Practical information for travel to South Africa
Passport holders from more than 80 countries, including the USA, Canada, Japan and the European Union countries can visit South Africa without visas. For further information, contact your local office of the diplomatic or consular representative of the South African government or check with you embassy about the current visa requirements
Immunisation and health
No international immunisation is needed when entering South Africa. The only inoculation requirement is a yellow fever vaccination certificate from travellers over one year of age entering South Africa within six days of leaving an infected country. Visitors who travel through, or disembark in these areas, are advised to inoculate themselves against yellow fever before visiting South Africa. One can, to a certain extent, be vaccinated against typhoid fever, cholera and infectious hepatitis. Anti-malaria precautions are recommended when travelling in Mpumalanga, Northern Province (Limpopo) and northern KwaZulu Natal. It is also advisable to be vaccinated against tetanus.
We recommend that you seek advice from your GP, a travel clinic and your dentist before departure to avoid health problems during your vacation.
Over and above any prescribed medicines, your toiletry bag should always include the following: Malaria tablets, Interflora tablets, diarrhoea medicin (ex. Imodium.), headache tablets, throat tablets (Strepsils, Vicks), Samarin, laxatives, lipice, creams for itching and burns, wetwipes and plasters.
Do not ever travel without insurance. Hemingway’s recommend purchasing travel insurance at time of confirmation. Valid travel insurance is your own responsibility..
1 Rand (ZAR) = 100 cents. There are no restrictions regarding bringing foreign currencies into South Africa as long as they are declared upon entering the country. The declared amount may not be exceeded upon leaving the country within a 12 month period. Leaving the country, you can take R5000 out of South Africa.
1 Euro = 11,3 Zar (daily exchange rate may vary from this)
Most major credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa can be used in South Africa. Cash disepensers are fund outside most banks, shopping centres, and petrol stations.
Please attach the enclosed luggage tags (with your home address) to your baggage. You are allowed 30 kg per person on business class and 20 kg per person on economy class. 1 piece of handluggage is allowed in the cabin. Money, valuables as well as important medicine should always be carried in your handluggage.
As the airlines have tightened the regulations regarding baggage and handluggage we would like to draw your attention to the following facts:
In addition to the allowed carry-on luggage the following items are allowed in the cabin: a handbag, a coat, a small camera, and/or a pair of binoculars, and reading matter for the flight. On the other hand all other travel items such as document files, overnight bags, laptops, beautyboxes, larger cameras etc. will be weighed. Futhermore the weight of the handluggage must not exceed 5 kg and it must fit within the following dimensions 45 x 35 x 20 (length x height x width). Certain countries/ airlines might have different and/or stricter rules and regulations.
In your carry-on bagage you are only allowed to pack liquids or liquid substances in containers that can hold a maximum of 100 millilitres (1/10 litre). You may pack more than one container in your carry-on baggage, but the quantity may not exceed the number of containers that can fit into a transparent one-litre plastic bag that is re-sealable.
Normal European summer clothes are perfectly fine. A woolen jersey and a thin wind/water proof jacket are necessary. A good pair of walking shoes, sandals, swimming gear and a sun hat are other recommended items.
Photo, Video & Binoculars
Be sure to have your camera properly serviced before departure. Ensure you stock up on film and batteries. When taking photographs with a tele-lens, which you will have ample opportunity for on a safari, remember to bring a light tripod if the lens is more than 300 mm long. We would recommend a zoom lens of 70-210 as a standard.
While 64 or 100 ASA is good enough for most situations in the middle of the day, there is still a need for faster film if you are not using a digital camera. In the early morning and late afternoon film speeds of 200 and 400 ASA would give the best results, depending on the speed of your lens. A flash may not be used to photograph the animals at night, but may be used for atmospheric photo’s of the lodges and camps. Filming at night at lit up watering holes requires films specialy for artificial lighting so as to avoid distorted colours. UV- Skylight and polarization filters are reccommended. A blowbrush, as well as clean plasticbags, are a neccessity. Of course for digital cameras you need to bring plenty of storage media (CF-cards or SD-cards), maybe a Laptop Computer and an external hard disc for backup as well as a cleaning kit for the sensor.
Remember to bring a minimum of 2 batteries for your videocamera and a charger with a 3-prong plug converter.
A pair of binoculars is indespencible on safari, irrespective of if one is ornithologically inclined or not. When chosing a pair of binoculars you should consider the range as well as the light intensity. Other importain aspects are the lack of a stand for support, a lot of shaking from the bumpy roads and the weight og the binoculars. A magnifying strength of 7-10 times will most often be suitable.
With regards to money, jewelry and other valuables, it is recommended that you never hand them over to others for safe keeping. Tourguides, chauffeurs and Hemingway’s can not be held responsible for any loss whatsoever. Most hotels have safes in the rooms or at reception.
