South Africa, the Rainbow Nation, is renowned for its diversity, something that is evident both in the South African people and the country's landscapes. If you're interested in the details of what a visit to our beautiful country entails, here's some information about SA to help you with your travel arrangements.
Attractions and highlights
South Africa is home to such a wide variety of different attractions that the list is virtually endless. Whether you prefer natural beauty or cityscapes, staying inside or outside, relaxing or exploring, SA has it all. 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
Although South Africa is renowned for its sunshine and warm weather, it is actually a year-round destination. Summers are generally warm to hot with average temperatures 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 temperatures of around 19 °C | 67 °F during the day and 8 °C | 46 °F at night. Of course, the weather and temperatures vary depending on which part of the country you are in.
The best time to visit South Africa depends on what you want to see and do, as each time of year offers different activities and attractions. Safaris are best in winter from May to October when the bush dries out and animals gather at waterholes and dams, while beach holidays are best in the summer months. In general, Southern Africa’s winters feature warm, dry and clear days and cool to cold evenings. Cape Town is the only exception, as it has a Mediterranean climate, meaning the city 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. Here at Rhino Africa our client's well-being is our highest priority. Crime is certainly a concern in South Africa but the situation 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 most countries, some areas are safer than others, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you should give more questionable places a wide birth. For example, there is much to be learned and discovered in some of South Africa's townships. If you simply avoid these areas you could miss out on some incredible experiences. We encourage you to visit these historical sights but we advise that you do so with a registered tour operator who is familiar with the area. We'll happily arrange such a tour for those who are interested.
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 as well, convenient for those who are travelling to or around the Mother City.
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.
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 six 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 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 parent 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.
The Garden Route is known for the Coastal Route from Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth with stretch of pristine beaches, the Indian Ocean and riverine forests. The Whale Route runs through Hermanus and Route 62 through the winelands - why not enjoy a Malaria Free Safari.
For a countryside escape that doesn’t skimp on taste and luxury, head out of Cape Town for the nearby Cape Winelands. The terroir of these small towns and their surrounds have made them ideal for wine-production, and many of the region’s wineries boast a history over 300 years.
Kruger National Park
Undoubtedly South Africa’s most iconic game-viewing destination and Africa’s second-largest park, the Kruger National Park is spread across an impressive 2 million hectares of land in the far north-eastern corner of the country
Cape Town is a vibrant melting pot of colour, creativity and cuisine. With its flat, larger-than-life mountain harbouring white sandy beaches, bountiful vineyards and a bustling waterfront at its base.
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