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Practical information about South Africa

On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions about South Africa. You can read more, for example, about weather, visa and currency. See also our selection of South Africa Holidays.

Practical information about South Africa

Practical information about South Africa

On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions about South Africa. You can read more, for example, about weather, visa and currency. See also our selection of South Africa Holidays.

1. Weather and wildlife in South Africa month by month

South Africa is an exciting destination all year round. The location of the country south of the equator means that the seasons are the opposite of the seasons in the UK, so it’s summer in South Africa when it’s winter here in the UK. Below, you can read a little more about how the weather and wildlife vary throughout the year:

Summer in South Africa (November to February)
This period is both South Africa’s summer season and rainy season. The weather switches from sunshine to rain, but mostly sunshine and warm temperatures. It is this combination of sunshine and rain that makes the landscape so incredibly lush and densely vegetated. The hot weather and the high humidity also mean that there may be a risk of heavy rain at times.

You are in with a good chance of seeing baby animals in South Africa’s safari parks from late November and the rest of the period. If you’re fascinated by birds, from December to February you can experience lots of interesting bird species in the national parks.

Autumn in South Africa (March to May)

During this period, the days are sunny, the temperatures are pleasant and rainfall is limited. It can be a little cooler in the evening, during the night and in the morning.

The landscape is lush, and there is still plenty of water in the rivers and water holes, attracting wildlife. There are generally fewer visitors in the national parks, and you are in with a good chance of enjoying unique wildlife experiences.

Winter in South Africa (June to August)

This period offers warm, sunny days with pleasant temperatures, yet relatively chilly nights. There is virtually no rainfall in the north of the country. In the south of the country, however, there is a little more rain, and some days can feel like a grey autumn day in Europe.

The small amount of rainfall makes for a less lush landscape and there are fewer leaves on the trees. The wildlife is therefore easier to spot in the bare bushes and around the few water holes where there is still water. The chances of seeing the Big Five are therefore also incredibly high. Along the country’s coastline, you can see large pods of whales.

Spring in South Africa (September to October)

During this period, there is limited rainfall, while the days are sunny and lovely and warm. Temperatures are rising steadily, and especially at the end of the period, it can feel very hot during the day.

The animals are active and still easy to spot in the relatively barren landscape. They gather around the water holes where there is still water. Along the long South African coastline, whales are gathering to breed, giving you a great chance of spotting them on a whale watching tour.

This period is also the ideal time to visit Cape Town as there is a limited amount of rain and wild flowers are blooming, creating a colourful coastal landscape.

Weather statistics for Nelspruit (Kruger National Park): JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 29 29 28 27 25 23 23 25 27 27 27 28
Average minimum temperature 19 19 18 14 10 6 6 9 12 14 17 18
Rainfall mm 127 108 90 51 15 9 10 10 26 75 115 131
Weather statistics for Johannesburg: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 26 25 24 21 19 16 17 19 23 24 24 25
Average minimum temperature 15 14 13 10 7 4 4 6 9 11 13 14
Rainfall mm 125 90 91 54 13 9 4 6 27 72 117 105
Weather statistics for Cape Town: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 26 27 25 23 20 18 18 18 19 21 24 25
Average minimum temperature 16 16 14 12 9 8 7 8 9 11 13 15
Rainfall mm 15 17 20 41 69 93 82 77 40 30 14 17
Weather statistics for Port Elizabeth: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 25 25 25 23 22 20 20 20 20 21 22 24
Average minimum temperature 18 18 17 14 12 9 9 10 11 13 15 16
Rainfall mm 36 40 54 58 59 62 47 64 62 59 49 34
2. Terms & Conditions

Please read our booking terms and conditions carefully. These terms and conditions constitute the basis of your package purchased from africasafari.co.uk. Click here to read our terms and conditions.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

3. Travel insurance

We are an ATOL protected agency giving you complete peace of mind. It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their trip.

In cooperation with our partner we can offer advantageous travel insurances. Learn more here.

4. Vaccinations

We always advise that you contact a specialist, your GP or an authorized vaccination clinic. You can also read more about the rules for travel & vaccinations at the central NHS Fit for Travel website: here

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another African country.

5. Visas

On arrival to South Africa, UK citizens receive a visa for a stay lasting up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for at least 30 days past the duration of your stay, and there must be at least two empty pages in your passport. Note that extended passports or temporary emergency passports are not recognised on entry into South Africa.

If you plan to combine your visit to South Africa with one of our other destinations, e.g. such as Victoria Falls in Zambia, Namibia or Mauritius, you must also be aware of visa regulations for these destinations.

