People seeking entry to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport and, in some cases, a visa. Tourists must also supply immigration officers with proof that they have the means to support themselves during their stay and that they are in possession of return or onward air tickets.
Due to international treaties, passport holders of certain countries are exempt from visa requirements.
Visitors from African countries, either passing through or travelling from, may also need to be in possession of valid international health certificates.
For more information on acquiring a visa contact your local South African Embassy or the South African Department of Home Affairs.
South Africa has some of the best medical facilities in the world offering state of the art care and the ability to handle any emergency. But Africa is still a dangerous continent so it is a good idea to take the necessary precautions when travelling to South Africa.
No immunisations are required to enter South Africa. Visitors entering the country from African states where yellow fever is endemic may be required to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
Certain parts of South Africa are malaria risk areas. Visitors to these areas should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against possible infection. Effective bug repellents, wearing long sleeves in the evening and using a mosquito net over the bed are all effective precautions that most destinations in malaria risk area will remind their visitors of. For extra protection, a good malaria prophylaxis is also recommended for visitors.
Visitors to South Africa should prepare themselves for a variety of weather conditions depending on when and where they are going to be visiting the country. Even in a single season different parts of the country can have very different weather.
In the north summers tend to be hot with frequent thunderstorms in the afternoon while the south is a bit cooler with rain being less frequent. Winters in the north are temperate and dry with very cold nights while the south is characterised by winter rainstorms and cold temperatures.
The coast is often humid with warmer temperatures on the east coast near the warm Indian Ocean and colder temperatures on the west coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Inland the climate is much drier and temperatures can soar in the afternoon, even in the winter.
It is important to always be protected against the harsh South African sun. Even in the winter months and in cloudy weather the South African sun is still more than capable of painful burns. Always protect yourself against the harsh rays when you are going to be outside for any amount of time.
When visiting South Africa it is important that visitors take heed of where they going to be visiting and to pack accordingly.
South Africa is a country rich in diverse cultures. There are 11 official languages that are spoken throughout the country. They include: English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda and Zulu.
For the most part, however, visitors will be able to find someone that can speak English. English is kind of the default language in South Africa and it is the language of commerce, banking and government. All the road signs, forms and staff at guest houses and resorts will be able to speak English.
The main currency of South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). Notes are issued in denominations of R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10; with coins in denominations of R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. Money can be exchanged at airports, some banks and foreign exchange locales.
South African banks are open from Mondays to Fridays from 09h00 to 15h30 and Saturdays from 09h00 to 11h00, though some banks may stay open later. Automated teller machines (ATM’s) are generally available all over the country in commercial areas or at petrol stations and operate 24 hours a day.
Traveller’s cheques are accepted in most tourist destinations and can be cashed at most banks or foreign exchange locales. Some hotels and shops also offer this service and are more than happy to accept to traveller’s cheques.