Plan Your Trip

Planning your trip to South Africa?

Here are a few useful tips I've compiled for you ...

South Africa from A-Z

ALCOHOL

Supermarkets in South Africa are not permitted to sell alcohol to the public on Sundays and on religious holidays. Bottle stores are open from Monday- Friday from 8am to 6pm.

In restaurants that are not licensed for liquor, you can bring your own alcoholic beverages. There will be a corkage fee.

AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY IN SOUTH AFRICA - THE HIGH COMMISSION

292 Orient Street, Arcadia, Pretoria 0083, Gauteng, South Africa

Postal Address: Australian High Commission, Private Bag X15, PosNet Suite 493, Menlo Park 0102, Gauteng, South Africa

Tel: +27 -12 423 6000

Fax: +27 -12 342 8442

Website: www.southafrica.embassy.gov.au

BANKS

The large commercial banks in South Africa are: ABSA, Bidvest Bank, Capitec, First National Bank (FNB), Nedbank and Standard Bank.

These banks will exchange currency. If you are exchanging foreign currency at any one of the banks in South Africa, you will need to show them your passport. You can find branches of these banks in every major city. All the cities, major shopping centers and most smaller towns have ATM's. In the larger cities there are some international bank branches as well. Most commercial banks are open on weekdays from 9am to 3:30pm, Saturdays from 8:30am to 11am.

Banks and Foreign Exchange Tellers usually charge a commission fee for exchanging currency, therefore you will not always get the best exchange rate. Therefore, it is recommended to rather draw cash from an ATM or make your purchases using your credit cards in South Africa. It is also wise not to carry large sums of cash on your person anyway. (See also Credit Cards)

BRITISH CONSULATE IN CAPE TOWN

Norton Rose House, 8 Riebeeck Street, Foreshore, Cape Town 8001, Western Cape, South Africa

Tel: +27 -21 405 2400

BRITISH EMBASSY - HIGH COMMISSION IN PRETORIA

255 Hill Street, Arcadia, Pretoria 0028, Gauteng, South Africa

tel: +27 -12 421 7500

Website: www.gov.uk 

CANADIAN EMBASSY IN SOUTH AFRICA - THE HIGH COMMISSION

1103 Arcadia Street, Hatfield, Pretoria 0083, Gauteng, South Africa

Postal Address: High Commission of Canada, Private Bag X13, Hatfield 0028, South Africa

Tel: +27 -12 422 3000

Fax: +27 -12 422 3052

Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca 

CLIMATE

Situated completely in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are opposite of that in the Northern Hemisphere. South Africa's climatic conditions generally range from Mediterranean in the southwestern corner of South Africa to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the northeast. A small area in the northwest has a desert climate. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights. Winter temperatures may reach the freezing point at high altitude, but are at their most mild in coastal regions, particularly the Eastern Cape. Cold and warm coastal currents running north-west and north-east respectively account for the difference in climates between west and east coasts. 

Cape Town:

Summer (October - March): min 16°C/ max 31°C (min 60°F/ max 88°F) - sunny, hot and windy days. Very little rainfall, dry season.

Winter (April - September): min 9°C/ max 21°C (min 48°F/ max 70°F)  - partly cloudy cool days with moderate rainfall, wet season.

Durban:

Summer (October - March): min 21°C/ max 29°C (min 70°F/ max 84°F) - sunny, humid with rainfall, wet season

Winter (April - September): min 11°C/max 24°C (min 52°F/ max 75°F) - pleasantly warm and frost-free days, moderate rainfall.

Johannesburg:

Summer (October - March): min 14°C /max 26°C (min 57°F/ max 79°F) - hot, rainy days and cool evenings, wet season.

Winter (April - September): min 2°C/ max 20°C (min 36°F/ max 68°F) - dry sunny days and cold nights, dry season.

Kruger National Park (Skukuza):

Summer (October - March): min 21°C/ max 33°C (min 70°F/ max 91°F) - hot and sunny days with rainfall, wet season.

Winter (April - September): min 6°C/ max 26°C (min 43°F/ max 79°F) - warm dry days with cold nights, dry season.

Port Elizabeth:

Summer (October - March): min 16°C/ max 26°C (min 60°F/ max 79°F) - sunny, hot and windy days with moderate rainfall.

Winter (April - September): min 8°C/ max 22°C (min 46°F/ max 72°F) - sunny, mild days with moderate rainfall.

CLOTHING

The clothing you pack should be for a warm temperate climate. The clothing should be light and breathable. There can be significant temperature differences between day and night in some areas in summer and winter. Therefore a warm sweater and rain coat is advisable. Pack sturdy, comfortable walking shoes and sandals for the beach. A hat and sunglasses should be worn to protect your eyes from the hot African sun. For safari's, khaki shirts, shorts and trousers are recommended. And don't forget your binoculars. In general causal wear is acceptable in South Africa. Jacket and ties are worn for more formal events and more exclusive hotels and restaurants.