Read more about the entry restrictions for South Africa here: http://www.dha.gov.za/

We encourage you to always check visa regulations on the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

6. Flight reservations and airline tickets

We will send you your flight reservation as soon as you book your trip. You can see times and routes on the itinerary. It is important to check your name for spelling mistakes. The name on the reservation must be exactly as in your passport. If you find any mistakes in the names, please contact us immediately.

Today, there are only electronic airline tickets (e-tickets), so you do not receive a physical ticket for use at the airport check-in. When you check in at the airport, you use your passport and a booking reference. The booking reference is on your itinerary.

7. Service letter

Once you have purchased a tour through us, you will receive our service letter before your departure. The service letter contains important information about online check-in, what to do in the event of a delay, our agreed guidelines for tips, etc. In addition, you will find important telephone numbers for our local agents as well as our emergency telephone number.

So it is important that you print out the service letter and bring it with you.

8. Seat reservation, upgrades and extra legroom

The airline will assign you a seat on board the aircraft upon check-in. If you have specific wishes, you can make a seat reservation via the airline’s website. Most airlines have an area on their website named “manage my booking” or similar. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation, so it’s a good idea to have your payment card ready when starting a seat reservation. Airline seat reservations vary from company to company, but as a general rule, you can book seats from around 48 hours before departure.

Many airlines also offer upgrades with extra legroom or comfort seating, such as Economy Comfort with KLM and Premium Voyageur with Air France. You can check these details through the airline’s own website, along with payment information.

Please kindly note that airlines have full access to all seats on the aircraft and therefore always reserve the right to alter a reservation.

If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will issues your seating upon check-in at the airport.

9. Your luggage

We use many different airlines to South Africa, so it may vary how much you can carry in both your checked luggage and your hand luggage. See your airline ticket for information or contact us if you have any questions.

You should also make sure you carry all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, airline tickets, insurance documents, credit cards, money and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

The air conditioning on the plane can make it chilly, so have a windcheater in your hand luggage and perhaps also your safari hat.

If you are flying via O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, please be aware that checked luggage must have at least one flat side and must not have long, loose straps (such as a backpack). If you are travelling with a round sports bag or a backpack with long straps, you should make use of the baggage wrapping service at the airport before checking in your luggage.

10. Transport in South Africa

On our safari to Kruger National Park you will be welcomed by our local guide in the airport in Johannesburg. From here, you will drive in a safari bus through the scenic South African countryside to your lodge. The drive from the airport to Kruger takes around 4–5 hours.

 

On our safari tours in Eastern Cape, you will be met at the airport in Port Elizabeth and driven to the lodge, and if you arrive by plane in Cape Town, you will also be met by our local representative at the airport.

 

On our self-drive holiday, you will not be met the airport as you will be picking up your hire car.

11. Driving Distances on safari

From Johannesburg to Kruger National Park: approx. 400 km – around 4–5 hours

Full day in Kruger National Park: approx. 200–250 km – around a 10-hour drive with stops along the way.

Full-day excursion to the Drakensberg Mountains: around a 200-km drive to the first viewpoint, total approx. 10-hour drive, approx. 480 km full day

 

On our self-drive holiday, you can see the distances under each driving day.

 

Remember all distances and times are approximate and subject to weather and traffic conditions.

12. Conditions for self-drive holidays in South Africa

It is relatively easy to self-drive in South Africa. It gives you tremendous freedom to have your own car and to decide where and when you make a stop.

When picking up your rental car, you are required to present your passport and international driving licence. A deposit is reserved on your credit card. This will be reimbursed to your credit card when you return the car. If you wish to rent GPS, it costs approx. 800 Rand, and if you would like to add another driver, it costs approx. 929 Rand. The fee for one-way rental is not included either and costs approx. 1185 Rand. Please note that all these amounts for extras when renting a car are indicative and may vary depending on the season.

Please note that main roads in South Africa are often shared with animals, pedestrians, cyclists, buses and lorries. So take extra care when driving.

You will probably see the hard shoulder being used for overtaking, but we discourage you from doing this yourself. The hard shoulder is for emergencies – not for overtaking. Having overtaken, it’s not unusual to say “thanks” with your hazard lights.

Street lighting is poor and at times there are holes in the road, so we recommend that you don’t drive after dark. Almost all cars in South Africa have automatic locking, so your car door is locked when you drive. You should avoid having the window rolled down while you’re stationary. South Africa is a poor country, where a few people have a lot and many have little – but by exercising common sense, you will enjoy a wonderful self-drive holiday!

The minimum age for renting a car is 18, and you must have held your driving licence for at least one year.

13. Food and Beverage

The safari tours, which are half-board, include breakfast and dinner. This is typically a large self-service buffet. On half-board holidays, drinks and lunch are at your own expense. As a guideline, our guests generally spend around £100 per person on lunch and drinks for the whole holiday.

