Did you know that Table Mountain National Park has more plant species in its 22 000 hectares than the British Isles or New Zealand? Or that the Drakensberg has both the highest mountain range in Africa south of the Equator and is home to the continent's richest concentration of rock art? These facts and more can be found in all the subsections of the website -- this section covers facts about South Africa & travellers information -- passport and visa requirements & visa extentions, etc.
Passports & Visas
Passports valid for at least 6 months beyond date of departure from South Africa required by all.
For full details of requirements, please see the following.
Required by all except the following for business and tourist purposes:
(a) nationals of Britain, EU countries, USA, Australia, Japan, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland for visits of up to 90 days;
(b) nationals of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Jamaica, Malta, Paraguay, St Helena, Swaziland, Uruguay and Venezuela for visits of up to 90 days;
(c) nationals of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Comoros Islands, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Gabon, Guyana, Hong Kong (SAR), Hungary, Jordan, Korea (Rep. of), Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Namibia, Peru, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Thailand, Turkey (except holders of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus passports, who do require visas) and Zambia for visits of up to 30 days;
(d) transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft provided holding onward or return documentation and not leaving the airport
Note: Holders of Visitors visas are not allowed to take up employment in South Africa. Unaccompanied children must hold written consent from their parents when travelling alone.
Application to: Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy or High Commission). Applicants in countries where South Africa is not represented may send their applications direct to the Director-General for Home Affairs, Private Bag X114, Pretoria 0001.
(a) Passport valid for 6 months beyond date of departure.
(b) 2 passport-size photos with signature on reverse side.
(c) 1 completed application form (failure to complete the application fully and in detail may result in visa being delayed or refused).
(d) Proof of sufficient funds to cover visit.
(e) Onward/return ticket and, if in transit, proof of sufficient documentation for admission to the country of destination.
(f) No criminal record.
(g) Visitors should be of sound mind and body.
For study permits: (a)-(g) and, (h) Official letter of acceptance from South African academic institution.
For work permits: (a)-(g) and, (h) Official letter of employment from South African company stating salary and position.
For business visas: (a)-(g) and, (h) Letter from employer.
Note: In the case of failure to comply with any of these regulations, visitors may be required to leave a cash deposit with the Immigration Officer.
Working days required: Applications should be made well in advance.
Temporary residence: Certain nationals can obtain a temporary residence permit free of charge on arrival. For more information, contact the Embassy.
Tobacco - 250g
Alcoholic bev.'s - 1 liter
Wine 2 liters
Eau de Toilette - 250ml
Gifts, souvenirs and all other goods - R500
No commercial or restricted goods and within duty-free allowance.
Pay duty (an average of 20%) on items over allowed limit before leaving Customs hall.
South Africa has the best developed transport system in Africa, but not as well-developed as in Europe or Japan. Major cities have bus services and inter city bus transport is readily available. Taxis are available on call. The air transport system is well developed with a large number of local carriers. More than 60 international airlines operate to and from South Africa. Car hire services are available in all cities and most of the larger towns. Drivers must have an international driver's license and a minimum of 5 years' experience. Cars can be hired from airports or arranged through travel agents.
There are 11 official languages.
The English speaking tourist will experience no difficulties, neither the Dutch nor Flemish speakers. Most of the larger institutions and operators cater for German, French and Japanese groups.
You'll find a Police station in every town.
The South African Police are listed under Government Departments at the back of the telephone directory as "SA Police Service".
Facilities For The Disabled
All the airports, major hotels, some rest camps in the Kruger National Park and lately built shopping centers provide facilities for the disabled. The larger car hire companies can provide vehicles with hand controls.
In general, however, facilities are still lacking.
The supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 Hz with three-point wall plug. US-made appliances may need a transformer.
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of GMT, one hour ahead of Central European wintertime and 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard wintertime (USA)
Those looking for an opportunity to ski in winter head for the high Drakensberg mountains that form the eastern escarpment, but the coldest place in the country is Sutherland in the western Roggeveld Mountains, with midwinter temperatures as low as -15ºC. The deep interior provides the hottest temperatures: in 1948 the mercury hit 51.7ºC in the Northern Cape Kalahari near Upington.
