traveltips

SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL TIPS

Arrival and Departure Formalities

South Africa's borders reopened for international tourism on 1 October 2020. On 16 September 2020, the South African government announced that the country will move to Lockdown level 1 as from Monday, 21 September 2020. Entry into South Africa will be via the countries' three mayor airports, O.R Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and Durban King Shaka International Airport only.

COVID-19 protocols & Entry Requirements

  • A valid certificate of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, obtained not more than 72 hours (3 days) from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. The test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner. The certificate must be in English and have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted the test. No electronic copies will be accepted. 
  • Failure to present proof of a valid and negative test will require the traveller to quarantine at their own cost.
  • Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms and/or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
  • Travellers must provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country, subject to the accommodation allowing for self-quarantine.
  • Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person, they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.
  • All travellers will be asked to download the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app. 
  • Travel insurance is mandatory for all travellers to covers any cost of testing or quarantine.
  • Social distancing of 1.5 meters has to be adhered too and wearing masks at all times are compulsory.
  • Leisure travel from the following High Risk countries will not be allowed to travel to South Africa. 
  • Albania
    Argentina                 
    Armenia                 
    Austria                 
    Bahrain                 
    Belgium                 
    Bolivia                 
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Brazil             
    Chile             
    Columbia         
    Costa Rica         
    Croatia             
    Czech Republic     
    Denmark
    Ecuador         
    France            
    Georgia         
    Greece             
    Guatemala         
    Guyana            
    Honduras         
    Hungary        
    Iceland             
    India
    Iran
    Iraq
    Ireland
    Israel
    Jamaica
    Jordan
    Kuwait
    Lebanon                 
    Luxembourg                 
    Maldives               
    Malta              
    Mexico                 
    Moldova                 
    Montenegro                          
    Nepal             
    Netherlands       
    North Macedonia       
    Oman            
    Palestine         
    Panama       
    Paraguay          
    Peru             
    Portugal        
    Puerto Rico         
    Qatar             
    Romania      
    Russia  
    Slovakia                                
    Suriname
    Switzerland
    Ukraine
    United Emirates
    United Kingdom
    USA
    Venezuela    

Visas cannot be obtained at port of entry but must be applied for at South African diplomatic or consular representatives abroad. Minimum of two blank pages in passport.

Time Zone

GMT + 2 hours.

Baggage Restrictions at OR Tambo International Airport

Please take note of the below baggage restrictions at OR Tambo International Airport

  • Only regular-shaped bags will be allowed to be checked in. This means that the bags must have at least one flat surface to be accepted
  • Round or irregular-shaped bags will not be allowed
  • Bags with longs straps will not be allowed

Passengers who try to check in bags that don’t conform to these rules will have the option of having their baggage wrapped with one flat side at airport-approved baggage wrapping stations.

Travelling with children

Foreign children under the age of 18, travelling to South Africa need to produce the below on arrival. Foreign children who require a visa for South Africa do not need to carry additional documents for inspection at a port of entry since these would be processed together with their visa applications. Please bear in mind that when travelling to Namibia and Botswana certain documents will still be required including an unabridged birth certificate.

Child and both parents

  • A valid passport for the child

Child and one parent

  • A valid passport for the child

Child and guardian

  • A valid passport for the child

Child unaccompanied

  • Copy of his /her birth certificate
  • Parental consent letters
  • Copy of the passport(s)/identity document(s) of the parent(s) / legal guardian(s)
  • Contact details of the parent(s)/ legal guardian(s)
  • Letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his / her residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will reside
  • Copy of the identity document / valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic
  • Where applicable- copy of an adoption order / copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent/ parents or legal guardian; or copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child

Currency

The monetary unit of South Africa is the Rand, divided into cents and abbreviated as R and C.

Notes currently in circulation are to the value of R200; R100; R50; R20 and R10.  Coins are in denominations of R5; R2; R1; 50c; 20c; 10c; 5c. All currency must be declared on entry into South Africa.

Money Matters

Banking hours
Monday to Fridays 09:00 - 13:30 
Saturdays 08:30 - 11:00 
Sundays and Public Holidays all banks are closed.

Credit cards All major credit cards are accepted at most establishments, although visa and master card are the most widely accepted.

Tax Value Added Tax (VAT) of 15% is levied in South Africa. Overseas visitors taking goods out of South Africa are able to reclaim the VAT, which they paid on these goods. Reclaiming VAT is only applicable for goods that you are able to produce at the airport and not for any services whatsoever. When purchasing your products you should request a tax invoice. The shop’s VAT number must appear on this invoice. As you are checking in at the airport ready to depart from South Africa, you should approach the customs official who will compare your invoices with the goods purchased. Once your invoices have been approved and stamped, the VAT Reclaim Office will refund you the appropriate amount. VAT Reclaim Offices are found at Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town Airports.

Weather

Best time to go to South Africa

Winter May – August
Summer September – April

South Africa is a big country just south of the tropic of Capricorn, but it is the topography and surrounding oceans that influence its climate, rather than the latitude. Although the climate varies from region to region, it is generally mild and sunny throughout the year. On the whole it is a dry country with a mean annual rainfall of 502mm. Snowfall is limited to the highest mountain peaks.

