Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat do I have to do before I go?
What about traveller's cheques, money, etc?
What do I do if I want to stay longer than three months?
Question: What do I have to do before I go?
Answer: Check your passport isn't about to expire, check whether you'll need visas, organise travellers' cheques, travel insurance and medical insurance. Read the section on health and safety. Check your flight details, order special meals, and don't forget to confirm your onward connections and return flights.Packing Pack a while ahead. Most of the time you'll be most comfortable in light, summer-weight clothes but do pack a warm jacket, socks, good shoes and a rain jacket. Pack sunscreen - lots of it - and a hat and sunglasses. Make sure you have at least one cool shirt with a collar for sun protection. Stock up on insect repellent and, if you'll be in a malaria area, ensure you have a cool, long-sleeved shirt and cool long pants for evenings. Bring good walking shoes. Always pack a bandanna or cotton scarf, and a sarong, kanga, pareo, kikoi - whatever you want to call it. These two garments are probably the most useful and versatile items in the world.If you're spending time watching game, you should try to wear reasonably neutral colours but, really, you don't have to look like an extra on the set of Out of Africa. You don't need much in the way of formal clothes, but you will need something pretty smart for exclusive hotels and the Blue Train. Make two copies of all your important documents, like passports. Take one with you, in a different bag to the original, and leave one at home with a responsible, easily reachable person. Try to memorise all your important numbers - passport numbers, credit card numbers, etc. If you lose your bag, this could be an enormous help. Electricity is 220 volts, 15 amps, and is supplied through three-prong, round-pin plugs. If you're bringing anything electrical, bring an adapter - or you could buy one here. If you are dependent on any drugs, bring a supply and a spare prescription. Bring spare spectacles, and/or a copy of your prescription. If you wear contact lenses, consider using disposables for a short holiday, especially if you're planning to river raft, dive or such. Also bring spectacles, as the dry dusty environment of some game farms may irritate your eyes.Pack a small first-aid kit. Either buy one from a pharmacy or get your doctor to suggest what you should take and make up yourself.If you've forgotten anything - don't panic. This is not the back of beyond, and you can buy whatever you need - probably at a good price. And pack a camera - you'll want to save your wonderful memories. You can buy film anywhere and camera batteries in the cities.VisasIf you are a national of Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Lichtenstein, Singapore, Switzerland or the United States, you do not need a visa for a holiday visit. Otherwise contact a South African embassy. You'll find a comprehensive list online. CustomsYou may bring in duty-free gifts and souvenirs to the total value of R1,250 plus 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250 grams of tobacco, 2 litres of wine, 1 litre of other alcoholic beverages, 50ml of perfume, and 250ml of toilet water into South Africa without incurring duties. Thereafter duty is levied at 20%. You may not import or export more than R200 in South African banknotes. The alcohol and tobacco allowance applies only to people over 18.TaxesValue Added Tax (VAT) is levied on most goods and services but, as a foreign national, you may reclaim VAT on anything you bought to take out of the country unused. You need to do this before you embark on your flight home. See www.taxrefunds.co.za for details. All South African airports charge an airport tax, which is automatically included in the purchase price of your ticket.Travel insuranceBefore you leave home make sure you have travel insurance - and make sure you know exactly what it covers. If you are planning to indulge in some of our wonderful adventure activities, check that you will be covered in the unlikely event of an accident. Whatever you do, read the fine print carefully - once you've hit the problem, it's too late to start renegotiating the contract.Back to the top>
Question: What about traveller's cheques, money, etc?
Answer: With our favourable exchange rate, you will find that things are very reasonably priced in South Africa, and with our sophisticated banking system, everything to do with money is pretty easy and straightforward.Currency and bankingOur unit of currency is the Rand, which is divided into 100 cents. Coins come in denominations of 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5, and notes in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. All currency must be declared on entry. Because of the favourable exchange rate, you'll find South Africa a very inexpensive destination. And an easy one. From the moment you step off the plane, you'll see that there are banks, bureaux de change and automatic tellers almost everywhere. For up-to-date exchange rates, see www.oanda.com/converter/classic. Generally speaking, banks are open from about 9am to 3.30pm but those at the airports adjust their hours of opening to accommodate all international flights. Traveller's cheques, credit cards and bank cardsTraveller's cheques in most major currencies are accepted in almost every hotel or backpackers and by many other operators.All major credit cards can be used in South Africa, with American Express and Diners Club enjoying less universal acceptance than Mastercard and Visa. In some small towns, you may find you'll need to use cash. A rather strange anomaly - you may not purchase fuel with credit cards. South Africans have special fuel credit cards, known as garage or petrol cards, which can be used only at filling stations. You can, however, pay road tolls with master or visa cards. You may want to print out a list of these useful numbers before you leave home. All numbers are written as you would dial them from within South Africa. The 0800 numbers are toll-free from a landline within South Africa - but not from a mobile phone. American Express (011) 359 0200Diners Club 0800 112 017Master Card 0800 990 418Visa 0800 990 475Absa Bank 0800 111 155First National Bank 0800 111722Nedbank 0800 555 111Standard Bank 0800 021 000Some bank cards and debit cards work in our Automated Teller Machines, and some do not. Please check with your bank before you leave home. You need a five-digit pin to use a card in our machines.TippingTipping is expected in a range of situations. In restaurants, the usual is 10% of the bill for good, or OK, service and up to 20% (or more) for excellent. Hairdressers are usually tipped about 10% as well, if they have managed to do exactly what you wanted. All our fuel stations are full service and attendants should be tipped a few rand if they wash your windscreen and offer to check tyre pressure, oil and water. In most of our city streets we have parking attendants who wear brightly coloured bibs indicating their status. They should be tipped a rand or two if they are helpful (which they usually are) and your car is intact when you return to it. You may also find less official parking attendants in some areas and it's probably worth your while to tip them a rand or so. Hotel porters should be tipped a few rand per bag and you may want to tip housekeeping staff in hotels as well. In game lodges, it is usual to tip the ranger about 10% of your total bill and leave another 10% with lodge management to disburse among the invisible staff - gardeners, cleaners, chefs etc.BargainingBargaining is a tricky one. Some South Africans are natural bargainers but, unlike many other parts of the world, it is not really part of our culture. So please bear that in mind. Quite often you will find tourists bargaining for small bits of beadwork or baskets, and eventually the vendor will give in - sometimes out of desperation. So please use your discretion before you get into haggling mode.Back to the top>
Question: What do I do if I want to stay longer than three months?
Answer: How fantastic that you have that much time. You will have to enter for three months and then, while here, you can apply to the Dept of Home Affairs to have your stay extended. However, if you will be visiting any of our neighbouring countries, your three months will start again once you return.Back to the top>