Before your visit to South Africa, you should take note of some information about the country, as well as about Touring South Africa. Your Travel into Africa is only complete if it is an adventure with Touring South Africa.
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South Africa: Facts and Figures
The South Africa (SA) of today has become known amongst the locals as the 'New South Africa', and the people as the 'Rainbow Nation', as Archbishop (Emeritus) Desmond Tutu, has referred to them here on the southern tip of Africa. We are a World in One Country.
In 1994, Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela became SA's first black president. The Republic of South Africa's current president is Cyril Ramaphosa, a businees man of note.
Our previous president was the polygamous Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (born 12 April 1942), aka Mosholozi' - his praise name, a true Zulu man who has married for the sixth time, on 20 April 2012, at the traditional ceremony, called "Umgcagco" at his home in Nkandla, (which has become notorious in 2013 for being upgraded to the tune of R246 million), to Gloria Bongekile Ngema (Bongi), and now live with four wives simultaneously. The other three are MaNtuli Zuma, Tobeka Madiba-Zuma and MaKhumalo Zuma. One of his earlier wives committed suicide, and the most famous of his former wives, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, divorced him.
Khaya Dlanga wrote in a recent article (2013) on indepthafrica.com: One of the funniest tweets I read about the president (JZ) must have been from @PriMenoe: "You gotta envy our President Dr Rev Zuma. He's a Widower, Divorcee, Husband & a Fiance all in one"
South Africa is a combined 1st world / 3rd world country, which understands diverse economies, and may be why it is a global leader in several ways. It is part of the BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - and takes a leading role in SADEC (Southern African Development Community) and the African Union, all cooperative institutions who work together on tourism, trade and development. South Africa is the only African member of the G20 (as at 2017), and in 2011 it began a second two-year term on the UN Security Council.
In 2010, South Africa hosted with great success, the FIFA Soccer World Cup, which was won by Spain, when they beat Netherlands at Soccer City (FNB Stadium), the largest stadium in Africa, with an official seating capacity of 94 736, built between Johannesburg and Soweto. Nine other stadiums were used which are spread out in the different main centres elsewhere in the country, some specially built for the World Cup, and designed to host sports and entertainment of various sorts.
South Africa is the gateway to Africa, with more phones, cars, planes and autobanks than the rest of Africa. It is amongst the world's richest nations in raw materials, with more than half the world's zircon, the nuclear age heavy mineral, of which current exports are mainly to China, but a local process to refine zircon into zirconium and oxides and other chemicals with new strategic value, bring new opportunities.
South Africa (SA) is the world's leading producer of chromium, vanadium, manganese, aluminium, silicates, and platinum. It is among the top producers of coal and 50 other minerals. It is a country of Gold and Diamonds, and the continent's financial and industrial super-power, with a growing infrastructure which dwarfs those of the rest of Africa. It occupies only 4% of the continent area, but produces about a third of the sub-Saharan GDP, and about 40% of its needs in oil, petroleum, and even fertiliser, from Coal.
The Gautrain is Africa's first speed train, and links the OR Tambo International Airport and the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg, and their satellite cities in between. The highways around Johannesburg and Pretoria have been widened and upgraded. Government implemented the notorious e-toll system on 3 Dec 2013, imposing a disputed forcing of taxation on the road users, to pay for the privilege of using the improved infrastructure.
SA has developed an IT banking system for workers who cannot access banks, but need to transmit funds across the African sub-continent.
South Africa has created its own Space Agency and has cleared semi-desert in the arid Karoo for an Astronomy Park hundreds of kilometres long, a transmission-free site covering thousands of square kilometres and protected from aircraft radar, radio and other interferences. This site won the bid, together with Australia, to build Earth's largest observatory, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), while it already houses the KAT observatory and the world's largest giant telescope.
The imposing Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria is the largest monument on the African continent and the second largest in the world. The Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital in Soweto is the largest in the southern hemisphere. The Carlton Centre in Johannesburg is the tallest office building in Africa. SA mining engineers designed and built the longest elevator in the world, raising men and materials more than 3 kilometres in a single vertical ride. The University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria, is the largest correspondence university in the world.
South Africa (SA) has produced seven Nobel Prize winners, for Peace, Literature, and Medicine, respectively.
