What to bring?All the nitty gritty information...
Passport and Visa Regulations and Guidance:
- Passport: It must have 4 blank pages and it must be valid 6 months after the tour ends.
- Visa: U.S. passport holders do not need to apply in advance for a visa visiting South Africa for 90 days or less for leisure/business.
- Flight/travel insurance: We strongly advise passengers to take out comprehensive travel insurance against cancelation, curtailment, illness, loss of baggage, personal accident, personal liability and default at the time of booking.
Health and Safety:
- No vaccinations are required for a trip to South Africa. However, you may get some shots if you feel more comfortable but they are not required.
- If traveling from a country with endemic yellow fever, yellow fever vaccination is required.
- Most of South Africa is malaria-free, Johannesburg and Cape Town are malaria-free.
- We recommend that guests consult their own medical doctor or health authorities regarding the use of anti-malarial tablets prior to departure.
- These requirements can also change from time to time according to recent epidemics or outbreaks, so check up before you head out.
- Pharmacies are ubiquitous in the city. In more remote areas, we can easily access pharmacies in the nearest town.
What to pack:
- Airline ticket
- Additional forms of identification (ex: driver’s license)
- Photocopy of: passport, credit cards, insurance cards, important documents (keep separate from originals)
- Credit card(s): Most hotels, restaurants, and stores throughout the country accept major credit cards. Some credit and debit cards charge a fee, some don’t – check with your bank beforehand
- Spending money (you can exchange currency or withdraw from ATMs in South Africa)
- Notify banks and credit card companies when and where you will be traveling
- List of emergency contacts
- Advise personal physician of your travel
- Medication/prescriptions in original packaging
- Motion sickness pills/bands
- Eye drops (safari can get dusty/windy)
- Hand sanitizer/wet wipes
- Insect repellent
- Check to make sure you meet luggage size requirements:
- International flight luggage size limitation: Weight – 23 kgs / 50 lbs
- Domestic flight luggage size limitation: Weight – 20 kgs / 44 lbs
What to wear: Generally, comfortable casual clothing is suitable throughout the year. Layers of clothing are most practical for the fluctuating day/night temperatures of South Africa. Bring clothes that are cool, light and comfortable because summer temperatures can get well into the 30 – 40 degrees Celsius range in some areas.
- We recommend wearing comfortable sneakers and walking shoes
- Light clothing is recommended
- The dress code in some finer hotels and restaurants is semi-formal
- For safaris, we recommend wearing subdued-coloured clothing
- Take a pullover for early morning drives
- A light raincoat is useful – some places sell inexpensive light plastic ponchos
- It is recommended that you take a pair of long pants – these are useful for the bush walks as well as protective from insects in the evenings
- Also bring an umbrella or raincoat during summer as this is when most of the country gets its rain
- Hat, sunglasses and sunblock as the sun can be strong even in the winter months
- Torch and binoculars
- Laundry: Most hotels offer laundry services that you can request as an add-on for a relatively small fee. There are also shops that specialize in washing and drying your laundry for you overnight, and you can pick up your clean, folded laundry the next day
South African Customs: South African Customs regulations afford visitors to the country the opportunity to bring in certain goods without incurring duties and value added tax (VAT). These are limited in quantity and value. On arrival, you can take the green ‘nothing to declare’ channel if you stick to these allowances:
- Other new or used goods not exceeding R3 000 (Additional goods, new or used, exceeding R12 000 will incur a duty charge of 20%)
- Wine not exceeding 2 litres per person over the age of 18
- Spirits and alcohol not exceeding l litre per person over the age of 18
- Cigarettes not exceeding 200 and cigars not exceeding 20 per person over the age of 18
- 250g cigarette tobacco or pipe tobacco per person over the age of 18
- Perfumery not exceeding 50ml and toilet water not exceeding 250ml per person
- But, if you have goods in excess of these allowances, take the red channel and declare your items, where you will be billed at the applicable rates by representatives of South African Customs
- Note also, that if you are importing for business and commercial intent, you will also not qualify for these allowances, other than personal effects
- Customs in South Africa further stipulates that when you leave the country you are permitted to take up to R500 in South African Reserve Bank notes. A 20% levy is charged on higher amounts
- South Africa uses the Rand (ZAR), denoted by the symbol R, and R1=100 cents
- You can check the exchange rates online, or by downloading currency converter apps
- We recommend that you bring cash when we go to markets and local vendors
- Banks are found in most towns, and are generally open from 9:00am to 3:30pm on weekdays, 8:30am to 11:00am on Saturdays and closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
- Most banks offer foreign exchange services – with cash, bank and credit cards. Please note that travellers’ cheques are not common practice anymore
- 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
- The country is south of the Equator, so the seasons are in reverse of those in the northern hemisphere
- South Africa has a temperate climate and is known for its long sunny days
- Most of the provinces have summer rainfall, except for the Western Cape (where Cape Town is), which has winter rainfall
- Autumn is from March to April
- Winter is from May to August
- Spring from September to October
- Summer from November to February
- We measure temperature in degrees Celsius
Food, Drink and Cuisine advice: Most of the dishes served in restaurants are similar to those in Europe and America. Typical South African dishes include sosaties (a type of kebab), bobotie (a curried dish), bredies (meat and vegetable casseroles), and seafood dishes
- 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
- Standards of hygiene in relation to food health and safety in South Africa, are generally high in hotels, restaurants, pubs and nightspots
- It is safe to eat fresh fruit, vegetables and salads, and put ice in your drinks
- South African fish, meat and chicken are of excellent quality, so there is no need to limit yourself when enjoying the local cuisine
- It is safe to drink tap water in South Africa. Bottled water is also readily available at all restaurants at a cost
- We are able to accommodate to food allergies and to vegetarian and vegan diets
Electricity and Plug Standards: The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. With a few exceptions (in deep rural areas) electricity is available almost everywhere. Adapters are usually available on loan at major hotels in South Africa. Three to five-star hotels usually have 110-volt outlets for electric shavers in bathrooms and often provide hair dryers and irons. An NW 4 plug with two prongs, 0.19 inches in diameter is required for compatibility. However, you may purchase or bring adapters for the outlets. You can purchase the adapters from a store while in South Africa. Remember to include the following in your pack list:
- Travel alarm clock (if you don’t have a phone)
- Camera (and memory cards)
- Electronic converters/adapters
Tipping: Tipping is not obligatory. It is, however, appropriate if you feel that the measure of service you received warrants a show of your personal appreciation, this is purely discretionary. Generally speaking, it is acceptable to tip 10% of your bill as a minimum for service rendered. People working in the service industry in South Africa often rely heavily on tips to make ends meet. Often these people earn either minimum wage, or no wages at all, making tips a big part of their monthly income. Foreign notes are acceptable to tip with, but foreign coins are not as they cannot be exchanged.