When you travel in towns, stick to the main streets and areas with shops and other group of people. Don’t walk around at night. If you need to go out at night, take a taxi. Consult your hotel regarding reliable taxi services and ask them to book a car for you beforehand.
On safari your personal safety will never be compromised as long as you always follow the instructions given by your ranger and tracker. Lodges and camps may never be left at any time without a special permit.
South Africa is well suited for self drive holidays. Both the infrastructure and the signage are very good. When you wish to strech your legs while driving on your own, it is advisable to only do so if there are other tourists around or at petrol stations. There are brown signs throughout the country, which point out sightseeing spots. These often have benches where you can enjoy your picnic. It is not dangerous to drive around by one self, but as in all other places around the world, you need to be alert and take care of yourself. Make sure that you always arrive at your destination before sunset. Keep doors locked and windows closed at all times. Don’t leave valuables visible in the car.
Please note that South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road and international driver’s license is requested.
For selfdrive holidays, the car rental company Avis is used. A cell phone (mobile phone) and a 24-hour help line number is included in the price. In this way you are assured of quick assistance, no matter what the problem. The cell phone must be ordered at Hemingway’s before departure. The insurance for the cell phone is R10 per day.
You will also be given a detailed, day-by-day, itinerary with exact driving instructions. Please note that the driving instructions may not always be the shortest or even the most scenic route, but the route that we feel is easiest to follow. Therefore it is always a good idea to ask the hotel staff for advice.
Please note that you will only be able to pay with cash at most petrol stations. There are also many toll roads on the main routes which only accept cash.
In the parking areas in the centre of towns you will see parking guards who expect R2-3 for keeping an eye on your parked car.
Driving on safari
The permanent camps and lodges keep solid 4 wheel drive vehicles, specially built for optimal animal viewing and photography. The vehicles are often open with high seating. It is always convenient to sit close to the ranger to be able to hear his explanations and stories on the game drives.
International airports: Johannesburg’s international airport is located 24 km from the centre of town and 40 km from Pretoria. Durban’s international airport is 12 km outside town and Cape Town’s international airport is 13 km outside town.
The luxury trains, Rovos rail and The Blue Train connect Pretoria-Durban, Pretoria-Cape Town and Knysna-Cape Town (The Garden Route) and Johannesburg/Pretoria-Victoria Falls.
The public railway intrastructure connects most parts of the country. Also connections to Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zamibia.
Locally you will be able to buy wooden sculptures, leather- and woven goods, precious and semi precious stoned, jewelry and other handmade art at a good price. No articles made from wild animal skin, fur or similar may be bought, swopped or removed from South Africa unless it has a verified certificate.
Food is international with a large variety of choices at every meal. Vegetarians are widely accommodated without any problems. South Africa is known for its fine restaurants and its excellent wine.
All lodges have wine and spirits available. We advise you to be careful (with regards to our stomach) when drinking iced drinks. The tapwater is drinkable at most places in South Africa. Where it isn’t drinkable, there will often be a thermos or jug of drinking water in the bedroom. Because the natural bacteria and mineral composition is different from yours, it is recommended that you are careful, especially at the beginning of your stay.
Tipping is not compulsory, but it is still accepted practice to pay tips and gratuities in South Africa. At the hotel, the cleaning staff expect to receive approx. 10 ZAR per person per night. Porters are also paid approx 12ZAR per piece of luggage. At restaurants a minimum of 10% gratuity is paid. Please be aware that some restaurants automatically include the gratuity on the bill – especially with larger groups of people.
You should count on at least ZAR 70 per person per day for your driver and/or guide. It is customery to give the driver and/or guide his tip at the end of the safari. Safari rangers will share any gratuities with his tracker.
The usual voltage is 220-230V. 3-prong adapters can often be borrowed from reception, but can also be bought at home from the larger supermarkets and electical suppliers.
Measurement and weight
The metric system is used.
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of GMT. During the summer time period, it is 1 hour ahead.
Many shopping-centres are open Saturday and Sunday, often untill 21:00
”South Africa Handbook”
Footprint 6. udg. 2004
”Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa”
By Kenneth Newman, New Holland Publishers, Ltd., 2002
”Hiking trails of South Africa”
By Sandra & Willie Olivier, Struik Publishers, Ltd, 2003
”Kruger National Park Travel Guide”
Globetrotter, 2. udg. 2000
”The Dive Guide South Africa”
By Anton Koornhof, New Holland Publishers, 2001
”The Larry Gould Guide to Golf in the Cape – where to stay and where to play in South Africa”
By Larry Gould, Global Images, 2003
”South African Wines 2006”