SA has one of the newest (1996), most liberal and progressive constitutions in the world. The Law can be tested ultimately in the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. The Court of Appeal is based in Bloemfontein, supported by High Courts in the major regions and Magistrates Courts in the major municipalities.
South Africa has its fair share of problems, though. HIV/Aids is rife -- 11.7% of the population, 17% of the world's sufferers -- which plunged life expectancy in SA to 49 in 2010. 25% of the people are dependant on social grants from the government, and the unemployment rate stands at 25% (officially) in 2013. The 2019 percentage reaches into the 30's.
Illegal immigrants, Crime, Unemployment and Job creation deficiency, Strikes, unroadworthy and reckless Minibus taxis, Farm murders, Squatter camps, are all issues that make South Africans more resilient and eager to alleviate their problems to build a strong coherent community in which everyone can enjoy the ultimate freedoms promised in the Constitution.
Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Affirmative Action was introduced to right the wrongs of the past, but nepotism, corruption and bad service has crept into so many service departments, that new private institutions find it easy to provide a better service elsewhere as an alternative.
South Africa is home to eight World Heritage Sites, ranging from the 'Cradle of Humankind' near Johannesburg, to humanity's greatest natural art gallery of 35 000 rock paintings in the UKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park.
Africa's only science park, the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, housed the 2008 World Conference of Technological and Cybernetic Science Parks.
SA was the first country in the world to abandon voluntarily its nuclear weapon capability, and now helps to develop nuclear domestic power through a pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR). SA is now amongst the leaders in the search for a hydrogen economy to replace oil and polluting fossil fuels.
A local hotelier has several times won the title of 'Best hotel in the World' (2008 and before) for its five, separated super-luxury game lodges 'in the bush'. SA has at times been rated by the Economist and Business Traveller as one of the least expensive places in the world to visit for business and pleasure.
SA's national symbols are the Springbok, Blue crane, Protea, Galjoen and Yellowwood. A new National flag, and a new Coat of Arms, were designed to fit in with the New South Africa, which started life in 1994.
South Africa is the 25th biggest country in the world, at 1 223 410 sq km in size (that is 472 659 sq miles), bordered by the Limpopo River in the north, and more westward, the Gariep River in the north-west, and on the eastern side, the warm Indian Ocean, with the warm Mozambique current from the equator, while on the western side, the cool Atlantic ocean, with the cold Benguela current from Antarctica, complete the 2954 km coastline. The most southern tip is at Cape Agulhas, east of Cape Town. At latitude 25 degrees South, Cape Town is about the same distance from the equator as Sydney in Australia, or Los Angeles in the northern hemisphere.
SA is twice the size of France (bigger than France, Germany and Italy combined), five times the size of Britain, and an eighth the size of the United States of America.
SA's neighbours are Mozambique in the north-east, Zimbabwe and Botswana in the north, and Namibia in the north-west. The independent kingdoms of Swaziland and Lesotho lies within the borders of SA, in the north-east and east respectively. The island of Madagascar lies off the coast on the east.
South Africa lies at the southern tip of Africa. Africa is NOT the biggest continent. (but, in 2016, the ex-president of SA, Jacob Zuma, has said publicly during a press conference, that Africa is the biggest continent in the world :-O )
Roads and railways lead to many different mountains, deserts, forests, and pristine beaches. International and domestic airports connect the main centres across SA to the rest of the continent and the world. Many International airlines operate into and out of SA. Direct flights connect to USA, South America, UK, Australia, India, Hong Kong, UAE, and others.
South Africa's rainfall is half of the world average, although the city of Johannesburg gets more rain than the city of London, but in comes down in brief, heavy downpours with thunder and lightning, rather than steady drizzle. SA enjoys an abundance of sunshine, with 7.5 to 9.5 hours on an average day, compared to 3.8 hours average in London, and 6.9 in New York.
A pleasant Summer time stretches from October to April, which is the rainy season in most parts of SA, with usually short afternoon thunder showers, followed by clear skies and sunny days. In the southern Cape region, rain can be expected the whole year through. In the Cape peninsula, the rainy season is during the cold Winter months of May to September.
Pretoria enjoys one of the best climates in the world, with temperate conditions, enough rain, and not subject to heavy winds.
In the northern parts of SA, the winters are normally dry, with day temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius, which provides an excellent opportunity to view the wild animals (game) in the world-renowned National Parks and Game reserves, like
Kruger National Park  and Pilanesberg National Park .
