South Africa is in the one-time zone; there is no daylight saving.
Telephone and Internet
The international code for South Africa is +27. When dialing from within South Africa a '0' before the area code should be included, this digit can be omitted when dialing from outside the country. Most hotels will have direct international calling from your room or the switchboard at the front desk. Cell phone coverage is widespread in South Africa, though coverage may be limited in certain areas of the game parks. Most Hotels offer WIFI access but extra charges may apply. Please note that at most Game Lodges the internet/WIFI service is very poor and unreliable.
Mail
Post Offices are common all across South Africa, offering standard postage services. Letters or postcards may take up to 3 weeks to reach the USA or Canada.
Shopping
South Africa is very shopper-friendly. Some favorites items to look for are traditional South African craftwork such as bowls, clay pots, carvings, tapestries, paintings, unique jewelry and brightly colored ethnic clothing with African designs.
Cuisine and Food safety
South Africa standards of hygiene in relation to food health and safety are generally high in hotels, restaurants, pubs and nightspots. It is safe to eat fresh fruit, vegetables and salads, and put ice in your drinks. The fish, meat and chicken are of excellent quality. Restaurants are subject to South Africa's food safety control legislation. Regulations include certification and regular inspections by health inspectors to ensure hygienic standards are maintained.
Street food is not as common in South Africa as it is in other countries, although vendors selling traditional snacks and meals can be found in city centers and townships. Food safety in such instances cannot always be guaranteed.
South Africa boasts excellent fresh produce, meat, fruit, and great seafood. Types of dishes served include sosaties (a type of kebab), bobotie (curried mince), crayfish, biltong (seasoned dried meat), and potjiekos (a casserole cooked for hours in a three-legged iron pot). Also worth trying is a "bunny chow" is curry served in a loaf of bread. You also may find game meat in some buffet dinners such as springbok, or even ostrich.
South African wines are renowned the world over, and are very affordable. Unique to South Africa is Pinotage, a cross between pinot noir and cinsault. The traditional beer - umqombothi - is a home-brewed Sorghum beer sold in many African townships.
Photography
South Africa is a beautiful destination, and travelers should take advantage of the great photographic opportunities. Be sure to check the power requirements for your equipment, and purchase a power adaptor so that you can charge your gear easily. If you are going on safari remember to bring extra batteries.
Tipping Guidelines
Tipping is a common practice in South Africa for a range of services. In restaurants the accepted standard is around 10% to 15% of the bill, although sometimes a gratuity will be included (often in the case of a large party). Bartenders are tipped a similar percentage.
Hotel porters are tipped around 2 to 5 USD.
Drivers 5 USD per person per day.
Game Rangers about 15 USD per person per day and Game Trackers 10 USD per person per day.
Travel Insurance
It is very highly recommended that you get travel insurance before you travel. Once purchased our packages are 100% no refundable, no one expects to have a medical emergency away from home, or to have to cancel a trip due to an emergency. But these events happen, and they can be disruptive and expensive. Medical emergencies while on vacation can be very costly. Travel Insurance is also very useful to cover any expenses you may incur due to missed connections or flight delays. Airlines generally do not cover expenses due to delayed or lost luggage, but most insurance policies do cover expenses of that nature. Please note airline tickets are not refundable and unchangeable; travel insurance is strongly recommended in the event you may need to interrupt your trip while on destination.
Water
High-quality tap water is available in South Africa's urban areas, but not all water in rural areas is safe to drink straight from the tap. Best is to keep to bottled water which is readily available.
In the Cape, particularly, the water contains humic acid, which stains it the color of diluted Coca-Cola - this is absolutely harmless.
Medical facilities
Medical facilities in South African cities and larger towns are world-class, offering specialized services by highly skilled professionals. Doctors are well trained and must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. It is a good idea to take out comprehensive medical insurance before travelling to South Africa as private medical care can be expensive. Be sure to carry proof of insurance on your person at all times. If you are dependent on medication, be sure to bring a full supply and a spare prescription, preferably with the active ingredient listed; brand names may differ from country to country.
Vaccinations - Malaria
There is no vaccination required to enter South Africa. However, it is advisable to visit your Family Doctor to check your personal medical needs.
Many of the main tourist areas are malaria-free. However, the Kruger National Park, the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal do pose a malaria risk in the summer months. (Transmission is seasonal, with peak rates of infection occurring in April and declining by June). Although the spread of Malaria is well managed and risk is low it is recommended to consult your Doctor about taking Anti- Malaria tablets. In a Malaria region avoid wearing perfume or after shave and wear cool long sleeves and trousers at night. Use of insect repellent is recommended. An area to consider if looking for a Malaria Free Game Reserve is Pilanesberg National Park. Set in an ancient volcano Crater only 2 hours drive from Johannesburg; is an excellent choice with the world famous Resort Complex of Sun City nearby.
