Africa Ski and Safari Group Tour

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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 cultures. Discover the gourmet restaurants, impressive art scene, vibrant nightlife and beautiful beaches of Cape Town; enjoy a local braai (barbecue) in the Soweto township; browse the bustling Indian markets in Durban; or sample some of the world’s finest wines at the myriad wine estates dotting the Cape Winelands. Some historical attractions to explore include the Zululand battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and Robben Island, just off the coast of Cape Town. Above all else, 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.


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. 


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

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

Principal air routes are serviced by SAA and British Airways. There are also low-cost carriers on main routes, namely Kulula.com, Mango and Safair. Facilitating travel around South Africa are 10 airports managed by the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa). In addition, there are some 90 regional airports, including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit and the 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. Please note that a valid international driver's licence is required. We drive on the left-hand side of the road. Most global car hire firms have branches in South Africa and Uber is available.

Another means of getting around South Africa are inter-city bus services such as Greyhound and Trans-Lux. Metrobus buses are available for in-city transport. Metered taxis must be ordered by telephone.There is the popular MyCityBus system in Cape Town as well as a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The rail system includes the long-haul, inexpensive Shosholoza Meyl Metrorail trains. More luxurious options are the Blue Train, Premier Classe and the steam train Rovos Rail.  There is also the Gautrain rapid transit railway system in Gauteng Province llinking Sandton and Marlboro to the O.R.Tambo International Airport and a Commuter Service linking Rhodesfield, Marlboro, and Sandton (east-west link) and Park, Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria Central and Hatfield (north-south link). All stations with the exception of the Airport station have integrated car parking facilities.


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 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 somewhat dry.  Much of the rain falls in the Western Cape in the winter, differing from the rest of the country, which experiences summer rainfall. 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 - 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 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.

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.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets in the Republic of South Africa are Type M (SABS-1661).  If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.

Electrical sockets in South Africa usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.


Lesotho

Commonly known as ‘The Kingdom in the Sky’ due to its dramatically high altitude, Lesotho is rather unique in that it is entirely surrounded by South Africa. This tiny and spectacularly mountainous kingdom makes for a wonderful adventure getaway with excellent pony trekking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, abseiling, birdwatching, mountain biking and even snow skiing on offer. The country’s highlands boast magnificent mountain scenery, clean mountain air and the opportunity to witness the fascinating traditional cultures of its warm and welcoming locals. Visit isolated Basotho villages dotted about the rolling hills of Lesotho’s extraordinarily scenic countryside with its breathtaking waterfalls and its maze of glistening streams. Itinerary favourites include: the highest waterfall in southern Africa, the Maletsunyane Falls; as well as the modern yet traditional capital city of Maseru. Lesotho is an ideal location for travellers seeking an adventurous outdoor experience in a place of raw natural beauty with a wonderfully preserved authentic local culture.


Banking and Currency

Currency

The loti is the currency of the Kingdom of Lesotho. It is subdivided into 100 lisente . It is pegged to the South African rand on a 1:1 basis through the Common Monetary Area, and both are accepted as legal tender within Lesotho.

Loti (LSL) = 100 lisente. Notes are in denominations of LSL200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are indenominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 lisente. The plural of 'loti' is 'maloti' and the singular of 'lisente' is 'sente'.

Banking

Banking hours are from Monday -Friday 08h30-15h30; Saturdays 08h30-12h30.

Banks and exchange bureaus are found in Maseru and in most main towns. Most major hotels, shops, restaurants and travel agencies accept credit cards; though it is best to check with credit and debit card companies as to their acceptance before leaving home. Travellers cheques can be cashed at banks in Maseru. Local ATMs in Lesotho have the facility to accept international ATM cards but are unreliable.

Travelers cheques are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or British Pounds Sterling.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

The road system in Lesotho is underdeveloped and few roads are paved. The main road which runs through the towns from the north to the western and southern borders is tarred, but other roads can be impassable during the rainy season. It is advised not to drive in rural areas at night (or even walk around Maseru at night).

Cars can be hired in Maseru. You will need permission from the car hire company to take any car over the border from South Africa into Lesotho and will have to pay road tax of around LSL5. Maseru bridge border post is open 24 hours a day but some border posts, they close at around 6pm. Also note that some border posts can only be reached by four wheel drive.

An International Driving Permit is recommended. National driving licences are normally valid, provided that they are either in English or accompanied by a certified translation. Enquire at the high commission or embassy for details.

Buses and minibus taxis are good for short hops. Rather than being on a timetabled schedule, they leave once the bus is full so you're better off buying tickets for any longer journey in stages, going from town to town rather than direct; this way you're not forced to wait for your bus to fill up at each stop. The cost is marginally greater than buying a direct ticket.



Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Tap water is considered safe to drink in cities. However, drinking water outside main cities and towns may be contaminated and sterilisation is advisable. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat.

The main hotels in Maseru serve international food, but there are also some interesting places to dine in the main towns. Hotels and restaurants in Lesotho cater for all nationalities. Much food has to be imported from South Africa. It is customary in restaurants and hotels to leave a tip for good service.

Specialities in Lesotho include 'braai' (a South African style barbecue) as well as seafood and freshwater fish dishes.  Cooking styles include French, Italian, continental and Chinese.

Good beer is widely available and better establishments will have a good choice of beers, spirits and wines.



Climate and Weather

Temperate climate with well-marked seasons. Summer is the rainy season; 85% of rainfall occurs from October to April, especially in the mountains. Snow occurs in the highlands from May to September. The hottest period is from January to February. Lesotho is a land of clear blue skies and more than 300 days of sunshine a year.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

During the summer, lightweight cottons with warmer wear for the evenings is needed. In winter, medium- to heavyweight clothes are advised. Waterproofing is necessary during the rainy season. Sunscreen, a sun hat and sunglasses and good walking shoes are essential.




Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets in the Kingdom of Lesotho (Muso oa Lesotho) are the 'Type M' South African SABS1661 (Large 15 amp BS-546) sockets. This is actually an old British standard. The 'Type M' South African plug and socket is not to be confused with the 'Type D' Indian plug and socket. In pictures, they look very similar, but the South African type is much larger than the Indian type, and they are physically incompatible. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. 

Electrical sockets in Lesotho usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.


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