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South Africa - Visitor Information

Climate | Latest Travel Advice | Visas & Immigration | Money | Local Time | Getting Around | Public Holidays | School Holidays | Electrical Power | Travel Insurance

CLIMATE
South Africa lies almost wholly within the southern temperate zone, and its climate is more equable than that of corresponding northern latitudes because of its surrounding waters. Cape Town and the southernmost part of Western Cape has a Mediterranean-type climate and is warmer than some areas further north that are affected by the cold Benguela Current on the west coast of Southern Africa. The winter months are mild and changeable, this is also the time when most the rainfall occurs. The Durban and Kwa-Zulu-Natal coastline is affected by the warm Mozambique current and enjoys a sub-tropical climate, with plenty of sunshine throughout the year, but the summer months can become very hot and humid. Throughout the country, however, the mean annual temperature is just below 15.6°C (60°F). On the high veld there are sharp differences of temperature between day and night; but there is less daily fluctuation nearer the coast. Rainfall is unpredictable in large parts of the country, and prolonged droughts are a serious restriction on farming in such areas. While the mean annual rainfall is 18.6 inches, nearly 30% of the country receives less than 10 inches and 65% receives less than 20 inches. Much of South Africa gets its rain in the summer months, but the western coastal belt is a winter rain area. Along the Cape south coast, rain falls during both seasons. Generally the winter months are between April and August with summer being from September to March

Climate Chart for Cape Town
climate chart for Cape Town

For today's weather forecast see:-
CNN - Africa Weather   Forecasts


LATEST TRAVEL ADVICE

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (London)
US State Department - Travel Warnings


VISAS & IMMIGRATION
Entry permits are issued on arrival to holiday visitors from most British Commonwealth countries and to holders of Japanese, Irish, Swiss and German passports. Currently holders of Scandinavian and Finnish passports do not require visa but this situation could change and it is advisable to check with your nearest South African Embassy/Consular. South Africa has at least consular representation in most countries. It is possible that, on entry into South Africa, you will be asked to show sufficient funds to support your stay or have an onward ticket. Visa extensions are expensive and can be difficult to obtain because of the recent influx of illegal immigrants.

--> click for listing of South African Tourist offices and/or embassies located around the world


MONEY
Currency:    1 South African Rand=100 cents
--> Click for today's Exchange Rate for RAND to another Currency


Credit and charge cards are widely accepted, including American Express, Bank of America, Diners, MasterCard, Standard Bank Card and Visa. Some ATM's give cash advances. Travellers cheques are also widely accepted and exchanged. Different commission charges are incurred depending on which bank you use and which travellers cheques you have.

Most banks are open Mon-Fri 0900-1530 and Sat 0900-1100. Autobanks are found in most towns and operate on a 24-hour basis.


LOCAL TIME
South Africa is two hours ahead of GMT

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GETTING AROUND

International flights to South Africa:
KLM
Flights from Europe to
Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Congo (Dem. Rep), Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwana, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda


Domestic Flights within South Africa:
You can get to all the major cities by air but may need to book in advance, especially during school holidays.

South African Express Airways
Internal flights throughout South Africa.

kulula.com
is the fuss-free alternative to conventional travel. With exceptionally low fares, online booking and easy check-in, kulula.com is flying made easy for everyone.

Railways / Train Services:
The railway system is South Africa is well established and mostly privately run. All the major towns are connected. There is a Metro service in and around several cities.

Metrorail - metropolitan and suburban rail services in South Africa (Johannesburg, Cape Town

The Blue Train, which runs between Pretoria and Cape Town, is famous for its sheer luxury, people come to South Africa just for the experience. If the whole trip is out of your budget you can take just a section of it. The train is very popular and bookings will need to be made in advance. The train recently started a new service "Zimbabwe Spectacular" where two nights are spent on board.

You can also experience a steam train tour, including "Apple Express" from Port Elizabeth, the "Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe between Knysna and George the "Banana Express" along KwaZulu Natal South Coast and "Magaliesberg Express" from Johannesburg to Magaliesberg.

If you are train enthusiast then South Africa offers you an experience not found elsewhere.

