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 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

Please check with a South African Embassy or consulate or on the website below what entry requirements apply to your nationality:

http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/applying-for-sa-visa

The passport must still have at least two blank pages, more if you are travelling through eSwatini (Swaziland) or a neighbouring country. (*6 months is required by the neighbouring countries through which one usually travels on a round trip.)

Most passport holders wanting to travel to eSwatini (Swaziland), Lesotho or Zimbabwe can get a visa at the border, but there are some exceptions!  Check if you need a visa before you arrive at the border.

UPDATED ADVISORY: REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILDREN TRAVELLING THROUGH SOUTH AFRICAN PORTS OF ENTRY

Revised: November 2019

The requirements for children travelling to or from the Republic of South Africa are aimed at giving effect to the Children’s Act, 2005.

 

1. APPLICATION OF THE REQUIREMENTS

1.1.        The documents listed under paragraph 2 must on request be produced at a port of entry by South African children entering and leaving the Republic, as well as by unaccompanied minors, regardless of their nationalities.

1.2.        Foreign children who apply for a South African visa at any mission or VFS service point must submit, as part of the applications, the documents required under paragraph 2 prior to such visa being issued.

 

2. DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAVELLING THROUGH A PORT OF ENTRY OF THE REPUBLIC CATEGORY

CHILD ACCOMPANIED BY BOTH PARENTS - valid passport

CHILD ACCOMPANIED BY ONE PARENT  - valid passport

CHILD TRAVELLING WITH PERSON WHO IS NOT HIS / HER BIOLOGICAL PARENT  - valid passport

UNACCOMPANIED CHILD

- copy of his /her birth certificate

- parental consent letters

- copy of the passport(s)/identity document(s) of the parent(s) / legal guardian(s)

- contact details of the parent(s)/ legal guardian(s)

- letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his / her residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will reside

- copy of the identity document / valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic

- where applicable-

- copy of an adoption order

- copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent/ parents or legal guardian.

- copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child

CHILD IN ALTERNATIVE CARE

- valid passport

- letter from the Provincial Head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides authorising his or her departure from the Republic as contemplated in section 169 of the Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005).

3. EXEMPTIONS

3.1.        South African children travelling on South African passports may travel to South Africa without birth certificates.

3.2.        Supporting documents are not required where children are in direct transit at an international airport.

3.3.        Children in possession of valid South African visas are not required to produce the documents already submitted as part of their visa applications when travelling through a port of entry of the Republic.

3.4.        A child presenting a passport which contains the details of his or her parent or parents is not required to produce a birth certificate/equivalent document.

3.5.        In the case of school tours, the parental consent letter may be replaced with a letter from the school principal confirming that the schools hold the consent letters.  Upon producing this letter, immigration officers at ports of entry and South African missions abroad would not require any additional documents from individual scholars such as parental consent, birth certificates, death certificates, court orders or copies of the passports or identity documents of the parents and of the person receiving the child in SA. This special dispensation applies to all schools registered with the Department of Basic Education in South Africa and its equivalent abroad in respect of South African and visa required children.

4. INABILITY TO CONSENT DUE TO RECENT DEATH OR MENTAL OR PHYSICAL DISABILITY:

Where parent/s recorded in a BC/ equivalent document are unable to consent to the travel by a child due to recent death or mental or physical disability, persons acting on behalf of the child/children may apply for a special dispensation in lieu of parental consent by directing a request and full motivation, together with all supporting documents (for example, treating medical practitioners certificate), to the Office of the Director-General of Home Affairs, at the following e-mail address: consent@dha.gov.za

 Note:

- This dispensation only applies to incapacity, and not where a parent is either unwilling to consent or unable to be located due to separation or divorce.

- Where a parent refuses to give consent, a court order in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), may be presented in lieu of parental consent.

5. DEFINITIONS

Alternative Care

- Section 167 of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), states that a child is in Alternative Care if the child has been placed in:

 foster care.

 the care of a child and youth care centre following an order of a court in terms of that Act or the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977); or

- temporary safe care.

Birth Certificate

- An extract from the Birth Register containing the particulars of a child and his / her parent(s). Birth certificates containing the details of a child as well as his/her parent/s are accepted for the purposes of these Requirements regardless of the country of issue.

