South Africa Country Information
A country known worldwide for its diversity in tourist attractions, including its a big five wildlife destination. South Africa is world-famous for the country with different nationalities of citizens. Dramatic land-shapes colour the regions and provinces like Western Cape, Gauteng or Kwazulu-Natal, seasons to seasons, bringing-up picturesque scenery’s for those travelers seeking a amazing wildlife or birding safari in popular reserves like the greater Kruger National Park or Addo National Park in the malaria free Eastern Cape district. While visitors are exploring our country South Africa they are entertained by its cultural histories and local activities in most gateway cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Located on the most southern point of the larger Africa with its coastal borders on the east coastline stretches along the Indian Ocean while its west coast borders are stretching along the Atlantic Ocean. The neighboring countries start with Namibia in the north-western side, Botswana is up north, Zimbabwe tourist will find north-eastern side while the on the eastern side you will find the coastal country Mozambique. Geographical regions consist of plateau’s, mountains and the coastal surrounds. Mountain and hills at some travel spots rise high up from the coastline, forming a green plateau on top. On the west coast, you will find white sandy beaches with a mostly dry inland. Where the eastern coast has some rocky beaches between awesome sandy beaches while its higher escarpments are covered with rain-forests.Up on the inland from Knysna the plateau region is the dry Central Karoo a semi-desert district with savanna grasslands. If we look at all South Africa`s large & smaller regions or provinces there are Western Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Province, Northern Cape, Free State and North West Province. Under the country’s wings, you will find Prince Edward and Marion island.
South Africa is a year travel destination, you just have to visit the right region in its right season. Temperatures are mild with a lot of sunny weather. The rainy winter months in the southern parts are from May to September, lasting a few days. Summer time in the eastern parts is from November to March having short but fierce electric-storms. Higher up the east coast around Durban, tourist will find tropical weather with a lot of warm days. The northern part that’s covering the Kruger National Park Safaris in the country has summer rainfalls from September to October, the best time to experience the big five animals.
Area size: 1,219,080 km2 (470,689 square miles)
Official Language: English, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, Tswana, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga & Venda.
Citizens & People: Nguni that includes, Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele & Swazi, while others are the Sotho-Tswana, Tsonga & Venda. White South Africans forefathers were Dutch, German, French & Huguenot. Tribes include the Khoisan who was called the bushmen. The country are also rich of Indian immigrants.
International Time: GMT + 2
Telephone Country Code: +27 or 0027
Electricity Currency: 220/230 V 3-pin round plug
Easy clothes made out of cotton fabrics the best for sunny summer periods, don`t forget South Africa have all seasons in spread out regions, so find its necessary to bring warmer sweaters for the chilly evenings. In the winter months it can be freezing if you don`t buy an African blanket, so pack warmer clothing for that cold and stormy winter nights. Rain-gear is essential throughout the year.
SA is a country with an abundance of attractions, we are not called “the rainbow nation” for nothing. There are over 46-million S.Africans with a wide variety of cultures, languages and religious beliefs. In our country, you will be as safe as anywhere else in the Western world, if not more. The country is filled with hospitable, friendly people and one cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity of traveling to this awesome country.
These are basic travel safety measures to follow to ensure your visit is a fantastic experience.
- Separate your cash & credit cards and don’t carry all your cash with you.
- Store parcels out of sight in the boot of the car.
- Never leave your luggage unattended.
- Do not allow strangers to assist you in your transactions at automated teller machines.
- Try to obtain a route map before you set out and plan your route beforehand.
- Try to explore in groups and stick to well-lit streets especially at night.
- Never pick up strangers.
- Park in well-lit areas at night.
- Always drive with your doors locked and your windows closed.
If unsure of any area, approach the local police station or tourism office for further advice and guidance. Although incidents against tourists in South Africa are rare, it is advisable for you to be aware of basic emergency procedures in the unlikely event that you are a victim of crime.
If you have been victimised, call the police emergency number (10111). If you are using a cell phone dial 112 for emergency services.
You may call the Tourism Information and Safety call line at 083 123 2345 any time, day or night, seven days a week. Tourists can ask about services (accommodation, transport, etc), queries of any kind, and what to do in an emergency.
One Rand is equal to 100 cents.
A modernised country so banks, forex bureaus are situated in shopping centers cities and towns where they accept all major foreign currencies ot travelers’ cheques. International credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are a normality these days at all venues and businesses. If the business is small, there will always be an ATM close-by, just be careful with the worldwide problem with ATM card swop’s and theft so take a friend with when you want to draw money and don`t accept any advice, help or even to help other. SA Reserve Bank notes import and export are limited to R5000, with unlimited import of foreign currency, subjected to declaration. Just remember that the export of foreign currency is limited to the amount you have declared on arrival date.
Accommodation and Food:
If you compare South Africa stay and cuisine, you will find that it has Western standards, the difference is that the exchange rate is in your favour, meaning that some nationalities can spend up to 13 times more then locals, for them its a paradise. A full range of accommodation can be found throughout the country ranging from 5-star quality through to bed and breakfasts or campsites.
