18 Day South African Wildlife | Eastern Expedition

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South Africa

One of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth, South Africa, fondly known by locals as the 'Rainbow Nation', boasts 11 official languages, and its 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 untamed wilderness is astonishing: wildlife roams freely across massive unfenced game reserves such as the world-famous Kruger National Park.


Banking and Currency

Currency 
Local currency: South African Rand 
Symbol: R 
ISO code: ZAR 
Subunit: Cent (1/100 of a Rand) 
Banknotes: R10, R20, R50, R100, R200 
Coins: 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, R5 

Banking 
Card Transactions: Widely accepted 
ATMs: Yes 
Mastercard: Yes 
Visa: Yes 
American Express: Yes 
Diner’s club: Yes 
 
Banking Hours: Weekdays: 09:00 – 15:30 
Weekend: Saturdays: 08:30 – 11:00 
Public Holidays: Closed 
Foreign exchange services: Yes 


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

Food and water safety: 
Can you drink the tap water: Yes, in most urban areas 
Fresh fruit and veg: Yes 
Ice: Yes 
Meat: Yes 
Street food: Yes, widely popular and generally safe 

Local cuisine: 
South African cuisine is diverse and flavorful, featuring dishes like biltong (dried, seasoned meat), bobotie (spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping), and boerewors (farmers' sausage). The culinary scene includes a strong tradition of barbecuing, known locally as "braai." 

Drinks: 
Notable local drinks include Rooibos tea, craft beers, and South African wines. 
Tipping: Customarily 10-15% in restaurants and for services. 


Climate and Weather

Annual rainfall: Varies widely, Cape Town (winter rainfall, 515 mm), Johannesburg (summer rainfall, 713 mm) 
Average temperature: Varies, Cape Town 17°C, Johannesburg 15.5°C 

Summer: 
Average highs: 28°C (Cape Town), 26°C (Johannesburg) 
Average lows: 16°C (Cape Town), 15°C (Johannesburg) 

Winter: 
Average highs: 18°C (Cape Town), 17°C (Johannesburg) 
Average lows: 8°C (Cape Town), 4°C (Johannesburg) 

Best time to visit: 
The best time to visit South Africa is from May to September for wildlife viewing, as animals are more concentrated around water sources. For beach holidays, mid-December to March is ideal, especially in Cape Town. 


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Spring and Summer 
Cool, light, breathable and comfortable: Yes 
Lightweight warm clothes: No 

Winter and Autumn 
Jerseys, cardigans, sweaters, jackets: Recommended 
Heavyweight clothing and boots:  Yes 
 
General 
Umbrella and raincoat: Yes, during the rainy seasons 
Warm gloves, hat and scarf: In winter, particularly in high-altitude areas 
Swimming costume (bathing suit): Yes 
Hat, sunglasses, and sunblock: Essential 
Walking shoes: Yes 
Casual: Yes 
Smart-casual attire: Yes 

 


Internet Availability

Internet cafes: Yes, mainly in urban areas 
Accommodation options: Yes, with good connectivity 
Restaurants: Yes, in major cities 
Cafes: Yes, with Wi-Fi available 
Shopping malls: Yes 
Public parks: Yes, in major cities 
Libraries: Yes 


Electricity and Plug Standards

Plug Type: M, N 
Voltage (V): 230 V 
Frequency (Hz): 50 Hz 
*Travel plug adapter and voltage converter might be necessary depending on your appliances. 


eSwatini

Officially known as the ‘Kingdom of eSwatini’ and still referred to as Swaziland, this tiny landlocked nation boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage and is Africa's last remaining absolute monarchy. Swaziland encompasses a diverse array of ecosystems featuring towering mountains and low-lying savannah, tangled rainforests and lush river valleys. Highlights of this laid-back land include the mesmerizingly beautiful ‘Valley of Heaven’, the handicraft haven of the Malkerns Valley and the Hlane Royal National Park, famed for its white rhinos, antelopes and lions. Visitors can look forward to excellent wildlife watching, rafting, mountain biking, and hiking along a network of scenic trails which traverse spectacular mountainous landscapes.


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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