- In the case of countries that do not issue BC, an ’Equivalent Document’ containing the particulars of the child and his / her parent/s, issued by the competent authority of that country, or an embassy of that country may be produced.

Child

- South African law regards any person younger than 18 years as a child.

Equivalent Document

- In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of the parents of the travelling child.

Letter of special Circumstances

- Letter issued by the Director-General of Home Affairs in lieu of parental consent in the event of recent death or mental or physical disability.

Parent

- Unless the context indicates otherwise, the word “parent” includes adoptive parents and legal guardians.

Parental Consent Letter

- must accompany a BC when any parent is not travelling with his or her child;

- must not be older than 6 months when presented;

 


Banking and Currency

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

Banking
Banks are found in most towns, and are 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.

For self-drive clients: some petrol stations accept foreign credit cards, please ask before filling up.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Travelling around South Africa is easy by air and by road.
Main air routes are serviced by SAA and Cemair.  There  is  1 low-cost carrier on main routes, namely Safair.

Facilitating travel around South Africa are 10 airports managed by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). In addition, there are numerous regional airports, including Lanseria in Johannesburg, as well as Phalaborwa, Hoedspruit, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport near Nelspruit and Skukuza Airport, offering access to the Kruger National Park.

An extensive tarred road system makes travelling in South Africa by vehicle convenient and easy. You will find gravel roads in rural areas though.   

For self-drive guests, please note:

  • A valid international driver's licence is required.
  • We drive on the left hand side of the road.
  • Wearing seat belts is compulsory and cellphones can only be used  with a ‘hands free' device.
  • Speed limits are set at 120km on freeways, 100km on secondary roads and 60km in urban areas.
  • Toll fees apply on certain national roads.
  • Petrol stations are widespread. Payment for petrol can only be made in cash or with a credit card issued by a South African bank. 
  • Most global car hire firms have branches in South Africa.
  • GPS units are not to be completely trusted in rural areas, driving to safari lodges etc. Instead, use the lodge's own directions to find the best route.
  • Do not drive after dark!
  • If you plan to arrive at your guest house after 18.00 (6 pm), you must call ahead and advise them that you are arriving late.
  • Minibus taxis are found in through out the country, however we do NOT recommend using them, as these taxis are often not in a roadworthy condition, drivers break the traffic rules often and these minibus-taxis are often involved in accidents.


Health and Medical Information

There are a few basic health matters that require care and attention. Please consult your doctor if in doubt and check with your health department prior to departure for any changes in health regulations.

Malaria, including celebral malaria, is common during the summer months in north eastern South Africa, northern Namibia, northern Botswana (year round), northern Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This is particularly the case during the rainy season and just thereafter. As the strains of malaria as well as the drugs used to combat them, change frequently, it is advisable to seek medical advice before departure. Wearing long sleeves and trousers, closed shoes, sleeping under a mosquito net, using repellants and mosquito coils are some of the precautions that can be taken to avoid being bitten. The following website:

https://santhnet.co.za/index.php/travel-health-advice/travel-advice/malaria-advice-for-travellers/item/330-malaria-risk-map-for-south-africa-2017.html 

gives up-to-date information regarding Malaria and precautions to be taken.

Visitors are advised to take necessary precautions against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Bilharzia is a treatable, but unpleasant disease brought about by parasites found in fresh water in Southern Africa, particularly water that is stagnant or does not move. Swimming in such water is not recommended. Enquiries should be made at the accommodation establishment of the area for up-to -date information about the prevalence of bilharzia there.

The intensity and effects of the sun and heat are often underestimated. It is essential to take preventative measures to avoid problems related to this, such as drinking sufficient water, using sunscreen, wearing a wide brimmed hat, avoiding excessive exposure to the sun and limiting the intake of alcohol, as this causes dehydration.


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.

Biltong is a South African meat (beef / venison) delicacy. It is spiced, dried, and cured. Each butcher has his own recipe, and biltong can be found at almost every butchery. Bunny-Chow is mostly available in Durban, and consists of a hollowed half or quarter loaf of bread filled with curry.


