As a South Africa enthusiast, you know just how wonderful a visit to this unusual country really is. There are thousands of good reasons to travel to the most beautiful corner of the world. For example, the spectacular, varied nature, the multifaceted culture of the various demographic groups, the heavenly culinary offers, the legendary hospitality and, of course, the outstandingly good wines.
Regardless of whether you travel as package tourist or on your own, this country will cast its spell over you just as it did with us. Well prepared and with a few small planning tips, your trip will be an unforgettable experience.
Optimal Travelling Time
South Africa can be visited each season. The summer months last from October to March, if you are lucky it will also be sunny and warm in April or September. The temperatures in summer vary between 25 and 34 degrees and in winter between 12 and 18 degrees. Due to the sometimes heavier sea breeze, you should always have a light jacket with you. Under no circumstances should the sun exposure be underestimated – a high SPF and head covering are particularly advised for Northern Europeans.
The Cape Town region is one hour ahead of the Central European Time. As there is only one standard time in South Africa, during Central European Summer Time, there is no time difference. This means you won’t have to deal with jet lag.
Currency and Money Exchange
The currency of South Africa is Rand. You can find the latest conversion rates at www.oanda.com, for example. We recommend to always have some coins and smaller notes handy for giving tips. You can get cash out from almost all cash machines with the Maestro cards which is much cheaper than the fees at a bureau de change. A common credit card like Visa or Mastercard is recommended and is accepted almost everywhere.
Telephone and Internet
Just to make sure the trip will not be a costly enterprise we recommend to turn off roaming and only turn it on if necessary. Generally, there is a generous wi-fi access in hotels and restaurants into which you can log in via codes. You should deny yourself bank transactions with sensible data using a public wi-fi due to safety reasons.
It is usually worth to book your rental car in advance in Europe – comparing various providers generally can save a significant amount of money. When it comes to the size of the car, the luggage to be transported should be taken into consideration. Even if the SUV is simply looking amazing – space will be tight with three or four adults with four large suitcases. Minimum age is 21 years, additional drivers should be stated beforehand. South Africa is a country with left-hand driving, an automatic car is helpful to deal with this unfamiliar circumstance. Air conditioning is mandatory and you can rent a navigation device for an additional fee. We recommend full loss and damage waiver without excess. Make sure that tires, mirrors, screens etc. are included in the insurance. When picking up the key, check the vehicle thoroughly and note down every last scratch – the staff members of the car rental will do the same upon return! Check whether the tool kit and the spare wheel are present.
Particularly during main travel times and at weekends, there is plenty going on at the Cape region. It is recommended to book accommodation prior either directly or via the known booking portals if you did not anyway choose to travel with a tour operator. In South Africa, you should definitely book restaurants in advance. The more a restaurant is ‘talked about’, the longer prior to your visit you should secure your seats. Nothing is more annoying than wandering from restaurant to restaurant and eventually land in one of the few that offer substandard food and/or service. Trip Advisor is a good orientation guide which restaurants are recommendable.
Non-resident foreign passport holders on a temporary visit to South Africa, are able to claim a refund of VAT paid on movable goods purchased from VAT registered vendors which goods are exported on departure from the country. Find more information at www.taxrefunds.co.za.
South Africa’s service staff receives very low wages which is why tips are essential for survival. Some waiters only work on this basis. So, if you liked the restaurant or your taxi driver safely delivered you at your destination, then you should appreciate that with 10 - 15% of the bill. Suitcase carriers at the airport or in the hotel are happy about 15 - 20 Rand. Parking attendants receive 5 Rand.
South Africa has 14 public holidays. In the case one falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a public holiday.
01. January: New Year’s Day; 21. March: Human Rights Day; Good Friday; Family Day; 27. April: Freedom Day; 01. May: Workers’ Day; 16. June: Youth Day; 09. August: National Women’s Day; 24. September: Heritage Day; 16. Day of Reconciliation; 25. December: Christmas Day; 26. December: Day of Goodwill
Information about security in South Africa and entry requirements can be found here.
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