South Africa

This vast country is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth. Fondly known by locals as the 'Rainbow Nation', South Africa has 11 official languages and its multicultural inhabitants are influenced by a fascinating mix of African, Asian and European cultures. Spend your days: discovering the gourmet restaurants, impressive art and nightlife scenes and fine beaches of Cape Town; enjoying a typical local braai (barbecue) in the Soweto township; browsing the bustling Indian markets in Durban; or sampling some of the world’s finest wines at the myriad wine estates dotted around the picturesque Cape Winelands. Due to its rich and turbulent history there are plenty of historical attractions to explore including the Zululand battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and Robben Island, just off the coast of Cape Town. Above all else, South Africa’s attraction lies in its remarkably untamed wilderness with its astonishing range of wildlife roaming freely across massive unfenced game reserves such as the world famous Kruger National Park. With all of this variety on offer, it is little wonder that South Africa has fast become Africa’s most popular tourist destination.


Entry Requirements

Visa

It is the responsibility of the client to obtain their own visas.  

Visas are Not required for entry into South Africa for most nationalities except for New Zealanders (check with your nearest embassy).

Please Note:

  1. Evidence of Yellow Fever immunization will be requested to gain entry if you are arriving from a Yellow Fever Country. Please ensure you have had the inoculation at least 14 days prior to travel and are carrying your Yellow Fever card. 
  2. It is a requirement that you have a validity of 6 months on your passport at the time of travel and at least 4 blank pages in order to gain entry.

TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN

CHILD ACCOMPANIED BY BOTH PARENTS: Passengers travelling with children under the age of 18 years - arriving, transiting and /or departing from South Africa are required to produce a valid passport, 
copy of a birth certificate / equivalent document or passport containing the details of the parent or parents of the child

CHILD ACCOMPANIED BY ONE PARENT: Passengers travelling with children under the age of 18 years - arriving, transiting and /or departing from South Africa are required to produce a valid passport, 
copy of a birth certificate / equivalent document, parental consent letter, copy of the passport / identity document of the absent parent, contact details of the absent parent,  where applicable- copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child.
Copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent


Banking and Currency

CURRENCY

The currency is the Rand, which is divided into 100 cents. There are R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10 notes. Coins come in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c.

BANKING

Banks are found in most towns, and are generally open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays (Closed Sundays and Public Holidays). Most of them offer foreign exchange services - with cash, bank & credit cards as well as travellers cheques. You can also obtain cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs). Several international banks have branches in the main city centres. Always advise your bank that you are travelling outside of the country as they might block your purchases if they are not informed.

CASH & CREDIT CARDS

Personal expenses such as purchases from the camps/lodges curio shops can be paid for with Visa and MasterCard or cash. US$ are accepted in markets and for tipping (per the suggested guidelines). It is a good idea to have a quantity of smaller denominations of US$ for distribution of tips.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Travelling around South Africa is relatively easy by air, road and rail.

Principal air routes are serviced by South African Airways and British Airways. There are 2 low-cost carriers on main routes, namely Kulula and Mango.

LIGHT AIR TRANSFERS & LUGGAGE

Baggage is limited to 20 kg/44 lb per person in soft sided bags including carry-on and camera equipment.

PLEASE DO NOT USE HARD SUITCASES OR BAGS WITH WHEELS as bags need to be maneuvered in and out of light aircraft holds.


Health and Medical Information

Please consult your General Practitioner or Travel Clinic for advice on medical issues relevant to your destination.

For additional information please consult the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list


Safety Notices

COMMUNICATION

All camps have 24 hour radio contact with their base support headquarters, and each game-drive vehicle has radio contact with camp.

The daily camp tariff includes an amount for emergency evacuation insurance, and in the event of a medical emergency evacuation will be arranged to the nearest town. This is where your own insurance cover will begin.

CELL PHONES

Quad-band cell phones on global roaming generally work from all major urban centres. They do not, however, work from many of the safari camps due to limited reception.

WI-FI / INTERNET

Internet access is limited throughout Africa and varies from place to place. Please refer to the accommodation information for specific details.

TRAVEL ADVICE & WARNINGS

We strongly recommend you review the current travel advice for your country/countries of destination before booking and ensure you remain up to date with this advice before travelling.

Australia: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/Pages/default.aspx

UK: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

REGISTER YOUR TRAVEL

We recommend that you register your travel with your local authority. These services are free and help locate you in case of an emergency. Updates to travel advice are also provided through the subscription service.

Australia - Smart Traveller service - https://orao.dfat.gov.au/pages/

USA - Smart Traveller service - https://step.state.gov/step/


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Standards of hygiene in relation to food health and safety in South Africa, are generally high in hotels, restaurants, pubs and nightspots. Tap water in South Africa is safe to drink and cook with when taken from taps in urban areas. Not all tap water in rural areas is safe for consumption, so take precautions if necessary.

It is safe to eat fresh fruit, vegetables and salads, and put ice in your drinks. South Africa's fish, meat and chicken are of excellent quality, so there is no need to limit yourself when enjoying the local cuisine.

Restaurants are subject to South Africa's food safety control legislation, which is implemented by local government. 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 centres and townships. Food safety in such instances cannot always be guaranteed.