Yellow fever certificates; You are required a yellow fever vaccination certificate for entry in to South Africa if coming from: Angola, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, Congo, Cote d Ivoire, Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, French Guyana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Tanzania, Venezuela. If you are traveling to another Country after your South Africa Tour such as Greece, Egypt, Jordan, Dubai, Turkey or Israel, you will need a yellow fever certificate to enter those Countries.
The Sun
There is extremely high UVA and UVB penetration over South Africa. Sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses are essential, especially between 10am and 4pm, regardless of whether there is cloud cover or not.
Safari Safety Tips
Always follow your guide's instructions and guidelines. Stay in the car during game drives except at designated areas where you are allowed to get out of the car. Don't stand up in the car, hang out of the window or sit on the roof. Never walk off far to pee behind a bush, just go straight behind the vehicle. Don't drive too close to animals if you are on a self-drive safari. Back off if the animals seem disturbed. Don't talk or laugh too loud. Watch your step while walking in the bush. Never run or jog in a wildlife area as it entices predators to attack. For the same reason, never run away from a predator when confronted. Instead ask your guide for help and instructions or slowly walk backwards while facing the predator. Most lodges do not have fences, the staff will often escort guest to their rooms.
Cover your arms and legs in the evening and use insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes. The repellant should contain at least 20-30% DEET. Wear a hat, use sunscreen, and drink plenty of water. Don't wear clothes that are too bright and colorful or too much perfume.
Safety and Security
Always ask for advice from our local representative or the Hotel staff what places are safe to visit on your own. Walking late night is not recommended.
For taxis is best to arrange from the Hotel and fix the price prior to start the trip.
Dial 10111 for the police and 10177 for an ambulance.
Make copies of your passports and prescription medication and keep separate as a backup.
Traveling with Children
South African authorities require that all children under 18 years, traveling to/from South Africa, be in possession of their original unabridged birth certificate reflecting both parents full names and surname. Children traveling with one parent, or other person/s, or where parent/s are deceased, must be in possession of an affidavit from the remaining parent/s or guardian permitting the child to travel.
Children under six years old are not permitted to participate in Safari Game Drives. Most Safari Lodges offer activities (extra costs may apply ) for younger children.
A good choice is the family friendly resort complex of Sun City. Only two hours drive from Johannesburg and Malaria Free. Safari Game drives are taken at Pilanesberg National Park, set in the crater of an extinct volcano, is home to an extensive variety of wildlife including the "Big Five".
Delayed or missed Flights
Should this events occur let us know as soon as possible 1-800-842-6943 for USA and Canada.
Or e-mail us at savemore@traveldiscounters.ca to call long distance dial 416-481-6701.
Lost or delayed luggage
You must file a report with the airline before leaving the airport and keep a copy of the report with you for insurance purposes.
Hotels Check In
The check-in time for most Hotels is 15:00 and check-out time 11:00 am, regardless of your arrival or departure times. Check-in/check-out policies differ by Hotel and will therefore vary. Passengers wishing to make arrangments for a late check-out/check-in and baggage storage must negotiate this service directly with the Hotel. Our Local Representatives will do their best to assist you in this matter. Guaranteed early check-in/check out can be arranged by paying the applicable fees in advance before departure.
For passengers Traveling to the Okavango Delta:
Luggage/Weight restrictions for Cessna flight to Okavango.
Weight restrictions:
For weight limitations and therefore safety reasons, we need to know in advance if any passenger is over 100kgs (220lbs) as flight surcharges may apply.
Luggage restrictions:
We have a strict luggage weight policy of 15kg for hold luggage and 5kg for carry on.
The baggage compartment on our aircraft has a door opening which is 10" (25cm) x 27" (62cm). The maximum size of bags is 62cm long and 30cm wide and 25cm high.
We cannot accept suitcases with hard frames, as we need to be able to squash the bags into the pod if necessary. A duffle style bag with a hard bottom and wheels is fine as long as it fits within the dimensions. No hard Samsonite type suitcases or luggage with rigid sides or wheels can be accommodated.
Passengers may be requested to re-pack if the bags are too large, too heavy or in incorrect bags/suitcases to be carried on board the aircraft – suitable bags can be purchased on arrival.
To get to Okavango, you travel by road from Victoria Falls to the Town of Kasane, some 80 km away from Victoria Falls. From there take a small Cessna plane to your Lodge Moremi Crossing Camp, Botswana. The Flight is one hour and twenty minutes. The tickets for this flight will be given to you on the destination before departure.
Please note the lodge has laundry facilities, or if needed there is a Company at Johannesburg Airport where you can rent a locker for your luggage.
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