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.
Visas & Immigration
- All international travellers are required to travel with a valid passport, with a minimum of three (3) full open "Visa" pages. The page must say Visa at the top of the page.
- There are blank pages at the back of an International passport without "Visa" printed on it; these pages are not acceptable for travel to South Africa.
- Our recommendation is 3 pages (or even 4 if you are travelling through more than one country on your journey).
- If there is insufficient space in the passport then entry into a country could be denied.
- Passports should be valid for at least six months after travel is completed.
- Any applicable visas and/or relevant documentation are the responsibility of the traveller. PLEASE CHECK VISA ENTRY REQUIREMENTS WITH YOUR LOCAL EMBASSY FOR THE COUNTRIES YOU ARE VISITING.
- Visitors must also be in possession of outward travel documents and have sufficient funds for the duration of their stay.
- Travellers from those countries that require a visa can obtain a biometric visa on arrival.
- For the most up-to-date entry requirements, please consult with the relevant Consulate/ Embassy in your country of residence.
WE RECOMMEND THAT ALL PASSENGERS PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE IN THEIR COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE.
Banking and 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, and 10c.
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 the country as they might block your purchases if they are not informed.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Several airlines operate domestic routes with regular links between Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, George, Nelspruit and Port Elizabeth and relatively frequent flights to several smaller towns and cities too.
Internal Flights & Luggage
Light aircraft travel has a strict luggage restriction of 20 kg per person in soft bags, similar to the ones shown below, including hand luggage, depending on your destination.
• Recommended size of bags: 40 cm (16 inches) wide x 30 cm (20 inches) high x 60 cm (20 inches) long.
• It is strongly recommended that you use a soft carry bag style or duffel bag plus a small piece of hand luggage such as a handbag or small rucksack (which is also convenient for use on game drives to contain your camera gear, binoculars, sunscreen and hat particularly if on an all-day game drive). The weight allowance is a requirement of all light air travel for space and safety reasons.
Packing List & Suggestions
Please find herewith a list of suggested items which should be used as a guideline whilst planning your trip. Please bear in mind that there are luggage restrictions on most safari flights. Below are general guidelines, although certain lodges may have specific restrictions.
SOFT (all-sides) luggage/duffel bags with no rigid sides (flexible bags being made of a pliable material such as cotton or canvas);
MAXIMUM luggage weight is 20kg/44lbs (in the hold); luggage size is 40cm (16 inches) wide x 30cm (12 inches) high x 60cm (24 inches) long;
MAXIMUM hand luggage is 5kg/11lbs (1 piece allowed);
NOTE: The luggage total for small planes in Southern Africa, in general, is 20kg (15kg in duffel and 5kg hand luggage) BUT this can be less depending on the lodge, weather and personal weight which is often required.
Health and Medical Information
VACCINATIONS ARE REQUIRED IF COMING FROM AN ENDEMIC AREA – please consult https://www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/maps/index.html for additional countries not listed)
You must have a yellow fever certificate issued at least 10 days before arrival in South Africa if you have travelled from a country with yellow fever and/or from Eritrea, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Tanzania or if you have transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. This includes when entry is solely to transit through a South African airport. If you don’t have a valid certificate, you will be denied entry to South Africa.
Countries, where Yellow Fever is endemic, include Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda.
Immunization against hepatitis, cholera and meningitis is recommended.
It is advisable to obtain medical insurance prior to travel.
Please note that South Africa is currently experiencing Load Shedding, this is a planned and controlled process of switching off parts of the electric network due to insufficient electrical supply. Although most hotels should have backup power, it is in your best interest to be prepared for anything needing electricity during your travels such as sleep apnea machines.
Malaria precautions are required for most safaris, please consult your local doctor or clinic.
Covid Requirements – Southern Africa
Please use the below link to view the current COVID entry requirements and conditions of entry into South Africa.
PRE-DEPARTURE & ON ARRIVAL REQUIREMENTS
• All COVID Arrival protocols lifted.
• Travellers don’t need negative COVID-19 test results before travelling to South Africa.
• Travellers don’t need proof of COVID-19 vaccination before travelling to South Africa.
• Travellers don’t need to wear masks in public places and on public transportation.
NOTE: All Visa and Health information provided above is a guideline only as Government regulations change without notice. It is therefore important to check regulations with the relevant authority and your airline prior to travel.