 

Safari tours with full-board include all meals and (local) drinks.

14. Currency in South Africa

The South African currency is the Rand. Using your international credit card, you can withdraw cash from cash machines. Start with the one at the airport. You can withdraw up to 2,000 Rand per day per card.

We recommend you bring some Euro with you for the stopover.

15. Tipping

In South Africa, tips are part of the wages of people working in the service industry. The tipping of porters, waiting staff, maids and guides is therefore expected and highly appreciated.

Tipping is, of course, voluntary and it’s completely up to you how much you want to give.

The following is customary:

  • Guide/driver: 100–150 Rand for a full day excursion with two people travelling together
  • Waiting staff: 10-30 Rand or 10% of the bill
  • Cleaning staff: 10–20 Rand a day

Tips for staff at the place where you are staying are paid in cash. At restaurants/bars, you can add a tip to the bill.

16. Public holidays

It is always special to experience the traditions and celebrations of other countries. Below is a list of public holidays, important festivals and other special occasions.

Please note that some museums and attractions may be closed on these days.

 

17. Tourist tax

Tourist tax is payable in South Africa. This is not included in our packages. You will be required to pay around 6–8 South African Rand (ZAR) per room per night. This is paid as part of the room bill when you check out of the hotel. We accept no liability for changes in tax.

18. Time difference

During the summer time South Africa is one hour ahead of the UK. During the winter months South Africa are 2 hours ahead of us.

19. Booking extra excursions

Our itineraries often include free days, depending on the choice of tour, allowing you to choose what you want to do.

Extra excursions are booked at your lodge or through our partners. The excursions are paid for no later than 24 hours before in South African Rand (ZAR). Payment can also be made by credit card.

Read more about possible extra excursions in our tour programmes on the website.

20. Safari Tours

The set tours are adapted to the weather and other circumstances. As a rule, the tours cannot be changed to something else or refunded. Safari tours among wild animals take place in open-topped vehicles. All other driving is in air-conditioned minibuses.

21. Mosquito Net

Mosquitoes come out when the sun goes down and the temperature drops. Most people are bitten when dusk falls, so it’s a good idea to wear long trousers and perhaps a long-sleeved shirt, and spray your ankles, wrists, hands and neck. Some places have mosquito nets over the beds – others over all the windows. As a rule, it is not necessary to bring your own mosquito net, but be sure to have a good mosquito repellent with you.

22. Children on safari in South Africa

Our safari tours are extremely child friendly. The wildlife on the African savannah is exciting – for children, too, who are welcome on our safaris whatever their age.

However, for safety reasons, they must be over the age of 12 to participate in a bush walk with rangers, and 6+ to participate in an evening safari in an open-topped vehicle.

23. Electricity

In South Africa the standard voltage is 220 V. However, you may need an adapter with three large, round pins, as the sockets are different

24. Luggage which is important to bring
  • Bright summer clothes for safari trips (Strong colours can attract unwanted attention from flies found in certain areas of the parks).
  • Nicer clothes for evenings at the hotel and lodge, such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts to protect you against mosquitoes after sunset and, if necessary, against the sun
  • A good jacket, as it can be cool in the morning and evening
  • Summer Footwear (e.g. sports shoes and cotton socks). Avoid bare feet and legs at night due to mosquitoes
  • Power adaptor with 3-4 sockets – this enables a shaver, trimmer, electric toothbrush and any batteries to be charged via a single adapter
  • Small flashlight and extra batteries
  • Hat that shields against the sun
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • A mosquito repellent for example
  • Nail clippers and file
25. Important items to have in your hand luggage
  • Passport, money, tickets
  • An adapter with 3 large, round pins
  • Sunglasses
  • The medicine you take at home (always in your hand luggage)
  • Over-the-counter medicines: painkillers, allergy pills, anti-diarrhoea tablets (Imodium?), malaria pills, plasters and disinfectant wipes.
  • Binoculars (so you can see that leopard all the way out there in the tree)
  • Camera and more memory cards than you expect to need + the battery charger and a bag to protect your camera from Africa’s fine, red dust.
  • Zip-up shoulder bag with a sturdy strap or a money belt or good inside pockets that zip up.
  • A couple of photocopies of all your personal papers such as passports, visas, airline tickets, travel insurance, vaccination cards, international credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, etc.), driving licences and whatever else you have in your wallet – spread between each other’s suitcases and bags.
  • Telephone numbers for immediate cancellation of missing credit cards and for contacting your insurance company, etc.
  • Postal addresses of those you want to send a postcard to and e-mail addresses of those you want to send a holiday e-mail.
  • Notebook and pens
  • A good book or two for the flights there and back
26. Travellers with reduced mobillity

Please note, our tours are generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us for information about the possibilities according any specific needs.

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