In the southern parts of SA, rains can be expected any time of the year, but mostly during the Winter months.
South Africa is the ideal holiday destination of the world, and can be visited right through the year.
Earliest history / Inhabitants
South Africa is THE place on earth where the earliest skeleton bones of Ape men have been found, in the Cradle of Humankind, which is one of SA's eight World Heritage Sites. Homo Sapiens is said to have evolved from these early southern African inhabitants, Australopithecus africanus of more than 3 million years ago. The well known hominid skull of 'Mrs Ples' (Plesianthropus - 'almost human') - upright walking - were dug from the Sterkfontein Caves in 1947 by Dr Robert Broom, and can be seen in the (Transvaal Museum) Museum of Natural History in Pretoria. Dr Ron Clarke and colleagues have in recent years discovered a complete skeleton in the same caves. Tracks of early Man found recently near Langebaan in the Cape are estimated at 117 000 years old. ("Eve's foot prints")
Some 2 700 million years ago, the meteor impact sites of Vredefort Dome and Tshwaing Crater uplifted the horizontal strata plates containing gold and platinum, chromium, nickel, copper, palladium, and many other minerals, to form the east-west mountain ranges around Johannesburg and Pretoria and expose the rich layers, for enormous productive exploration and mining in the area.
The stone age brown San (Bushman) people have lived all over southern Africa for the past 20 000 to 100 000 years, then they were gradually displaced by the southwards migrating, iron age, black African people, from middle Africa, who settled in the northern parts of SA as early as 1050 until 1270 at places like Mapungubwe National Park, (another one of the eight World Heritage sites in SA), which was the centre of the largest kingdom in southern Africa, with a thriving gold and ivory trade with China, India and Egypt. Europeans arrived from 1488 onwards at the southern tip of Africa. In 1652, the Dutch East India company from the Netherlands, traded with the Khoi Khoi people in the southern Cape, and settled to provide fresh produce to the passing ships. Since the middle 1700's more black African migrating immigrants started to form nations in South Africa. Similarly, nations developed out of the white Europeans, and immigrants from the Orient.
Human migration in Africa has influenced the latest composition of peoples in South Africa, and the 2018 estimate put the figure at some 70 million people who are now legally and illegally calling SA home, amongst them 4 million Zimbabweans out of a total of 12 million Zimbabweans. The South African official population have grown from an estimated 52 million legal citizens in 2013, to 56 million legal South Africans in 2017.
South Africa has a spectacular diversity of plant and animal species, varied geography and ecosystems, diverse cultures, population groups and religions, luxury accommodation establishments, wine estates, farms, beautiful beaches, and unspoilt wilderness areas.
SA's black population make up about 80% of the total. They are from many different tribes: The Nguni group (Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, and Ndebele) mainly along the east coast, the Sotho group (Northern Sotho (Pedi), Southern Sotho, and Tswana), in the central and western side, and the Venda, Lembe, and Shangane-Tsonga tribes, mainly in the north of the country.
People of mixed race are known in SA as Coloured people, who remained largely in the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces, and who are descendants of amongst others, slaves who were brought to South Africa from the East and Madagascar before 1834, locals and immigrants from Africa and Europe.
People of Indian descent were settled mainly in KwaZulu-Natal province on the east coast, when the first group were brought to SA as indentured labourers in 1860 to work the sugar cane fields. After a five year contract, they could remain in SA or return to India. Today the SA Indians is the largest Indian group outside of India.
The white population is made up of the early Dutch settlements and expansions, with additions of French Huguenots, German immigrants, English settlers and other groups from different European countries. In the 1800s, large groups of English settlers arrived in the new British colony of South Africa, and later, fortune seekers flocked to South Africa's gold and diamond mines. The most spoken language of the whites is Afrikaans, an indigenous language related to Dutch, but with many influences from the population of South Africa. Afrikaans is geographically the most widespread home language in South Africa.
Plant and Animal life
South Africa alone is home to more animal species than North and South America combined, or Asia and Europe combined.
