Top 10 Reasons to Visit South Africa
During these tough times, who doesn’t want an affordable holiday? In SA, you can even afford luxury and have spending money for shopping and other treats!
South Africa’s scenic wonders are legendary. From Table Mountain to God’s Window, our mountains, forests, coasts and deserts will feast your eye and lift your spirit…
Whether you opt for Afro-chic or authentic Africa, you’ll find it easy to get around, find a comfortable place to stay, have a great meal, connect.
South Africa is the adventure capital of the world. With over 130 adventures and counting, there is something for everyone from mountain walks to shark cage-diving!
In sunny South Africa, our great weather invites you to enjoy the outdoors, play golf year-round and take advantage of the nearly 3000km coastline…
The Rainbow Nation celebrates all its African and immigrant cultures. Find out how friendly our people are whilst you try your tongue at 11 official languages!
Go almost anywhere in SA and experience the ultimate combo of nature, wildlife, culture, adventure, heritage and vibe – you’re spoilt for choice, so pack it in!
Warning! Watching wildlife is addictive. First you start with the Big Five in so many ways, then whales, penguins, meerkats, wild dogs, birds, dung beetles…
Discover a nation’s struggle for freedom whilst following the footsteps of Mandela, Hector Pieterson and many other celebrated revolutionaries. It will touch and inspire you.
In SA you can travel with care as you explore our protected areas, contribute to social and conservation projects, buy recycle art and stay green.
Advice for travelers
Crime in South Africa, like many other places in today's world, can be a problem, but all you really need to do is take the usual sensible precautions and follow some basic safety rules. Know where you're going before you set off, particularly at night, watch your possessions, don't walk alone in dodgy areas, lock your doors at night. And, like anywhere else, there are some areas of the major cities which are known to be more risky than others. It is easy to avoid these and still have a good time.
When driving a private vehicle, either borrowed or hired, in South Africa, take some simple precautions to avoid car hijackings or "smash-and-grabs". Plan your route beforehand. When parking at night, choose well-lit or security-patrolled parking areas. Street security guards will usually ask whether they can watch over your car, and in return should be paid a small fee – anything from two rand upwards.
In case you lose your passport, report the loss as soon as possible to the South African Police Service, as well as to your country's embassy or consulate in South Africa.
Banks and foreign exchange in SA
With a favorable exchange rate for many international currencies, you'll find South Africa a very inexpensive destination. And an easy one – our financial institutions are world-class, with no shortage of banks, bureaux de change and automatic tellers.
The banks are generally open from 9am to 3.30pm Mondays through Fridays, and 8.30am to 11am on Saturdays, but those at the airports adjust their hours to accommodate international flights.
The major banks have branches as well as automated teller machines (ATMs) in most large towns – and all over the cities. International banks have branches in the major cities. Thomas Cook (represented by Rennies Travel) and American Express foreign exchange offices are also available in the major cities.
Credit cards and cash
All major credit cards can be used in South Africa, with American Express and Diners Club enjoying less universal acceptance than MasterCard and Visa.
Phoning to and from South Africa
South Africa has a well-developed communications infrastructure, with extensive landline phone networks and four mobile phone service providers - Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and Virgin Mobile - with far-reaching coverage. Landline services are operated by Telkom SA Ltd, with a second operator, Neotel, currently in the process of setting up shop. Telkom public telephones use coins, phonecards or Worldcall. Phonecards and Worldcall can be purchased at most retail stores, petrol stations, post offices and airports. You can rent mobile phones from the airport on arrival. You should find an internet café in even the smallest towns, and the postal service works, offering the usual letter and parcel services as well as securemail, freight and courier services.
- Phoning into South Africa
If you're dialling a number in South Africa, it must be preceded by:
+27, South Africa's international country code (the + sign represents the international access code for the country you're calling from); and either:
o The area code of the city or town in South Africa you're calling (leaving out the first zero), if you're calling a landline; or
o The cellular/mobile network code (leaving out the first zero), if you're calling a cellular/mobile network.
So, for example, to phone South African Airways' call centre from abroad, you'd dial +27 11 978 5313 (Johannesburg's area code is 011 - phoning from abroad, you leave out the zero).
