what to expect
11 official Languages Spoken
Afrikaans – English – isiNdebele – Sepedi.– Sesotho – Siswati – Xitsonga – Setswana – Tshivenda – isiXhosa
How to say hello?
Molo – Xhosa
Sawubona - Zulu
Hallo - Afrikaans
Dumela - SeSotho
Electricity – Volt & plug
The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins.
WiFi/Internet Access on tour
WiFi can be found at most accommodations, restaurants and airports, however, the download speed is often slow and many connections limit your data usage. In short, you’ll be able to stay connected with home, but don't expect to watch HD movies in your spare time.
When to go
South Africa is blessed with a mostly mild climate, but different areas will yield different temperatures throughout the year. Summer in South Africa is usually peak season, lasting between November – February, however, Easter time (March) is often still considered peak season too. Temperatures range from 25ºC in coastal areas to high 30ºs in inland areas. Cape Town has ideal weather during this time and Durban sports warm beaches and humid air, Johannesburg experiences hot clear days and often an afternoon thunderstorm.
The shoulder season is April and May, as well as September and October. Surprisingly, the weather in Durban is often at its best during this time, and other areas simmer down from their scorching highs. Prices are lower and crowds are smaller. September and October see eruptions of flowers and blooms all around the country.
Winter is beautiful in most parts of the country. Cape Town experiences winter rain and is often a little cold and miserable, but still crisp and beautiful. Because of the warm Indian Ocean, Durban has spectacular weather in winter, often hovering around 20-25ºC with clear blue skies. Inland areas get quite chilly and the odd snowfall is not uncommon (it only lasts for a day though!). Prices are at an all-time low and it is an ideal time for game viewing, as the animals are more active in the cooler weather.
The Garden Route enjoys a Mediterranean Oceanic climate, which is intrinsically temperate and mild almost all year round. Summers are warm to hot, and winters are cool. Second only to Hawaii, the Garden Route is acclaimed for having one of the mildest climates in the world.
However, the winter rain season can cause some delays for outdoor activities but the mild sunny days and the appeal of seeing the Southern Right Whale migration makes the Cape Whale Coast & Garden Route an ideal destination during the European summer holidays. You can expect cool mornings and evenings, but usually the climate remain bright and sunny during the day.
Best time to go where?
Jun-Jul ( mid winter) = Safari in Kruger region
Jan-Feb ( mid summer) = Cape Town city or beach destinations along the Cape Coast
Year-Round = Moderate weather in the Garden Route region
With the possible exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day, most tourist services and attractions are open on South African public holidays. In addition most city shopping centres, restaurants and entertainment venues remain open.
||New Year's Day
||Human Rights Day
||National Women's Day
||Day of Reconciliation
||Day of Reconciliation Holiday
||Day of Goodwill
Visa & Travel docs
Travellers from most Commonwealth countries (excluding New Zealand), most Western European nations, Japan and the USA receive a free, 90-day visitor's permit on arrival. These travellers do not need a visa to enter South Africa. A valid passport is essential with at least two empty pages. You generally will need to show return or onward travel arrangements. Children aged under 18 must show an unabridged birth certificate (showing both parents details).
Some countries do, however, need a visa. Visas are not issued upon entry, they must be attained beforehand. It is advised that you clarify this before you leave, the Department of Home Affairs office has a comprehensive list of countries that do not require visas. http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services/exempt-countries
What to pack
We're generally laid back in South Africa, so no need to haul out your best silks and diamonds when you head to our shores. Here's some clothing advice when in South Africa:
- For the summers, bring clothes that are cool and comfortable, along with an umbrella or rain jacket, as this is when most of the country gets rain. A light jacket or wrap is a good precaution. Don't forget a swimming costume.
- The winters are generally mild, comparing favourably with European summers. But we do get some days when temperatures plummet, especially in high-lying areas such as the Drakensberg (some nights go below 0ºC), so be prepared with jerseys and jackets. If you are going to the Cape, rain gear will be needed in this season (your average here will be between 10-20ºC).