Climate and Weather

South African temperatures, which are measured in Centigrade, average at highs of 28°C to average lows of 8°C in the summer months while winter temperatures range from 1°C at night to around 18°C in the day. Average annual rainfall is on the low side at under 500mm a year, making the country quite dry. Much of the rain falls in the Western Cape in the winter (May - September), differing from the rest of the country, which experiences summer rainfall.

The Drakensberg however, receives up to 1600mm per year, mostly in summer, and a summer afternoon storm is welcome to lower the temperatures. These storms are common in the eastern half of the country and normally do not last more than an hour or two. On the plus side, the South African climate boasts more than its fair share of sunshine, recording an average of 8.5 hours a day.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Summer
Bring clothes that are cool, light and comfortable because summer temperatures can get well into the 30 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 European summers. But there are days when temperatures drop, 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. Johannesburg winters will require jeans and a jersey during the day, with evenings dropping very close to zero degrees. If you have booked on a safari during winter, bring a warm windproof anorak, a scarf and a warm hat, the early mornings sitting on an open safari vehicle can be extremely cold!

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.

If you are doing business in the country, business attire (suit and tie) is generally called for in the corporate sector, but media for example generally dress more casually.

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.


Internet Availability

Most accommodation offer Wifi in their business centres, rooms, or restaurants. Internet cafes are found in most business areas and shopping malls. In addition, some South African restaurants offer WiFi access.

There are also outlets such as POSTNET that offer internet, fax and postage facilities.  


Electricity and Plug Standards

Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adaptor plug should be brought for your electrical appliances, commonly known in South Africa as a "double adaptor". This will also allow you to use a standard 2 pin plugs (mobile phone chargers, small appliances). These are available at Airport shops, and majority of "Grocery shops" - just ask.


General Guidance

Value Added Tax (VAT)
The VAT is 15% and in most cases is already included in the price. For items you export, the VAT will be refunded to you at the airport if the amount exceeds R 250 per item. You will need a TAX invoice from the seller (an invoice with the address and VAT number from the shop).

Mail
The Post Office is open from 08h00 - 16h00 Monday to Friday and on Saturday from 08h00 - 12h00.

Swimming
Swimming in the sea should only be done at official beaches supervised by lifeguards, due to currents in the oceans. Swimming in the rivers is not advisable.

Languages
South Africa has 11 official languages; English is the most widely used. Other languages are Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Ndebele, Swazi, Pedi, Tswana, Tsongo and Venda.

Phone
Your mobile phone will have a good reception coverage in most towns and villages, but cannot be guaranteed in more remote areas and in National Parks. Mobile phones can be used along the national roads and in most places.

Official emergency numbers:

  • Police (flying squad) 10111
  • Ambulance 10177

Other telephone numbers:

  • Information (Enquiries) National 1023
  • Information (Enquiries) International 10903#

Gratuities (tipping)

  • In restaurants, hotels and other accommodation, a service fee is not included, but left to your discretion if you are satisfied with the service. As a rule, about 10 % is widespread practice.
  • Porterage - about ZAR 10 per piece of luggage
  • Taxi driver - about 10 % of the amount
  • Housekeeping staff - about ZAR 10 – 20 per day
  • Safari (Game) lodges:  Tipping is widespread practice, provided you have enjoyed your stay and received good service.   The recommended average is: 
    • Game Ranger – ZAR 100-120 per visitor per day.  
    • Game Tracker:  ZAR 50–60 per visitor per day.  
    • Lodge staff (kitchen, bedroom, reception and dining-room staff) approx. ZAR 100–120 per visitor per day. Please look out for a General Tipping Box for back of house lodge staff at reception. This is widespread practice in many establishments.
  • For clients on city sightseeing tours: Driver-Tour guides: ZAR 100-120 per visitor per day.  
  • For clients on group coach tours:
    • Driver: ZAR 30 - 40 per visitor per day
    • Guide:  ZAR 60 – 80 per visitor per day
  • For Self-Drive clients:
    • Parking attendants receive about ZAR 5-10. You do not pay on arrival, but only when you return to your car. (Official car park attendants are usually dressed in orange or yellow vests).
    • Petrol attendants - about ZAR 5 Rand (Refuelling is done by a petrol attendant who checks the oil, water and tyre pressure and often washes your windscreen.)


