What are the requirements to enter South Africa?
- A valid passport which is valid for another 6 months when entering the country
- Your passport must have at least TWO blank pages in it.
- A valid visa, if required (not the case for EU and Swiss citizens).
- Sufficient funds.
- A return or onward ticket.
- Yellow fever certificates – if your journey starts or passes through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.
- and – if you purchased your flight ticket online (with an African airline), make sure you have the credit card used to purchase the ticket with you, otherwise your seat might be cancelled
Please note the following when travelling to/via South Africa with children under 18 years:
Parents travelling with children into or out of South Africa might need to show the child’s unabridged (full) birth certificate, and where only one parent is accompanying, parental or legal consent for the child to travel (eg an affidavit from the other parent, a court order or – if applicable – a death certificate).
You should travel with these documents in case you’re asked to provide them.
Since requirements are subject to change we strongly recommend to double check with the South African Embassy or Consulate in your country.
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What language is mostly spoken in South Africa?
- While most countries have between one and three official languages, South Africa has eleven! Road signs and information posts etc. are however almost always in English and the vast majority of South Africans speak if not very well then at least some English.
Is it safe to drink tap water and what about food hygiene?
- In urban areas you can generally drink tap water throughout South Africa without worrying (unless of course otherwise advised). In rural areas you might be safer with bottled water. It is safe to eat any kind of food (also fresh fruit, vegetables, salad) and meat, chicken and fish are generally of excellent quality.
What are grocery shop opening times?
- Generally, shops are open 7 days a week. Alcohol sales are however restricted: Normally Monday to Friday until 18h00, Saturday until 17h00 and no sales on Sundays. Beer can only be bought in specific liquor shops but wine in all supermarkets.
How much do I tip?
- Tipping tips: In general the basic salaries in the service industry are not high and employees depend on tips to survive financially.
- In restaurants or for a spa/health treatment a tip of 10%-15% is expected (sometimes restaurants add a standard service charge for tables of 6 and more guests)
- Petrol station attendants: 5-10 Rand is fine and they often wash the windscreen and offer to check oil and water
- Car guards: Unofficial guards in bright vests often direct you into your parking space in tourist areas and offer to look after your car. Giving them a 5-10 Rand will be highly appreciated and gives them a chance to earn a living. In some cities like Cape Town you find a formal parking attendant system. The attendants are equipped with machines and can issue a receipt and the fees are set (these guys are employed and do not need a tip). Payment is in cash, not cards.
- Tour guides/drivers in a tour group: 50-100 Rand per person and day is recommended.
- Taxis: It is good etiquette to tip 10%
- Safari Guides: We recommend a tip of 100-150 Rand per person per day for your guide, 50–100 Rand for your tracker, and 100-150 Rand per person per day for the other staff to be shared (cleaners, service staff, gardeners, chefs).
- Accommodation: We recommend a tip of 30-40 Rand per person and day (or ask the local management for their recommendation and policy)
What about crime and safety in South Africa?
- There is opportunistic crime in South Africa, so please be aware and be sensible to your own safety by: never leaving valuables visible in your parked car and keep doors locked when driving, carrying your valuables inconspicuously, not venturing into townships or unknown areas alone. And please don’t drink and drive! We also recommend you keep a copy of your passport and travel documents in a safe place.
What do I need to know when I drive?
- Tips for the road: South Africa drives on the left hand side; if you are not used to it, maybe consider renting an automatic car to make driving that much easier for you. In general streets are mostly in good conditions but look out for potholes in rural areas. Be aware of wild animals and pedestrians on the road (also on highways!) and watch out for minibus taxi drivers, as they are known for reckless driving. Note that it is only legal to park in the same direction as the traffic goes. Failing to do so might result in a fine. A nice side to driving in South Africa is the fact that petrol stations are serviced in this country; an attendant fills your tank – and upon request – also checks the oil-, water levels and tire pressure and cleans your windscreen. You won’t need to leave the car, not even to pay! A service tip of R5 however is customary.
What is important when on safari and out in nature?
- Do not get out of your vehicle on a game drive (unless indicated that it is safe to do so), never approach or feed a wild animal (including monkeys and baboons) and only swim in rivers and dams after checking that it is safe to do so.
Sun protection is essential; the African sun can be very harsh. Also drink plenty of water on hot days to rehydrate.
How good is the health care system?
- South Africa has state and private hospitals. While state hospitals normally have long waiting queues, the private hospitals and doctors are of European standard. But since this means also higher costs, do check that you have adequate medical insurance.
Do I need to take malaria tablets when travelling to South Africa?
- Most of South Africa is malaria free, but a 90km strip along Mozambique and Zimbabwe has been designated as a malaria risk zone, including the Kruger National Park. You may need to take medication to protect yourself before arriving in these areas; as further precaution we also recommend the use of insect repellent creams or lotions; please contact your doctor as your specialist for further questions on this topic.
What would be the most important items on my pack list?
- Pack the most important things in your hand luggage – just in case your suitcase would get lost / delayed
- Copy of your passport, copies of all flight tickets and of your (yellow fever) vaccination certificate stored separately from the originals
- Sun lotion with high level protection
- Sun glasses – and for those of you using glasses/contact lenses: a spare pair, in case one would break or get lost
- Hats for sun protection
- Binoculars for the safari
- Rather pack earth colored clothes than bright and white ones for safaris, and long sleeved cotton shirts and pants for the evenings (protection against mosquitoes)
- Warm jersey, gloves and cap during the winter months
Would you like to find out more? We can help you book your accommodation, find the right tour - and make all the arrangements for you.