SA has the world's
-- largest land mammal: African elephant
-- smallest mammal: a shrew the size of your fingertip
-- tallest mammal: giraffe
-- fastest mammal: cheetah
-- heaviest reptile: leatherback turtle
-- largest antelope: eland
-- largest bird: ostrich
-- heaviest flying bird: kori bustard
South Africa is home to
-- 900+ bird species, 10% of the world's variety, on 1% of the world's land area
-- 6000 spider species
-- 175 varieties of scorpion
-- 100 snake species
-- one sixth of all the marine species in the world, living in the SA waters
Kruger National Park is the most biodiverse reserve on earth, with 140 species of mammals, over 500 species of birds and 2000 plant species. In Kruger National Park, as well as in Pilanesberg National Park, your days and nights are filled with discovery and variety out of this world, and it is best to spend a few days in the aura of these Parks.
You can view the BIG FIVE animals in their natural habitat (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhinoceros, and Buffalo), while you look out for the SMALL FIVE (Lion ant, Leopard tortoise, Elephant shrew, Rhino beetle, and the Buffalo weaver).
Watch the skies for the Kruger Park Big SIX Birds (Lapped-faced vulture, Saddle-billed stork, Martial eagle, Kori bustard, and Pel's fishing owl).
The BIG FIVE BIRDS of SA, are Blue Crane, Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Southern Ground Hornbill, and the Lammergeier (Bearded vulture). The Blue crane is South Africa's national bird, the Ostrich is the world's biggest bird, the Kori Bustard the world's heaviest flying bird, the Southern Ground Hornbill is threatened (endangered), and the Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture) can be seen in the Drakensberg Mountain range, the oldest mountains in the world (3500 million years)
See the Big SEA Five (Southern Right whale, Great white shark, endangered Bottlenose Dolphin, Blue Marlin, and Tuna)
The Cape Floral region is one of the eight World Heritage sites of SA, stretching between the southern coast and the Cape winelands, and extending northwards, harbouring the richest floral kingdom on Earth. South Africa is the only country in the world with an entire floral kingdom within its borders. The Cape Floral Kingdom on the Cape Peninsula around Cape Town, has at least 8578 floral species - the richest variety on Earth. SA has within its borders 23 200 species of plants - greater a variety than that of the entire northern hemisphere.
Namaqualand, the famous wild flower region, puts its most colourful cloak on during August and September each year, to beautify the semi desert area north of Cape Town.
South Africans live in a wonderworld of nature...
South Africa has always had religious freedom, even through the years of Apartheid, which was a system of racial segregation which came to an end in the early 1990's. More than 50% South Africans are church goers, which is more than double the world average. About 80% of people in SA claim to be Christian.
Visiting South Africa
You can get along easiest with South African English, which is closer in spelling and pronunciation to British English than American English. Eleven official languages plus sign language make up the lingo in SA. Some less spoken languages, like that of the San people, are yet not recognised as one of the official languages, but is known for its clicks, which have been taken up by many other indigenous languages, like Xhosa. The cultures in SA comprise of at least nine African, three Asian, and half a dozen European cultures.
The South African RAND (R) is one of the top performing emerging market currencies, and have doubled its value against the US dollar over a decade up to 2010.
100 cents make up one Rand. The Big 5 animals are depicted on the Rand notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Rand denominations. In 2013, the designs changed to have Nelson Mandela join the Big5 animals as the main theme on the SA Rand notes. The South African Rand can be used 1:1 in Namibia, Swaziland, and Lesotho. These countries' currencies should only be used in their own territories, and will not be accepted in SA.
Normal banking hours are 09:00 to 15:30 weekdays, and 08:30 to 11:00 Saturdays. The banking system is sophisticated like in Western countries; five major banks do business, with many autoteller machines in virtually every town and shopping centre. FNB and ABSA are two of these. Do take care not to accept help from ANYBODY at an ATM (autoteller machine) ever, as so many criminal schemes are in operation to get hold of your card and it's PIN. Ask your Tourist Guide for the safest place to visit a Bank or autoteller machine.
Major credit cards, particularly VISA and MasterCard, are accepted at restaurants, shops, and hotels. You may at some places encounter a problem trying to use your American Express card. Generally, fuel can now be purchased with a standard credit card.
Traveller's cheques and foreign currency notes from all major currencies in the World can be exchanged at any commercial bank. Bureaux de Change (Foreign Exchange Bureaux) are found in the Airports and major shopping centres, with the fastest service and best exchange rate at the Airports. Most hotels have exchange facilities at a premium.
