About South Africa

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South Africa

Quick Facts:

Area: 471 443 sq miles
Capital City: Pretoria (Executive) Bloemfontein (Judicial) Cape Town (Legislative)
Government: Constitutional Democracy
President: Cyril Ramaphosa
Languages: English (language of administration and widely spoken), Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
Location: Southern Africa
Population size: 56, 770, 560, Population density: 109.8/sq mi
Telephone code: +27 plus city code and phone number
Time difference: GMT + 2 hours

Banks/ Foreign Exchange:

Banks are open from 9:00am to 3:30pm, Monday through Friday and 8:30am to 11:00am on Saturdays. Major national banks are available in most large towns, as are automatic teller machines (ATM’s). International banks have branches in the major cities. Thomas Cook (represented by Rennies Travel) and American Express foreign exchange offices are available in the major cities.


H = Average High L = Average Low (in Fahrenheit)

December to March
April to
June to
September to November
Johannesburg H 77, L 57
Warm, storms
H 72, L 52
Warm, sunny
H 64, L 41
Mild, sunny
H 74, L61
Warm, sunny
Cape Town H 78, L 59
Warm, mild
H 75, L 55
H 65, L 46
Rainy, windy
H 69, L 50
Kruger National Park H 90, L 68
Hot, rainy
H 86, L 62
Warm to hot
H 80, L 46
Dry, warm
H 85, L 58
Warm to hot
Durban H 80, L 68
Warm, humid
H 80, L 65
Warm, sunny
H 74, L 54
Mild, windy
H 74, L 61


  • Comfortable clothing is suitable throughout the year. Lightweight clothing is the norm during summer
  • In winter a jacket or coat may be needed, particularly in the evenings
  • Warm (neutral-coloured) clothes are important for late afternoon/evening and early morning game drives. Casual clothing and comfortable walking shoes on tour are advisable, but in the city hotels and restaurants dress is more formal
  • Jacket & tie are required in the dining cars of the Blue Train and Rovos Rail
  • Other recommended items are: UV sunblock, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent, moisturising cream, flashlight, torch, binoculars and camera


The international code for South Africa is 27, which should be preceded by the international prefix if calling from abroad. Public telephones are either coin or card operated. Phone cards can be bought at certain stores, post offices and airports.

Credit Cards/ Currency:

American Express, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted with some restrictions in small towns and rural area.
The local currency is the South African Rand, which is divided into 100 cents. The exchange rate in April 2010 is approximately US$1,00 = R11,50. Foreign visitors have no restriction on the amount of foreign currency which can be brought into South Africa . Currently a maximum of R20 000 per person per day may be cashed. Unlimited daily spend allowed on credit cards.

Value Added Tax:

VAT at 14% is included in the price of most items and services. VAT can be claimed back on goods priced over R250 at the airport of departure, various harbours and custom offices. The original tax invoice, the VAT refund control sheet, client’s passport and the purchased items are required.

Duty Free:

  • 400 cigarettes
  • 250 grams of tobacco
  • 50 cigars
  • 1 litre of spirits
  • 1, 5 litres of wine
  • 50 ml of perfume; 250 ml of Eau de Toilette
  • Gifts, souvenirs and any other goods to the value of R3 000 are permitted
  • Shops at Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban Airports

Electrical Current:

220/230 volts AC, 50 cycles, except in Pretoria where the current is 250 volts AC

Health Concerns:

  • South Africa boasts excellent medical facilities. All medical treatment must be paid for at the time of treatment, so clients need to carry medical insurance
  • Tap water is safe to drink throughout the country. Swimming in rivers, lakes and dams in the eastern (Eastern Cape excluded) and northern regions should be avoided as the bilharzia parasite may be present in the water
  • Remember malaria medication if you a visiting the game reserves and parks of the Northern, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces
  • No vaccinations are required for visitors from the United States or Canada. However:
  • Should you be visiting Zambia or Tanzania on your itinerary, you will be required to have a Yellow Fever vaccination. You will be required to produce your vaccination certificate on arrival in the country as well as on your return to South Africa
  • Whether you are staying overnight in Zambia / Tanzania or merely passing through, the vaccination is required. These vaccinations should normally be done at least 10 days prior to entering the country
  • You will be denied entry into Zambia / Tanzania or re-entry into South Africa without the certification proving your vaccination

