We've compiled some information about South Africa to help you with your travel arrangements.
Attractions and highlights
South Africa’s attractions are many and varied. As always, we recommend speaking with a travel consultant to help you decide what to see and do during your holiday.
When to Visit South Africa
South Africa is a year-round destination that is celebrated for its sunshine. Summers are generally warm to hot with average tempretures of around 27 °C | 80 °F during the day and dropping to 15 °C | 59 °F at night. Winter is relatively warm compared to other parts of the world with average tempretures of around 19 °C | 67 °F during the day and 8 °C | 46 °F at night.
The best time to visit South Africa depends on what you want to see and do while here. Safaris are best in winter from May to October when the bush dries out and animals are forced gather at waterholes and dams.
Southern Africa’s winters feature warm, dry and clear days and cool to cold evenings. Cape Town is the only exception being a Mediterranean climate. The city thus experiences wet winters and dry summers.
In all cases, the most reliable and up-to-date source of information will be your travel consultant who will advise the best time to travel based on what you want to see and do in South Africa.
Health and Safety
Perhaps every traveller’s biggest concern - worldwide not just in Africa - is personal safety. Rhino Africa considers our client's well-being to be our highest priority. Crime is certainly a concern in South Africa but it is not as dire as some media would have you believe.
Vigilance goes a long way wherever you are in the world. The same is true for South Africa: when exploring the cities we advise you to take extra precaution with your belongings to avoid unnecessary inconveniences during your holiday. As with anywhere in the world, some areas of the country are safer than others. The garden route for example offers travellers a safe and beautiful self-drive journey along the South-East coast. There is much to be learned and discovered in some of South Africa's townships. There is no greater example of this than Vilakazi Street in Soweto. We encourage you to visit these historical sights but we advise that you do so under the guidance of a registered tour operator who is familiar with the area. We will happily arrange such a tour should you express an interest.
At night it’s best to take a taxi in the urban centres and to exercise caution when walking the streets to avoid being pick-pocketed.
Getting There and Getting Around
Johannesburg, being the financial and commercial hub of Africa, receives daily flights from all over the world, making South Africa one of the easiest African countries to fly to from abroad. Cape Town receives its fair share of daily flights for a more direct approach to your holiday.
Domestic flights in South Africa are extremely competitive with a fourth airline joining the fray offering low-cost flights to the major cities in the country. Car hire is affordable and the roads form an extensive network of excellent quality routes. Luxury Rail Journeys are a wonderfully romantic way to cross the country and see the land transform itself as it goes by.
Within the cities, private taxis are the best means of getting about after hours or when enjoying wine tours and lunches as, at long last, the country has clamped down on drunk-driving offenses with a zero tolerance policy.
South Africa’s currency is the Rand, denoted by an R in shops and ZAR in currency trading. A favourable exchange rate with major currencies makes travelling in South Africa cheaper than visiting Europe or the United States. You can use your credit in many shops, restaurants and lodges; there are many ATMs throughout the country and you can exchange traveller’s cheques at all banks. The best cash currencies to bring are US Dollars, Euros or British Pounds as these notes are accepted at the many Bureaux de Change in bigger cities.
Visas and Vaccinations
Visitors from most Commonwealth, Asian, European and American countries are issued a free entry permit on arrival that is valid for up to 90 days. Officials often curtail the validity to the duration of your stay so it’s a good idea to ask for the full 90 days in case of emergency, mishap or the inevitable urge to extend your holiday. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your intended departure date and it must have at least two blank pages to accommodate the visa sticker and subsequent entry and exit stamps.
There are no mandatory vaccinations required to enter South Africa unless you have come from a Yellow Fever country in which case you should present your certificate on arrival. Malaria is a risk in low-lying areas in the north of the country and appropriate precautions should be taken according to your health practitioner’s advice. Legislation changes often so it’s always a good idea to contact your nearest South African consulate well in advance for the latest visa and travel information.
Travellers under the age of 18
The South African government is implementing a new law which will come into effect on 1 June 2015. The legislation states that all minors (under the age of 18 years old) are required to produce - in addition to their passports - an unabridged birth certificate. A child who is only travelling with one parents will also be required to present an affidavit from his or her other parent consenting to the travel. If the minor is travelling with neither of his or her parents, he or she is required to produce:
- an affidavit/s from both parents consenting to the journey
- a copy of their IDs or passports; and
- the parents' contract details
Please note that this law was originally scheduled to come into force on 1 October 2014 but the Department of Home Affairs granted a postponement after engaging with various stakeholders. Rhino Africa is monitoring the developments and will provide clients with clear, up-to-date information.
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