Average temperatures in ºC
Cape Town 20 12.6
Durban 23.6 17
Johannesburg 19.4 11.1
Pretoria 22.4 12.9
Source: Lew Leppan: The South African Book of Records. Cape Town, Don Nelson, 1999.
The total land area of South Africa is slightly more than 1.2 million square kilometres, and it measures some 1 600km from north to south and approximately the same from east to west.
The legislative capital is Cape Town, the administrative capital is Pretoria, and the biggest city is Johannesburg. A good rail and road system links all major centres.
BANKING & FINANCE
Most major credit cards are accepted as well as travelers cheques in major currencies. Master Card, VISA, Diners and American Express
South African currency works on the decimal system 1 Rand equaling 100 cents. - Denomination of Rand notes R200, R100, R50, R20, Rl0
Denomination of coins R5, R2, R1, .50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1 cents
South African Banks can accommodate all international transactions and are situated throughout the country.
We suggest utilising credit cards as much as possible to pay for services and facilities once here. There is an excellent network of ATM's throughout the country that are linked internationally. Some venues will accept US$ although the rate of exchange may not be controlled.
Travellers cheques in SA Rand are advisable as these are then accepted locally at face value. Available in many countries.
Travelers cheques and foreign currency notes of all major currencies can be exchanged at any commercial bank. American Express offices and most hotels have exchange facilities for guests.
Travelers must obtain the necessary permit from the South African Reserve Bank should they have more than R500 in cash in their possession on leaving the country. For more information or advice, telephone Customs and Excise.
Visitors are subject to clearance through customs. Information about what may or may not be brought into the country may be obtained from travel agents. Details of requirements for the temporary importation of exhibition goods are obtainable from the Department of Customs and Excise.
Only if you have no more than the duty-free customs allowance, no goods for commercial purposes and no prohibited or restricted goods.
DUTY FREE ALLOWANCES
No persons under 18 are entitled to a tobacco or alcohol allowance.
Cigarette or pipe tobacco 250 g
Wine 2 L
Spirituous or other alcoholic beverages 1 L
Perfume 50 ml
Eau de Toilette 250 ml
Gifts, Souvenirs and all other goods R1250
You will have to pay on items which are over the allowed limits. Duty is levied at 20%. You will normally have to do this before you, leave the customs hall. (see-duty-free allowances above).
VISITORS TO SOUTH AFRICA SHOULD HOLD:
- Valid return or onward tickets for travel.
- Sufficient means of support for the period.
-Valid entry documents for next destination.
- Valid passport and Visa as necessary
Enquiries may be directed to:
South African Diplomatic Representatives abroad or to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria at Civitas Building, Struben Street, (Private Bag X114, 0001, Pretoria:
Tel + 12 314 911, Fax + 12 314 8516).
Visas are issued free of charge. Visitors who intend traveling to South Africa's neighbouring countries and back to South Africa are advised to apply for multiple entry Visas.
There is a great deal of poverty in our country and as in other countries there are a few basic precautions that you should take to ensure that your stay is as pleasant and safe as possible.
At your hotel :
Never leave your luggage unattended
Store valuables in the hotel's safety deposit box.
Keep room locked, whether you are in it or out.
Check who is at your door before opening it.
Hand your keys into reception whenever leaving the hotel
In the street :
Avoid displaying expensive jewelry, cameras and valuables.
Do not carry large sums of money.
Keep away from dark, isolated areas at night.
It is better to be in groups and stick to busy well lit streets.
Plan your route.
Call a taxi from your hotel.
In your car :
Plan your route in advance.
Lock the doors and close the windows.
Lock valuable items in the boot (trunk).
Park in well lit areas at night.
Never pick up strangers.
If in doubt about your safety phone the police or drive to the nearest police station.
The country's major point of entry is Johannesburg's International Airport, which also serves Pretoria. Durban and Cape Town airports also have International status.
Among domestic centres served by South African Airways are, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, George, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Upington. Comair, Nationwide and SA airlink, and other small airlines serve the lesser towns and main tourist destinations.
Air charter services (including helicopter hire) are widely available.
South Africa has an extensive and well-signposted road network comprising some 200,000 kilometers (124,280 miles) of national and provincial highways. Surfaces are generally in very good condition, though the going can be a bit rugged in the more remote and hilly country areas.
