South Africa Travel Tips

Do you need a visa?

Some foreign travellers need a visa to visit South Africa and the South African Department of Home Affairs website provides detailed information on how to obtain one. Russians, Europeans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and Americans can visit South Africa for 90 days without a visa.

Best time to visit

The climate in the KwaZulu Natal Province is all year 'round tourist friendly. Sea temperatures are also relatively stable, averaging 21 degrees all year, providing possibilities for a diversity of aquatic activities in any season, including diving, fishing, swimming, boating and surfing. Visitors to KwaZulu Natal can look forward to a splendid climate. The largest city, Durban, enjoys warmth and sunshine occasionally mixed with light, steady rainfall. Durban boasts an average of 320 days of sunshine a year. Temperatures range from 16 to 25º C in winter. During the summer months temperatures range from 23 to 33º C (between September and April). January is generally Durban’s hottest month, with an average daily temperature of +/- 32ºC. The warm Mozambique current flowing along the coast means wonderfully warm bathing throughout the year, the water seldom falling below 17º C even in the middle of winter. If Cape Town is on your itinerary, remember that the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall during winter, so it’s best to travel there during summer.

Currency

The monetary unit is the South African Rand.

Getting around

Public transport is not well developed. We will be happy to assist with all transportation arrangements.

Languages

South Africa has 12 official languages so a dash of Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa will definitely go a long way. Having said this, just about everyone speaks English, South African English, but English none the less. The dialect might take some getting used to, but overall South Africa is an easy country to get along in; the people are friendly and are always happy to assist, especially when you show an enthusiasm for learning more about their country. We at Birdie and Buck have a multilingual team that will assist with translations if needed.

What to wear

Depending on the regions you’re visiting, pack weather-appropriate clothing. If visiting the bush during your stay, pack comfortable, closed shoes, a hat and a swimsuit as these will be essential during the summer months. You won’t, however, necessarily be on safari the whole time so pack leisure wear as well as something a bit more formal for evenings out.

Tipping

South Africa is a tipping nation. It is generally appropriate to tip at least 10% in restaurants.

Travelling with children

All minors require the consent of both parents when travelling into or out of the country. Children under 18 travelling with parents will need to show full, unabridged birth certificates (including the details of both parents).

Where to stay

It’s important to book your accommodation well in advance, especially during peak holiday season which is November to January in South Africa. The accommodation you choose will be entirely based on your itinerary, budget and destination within South Africa.

Electronics

South Africa has cellular coverage and you’re likely to be able to connect to wifi just about anywhere you go. Keep in mind that many remote areas, like the bush, don’t have cellular reception or internet connection. Also, don’t forget adapter plugs, as you’ll definitely

Vaccinations and health care

No vaccinations are required when visiting South Africa, however, if you are entering South Africa from a yellow fever zone, you must be in possession of an international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Many regions within South Africa are a malaria risk, so consult your doctor before visiting. There are ample hospitals and pharmacies in the country, but remember to take a prescription for any medication you take regularly.

Health and safety

Just as when travelling to any other country, it’s wise to store valuables, including passports, in a safe or locked storage box and keep your room or apartment locked, whether you’re inside it or not. Avoid flashy displays of expensive jewellery, cameras and other valuables. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use these items, it’s simply best to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.