eSwatini

eSwatini (previously known as Swaziland), a small, landlocked monarchy in Southern Africa, is known for its wilderness reserves and festivals showcasing traditional Swazi culture.  Marking its northeastern border with Mozambique and stretching down to South Africa, the Lebombo Mountains are a backdrop for Mlawula Nature Reserve’s many hiking trails. 

eSwatini encompasses a diverse array of ecosystems – towering mountains and low-lying savannah, tangled rainforests and lush river valleys. Highlights of this laid-back land include the beautiful ‘Valley of Heaven’, the handicraft haven of the Malkerns Valley with the famous Swazi Candles and Ngwenya Glassblowers and the  Hlane Royal National Park, which is home to diverse wildlife including white rhinos,lions, hippos, antelopes and elephants.  (ITT)


Banking and Currency

Currency: Lingaleni. South African Rand (ZAR) is also accepted. (E1 = ZAR1) 
Local currency: Lingaleni. 
Symbol: E 
ISO code: SWZ 
Central bank: The Central Bank of Swaziland  
Subunit: cents 
Banknotes: E200, 100, 50, 20, 10 
Coins: E5, 2, 1; 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1c 

Banking: 
Card Transactions:  
ATMs: Yes 
Mastercard: Yes 
Visa: Yes/No 
American Express: Yes 
Diner’s club: In some places  
 
Banking Hours: 
Weekdays: 08h30 - 14h00 
Weekends: Saturdays, 08h30 - 13h00 
Public Holidays: No 

Foreign exchange services: Yes/No 
 


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Air: 
Main airlines: Royal Swazi National Airways 
International Airports: King Mswati III International Airport 

 
Road: 
Tar roads: Yes 
Gravel roads: Yes 
Valid International Driver's License needed: An English or English-translated national licence is allowed. International Drivers Licenses are also allowed.  
Car hire available: Yes 
Taxis: Yes 
Uber available: Yes 
 
Bus: 
Inter-city bus services: Yes 
Local city bus networks: Yes 
 
Rail: 
Railway system: No 
Subway System: No 
 
Water: 
Ferries: No 
Water taxis: No 
Leisure cruises: No 


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Food and water safety:  
Can you drink the tap water: Yes, in towns and cities  
Fresh fruit and veg: No 
Ice: Yes, in towns and cities 
Meat: Yes, if well-cooked / hot  
Street food: No 
 
 Local cuisine: The menus here feature the Portuguese influence of neighbouring Mozambique, including wonderful fresh seafood and prawns. Traditional Swazi dishes include Umncushu (Porridge), Umncweba (dried uncooked meat or jerky, known as biltong in neighbouring South Africa), and Umbidvowetintsanga (made with cooked pumpkin leaves and peanuts).     

Drinks: Tjwala: Traditional home-brewed beer made from maize meal. 
 
Tipping: 15% 


Climate and Weather

Annual rainfall: 500 mm – 1, 500 mm 
Average temperature: 15°C - 23.4°C 
 
Summer: 
Average in highs: 23°C 
Average in lows: 15°C 
 
Winter: 
Average in highs: 17°C 
Average in lows: 6°C 
 
Best time to visit: This is a fantastic year-round destination. The dry winter – from May to September – is arguably the best time to see wildlife. Summer, hot and wet, brings spectacular birdlife and lush green scenery to the setting.  


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Spring and Summer 
Cool, light, breathable and comfortable: Yes 
Lightweight warm clothes: Yes 
 
Winter and Autumn 
Jerseys, cardigans, sweaters, jackets: Yes 
Heavyweight clothing and boots: No 
 
General 
Umbrella and raincoat: Yes 
Warm gloves, hat and scarf: No 
Swimming costume (bathing suit): Yes 
Hat, sunglasses and sunblock: Yes 
Walking shoes: Yes 
Casual: Yes 
Smart-casual attire: Yes 
 


Internet Availability

Internet cafes: Yes, in major cities 
Accommodation options: Sometimes  
Restaurants: Sometimes 
Cafes: Sometimes 
Shopping malls: Yes 
Public parks: No 
Libraries: Possibly, in cities 
 


Electricity and Plug Standards

Plug Type: M 
Voltage (V): 230 
Frequency Hertz (Hz): 50 
 

* A Travel plug adapter and voltage converter might be necessary depending on your appliances. 


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