Dialling codes in South Africa. The area codes of some of South Africa's major cities are: Bloemfontein 051, Cape Town 021, Durban 031, East London 043, Johannesburg 011, Pretoria 012, and Port Elizabeth 041.
- Phoning out of South Africa
To make an international call from South Africa, dial 00, followed by the country code of the country you wish to call, followed by the relevant area code (if there is one), followed by the phone number.
If you're an adult, you won't need any inoculations unless you're travelling from a yellow-fever endemic area (the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America), in which case you will need certification to prove your inoculation status when you arrive in South Africa. It is recommended that you have the required inoculations four to six weeks before you travel to South Africa (a yellow fever inoculation certificate only becomes valid 10 days after inoculation - after which it remains valid for 10 years). Hepatitis B inoculations are recommended for children up to the age of 12 who have not completed the series of injections as infants. Booster doses for tetanus and measles can also be administered.
Medical facilities in cities and larger towns are world-class, but you will find that in rural areas the clinics and hospitals deal with primary health needs, and therefore do not offer the range of medical care that the large metropolitan hospitals do. Trained medical caregivers are deployed round the country, so help is never far away.
High-quality tap (faucet) water is available almost everywhere in South Africa, treated so as to be free of harmful micro-organisms, and in any area other than informal or shack settlements, is both palatable and safe to drink straight from the tap.
Many of the main tourist areas are malaria-free, so you need not worry at all. However, the Kruger National Park, the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal do pose a malaria risk in the summer months. Many local people and some travellers do not take malaria prophylaxis, but most health professionals recommend you do. Consult your doctor or a specialist travel clinic for the latest advice concerning malaria prophylaxis, as it changes regularly.
Where can I smoke?
The law prohibits smoking in most public spaces, including airports and railway stations. Most restaurants have designated smoking and non-smoking areas.
South African time
South Africa does not change its clocks during the year, and there are no regional variations within the country. South African Standard Time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean (or Universal Standard) Time, one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, and seven hours ahead of the USA's Eastern Standard Winter Time.
• Summer - mid-October to mid-February
• Autumn - February to April
• Winter - May to July
• Spring - August to October
Tipping is common practice in South Africa for a range of services. In restaurants the accepted standard is around 10% of the bill, although sometimes a gratuity will be included (often in the case of a large party). Barmen are tipped a similar percentage.
Tourists with disabilities
Does South Africa cater for tourists with disabilities? South Africa is definitely a bit of a curate's egg in this respect – good in parts. Government has introduced legislation on this, so progress is being made. And many game reserves and places of interest have specially adapted accommodation and wheelchair-friendly facilities and walks. Many short trails also have Braille interpretation plaques.
Thinking of visiting South Africa? Want information on how to get here, what to bring, where to stay, what to see...? A one-stop call centre is here to assist you in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin or Portuguese. South African Tourism runs a state-of-the-art global call centre, based in Johannesburg and connected to local lines in a number of countries, that offers information across the spectrum on travelling to South Africa. Manned by professional operators, the centre handles in the region of 5 000 telephonic inquiries a month, as well as responding to e-mail inquiries. The line is linked to SA Tourism's national database, which has up-to-date information on all services and products - accommodation, transport, activities, events and contacts. Tourists can phone the number for a range of queries, including advice on what to do in an emergency or bureaucratic pickle. For English, the centre operates around the clock, seven days a week, 365 days a year. For European languages, the centre operates from 09:00 to 19:00 local time, and for Mandarin from 13:00 to 21:00 China time.
South Africans, or international visitors already in South Africa, should call
083 123 6789
• Tourist information, South Africa Tourism, wwwsouthafrica.net
• To know if you need a visa to get to South Africa, Ministry of Home affairs, http://home-affairs.pwv.gov.za
• SA consulates abroad: http://www.dfa.gov.za/foreign/sa_abroad/index.htm.
• South African airports, Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) : www.airports.co.za
• Driving in South Africa, Automobile Association of South Africa : www.aasa.co.za
• Health : www.travelclinic.co.za
• Maps and distance between the cities: www.saexplorer.co.za
• Car rental :
Kruger National Park: