Language • Currency • Time • AC/DC • Climate
Visa • Tipping • Tax Refunds • Calls • Health

Leave nothing to chance, read through the travel tips and make sure that you have everything you need to enjoy a relaxing, stress free holiday to South Africa. Tourists should take the precautions they would in any major city. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, having cameras or video cameras loose, leaving belongings unattended, and in general take advice on where to go after dark.


There are 11 official languages - the most common in the Cape are English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. The others are: Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, and Zulu.


Every person seeking to enter South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport for travel to South Africa and, where necessary, a visa. Enquiries can be directed to South African diplomatic representatives abroad or the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria. Visitors who intend travelling to South Africa's neighboring countries and back into South Africa are advised to apply for multiple entry visas.

In terms of existing arrangements, passport holders of certain countries are exempt from visa requirements. Tourists must satisfy immigration officers that they have the means to support themselves during their stay, and that they are in possession of return or onward air tickets. They must also have valid international health certificates.



One Rand (R) = 100 cents (c). Notes issued R200, R100, R50, R20, R10; coins R5, R2, R1, 50c 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, & 1c. Currency exchange rates are available at banks and published daily in the press.

How much is your currency worth in South African Rand - CHECK HERE


Standard Time is two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time, one hour in advance of central European winter time and seven hours in advance of United States eastern standard time throughout the year


220/230 volts AC at 50 cycles per second. Three pronged plugs are universal, so take an adapter. Most hotel rooms have 110 volt outlets for electric shavers and small appliances.


is customary in South Africa. A guideline for visitors is the following: Porters R2 per item, taxis 10%, waiters & waitresses in restaurants 10 - 15%


Tourists visiting South Africa can have their value-added tax (VAT) refunded provided the value of the items purchased exceeds R250. VAT is refunded on departure at the point of departure.

VAT of 15% is levied on nearly all goods and services. Foreign tourists may claim back VAT paid on items that will be taken out of the country. Original tax invoices, foreign passport, plus all the items on which a refund is claimed, must be presented at the VAT refund administration office or an appointed RSA customs and excise official on departure, and the total VAT on these items will be refunded. Visitors will be requested to fill out a VAT Refund Control Sheet (VAT 255). Where a visitor does not export all the goods specified on a particular tax invoice, only the value of the goods and the tax paid on such goods exported must be declared on this form.


Because South Africa lies south of the equator, its seasons are the reverse of those of the northern hemisphere. Summer is therefore between October and March, winter between April and September. South Africa’s climate is generally dry, warm and moderate due to its position between the cold Benguela Current on the Atlantic Ocean side, and the warm Agulhus Current on the Indian Ocean side. The Cape has a winter rainfall, while the interior has a summer rainfall.

Autumn is generally the best time of the year in any part of the country. If you wish to visit the Kruger National Park and other game reserves in the east or north-east of the country, you may find winter or spring the best times, since the bush is not so dense, water is scarce and animals tend to come to the watering points to drink.

Winter runs from May to July, the climate is at its best at this time in most part of the country and summer from November to January. It rains in the Cape in winter and the rest of the country in summer, it at all.

In April and May, autumn brings warm days and cool nights. The climate is at its best in autumn in most parts of the country. Autumn and spring are the best seasons for hiking. From the beginning of June to the August, you can expect cold conditions in most of the country, and rain in the western cape. Snow sometimes falls on the Drakensberg and the cape mountains in winter. Be prepared for some sudden and heavy late afternoon showers in Gauteng in summer.


Compared with other regions of similar geographical latitudes (i.e. the Australian Outback) South Africa’s temperatures are rather mild and constant. South Africa stretches over 13 latitudes, with Pretoria considerably closer to the tropics than Cape Town. It could be expected that the former would be significantly warmer than the latter. Yet, due to its high altitude (1,363 m above sea level), Pretoria has only a 0.5°C higher average annual temperature than Cape Town.

Due to the warm Indian Ocean current, (Benguela current) Durban’s annual temperature average is 6°c above that of Port Nolloth’s, which has similar latitude, but lies on the Atlantic coast. The interior, especially the Great Karoo, the Free State province and the Kalahari - often record temperatures of over 30° C. The day vs. night and summer vs. winter temperature variations are very distinct. In these areas, as well as in the mountain ranges, frost is experienced during the cold winter nights.


No international immunisation is needed when entering South Africa. The only inoculation requirement is a yellow fever vaccination certificate from travellers over one year of age entering South Africa within six days of leaving an infected country. Visitors who travel through or disembark in these areas are advised to be inoculated against the disease before visiting South Africa. Hospitals are of the best in the world.