Summer temperatures average between 15 ºC and 32ºC (59ºF - 89ºF). Winter temperatures average between 0ºC and 18ºC (32 ºF – 64ºF). KwaZulu-Natal has a sub-tropical climate with high humidity in summer.

The southern Gauteng region has hot summers with occasional thundershowers and frosty winters, while the eastern part of this region (known as the Lowveld) enjoys mild winters. The Cape interior and the Free State have similar weather conditions to the southern Gauteng region.

Clothing

Casual, comfortable wash and wear clothing is most useful. Jackets and ties are required in city hotel restaurants and golf clubs. All hotels offer extremely quick laundry turnaround, usually within a couple of hours. It is certainly not necessary to bring a separate change of clothing for each day and evening, and it is recommended that you keep luggage to a minimum for your own comfort and ease of transport, especially if you are using light aircraft transfers.

• Shorts & Cotton T-shirts
• Swimming costume
• Good comfortable walking shoes (hiking boots are not required unless you have booked a walking safari)
• Casual lightweight cotton, khaki or neutral coloured clothes for safari
• Fleece or sweater and a warm jacket for game drives or cool evenings
• Wide brimmed hat/cap
• Personal toiletries, sun barrier creams; lip balm and insect repellent
• Binoculars, camera and accessories
• Sunglasses
• Rovos Rail guests pack elegant wear for ladies and jacket and tie for men

For travel to South Africa in summer months, lightweight clothing made of a natural, “breathable" fabric is recommended with a warm sweater or jacket for cooler evening temperatures. In winter, warmer clothing is suggested, especially for evenings and you will want to pack an extra sweater or hooded warm-up jacket, a warm hat and gloves. All luxury hotels and most game lodges offer a same-day laundry service (at additional charges). This is a good reason not to pack too many clothes.

Health

It is important that you check with a qualified health professional for the most current information concerning your travel itinerary and personal health history.

Anti-Malarial precautions are an absolute necessity when visiting the game parks in the region. It is important that you check with a qualified health professional for the most current information concerning your travel itinerary and personal health history.

South Africa offers excellent medical facilities, and is the preferred country for treatment in the region. We do advise you to take out travel insurance to cover any possible medical treatment, and if necessary, emergency evacuation. All hospitals charge tourists as private patients and may require payment by cash.

The sun in the southern hemisphere is extremely strong - do wear an effective sunscreen and hat during the summer. It is advisable to avoid the noonday sun. Recommended SPF is 30.

Throughout Southern Africa it is safe to eat all foods and drink tap water in cities and towns. Purified water in flasks or bottled water is provided at game lodges throughout the region. It is also suggested that you bring a smaller traveller’s kit with remedies for minor stomach ailments or motion sickness. You should include an adequate supply (in your hand luggage) of any prescribed medication you may require while traveling.

If you are entering South Africa from a yellow-fever zone you will need a valid international yellow-fever vaccination certificate.

Travelers with physical disabilities and those who require frequent or on-going medical attention should advise us of their health situation at the time of booking (or at the time such a situation occurs should this be after the reservation is made).

We do recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover you in the event of a medical emergency.

Electricity

South Africa's electrical system is 220/230 volts A/C 50 cycles.

Local Food

Throughout South Africa it is generally safe to eat all foods, including salads and fruit served in restaurants.  It is also safe to drink the tap water in cities and towns.  Purified water in flasks or bottled water is usually provided at Game Lodges.

Other Notes

Common sense should prevail and precautions should be taken as in any major city.  Use hotel and lodge safety deposit boxes.  If walking in towns or cities only carry small amounts of cash, do not wear obvious jewellery and keep a close eye on your handbag or wallet.  Never leave valuables, especially money and documents unattended in the hotel room or vehicle.

Rather than walk, we recommend that you take a taxi in cities at night.  Ask the hotel or restaurant doorman to arrange your cab.

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory. You are travelling on an independent itinerary and the cost of your program does not include gratuities. Tipping is a very personal matter and should only be considered when the staff have gone above and beyond for you. Should you feel you would like to acknowledge their service, please consider the following as a rough guide, per day.

Tour Director - 205
Driver / Guide (Half day) - 110 
Driver / Guide (Full day) - 165
Hotel Porters - 40
Professional Guide - 205
Ranger - 205
Tracker - 110
Lodge staff - 165

Please note: Currency is in ZAR

The above tipping guidelines are recommendations only and are not compulsory. Please use your own discretion in tipping, based on quality of service.

Restaurants 
It is customary to add 10% to the bill in restaurants, if the service has been satisfactory.

Taxis
Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped but they appreciate the fare being rounded up.

Porterage 
If you are being transferred by our representative from the airport to a hotel, then porterage and tipping of porters is already included. You are not expected to tip our representative. Porterage and tipping of porters for transfers from one hotel to another is as above.

Blue Train and Rovos Rail
Tip at the end of your journey ZAR 205 per person per day. These gratuities may be placed in a central box or an envelope, which will be provided.

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