• It is the responsibility of the client and/or agent to ensure all documentation and pre-travel requirements are complied with. AFRICAN BLUE TOURS cannot be held liable for documentation not being correct at the time of travel.
• THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IN THE CASE OF CHANGES TO COVID 19 PROTOCOLS.
COVID POSITIVE DISCLAIMER
When travelling with AFRICAN BLUE TOURS, your safety is of paramount importance to us, however, we cannot control the manner in which you travel and interact with persons along your journey. By agreeing to our terms, you hereby release AFRICAN BLUE TOURS, its employees and representatives from all claims, damages and injuries arising from any exposure to /or infection with COVID-19 or any other infectious diseases, including currently unknown diseases.
AFRICAN BLUE TOURS strongly recommends that all clients purchase travel insurance. It remains the clients’ personal decision and responsibility to purchase the most comprehensive policy possible.
It is imperative that clients fully understand the inclusions/exclusions covered by the said policy. AFRICAN BLUE TOURS will not be held liable for any shortfalls/exclusions in the said policies.
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Please remember to notify us of any specific dietary requirements and/or allergies to be followed by the lodges, camps and hotels during their stay before arrival. We can accommodate most requests but need advance warning to do so.
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 maintain hygienic standards.
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.
Food & Wine
• In general, the food served in hotels and lodges is European food. A full breakfast and lunch will be buffet style and dinner is usually a set menu. A few top-of-the-range lodges offer limited a la carte menus.
• In resorts and cities, it is possible to find international food to suit all tastes. In fact, the dining experience is a highlight of most people’s visit to South Africa.
• Agriculturally, South Africa is virtually self-sufficient with staple crops, and fine quality beef and other livestock.
• Pineapple, mango, papaya, banana, avocado and coconut are all plentiful, and inexpensive when in season.
• Freshwater fish from the abundant rivers and lakes is plentiful.
• Of course, at the coast the seafood is included on all menus, with a variety and quality which is now legendary.
• South African wine is famous now the world over, and many people include a visit to the Winelands as an important part of their visit.
• Local beers are mostly of the lager type, and we have a growing craft beer trend with many other options available.
• Eat a braai (BBQ). Local meats including boerewors (a hearty farmers’ sausage). Biltong (dried and cured meat) is also a favourite throughout the country.
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 during 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
The weather in Southern Africa is generally pleasant throughout the year – warm to hot days, and cool to warm nights – with summer (September to April) being the hotter months. During our winter months (May to August), it can get really cold (but rarely sub-zero) at night and in the early morning, particularly when on safari, so we would like to suggest that you pack accordingly. Cape Town gets its rain during the winter season so it's advisable to bring rain gear along.
Cotton clothing in neutral colours is recommended for all game drives and bush walks. It is best to avoid white clothing and dark colours for bush activities, as they tend to attract certain bugs. Formal wear is not required at any of the lodges/camps on your itinerary.
Except when travelling on ROVOS RAIL, no formal attire is required even in cities, you can comfortably get away with smart casual even at the fanciest hotels and restaurants.
NOTE: Camouflage clothing is not recommended for travel in southern African countries (camouflage or military-inspired clothing is prohibited when travelling in Zimbabwe for example).
• Comfortable walking shoes/track shoes/hiking boots for any guided bush walks
• Sandals to wear around the lodge – preferably low-heeled or flat if you are going on safari.
• Sun hat/bush hat
• Headscarf/bandana – particularly for dusty dry regions
• Golf-shirts and/or T-shirts – preferably with a sleeve to protect your shoulders from the sun
• Long-sleeved cotton shirts
• Shorts and/or skirts – really short skirts are not practical for getting in and out of game drive vehicles
• Long trousers/slacks
• Track suit
• Pyjama’s – lightweight for summer and warm/thermal for winter
• Underwear – on game drives the roads can be bumpy and uneven so a suitable sports bra may be required
• Socks – quality walking socks for walking safaris and/or hikes. Thermal options are recommended for the winter months only
• Swimming costume
• Lightweight jersey or fleece in summer
• Light rain gear or jacket for summer months
• Warm jersey or fleece plus anorak or parka in winter
• Additionally, a scarf, gloves, and beanies/woollen hats for the cold winter months
• You may prefer to bring some ‘buff wear’ multipurpose headgear, which can quickly be repurposed as a headband, face protector or sweatband during a hike
• Good quality sunglasses, UV protected, preferably polarized. Tinted fashion glasses are not good in strong light. If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust.
