South Africa

As a “world in one country”, South Africa is known for its extraordinary diversity. A nation of exceptional natural beauty with a rich cultural heritage, South Africa is one of the most remarkable destinations on earth. A wonderland with a rolling panorama of forests, rugged mountains, lush green pastures and golden beaches, South Africa boasts some of the most spectacular wildlife in the world. With so much to explore in one country, it’s only logical you’ll never want to leave.

When to Visit

South Africa is a year round destination. Wieldlife viewing is best in the northern areas of Kruger during the winter months of May to September. The southern parts of Cape Town and the Garden Route are best during the summer months, October to March, when the temperature can reach 28-30ºC or higher and rainfall is low. The warm waters of the east coast make for almost year-round swimming. Winter is mild, except in the highest parts of the country.

Highlights

CAPE REGION Cape Town is famous for its spectacular scenery and sophistication. The V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Robben Island...if you ever tire of sightseeing, simply enjoy the cosmopolitan side of Cape Town.

WINELANDS This is where you will find the charming villages of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. The Winelands is renowned as a great place to spend a couple of days sampling award-winning wines and cuisine.

THE GARDEN ROUTE The ideal self-drive destination, the Garden Route is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast with beaches, forests and rivers. The towns of Knysna, George and the stunning Plettenberg Bay are well worth a visit.

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK The world-renowned Kruger National Park is home to an impressive number of species including the Big Five. With some of the best game viewing in Africa, you can spot the Big Five on a thrilling game drive or enjoy a walking safari.

ISIMANGALISO WETLAND PARK South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Isimangaliso Wetland Park has eight distinct ecosystems and is recognised for its spectacular landscape, unique ecological developments and extraordinary diversity of species.

MADIKWE GAME RESERVE The malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve plays host to the Big Five, cheetah, wild dog, and magnificent bushveld plains. The reserve is a hidden gem and regarded as one of South Africa’s best conservation areas.

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Useful Information

Shopping

International visitors are often attracted to goods that are proudly South African and the attractive exchange rate against other major currencies means these can be picked up for a song. With gold and diamonds being among our most-famed resources, buying jewellery and gemstones in South Africa is often high on the international visitor's shopping list. Shoppers are often attracted to blue-coloured Tanzanite, a rare stone from Tanzania which is expertly crafted into dazzling pieces. Shopping hours in South Africa are 09H00- 17h00/18h00 Mon-Fri  / 08h30/09h00 - 13h00 Sat (smaller centres) / 09h00 - 17h00/18h00 Sat (urban areas) / 10h00 -  15h00/16h00 Sun (urban areas)

Tipping

It is important to tip a small amount in South Africa. It shows your appreciation, though it does not have to be a significant amount.

Getting around

Travelling around South Africa is relatively easy by air, road and rail. Principal air routes are serviced by SAA and British Airways, operated by Comair. An extensive tarred road system makes travelling in South Africa by vehicle convenient and easy. You will find gravel roads in rural areas though. Toll fees apply on certain national roads. Petrol stations are widespread. Most global car hire firms have branches in South Africa, along with local concerns. Another means of getting around South Africa are luxury inter-city bus services such as Greyhound and Trans-Lux, as well as the backpackers' Baz Bus.  Metrobus buses are available for in-city transport.  Metered taxis must be ordered by telephone. There is a hop-on-hop-off bus in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The rail system includes the long-haul, inexpensive Shosholoza Meyl Metrorail trains. More luxurious options are the Blue Train, Premier Classe and the steam train Rovos Rail. In Gauteng, Rea Vaya is a bus rapid transport system that operates around the Johannesburg CBD, and branches out to selected areas of Soweto and Eldorado Park.

Language

Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Tsonga, Swati, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Venda, Ndebele.

Customs

South Africans are by custom polite and circumspect in their speech, although residents of the major urban centers may bemoan the decline of  once-common courtesies. Rural Africans still practice formal and even elaborate forms of social greeting and respect, even though such forms are paralleled by a high incidence of severe interpersonal and social violence. While the more westernized or cosmopolitan Africans are less formal in the language and gesture of etiquette, the categories of social status are no less clearly marked, whether in the homes of wealthy university graduates or in cramped and crowded working-class bungalows. South Africans of British origin insist on a calm, distanced reserve mixed with a pleasant humor in social interactions, regardless of their private opinions of others. Afrikaners are rather more direct and sharp in their encounters, more quick to express their thoughts and feelings towards others, and not given to social legerdemain. In general, despite the aggressive rudeness that afflicts stressful modern urban life everywhere, South Africans are by custom hospitable, helpful, sympathetic, and most anxious to avoid verbal conflict or unsociable manners. 

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. All travellers should be up-to-date with their routine "background" vaccinations. These include vaccinations for Tetanus and Diphtheria (with a booster within the last 10 years), Whooping Cough (which is often combined with the Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccination), Polio (with a booster in adult life), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (two combination vaccinations through life), Chicken Pox and a recent annual Influenza vaccination. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to South Africa. Vaccination against Typhoid should also be considered, while persons staying in South Africa for extended periods and frequent travellers may require immunisation against Rabies. Cholera is reported in South Africa, but vaccination is usually not recommended. South Africa is considered as a medium risk country for Malaria. Dengue Fever is also present in South Africa, as such insect avoidance measures may be necessary. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to South Africa should also ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. 

Electricity

Electrical Plug: South African Voltage: 220 - 240 volts Modem Plug: South African and American Source: Korjo Travel Products. Please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au for further information on this matter.

Communications

Country Code for South Africa: +27 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Tourist Boards: Eastern Cape - (0)43 701 9600 Free State - (0)51 411 430 Gauteng - 0860 4288 364 Northern Cape - (0)53 832 2657 North-West Province - 0861 111 866 Emergency Services: Ambulance - 10177 Police - 10111

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

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