GENERAL INFORMATION ON SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, throughout the year.
Passports and Visas
For the majority of foreign nationals who travel to SA for vacation, entry is straightforward and hassle-free. All visitors must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country, and in some cases a visa is necessary.
Travellers from Scandinavia, Japan, the USA and most Western European and Commonwealth countries, do not need to formally apply for a visa. Upon arrival in SA, countries falling into this category will automatically be given a FREE entry permit sticker that outlines how long they may remain in the country. This is usually a maximum of 90 days.
Bank and Money
The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1.00.
Currency may be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Changes. Most major international credit cards are widely accepted.
It is customary to leave a 10-15% tip in most restaurants – most restaurants do not add a service charge to bills.
Value-added tax (VAT) is charged on most items.
Foreign tourists to SA can have their 14% VAT refunded on departure at the airport, provided that hey value of the items purchased exceeds R250.00.
December and January are the main summer holiday months. During May and June, autumn brings warm days and relatively cool nights. From the beginning of July to the end of September, you can expect cold conditions in most regions of the country, with snow on the high mountain peaks, and sometimes in low-lying areas in the Natal Midlands and Eastern Cape.
As has a low average rainfall of 464mm with most of the country receiving less that 500mm of rain per annum. The higher mountainous areas of the country have an annual rainfall of up to 2000mm, dropping to a mere 50mm along the west coast.
Most of the country’s rain (80%) falls during the summer months (October to march). The east coast has a subtropical climate while Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate with winter rains.
The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are directly opposite to those of the Northern hemisphere.
For summer months, lightweight (cottons and linens), short-sleeved clothes are best, although a light jersey/jumper might be needed for the cooler evenings in some parts. Umbrellas and raincoats are essential for the summer months and the Western Cape winters. Warmer clothes are needed for the winter months.
South Africa’s electricity supply : 220/230 volts AC 50Hz
Exceptions: Pretoria (230 V) and Port Elizabeth (200/250 V)
Health & Safety
SA has a well-developed infrastructure, high standards of water treatment (you can safely drink the tap water) and medical facilities equal to the best in the world.
Visitors who come to SA from a yellow fever zone must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Only infants under the age of one year are exempt..
Immunisation against cholera and small pox are not required and no other vaccinations are needed.
Malaria is found only in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
The Maputoland coast of KwaZulu-Natal is a very LOW risk malaria area, with very few cases found in this area, if any.
Food and Water
In most regions, tap water is safe to drink. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standard of hygiene and food preparation is generally excellent.
Road Safety & Driving
The infrastructure is excellent in SA and the roads are in good condition. The distances between towns are significant, so if you are planning to self-drive, it is necessary to plan your trip carefully and make sure you reach your destination in daylight.
Speed limits vary from a maximum of 120kmph on the open roads and highways to 100kmph on smaller roads and between 60/80kmph in towns and villages.
Most major shopping centres and malls operate 7 days a week, but you will find that in the smaller towns and rural areas that shop are closed on Sundays.
Monday – Saturday: 09H00 to 17H00
Sunday – 09H00 – 14H00