Climate and Weather

South Africa is a subtropical country, moderated by ocean and the altitude of the interior plateau. Famous for its sunshine, it is a relatively dry country, with an average annual rainfall of about 464mm (compared to a world average of about 860mm). Temperatures in South Africa tend to be lower than in other countries at similar latitudes – such as Australia – due mainly to greater elevation above sea level.

SUMMER: December to March
• Average Minimum: 15/59
• Average Maximum: 26/79

AUTUMN: April to May
• Average Minimum: 10/50
• Average Maximum: 23/73

WINTER: June to August
• Average Minimum: 5/41
• Average Maximum: 18/64

SPRING: September to November
• Average Minimum: 9/48
• Average Maximum: 25/77


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

SUMMER

Bring clothes that are cool, light and comfortable because summer temperatures can get well into the 30 - 40 degree Celsius range in some areas. Also bring an umbrella or raincoat during summer as this is when most of the country gets its rain, but don't forget a swimming costume (bathing suit).

WINTER

The winters are generally mild, comparing favourably with US/European summers. But there are days when temperatures dive, especially in high-lying areas such as the Drakensberg, so be prepared with jerseys and jackets. Cape Town gets its rain during the winter season so it’s advisable to bring rain gear along.

GENERAL

Always bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock as the sun can be strong even in the winter months.

Walking shoes are a good idea all year-round, with warm socks in the winter.

For game viewing, a couple of neutral-toned items will be useful, but there's no need to go overboard. A good pair of walking shoes is also advisable.

For the evening, if you are dining at an upmarket restaurant or seeing a show, smart-casual attire is recommended.

PACKING GUIDE

• Comfortable closed footwear plus a pair of runners/strapped sandals (in case your regular footwear gets wet).

• Socks that breathe e.g. Cotton.

• 2/3 pairs of long trousers or shorts, three shirts, preferably long sleeved and collared. Clothing should preferably be khaki or neutral colours.

• At least one change of neat casual clothes for evening wear. There will be no need for formal wear e.g. Jacket and tie. A long sleeved shirt and long pants is recommended for keeping mosquitoes at bay in the evenings.

• A warm fleece for morning and evening game drives in the winter months, and a lighter option for the summer months.

• A lightweight waterproof jacket (preferably GORETEX or the equivalent) in case of rain

• Insect repellent. The camps provide DEET based repellents as they are the most effective.

• A wide brimmed hat or cap

• Toiletries as appropriate - soaps, shampoos and body lotion are provided in the camps however some guests like to bring their own.

• Sunglasses and an extra pair of prescription glasses

• Plenty of max factor sunscreen

As a final comment a daily laundry service is provided in most camps (except smalls), and is included in the tariff, so there is no need to pack too much.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second.

A three-point round-pin adapter plug is used - electric power plug M has the official name of BS 546. Type M is a “15 A/250 V” version of electric plug D: 220/230V 50 Hz. Note that electric plug M is larger than D, thus plug D is not compatible in South Africa.

Such adaptors are generally available at all major airports.


General Guidance

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is highly recommended that clients obtain comprehensive Travel Insurance cover. Please furnish Epic with a copy of your insurance policy prior to travel.
If you require assistance with travel insurance please click on the following link - Travel Insurance.

  • Hospitalisation and Repatriation
  • Cancellation and Missed flight connections
  • Loss of baggage and loss/breakage of valuables en route
  • Loss/breakage of valuables such as cameras

PHOTOGRAPHY

Digital cameras are the best for wildlife, with a good zoom up to 300mm or more. If you have an SLR it is a good idea to bring a point and shoot as back up. Remember to bring plenty of memory cards, spare batteries and battery chargers (Please check that you have all your chargers for cell phones, iPods, kindles, camera and video batteries).

If you need to or are interested in hiring a lense to take with you, here are a couple of websites for you to take a look at:

In the USA  - https://www.lensrentals.com

In Australia -  https://rentalens.com.au/index.php or http://www.camerahire.com.au/hire/digital-slr

GRATUITIES

Although tipping is not compulsory, if service expectations are exceeded, we recommend the following:

  • Airport/Hotel/ Porters carriers – USD2.00 per porter
  • Professional Guides/Tour Leaders – USD20.00 per group per day
  • Safari Driver/Guides – USD15.00 per group per day. This should be handed to the guide personally
  • General Camp Staff – USD10 .00 per guest per day. This can be placed in a communal tip box or handed to the camp manager.

ECONOMY
• Industry: Mining (platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery
• Agriculture: Corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits; beef
• Exports: Gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment

LANGUAGE
There are 11 official languages, including English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Ndebele, Pedi, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana and Venda.

POPULATION
The current population is estimated at 59 million.

RELIGION
Christian, indigenous beliefs, Muslim, Hindu

RECOMMENDED READING

  • The Safari Companion, A Guide to Watching African Mammals - Richard Estes
  • Okavango, Africa’s Last Eden - Frans Lanting
  • The Scramble for Africa - Thomas Pakenham
  • Lost World of the Kalahari - Laurens van der Post
  • Cats of Africa, Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation - Gerald Hinde & Luke Hunter
  • Running Wild, Dispelling the Myths of the African Wild Dog - John McNutt
  • Cry of the Kalahari, Seven Years in Africa’s Last Great Wilderness - Mark & Delia Owens
  • My Traitor’s Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience - Rian Malan
  • Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela - Nelson Mandela


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