You must carry this with you at all times. Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland licenses are valid in South Africa. So too are other foreign licenses, provided they carry a photograph and are either printed in English or accompanied by an English-language certificate of authenticity.
Alternatively, obtain an International Driving Permit before your departure.
Road rules and signs:
in South Africa, one drives on the left. The general speed limit on national highways, urban freeways and other major routes is 120 km/h (75 mph), that on secondary (rural) roads is 100 km/h (60 mph), and in built-up areas 60 km/h (35 mph) unless otherwise indicated.
Main roads are identified by colour and number rather than by name. Using a good map (one which incorporates the route marker system), the visitor should have little difficulty in finding his/her way around city and country.
Avis, Imperial (incorporating Hertz), Budget and other, rental firms are well represented in the major centres. Airports and some of the bigger game parks (Kruger, Kalahari Gemsbok) have car-hire facilities.
Your motor vehicle must be covered by a Third Party Insurance policy; if you're hiring a car, the rental firm will make the appropriate arrangements; for overland visitors, insurance tokens are available at Beitbridge and other major border control posts.
Excellent regional and city maps are available from the Car Hire firm, Satour, the Automobile Association, from major book stores and airport kiosks.
Cities, towns and main routes are very well served by filling stations. Many of these stay open 24 hours a day, others from 06:00 to 18:00. Pump attendants see to your fuel and other needs, both leaded and unleaded fuel is available.
Note that one may not use ones normal credit card for purchasing fuel. Cash or special local account 'Garage cards'
The AA is the country's biggest motoring club, and provides a wide range of services, including assistance with breakdowns and other emergencies, accommodation reservations and advice on touring, caravanning, camping, places of interest, insurance and car hire. Maps and brochures are available. These services are offered to visitors who belong to the AA or any affiliated motoring organization. The AA's headquarters are in AA House, 66 Korte Street, Braamfontein (Johannesburg) 2001; tel: (O I 1) 407-1 000. For AA offices in other centres, consult the relevant telephone directory.
Luxury coach services link the major centres (Greyhound, Intercape, Translux, Trancity); tour operators spread the network wider, taking in game parks, scenic attractions and other tourist venues. For details, consult Far and Wild Safaris
CLOTHES : What to Pack :
South Africa enjoys long hot summers and generally mild winters; people dress informally, though 'smart casual' wear is often required after dark at theatres and other art / entertainment venues, and by the more sophisticated hotels and restaurants. Beach wear is acceptable only on the beach, casual clothing is customary at holiday resorts and in the game areas.
For the summer months (October to April), pack lightweight garments and a hat but include a jacket or jersey for the cooler, and occasionally chilly, nights. Most of the country is in the summer-rainfall zone, so bring an umbrella or raincoat. For the winter months, pack warm clothing.
South Africa uses the metric system.
The telecommunications system is almost fully automatic - one can dial direct to most centres in South (and southern) Africa and to most parts of the world. Telephone directories list the dialing codes, facsimile transmission (fax) facilities are widely available.
Enquiries: Should you find that a number you need is not listed in the telephone directory, or the number has changed, dial 1023. Internet facilities available with Cyber Cafes in most larger centres.
Throughout the year, South African Standard Time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean (or Universal Standard) Time (GMT+2), one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, and seven hours ahead of the USA's Eastern Standard Winter Time.
Generally, urban power systems are 220/230 volts AC at 50 cycles a second. Plugs are 5-amp 2-pin or 15amp 3-pin (round pins). Not all electric shavers will fit hotel and game-park plug points, visitors should seek advice about adaptors from a local electrical supplier. Generally the 110V video chargers work safely on the 220V supply. Television is on the PAL system.
South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where the Municipal tap water is palatable and perfectly safe to drink. Check if the tap water is suitable to drink at the more remote Lodges. Bottled water is readily available in shops, lodges and hotels. Water in streams and rivers could be polluted and Bilharzia is commonly found in rivers and streams on the northern and eastern regions of the country. Bilharzia is not present in the sea or in swimming pools.
There are nine provinces (follow the links to find out more):
Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape in the west and south.
Free State in the central region.
Limpopo and North West in the north and north west.
KwaZulu-Natal in the eastern region.
Gauteng and Mpumalanga in the north east.