Bus:
A number of coach operators operate an inter city service. Translux Express offers very flexible passes, enabling visitors to make up their own itineraries to explore the country. It is advisable to book in advance.

Greyhound Coach Lines
specialising in luxury coach transport. This competitively priced go as you please pass allows unlimited travel over a specified number of days with as many stop overs as required. It's the ideal way to see the country, especially when passengers want flexibility with their holiday itinerary.

Intercape Mainliner
Luxury Inter City Transport provider covering Southern Africa. Travel in the lap of excellance with Intercape Mainliner.

TransLux buses
Services throughout South Africa and to major cities in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Self Drive / Car Hire:
Globetrotter Travel Map South Africa
Globetrotter Travel Map of South Africa
Buy in USA    Buy in UK
Published by New Holland Publishers (U Series Globetrotter Travel Maps
A revised map of South Africa which caters specifically for the needs of tourists and visitors. Special features include: nature reserves, parks and places of interest; highlighted scenic routes; town maps of major tourist centres, including hotels; and legends in English, French and German.


--> Other Maps & Atlases for Sale

South Africa is an excellent country to drive in. Road conditions are good, there are plenty of petrol stations often open 24 hours and fuel is relatively cheap. Driving is on the left hand side and a valid national licence is accepted provided it carries your photograph otherwise an International Driving Licence is recommended.

The AA in South Africa

There are numerous smaller local companies that offer competitive car/camper van rates, but if you want a one way rental this can be a problem with some of them.

The major companies, such as Avis and Budget are represented, but their rates are one of the highest. The advantage of using them is that you can often book through an agent in your home country (or on-line) and this can in fact work out to be cheaper than booking on arrival in South Africa.

Specialist travel agency offering discount online bookings for reliable rental cars in South Africa. Enquire easily online and save big!

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

January 1st New Years's Day
March 21st Human Rights Days
March/April Good Friday
March 31st Family Day
April 27th Constitution (Freedom) Day
May 1st Worker's Day
June 16th Youth Day
August 9th National Women's Day
September 24th Heritage Day
December 16th Day of Reconciliation
December 25th Christmas Day
December 26th Day of Goodwill

SCHOOL HOLIDAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA
In South Africa it is advisable to pre-book accommodation in game parks, hotels and even campsites during the school holidays. School holidays vary slightly for different provinces.

To find out full details of school holidays in South Africa the individual provinces please visit
--> click for South African School Holiday Calender


ELECTRICAL POWER
Electric Power is 220/230V (Grahamstad & Port Elizabeth 250V; also found in King Williams) running at 50Hz. The Plug type used is:
--> click to view "South African" Plug


TRAVEL INSURANCE
If you need medical care whilst in South Africa, it is best to be aware that medical providers may not accept payment through your medical insurance company. In these circumstances you will have to pay in full after your treatment and file a claim with your insurance company for reimbursement when you return home.

Therefore you should have access to cash, either from a credit card or by wire transfer. If you need assistance contact the country's local embassy or representative.

To be compensated you must be treated by licensed medical personnel and provide your insurance company with proper documentation and receipts.

It is advisable to always ensure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy which covers you for repatriation to your home country.

You can check out the following websites which specialise in long term travellers, adventure travellers, backpackers and workers based abroad.

Insure and Go - UK Travellers
whether it's for a one off holiday or if you travel many times over the year, if you're off backpacking before university or you're retired and looking to explore the world; if you're after winter sports cover or if it's for a business trip, a wedding abroad or a golfing weekend away, we have a policy at the right price to ensure you have the peace of mind that you are covered for the unexpected while you're away.
 
InsureMyTrip - USA travellers
A trusted resource that serves millions of customers worldwide, our licensed customer services representatives help travelers find the right insurance plan, offering one of the industry's largest customer ratings and reviews forum and a unique customer advocacy program that provides one-on-one assistance to travelers before, during, and after their trip.
 


Downunder Insurance - UK - Australia and New Zealand Travellers
offers travel insurance to travellers and residents in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Our cover ranges from basic to highly comprehensive, with affordable policies aimed at backpackers and gap-year students, but with cover available to travellers and holiday makers up to 55 years of age.

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