South Africa shares the same climate as other Southern Hemisphere countries such as Australia and New Zealand. To bring along a pair of good binoculars for your wildlife safaris in Kruger or other private reserves. Also a spare battery for your camera is a good idea, especially on scenic coastal drives and on long safari drives. If you are a wine afficiando, then you might want to bring that wish-list of award winning South African whites along with you. A good pair of walking shoes will help through-out the trip. And if you are on a self-drive trip, then carry with you, your local driving licence.
Time difference | IST -3.5 hours
Electricity | 220/250 V AC, 50 Hz. Plugs are of the round 3-pin variety. Bathroom plugs have two pins.
Water | Drinking water from taps is safe in towns and hotels.
Shops | Open from 08.30 to 17.00 Monday to Friday, and generally closing at 12.30 on Saturdays. In tourist areas shops are often open later during the week as well as over weekends.
Banks | Open from 09.00 to 15.30 from Monday to Friday and on Saturday’s from 08.30 to 11.00.
Taxis | Cannot be hailed on the street and must be ordered by telephone.
Tipping | For service is standard and any tip is normally welcome but 10% is a good guideline. Tips are not included on restaurant bills.
Taxation | 14% VAT (Value Added Tax) is levied on goods and services. Foreign Tourists can have their VAT refunded at a port of exit, provided the value of items purchased exceeds ZAR 500.00. Proof of payment will be required for claims. No refund on services.
There are many ways for you to make a difference in the way you travel. For starters, you could choose to book and stay in accommodations that are locally owned and managed, or care for the ecology, or support local communities both socially and economically. Many accommodations are certified FTTSA (Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa). Encourage low-carbon tours such as walking tours. Visit museums because your fees supports the preservation of South Africa's rich cultural legacy. Spend time to appreciate South Africa's struggle against apartheid and their ongoing social and healthcare challenges. Visits to non-profit development projects and your philanthropy help support these initiatives. When in the winelands, visit organic vineyards. And eat organic food wherever possible, to promote a healthier lifestyle. Go slow and take in South Africa gently - you will learn to love this country and its people. In return you will receive warmth and hospitality wherever you go.
No international immunisation is required when visiting South Africa. Malaria risks exist throughout the year in certain areas and precautionary action is advised when visiting these areas. For further information on what medical precautions to take before travelling to Africa, please visit www.travelclinic.co.za.
Despite horror stories of sky-high crime rates, most people visit South Africa without incident; be careful, but don't be paranoid. This is not to underestimate the issue – crime is a serious problem. But it is disproportionately concentrated in the poor African and coloured townships. Crime is a particular problem in Johannesburg, where the dangers are the worst in the country. If you fall victim to a mugging, you should take very seriously the usual advice not to resist and do as you're told. The chances of this happening can be greatly minimized by using common sense and following a few simple rules.
In general: Try not to look like a tourist | Dress down | Don't carry a camera or video openly in cities | Avoid wearing jewellery or expensive watches | Leave your designer shades at home – they are sometimes pulled off people's faces | If you are accosted, remain calm and co-operative.
When on foot: Grasp bags firmly under your arm | Don't carry excessive sums of money on you | Don't put your wallet in your back trouser pocket | Always know where your valuables are | Don't leave valuables exposed (on a seat or the ground) while having a meal or drink | Develop an awareness of what people in the street around you are doing | Don't let strangers get too close to you – especially people in groups | In big cities, travel around in pairs or groups.
On the road: Lock all your car doors, especially in cities | Keep rear windows sufficiently rolled up to keep out opportunistic hands | Never leave anything worth stealing in view when your car is unattended.
On the beach: Take only the bare essentials | Don't leave valuables, especially cameras, unattended | Safeguard car keys by pinning them to your swimming gear, or putting them in a waterproof wallet or splash box and taking them into the water with you.