South Africa Information

Population: Approx 47 million

Capital:  South Africa has three capitals; Pretoria (administrative capital), Bloemfontein (judical) and Cape Town (legislative)

Language: There are 11 official languages in South Africa. English is the language of administration and is widely spoken

Weather: South Africa’s seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Europe, with midwinter in June and July and midsummer in December and January. In general the country enjoys a sunny climate all year round. Cape Town and the southernmost part of Western Cape has a Mediterranean-type climate, with mild changeable winters, when most of the rainfall occurs, and a warm to hot summer.

Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal coast enjoy a sub-tropical climate, with plenty of sunshine year round. The winters in the interior are dry and warm, although it may get chilly at night. Summers are hot with more frequent rain. For more weather info visit

Driving: Drive in the left and give way to traffic approaching from the right. The general speed limit is 120km/h on open roads and 60km/h in urban areas

Drinking: Alcohol may only be purchased by persons over the age of 18.

Opening hours for shops: Banks open from 09.00 – 15.30, Mondays to Fridays; from 08.30-11h00 on Saturdays. Shops open from 08.00-16.30 Mondays to Fridays and from 08.30-12.30 on Saturdays, although in the main centers, opening hours are likely to be longer. Hours may vary from province to province.

Post office is open weekdays 08.00-16.00, Saturdays 08.00 to 12.00. Stamps can be bought at many stationery shops and supermarkets. Private companies offer many of the postal services supplied by the main post office as well as counter and speed post service.
Currency: The currency is the Rand, which is divided into 100 cents. All currency must be declared on entry. Currency Converter

Tipping: It is customary to tip waiters, waitresses, wine stewards, taxi drivers, porters and caddies. Depending on the service, the amount should be around 10%. Petrol station attendants often anticipate a tip if they have gone beyond just filling your tank.

Phoning: If you wish to make a call overseas, you must first dial 00, which is South Africa’s international access code. You then dial the country code, area code and telephone number. Public phones are either coin or card operated. Only green public phones use telephone cards. The cards can be bought at various hotels, post office, airports, bookshops and supermarkets. Mobile phones, known as cell phones are widely used.

Clothing: In the South Africa summer, lightweight clothing is the norm; in the winter a jacket, jumper or coat may be needed, particularly in the evenings. While some establishments require jacket and tie, or cocktail dresses for the evening, many stipulate “smart casual”, a collared-shirt and slacks or a blouse and skirt. On the beach, topless sunbathing is becoming more accepted.

At game reserves, neutral colors, such as browns, beige, khakis are preferred on game drives. Bright colors or white may disturb the animals. Pack a sweater; it can be chilly in the early morning and after dusk. Wear a hat to avoid sunstroke and don’t forget the swimsuits for sitting around the pool during the day. Take sensible shoes – there may be the opportunity to go on a walking safari.

Photography: The sunny weather of South Africa makes it a photographer’s paradise. Batteries and film/memory cards are generally available in main centre’s, but it is a good idea to stock up before going into more remote areas and into the game parks, although some private reserves have well-stocked shops.

Game Viewing: Before going into the reserves take a can of insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes. Binoculars will considerably improve the game viewing, while a torch is a good idea for seeing the way around the camp after dark.

Medical: No vaccination certificates are required from visitors coming from the Northern Europe. However it is strongly recommended that all visitors to the eastern lowveld of Mpumalanga and Northern Province, the Kruger National Park and game reserves in KwaZulu-Natal take a course of anti-malaria tablets from a doctor or chemist. For up-to-date information and advice, consult your doctor well before departure.

It is safe to drink the tap water throughout South Africa, and health regulations control the hygiene of street vendors. While South Africa boasts excellent medical facilities, visitors should ensure they take out insurance to cover the cost of treatment, should the need arise.

General: No matter where you travel, you should always keep a note of the numbers of your travelers’ cheque, your passport details and air ticket numbers separately from the original documents. Having a record of these details saves time if you need to replace any of them. We recommend that you lock valuables in a hotel safety deposit box and remind you to check the access time as these facilities often open at odd times, which may not be convenient for you.

Arts and crafts: Traditional South African craft work, such as bowls, clay pots, bead-work, carvings, tapestries and paintings are good value and make interesting souvenirs. Jewellery is also worth looking out for – after all, South Africa is the home of gold and diamonds. Clothing, brightly colored ethnic wear, safari suits for both men and women, and t-shirts with African designs, provide practical reminders of a memorable holiday. Because of the advantageous exchange rate, all clothing and footwear is comparatively inexpensive.

Duty free shops: Duty free shops are situated at Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban International airports

VAT refunds: Value added tax of 14% is levied on most goods and services, usually included ion the quoted price. Foreign visitors can claim back VAT on goods that brought out of the country that sums up to R250. Present the tax invoice with your passport and the goods that you are claiming back VAT for at the airport when you depart, but allow extra time.

Current: 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter plug should be brought for razors and hairdryers.

Time: GMT + 2 hours