Metal Hips, Pins, Knee Replacements, Pacemakers, etc

Please be aware that if any guests travelling with us have had a knee or hip replacement (usually metal) or have pins, pacemakers, etc., they may set off security alarms at airports which can prevent them from being allowed to board. Our recommendation is that they travel with a doctor’s card / letter stating this information, to show security officials to ensure there are no delays, especially at our regional airports.


1 January: New Year’s Day

21 March: Human Rights Day

19 April: Good Friday*

22 April: Family Day*

27 April: Freedom Day

1 May: Workers’ Day

8 May: Elections 

16 June: Youth Day

17 June: Public holiday**

9 August: National Women’s Day

24 September: Heritage Day

16 December: Day of Reconciliation

25 December: Christmas Day

26 December: Day of Goodwill

* The dates on which Good Friday and Easter Sunday fall are determined according to the ecclesiastical moon. That varies each year but they fall at some point between late March and late April.

*If a public holiday fall on a Sunday, the Monday also becomes a holiday

Passport/ Visa Requirements:

Visas are not the responsibility of Trans Africa Safaris. Please check with local authorities for all information pertaining to visa requirements. USA passport holders do not require a visa for South Africa or Botswana. Other nationalities – it is the responsibility of the overseas booking agent to check visa requirements. If you request us to check the information for you, we will do so and give you the status which is current at that time. Trans Africa Safaris cannot be held responsible if the visa situation changes after we have provided the information. We suggest you check at the time of booking and again one month prior to clients’ departure from home country.

Passports: The current requirement regarding blank pages in passports, for visits to South Africa is 2 BLANK VISA PAGES. Please note pages headed “Endorsements, Observations” etc are not VISA pages.

Passports must be valid for 6 months after your departure from Southern Africa

Without the above you could be denied entry.

Please note pages headed “Endorsements, Observations” etc are not VISA pages.

  • For your visit to Botswana: 3 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to Kenya: 2 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to Mauritius: 2 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to Mozambique: 3 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to Namibia: 3 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to Seychelles: 3-4 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to South Africa: 2 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to Tanzania: 3 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to Zimbabwe: 3 blank VISA pages
  • For your visit to Zambia: 2 blank VISA pages

Without the above you could be denied entry.


Any valid driver’s license is accepted in South Africa, provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is printed in English. South Africa has an excellent road network. Driving is on the left. Road sign distances and speed limits are in kilometres. Wearing of seatbelts is compulsory.


A good SLR (single lens reflex) or digital SLR camera with telephoto zoom lens is recommended for photography of birds and animals, as is colour reversal film (slides) if using film as this will give better quality pictures than regular film. A big memory card / abundant film and spare batteries as recommended as these are often not available at the bush camps/lodges.

Recommended Reading:

  • Jock of the Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick
  • Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  • The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner
  • Something Out There by Nadime Gordimer
  • The Boer War by Thomas Packenham
  • World and South Africa in the 1990’s by Clem Sunter
  • The Long Walk to Freedom, the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
  • South Africa in the 20th Century – Peter Joyce
  • Illustrated History of South Africa – Reader’s Digest
  • The Spirit of District Six – Cloete Breytenbach
  • The Story of Hottentots Holland – Peggy heap
  • African Renaissance – Peter Magubane (Black Culture)
  • Tavern of the Sea – T V Bulpin
  • Rage – Wilbur Smith
  • A Century of Anglo Boer War Stories – Chris van der Merwe / Michael Rice
  • A Tourist Guide to the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) – Tony Westby-Nunn
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