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
• All electrical appliances run on 220V. Outlets are round 3 pin, 15-amp plugs. Special adaptors for video cameras, chargers and hairdryers are needed and can sometimes be supplied by some hotel receptions. We recommend that you carry your own adaptors.
• Various safari camps and lodges may not have 220V and may operate on solar powered 12V electricity. Remember to bring spare batteries that can be charged at the camp/lodge while out on safari activities.
• Power cuts can be common in the rainy season, though most hotels and businesses have backup generators.
• In some safari lodges electricity is not available during the night.
• For further information follow the link provided: https://whatplug.info/
• Please note that South Africa is currently experiencing Load Shedding, this is a planned and controlled process of switching off parts of the electric network due to insufficient electrical supply. Although most hotels should have backup power, it is in your best interest to be prepared for anything needing electricity during your travels such as sleep apnea machines.
Equipment & other
• Visas, tickets, passports, money, credit cards, insurance details etc.
• Phone/Tablet chargers
• Camera equipment including spare accessories as needed including spare batteries, chargers, lenses etc.
• Waterproof/dustproof bag or cover for your camera.
• BINOCULARS – we highly recommended that you bring your own pair for viewing both wildlife and birds. 8x40 and 10x42 are the recommended general purpose binocular specifications.
• Electronic/plug adaptors – The required adaptor can be found by using the following link: https://whatplug.info/
• Torch/ head torch
• Personal toiletries (basic amenities are supplied by most establishments)
• Malaria tablets (if applicable)
• Antihistamine tablets if you suffer from any allergies
• Anti-nausea tablets if you suffer from motion sickness
• Moisturizing cream and suntan lotion – SPF 30 or higher recommended
• Insect repellent for body application (mosquito repellent is typically provided for guests, but you are welcome to bring along your favourite brand)
• Lip balm
• Basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters, Imodium, antiseptic cream and antihistamine cream, etc.)
• Tissues/Wet Wipes
• Please note that many of the lodges are located in remote areas and therefore guests should remember to bring an extra pair of correction glasses (if required), contact lens solution and an extra set of contact lenses (if required) as well as a sufficient supply of any prescription medication.
• Most lodges provide a 24-hour laundry service, enabling you to manage the amount of clothing you bring accordingly.
Tipping is not compulsory and entirely at your discretion and should be undertaken only by choice, dependent on the service received. Below are guidelines to assist you in this regard. While most lodges accept credit cards and these can be used to add on gratuity, a service fee may apply. We would recommend that cash is always best and appreciated the most!
Safari Guide at Game Lodge - US$ 30 per guest per day.
Tracker at Game Lodge - US$ 10-15 per guest per day.
General Staff at a SafariCamp/Lodge - US$ 20 per guest per day.
This should be placed in the communal tipping box to be distributed equally amongst all the staff.
Porterage - US$ 4-7 per guest per movement (check-in/ check-out) or bag at the airport.
Airport / Road Transfers - US$ 10 per guest per transfer.
US$ 15 per guest for half day (per day)
US$ 20-25 per guest for full day (per day)
Hotel/Guest House staff - US$ 10 per guest per day if appropriate or if any staff member has demonstrated excellent service.
Restaurants/Hotels - 10-15% is customary on meal accounts and can also be paid by credit card.
Please Note: The above Tipping Guide information is for general informational purposes only. Please note that individual properties’ suggestions for gratuities may vary.
There are 11 officially recognised languages in South Africa, most of them indigenous to the country.
• English is one of the official languages and is widely spoken in most hotels and lodges by the service staff. It is the language of government and official documents, commerce, banking and road signs.
• Your driver/guide and all people in tourism-related activities will speak reasonable to good English.
• South Africa is on GMT +2.
Here are some little extras we recommend you include when planning any holiday to South Africa:
• Read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom” and watch the movie version with UK actor Idris Elba doing an amazing portrayal of Nelson Mandela.
• Watch “City Freedom” Richard Attenborough’s powerful film detailing the moving story of the black activist, Steve Biko.
• Listen to the South Africa National Anthem, a united chant including the words of the eleven official languages.