The cuisine is on high standards, with franchised restaurants that internationally branded to local restaurateurs that are highly qualified. On the average menu, you will find a variety of seafood, like the catch of the day specials with Kingklip to Kabeljou, other specialties are crayfish, prawns, calamari with red meat dishes like steaks (Game, Pork or Beef), with healthy vegetable dishes as an option. Tap water in the cities is drinkable, while smaller towns it can go down to standard where you have to buy bottled water that’s available in shops.
With all nationalities in the country, greeting by hand is the most formal way. Dressing code depends on the weather and climate, so where ever you are naked on street walkers will be arrested, but further be cool or professional. Beach rules have been changed over the years and therefore sunbathing has much fewer restrictions, so your way as others do, but maybe a few eyes will be staring because they are not use to it.
In restaurants, coffee shops & pubs tipping are normally 10% if the service charge is not included in the bill, except if the table has 6 persons & more the percentage of 10 % will be added to the bill.
Valid passport’s (at least half year before departing date) & visas are required from some countries and nationalities, while many tourist requirements will be issued at point of entry. For Diseases and Health, International vaccination certificate for yellow fever from travelers arriving from infected areas. Please read more about Malaria precautions, because there’s some part in the northern Kruger Reserve where visitors have to be careful, while the luxury Shamawri game reserve is malaria free in the Eastern Cape
There is various diplomatic representation across the world including:
UK, England, United Kingdom.
S.African High Commission.
S.A House, Trafalgar Square.
London WC2N 5DP.
Tel: +44 171 9304488.
Fax: +44 171 4517284.
High Commission of the Republic of SA.
15 Sussex Drive, Ottawa.
Ontario K1M 1M8.
Tel: +1 613 7440330.
Fax: +1 613 7411639.
USA, United States of America.
S.A High Commission.
3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20008.
Tel: +1 202 2324400.
Fax: +1 202 2651607 or +1 202 2323402.
Attractions & Activities:
Elephants can be seen in many game reserves throughout South Africa. The country has about all the imaginable activities that one can be thinking of. Snow skiing is on the call of the day when great amounts of snow has fallen on the Drakensberg Mountains. A few possibilities are sailing, mountain climbing, cycling, diving, jet-skiing and many more. With all the rivers, canoeing adventures on the Orange & Breede river to white water rafting are just a few to mention. Mountaineering is one of the most famous adventures in all districts, travelers will find hundreds adventurous hiking trails across the country complemented with quality places to stay, a few to mention are Tabel Mountain, Cederberg, and Drakensberg mountains. Daily guided sightseeing tours of the citie. These excursions include highlights like the history of South Africa, adventure sports, and short safaris. To view a few of our web-pages containing theses activities, please see Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Cape Town pages.
Cities & Towns:
National Parks & Game Reserves:
Giraffes can be seen in Kruger Park. The country is becoming the safari extravaganza of the African mainland, with such a huge option of wildlife parks & reserves, with its mixture of city life and finest bush venues. Even the smallest & private reserves offer attractive game viewings close to gateway cities, that include daily things to do like hiking and scenic sun-downers in spectacular surroundings. All hospitality services created to let you feel at home, but wake-up calls make u realise you’re exactly in the wild, far away from busy streets and away from the demanding office. A few parks to mention:
- Kruger National Park near Johannesburg in Mpumalanga & Limpopo district.
- Pilanesberg National Park near Sun City in the North-West Province.
- Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth in malaria free East Cape Province.
- Shamwari Game Reserve on the Garden Route.
- Augrabies Falls National Park in the Northern Cape.
- Kalahari Gemsbok Park in the Northern Cape Province.
Frequently asked questions
How long is the travel time to South Africa?
The country is served by more than 70 international airlines and our national carrier, SA Airways flies to many destinations in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. We are never more than a flight away if you are on a major international air route. The flights from Europe are generally overnight and just a sleep away – an aperitif, dinner, sound sleep, and a good breakfast and you’re in the country! The direct flights between the USA and Johannesburg or Cape Town are about 15 hours, and flights between London and Johannesburg take about 12 hours.
When is the best time to visit SA?
The country is a fabulous all year-round destination so when you visit depends on what you would like to do. The best time for game watching is early spring (August to October). The southern right whales can be seen off our coasts from about mid-June to the end of October, and the humpback whales from August to December.
The diving is generally best from April to September, and so is the surfing, but these activities are by no means limited to these periods. Flowers are at their best in August and September. River rafting is better at the end of winter in the Cape; and in summer (late November to February) in KwaZulu-Natal.
In Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, activities are not quite as time-dependent but spring and autumn are best for hiking since summer can be very hot. If you want to lounge on the beaches, midsummer is the best time to do so, though bear in mind that everyone else will be there too. The beaches of KwaZulu-Natal are warm and sunny, even in midwinter.
When are your peak seasons?
Many of the best areas to visit can be quite busy in peak season. For example, the coast tends to be a bit crowded around Christmas and New Year, when all the schools are on holiday, the universities are out and many local people take their annual leave. So, if you’re looking for peace and quiet – this is not the time to visit.