You do not need any international immunisations, like for cholera and smallpox, when entering South Africa, except for yellow fever, where the following rules apply: When you are entering SA within six days of leaving from a yellow fever infected country, you need a yellow fever vaccination certificate for any traveller over one year of age. If you travel through, or disembark in such an infected country, get vaccinated against yellow fever, before visiting the country.
Medical and health services in SA must be paid direct, thus special travel insurance is recommended.
Malaria and bilharzia areas are mainly restricted to the northern humid parts of South Africa, particularly in northern Kruger National Park, and the east coast. Malaria appears predominantly in the malignant form, throughout the year, but is a high risk only during the summer humid months of October to April.
Entry to South Africa
Visitors need a passport valid for six months beyond the date of departure from SA. Visas are generally not required. Visitors must have an onward ticket, and show they can support themselves during their stay. Visitors receive an entry stamp valid for 90 days, and they are not allowed to take up employment.
For visa requirements, see: www.home-affairs.gov.za or contact the SA Embassy/Consulate in your country.
220 - 250 Volt AC, using a fairly large 15 Amp 3 round-pronged male plug, or a smaller European standard 5 Amp 2 round-pronged male plug, at the end of the cord coming from the appliance, is used throughout South Africa as the standard. Most upmarket hotels and lodges provide for female adapters for these 3- or 2-pronged plugs. Otherwise it can be bought at major retail stores on tourist routes.
In SA you will NOT find a widely developed public transport system. Airlines are the best option between main centres, but can be very expensive travelling to smaller airports. In Gauteng, the Gautrain is excellent, and connects Pretoria, Johannesburg, and the OR Tambo International Airport on a strict time schedule. Intercity buses and slower trains are connecting the main centres and cities of SA, and in these main centres you may make use of the local buses. Metered taxis are a better option, and available at the airports, hotels and major restaurants.
Naturally, Touring South Africa is standing ready for any outings, excursions, and touring requirements.
CONTACT US directly.
Be advised to avoid EVER using the local minibus taxis and non-city buses, which the majority of SA citizens are using, as they can be dangerous, reckless, overloaded and not well maintained -- unless you want to risk your life :-(
Remember to always reconfirm your onward flights with the airline, at least 72 hours prior to departure.
South African vehicles have the steering wheel on the right hand side of the vehicle. Be very careful and concentrate. Put on your safety belt. Drive on the left side of the road, like in most countries where the British influence prescribed the infrastructure development, like the UK, the Southern African region, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, etc.
Two important courtesy customs in SA: (Now, be attentive, take good care, and don't get confused or intimidated by anyone):
ONLY DURING THE DAY, Not allowed at night,
On the TARRED country roads, NOT on the highways (freeways),
when approached from behind by a faster car, not as a regular driving habit,
when you are both travelling in the same direction, in the only forward lane, NOT on any double or multiple forward lane road,
the following rule applies,
only during the daytime, on a tarred road, where there is a tarred marked shoulder left of the border yellow line:
You MAY (you are not obliged to) (ONLY DURING THE DAY, Not allowed at night): drive on the left side of the yellow line (only while vehicles pass you from behind you)
Make sure it is safe to do so, and make sure you can see for at least the next 150 metres that it will be safe to do that (watch out for potholes and pedestrians too !):
Indicate left, then move a little over to the left, or if it is safe to do so, move into the emergency shoulder lane, so that the fast car can pass safely, and when it has passed, indicate right and move back into the main left lane. The other car's driver may indicate a 'Thank you' with a hand wave or his hazard lights, after which it is courteous to indicate your acknowledgement by flashing your headlights.
Remember, you are NOT OBLIGED TO do the above courtesy, and you may only do it during the daytime, on a tarred country road with only a single forward lane, which has a tarred shoulder, where you are certain that it is safe to do so for the next 150 metres.
If you feel uncertain, ignore the car behind you, do not get intimidated, keep in your lane, and keep by the speed limit.
Look out for speed restriction boards, but speed limits are normally 60 km/h in urban areas, 100 km/h on country roads, and 120 km/h on highways (freeways).