CREDIT CARDS

Most international credit cards such as Master Card and Visa are widely accepted in South Africa. Diners Club and American Express are less accepted in stores and establishments, so it is best to also bring an alternative credit card with you. It is best to carry at least two major credit cards with you should one become unusable for any reason. Some restrictions apply to some smaller towns, rural areas and small retail stores who may not have credit card facilities. Unless you are touring in far rural areas in South Africa, it is not necessary to carry large amounts of cash with you. All the cities, major shopping centers and most smaller towns have ATM's where you can draw cash. (see also Safety)

CURRENCY

The South African Rand (ZAR), also marked "R" on price tags, is the only legal tender in South Africa. R1 = 100 cents. Dollars and Euros are not accepted as legal tender in South Africa. 

DIALING CODES

To dial South Africa from Canada/USA, dial 011 27 plus the South African city code minus the "0", and then the telephone number.

To dial Canada/USA from South Africa dial 001 plus the Canadian/US city code minus the "0", and then the telephone number.

DRUGSTORES

In South Africa they are called "Pharmacies" or "Chemists" or in Afrikaans; "Apteek". Most drugstores in the larger towns and cities have a dispensary and also an emergency service. Here you can get prescription-free anti-malaria medication (when and if required). The largest and most popular drugstore chains are Alphapharm, Clicks, Dischem & Link Pharmacies.

ELECTRICITY

Power sockets are type F and L, fitting two- and three-pronged plugs. Standard voltage is 220-230 volts. Not all hotels and guest houses may have fitted adapters in the walls so it is recommended to acquire one prior to departure or on arrival in South Africa. Adapters for shavers and hair dyers (three-pin) can be purchased on arrival at the international airports of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

South Africa is currently experiencing an energy crisis. You may experience a few hours of load shedding during the day or night when the electricity is switched off. In December 2019, Eskom, the South African electricity public utility company, stated that of its total nominal capacity of around 44,000 MW, it was unable to provide around 13,000 MW of total capacity thereby resulting in the nationwide blackouts. Nevertheless should this happen most hospitals, hotels and major shopping malls have generators to keep them running. The duration of the blackout is normally 2 and a half hours, depending on the load shedding schedule.

Since March 2020, the load shedding schedule has been discontinued and electricity is supplied 24/7 as normal. However it may be re-implemented at short notice in the future. 

IRISH EMBASSY IN SOUTH AFRICA

570 Fehsen Street, Brooklyn, Pretoria 0181, Gauteng, South Africa

Tel: +27 -12 452 1000

Website: www.dfa.ie

MALARIA

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. In South Africa, malaria is mainly transmitted along the border areas to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Botswana. Only three South African provinces namely, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal are endemic for malaria. The rest of South Africa is not regarded as a malaria area. Medications for prophylaxis must be taken if visiting these border areas, especially in the wet summer season between October and April. They are available in all drugstores in South Africa without a prescription. Ask your pharmacist about the best combination for you. To avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes it is recommended not to wear too much after-shave or perfume on safari, and after sunset it is recommended to wear long sleeved shirts and trousers. Insect repellent is readily available in South African drugstores and supermarkets. 

 

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES

South Africa has no national healthcare system. It is therefore advisable to take out health insurance before your trip, which covers the corresponding expenses during your stay. As a tourist, you have to go to private hospitals and doctors. These are available in most major centers and include 24-hour service. If you are using chronic prescription medication, it is advisable to bring this with you as well as a copy of your doctors prescription in case of an emergency. It is wise to pack an additional supply of your prescription medication and remember NOT to pack this in your checked luggage. 

NEW ZEALAND EMBASSY IN SOUTH AFRICA - HIGH COMMISSION

125 Middel Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Pretoria 0181, Gauteng, South Africa

Tel: +27 -12 435 9000

Fax +27 -12 435 9002

Website: www.mfat.govt.nz 

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Banks, embassies, schools and public services are closed on the following public holidays. Should a public holiday fall on a Sunday, it will be observed the following Monday as well. 

01 January - New Years Day

21 March - Human Rights Day

The Friday before Easter Sunday - Good Friday

The Monday following Easter Sunday - Family Day

27 April - Freedom Day

01 May - Workers' Day

16 June - Youth Day

09 August - National Women's Day

24 September - Heritage Day

16 December - Day of Reconciliation

25 December - Christmas Day

26 December - Day of Goodwill (formerly Boxing Day)

UNITED STATES EMBASSY IN SOUTH AFRICA - CONSULATE GENERAL

2 Reddam Ave, Steenberg Estate, Cape Town 7945, Western Cape, South Africa

Postal Address: PostNet Suite 50, Private Bag X26, Tokai 7966, Wetsern Cape, South Africa

Tel: +27 -21 702 7300

Fax: +27 -21 702 7493

Website: www.usembassy.gov 

VAT (VALUE ADDED TAX)

The Value Added Tax of 15% is included in most of the goods and services purchased in South Africa. 

© 2017 by Stephan Wischnewski.

All Rights Reserved.

Turaco Tours & Transfers Pty Ltd.