- Always bring a hat - the sun can be strong even in the winter months. Make sunglasses, a hat and sunblock a firm part of your skin care kit.
- Walking shoes are a good idea all year-round, with warm socks in the winter.
- For game viewing, a couple of neutral-toned items will be useful, but there's no need to go overboard and kit yourself out like David Livingstone, out to explore Africa for the first time.
- For the evening, if you are dining at an upmarket restaurant or seeing a show, go the smart-casual route. If you are simply going out to get a bite to eat, a general “no shirt, no shoes - no service” rule applies, so as long as you are fully clad, your attire should not be an issue.
- When travelling with Hotspots2c we encourage reasonably sized bags for multi-day tours and we are able to accommodate bags that are on average under 20kgs. For one and two day tours, a light backpack is encouraged.
Health & Safety
There are no compulsory vaccinations required to enter South Africa with exception of a yellow fever vaccination if you have been in a yellow fever area within the last 12 months.
The only major health risk you might face in South Africa is malaria, which is confined to small areas in the north-eastern parts of the country. Small pockets of the northern parts of the Kruger National Park fall under this area but the risk here is considered extremely low and it is not always necessary to take anti-malaria tablets. Remember as a precautionary measure to check with your doctor or a local travel clinic on what is recommended for your country to visit South Africa.
For more info about the safety regulations on tour - please see https://hotspots2c.co.za/ideas/safetravels
South Africa may have high crime statistics, but if you conduct yourself wisely, most tourists enjoy the country without any incident at all. Here are some tips: ensure that you lock away your passports and travel documents in a safe, which is usually provided by your accommodation or keep valuables at a safe place. Don't flash around valuables and keep an eye on your belongings at all time. Majority of South Africa’s crime is opportunistic petty crime, so if you are vigilant about your belongings you should not have any problem.
South Africa has 3 world-class airports that receive international flights every day; Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Most international airlines will have flights into one or all of these airports daily.
There are numerous budget carriers that offer domestic flights between the major cities for very reasonable rates; this is the fastest and safest way to span large distances, especially between Johannesburg and Cape Town, which is a 2-hour flight.
From the airports there are numerous shuttles and taxis that you can pick up upon arrival, there are also many different car hire options at each airport and in all major cities. Uber is another reliable and affordable option.
Our currency in South Africa is the South African Rand. You can easily convert your currency to rand at a bank or Forex Bureau, the airports and larger towns often have many different Forex options. You can also withdraw from an ATM, banks are available throughout South Africa. Be sure to check what international bank charges you will incur for withdrawals before you arrive. Major credit cards are usually accepted in hotels or restaurants, however, there may be a surcharge. It is advisable to have small amounts of cash for curios and tipping.
- Restaurants and Bars - Tipping in restaurants is the norm and is customarily kept at 10% of the total shown on the bill. Many restaurants will add a 10% service charge to a bill if the number of guests exceeds six or ten.
- Petrol Stations and Car Parking - Petrol station attendants may be tipped a few Rands if they wash the windscreen, and offer to check oil and water and the tyres. Car-guards or parking-attendants are usually given R2 - R5. Car parks and areas around many popular tourist spots are populated by locals in day-glo yellow vests who offer to direct you to a space or to "look after your car for you." They are not threatening and you do not have to pay them, but giving them a few Rands may stop them from turning to petty crime. Cape Town has recently instituted a more formal parking attendant system in the downtown area, where uniformed attendants with handheld machines take payment for parking.
- Tour Guides and Drivers – Tipping on tour is neither expected nor compulsory, However, should you wish to tip, the recommended tip is usually R10 per person on a day tour and R15 per person per day on multi-day tours. For private tours, R50 per person per half-day tour and R80 per person per day for a full-day tour is the norm.
- Hotels - At hotels you may choose to leave money for housekeeping, this is often between R10-R50 per person per day but is in no way compulsory. It can also be done at the end of your stay