Car guards are found right throughout SA, in open parking areas, like at shopping centres or on the streets, who will show you into any available parking spot. They help you park safely, look after your car, and help you when leaving, after your return to your vehicle. (Remember to lock your vehicle, and NO, NO, do NOT give the keys to the car guard!! and still pay for your parking, separately of the car guard). If you are satisfied with the service, tip him/her accordingly, usually R2 per each half hour, or part of a half-hour. Many people (self-appointed car guards) depend on this self employment opportunity, and help to keep them from doing crime, while keeping an eye on your vehicle.
S with a diagonal line through it, means: No Stopping allowed
ROBOT means: Traffic Light
NET means: Only
Safety and Security
South Africa has known safety and security issues, which are addressed by Government, but the utmost care should be taken, not to attract attention to your own vulnerability or valuables. Rather do not wear expensive jewellery in public. Do not show off expensive equipment or a bulging purse in public.
When in danger, call the South African Police on 10111.
Hotels and lodges are fitted with safe deposit facilities, either in the rooms or at the Reception desk. Keep all valuables locked away when you leave your room. Rather keep your passport on your person. Keep your luggage locked, as well as all doors and windows locked when leaving the room. At wildlife areas, baboons and monkeys may enter your room and wreak havoc, while looking for food, if they can enter your room. Never feed any wild animals - they become too dangerous (associating you with food) and a nuisance.
Carry and use credit cards or traveller's cheques, rather than cash, for large purchases. Keep silver coin amounts, and a few notes, like a few R10, R20, R50 and R100 notes, handy for tips and small purchases, in a hidden place on yourself. No bulgy pockets. Tipping is recommended at a minimum of R5 for basic delivery services, like room service. (See 'Tipping' lower down).
City streets are not dangerous, but it is unwise to walk alone after dark, even in well-lit streets, especially when carrying cameras and bags. Do not obviously look like a tourist.
Use metered taxis at night, and only use a taxi which is booked through a reputable taxi company. Keep your car doors locked at all times.
It is not advisable to resist if confronted. When in the cities, be particularly observant, and take the same precautions that you would anywhere in the world. When endangered, get to a safe place, then call 10111 to report to the Police. Don't expect the Police to come out to you immediately. They might come to you later, to take a statement.
Telephones and internet communication
Cellular phones (Cell phones) are the best recommended tele-communication used in SA. Cell phones can be hired on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, mainly at Airports. The networks are serviced by at least five different Operators, and the coverage is extensive. VodaCom and MTN are most popular, with Cell C, Virgin Mobile, Telkom, and 8ta also offering good rates. For visitors, it is recommended to use the pre-paid (Pay-as-you-go) option, where airtime is purchased as needed. Data services are also available as pre-paid.
Hotels and Lodges have telephone and WiFi and other internet and office services available, and street telephones may be used with a prepaid card bought at any Post Office.
For local telephone enquiries, dial: 1023,
International enquiries: 10903
WiFi coverage is now more commonly available for free, but often still as a pay-for service.
Digital photography is recommended. Memory cards in a variety of sizes, become more widely available in the shopping centres, and photos may be developed within the same day, at major photographic shops in large shopping centres. Roll film for older cameras are only available at photographic shops in large centres.
For the huge variety of life in South Africa, be sure to use a good telephoto lens (200 - 400) for serious wildlife photography, accompanied by good binoculars (10 x 50 recommended) for hunting the rare sights, down to macro abilities for the small flowers. People in SA are becoming more used to photographs being taken of them, from using their own cellphones with cameras, but in the rural areas, some people may still object, so ask before you take a photo of someone, and be prepared to pay about R5 - R10 for the privilege.
A wide variety of memorabilia, curios and African artefacts, as well as precious stones, like Diamonds, Tanzanite and others, loose or accompanied by or set in precious metals, like gold, platinum, and silver, are available as a sound investment. Ask your Touring South Africa Tourist Guide to direct you to the best places available from where to obtain these at the best prices.
Normal shopping hours are from 08:30 until 17:00 on weekdays, and 08:30 until 13:00 on Saturdays. Major shopping centres may be open on Saturday until 17:00, and Sunday from 08:30 until 13:00. Some shops may, near special occasions like Christmas, stay open until 21:00.
2014: Personal effects are allowed in, duty free. Visitors may bring in goods worth R3000, duty free, with a duty of 20% thereafter. A maximum of R5000 SA currency may be taken out or brought into South Africa.