Another major peak is over Easter – when the schools are also on holiday and, once again, many people take their leave so they can spend holidays with their children. A major advantage of traveling out of peak season, of course, is the availability of special out of season deals.
Can the country guarantee winter sun?
Yes! the country experiences one of the highest numbers of “sunshine hours” per year of any country worldwide.
What are the most popular choices of activity or itinerary in South Africa?
First-time visitors generally spend a short stay in Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng, where they can visit the world famous African township of Soweto and experience a truly cosmopolitan culture, bustling with an urban rhythm that can be found in the nightclubs, theatres, restaurants, and people. Then they will head for the bush regions, such as the Kruger National Park, for a wildlife experience, and probably spend some time in the Western Cape, more specifically Cape Town and the fantastic Garden Route.
How reliable is the infrastructure in your South Africa?
The infrastructure is very reliable and of a world class standard – except in some very remote rural areas, not frequented by tourists. The road network is superb and well maintained. In recent years major toll roads have opened, making driving long distance even easier. Accommodation establishments are world class, so whether your client requires accommodation in a hotel, guesthouse or lodge, their needs will be satisfied.
Does South Africa have big cities with modern amenities?
There’s more to Africa than lions. Johannesburg sprawls wider than London or New York. The lights work, the water flows, there are multi-lane highways and – unfortunately – traffic jams. You can book into a 4 stars hotel in Sandton or a Emperors place near the airport or a 5 stars accommodation and eat at cosmopolitan restaurants serving anything from sushi to burgers to crocodile steaks. Or you can just lie back on a couch and choose from five analogue and 53 digital TV channels.
How easy is it to meet and mix with South Africans from all communities?
Very easy indeed. Most South Africans speak English, so it is easy to converse with people wherever you go. The people are generally open, friendly people who enjoy welcoming visitors.
What about mobile phones and phoning home?
The country’s mobile phone operators utilise the GSM/3g system so if your phone is GSM/3g compatible, set up international roaming with your service provider before you leave home. Alternatively, you can rent a phone at the airport on arrival, and use a “pay-as-you-go” (which means exactly what it says) card during your stay.
Fixed line telephones are reliable and dial abroad. The country’s telecommunications operator Telkom, is the 28th largest in the world and accounts for 39% of the phone lines on the African continent.
What about apartheid?
Over a dozen years ago, the country was known for “apartheid” or white-minority rule. But the country’s remarkable ability to put centuries of racial hatred behind it in favour of reconciliation was widely considered a social “miracle” and inspired similar peace attempts elsewhere, such as Northern Ireland and Rwanda. These days, post-apartheid South Africa has a government comprising all races, and is better known as the “rainbow nation”, a phrase coined by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Are there modern banks in South Africa?
You can use Visa and Mastercard almost everywhere, and bank by ATM or online. There’s a sophisticated financial sector, abreast of all the latest technological trends. There are 13 commercial and merchant banks, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is the world’s 15th largest in terms of market capitalisation.
How far will my money go in South Africa?
A long, long way. With the exchange rate in your favour, you’ll find the country a very inexpensive destination.
And the animals?
The animals alone are a reason to visit. One of the world’s first wildlife conservation areas was the Kruger Park, more than a century old. Today it is just one part of a single broad conservation area that spans private and public game parks, and even stretches across national borders into neighbouring Mozambique and Zimbabwe. An hour’s drive from such urban jungles as Pretoria and Johannesburg, you can see lions, elephants, buffalo and hundreds more species in their natural environments in the Pilansberg Game Reserve. The country is also a bird watcher’s – paradise.
Will I see the whole big five?
Maybe. Many reserves have all the big five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo – but it’s not that easy to see them all, particularly leopard. Leopards are nocturnal, secretive and well camouflaged, but there are some reserves where they are easily spotted. However, just being in the bush, seeing tiny animals like ants and frogs and learning the relationship between them, can be even more exciting than a procession of lions and elephants. So, even if you miss out on one or two of the big guys, you’ll still have a great time.
What is the difference between the National Parks and the Private Reserves?
The national parks are administered by SAN Parks which ensures a standardised level of accommodation and facilities.
Park fees are kept to a minimum to enable as many people as possible to enjoy our wonderful natural heritage.
The game watching in the private parks is quite often of an equal standard to that of the national parks, but the accommodation is usually far more luxurious, and the service very attentive. Of course, this level of luxury comes at a price, but the private lodges are a good choice if you would like to be pampered.
Where can I see game in a malaria-free area?
The Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, the Northern Cape, parts of the Northwest Province and the Waterberg area of Limpopo province are free of malaria. Of these, the best game viewing is Addo in the Eastern Cape, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape, Madikwe and Pilanesberg in the Northwest, and Limpopo’s Waterberg.
Can I visit a game park on my own?
Yes, absolutely. The National Parks have designed all their parks to cater for the independent traveler, so you can drive in, set up home in your rented chalet, and drive yourself around. However, you may get more out of your stay if you opt to do one or two escorted game drives. The level of experience and communication between rangers ensures you a much better chance of finding the more elusive animals.
Courtesy of SATOUR
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