Value Added Tax (VAT) on most purchases and services, is charged at 15% in South Africa as from 1 April 2018, and is normally included in the displayed price. All valuable goods, which can be shown when leaving South Africa, may be presented with a Tax Invoice from the Retailer, at the TAX counter or Customs Counter, of the Port of Exit, together with a valid passport of the purchaser, where the tax can be refunded. The minimum value of purchases must be R250.
'African time' may frustrate you, if you are used to punctuality. In a restaurant, allow for an extended preparation time, even at a fast food establishment. When visiting any government office, the waiting time, and the queues, will be much longer than expected.
Tours, transfers and services of international dependency, will be on time.
No day light saving is practiced in Southern Africa. SA Standard Time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Consult the international section of the local telephone directory for detailed world time zones.
Dining and Entertainment
A variety of different tastes are catered for throughout South Africa. Restaurants are at Hotels, Lodges, Entertainment venues, Shopping centres and even at private homes in Townships, called Shebeens. The facilities for entertaining are superb in South Africa.
Theatre and Film bookings can be made through Computicket or directly with the theatre or cinema.
Fresh, purified water is provided for households in the major cities and towns. Do not drink water from a garden tap. Tap water from inside a building is safe for drinking in the major cities, but be more careful in the rural areas, where cholera has in recent years become a hazard. Bottled spring water, as well as bottled purified water, is obtainable from supermarkets and shops.
The dress code in SA is casual, because of the warm climate and different cultures. It is recommended that men especially, wear closed shoes. Upmarket restaurants will require a smart-casual attire, with long pants and closed shoes for the men. Formal dress is required at State banquets and other specific formal evenings.
12 official holidays are scheduled throughout the year, with many religious holidays observed by different cultures but not as a public holiday.
01 January - New Year,s Day
21 March - Human Rights Day
March/April - Good Friday, Easter holidays
March/April - Family Day, the Monday following Good Friday
27 April - Freedom Day
01 May - Workers Day
16 June - Youth Day
09 August - National Woman's Day
24 September - Heritage Day
16 December - Day of Reconciliation
25 December - Christmas Day
26 December - Day of Goodwill
When a holiday falls on a Sunday, it is usual that the Monday following, be declared an additional public holiday.
One day, all of a sudden, a strike creates several unofficial holidays for some people. South Africans have the right to strike. When planning to schedule a meeting, attend a function, use a service, or go shopping, be aware of the local strikes that occur, for many too often and unexpectedly, when people that protest in the streets, are so numerous that some roads are closed for the occasion, and protesters are dancing (toyi-toying) to show their discontent, and sometimes throw stones, bottles and bricks at those that oppose them, especially at the Police, and damage property. Stay away from such incidences.
It is customary to tip in South Africa. Everybody in SA does it, and it is frowned upon if you do not follow suit. A service fee is normally not included in your bill, and it is expected that you will add a minimum of 10% of the total bill, as a gratuity for good service, like at restaurants. Delivery services, like room service or porter service, is recommended at R5 minimum per person. It always depends on the amount of time and effort someone has put in for you.
It is expected to tip good service from porters, waiters, taxi drivers, room attendants, golf caddies, car guards, game rangers, game trackers, guides and drivers. It may be that the tip is the only income these service providers are getting! When travelling in a group, we recommend the daily tipping rate for tour guides and drivers, each, to be R30 to R40, per person, per day.
A bad tip will be an indication of your dissatisfaction.
South Africa's acclaimed wildlife (game) can be seen in its natural habitat in various game parks and reserves. Guided game drives and/or walks can be undertaken at most reserves. Great efforts have been made to conserve this national heritage, and to provide facilities and opportunities to view and photograph game, and the environment, in the natural habitat.
A wide choice of Hotels and Lodges offer different experiences, with self drives, guided day and night game drives, guided walking safaris, hot air ballooning, and guided horse trails, to name a few.
The National Parks Board operates a range of Parks throughout SA, and the Natal Parks Board operates in the KwaZulu-Natal area on the east coast.
Privately owned independent Game reserves and Lodges cater for limited numbers of guests at a time, with high standard, personalised service.
When on a self-drive in your own vehicle, be careful not to get too close to animals, as you may not realise the specific dangers involved. Respect and protect the undisturbed environment for the animals and birds. Keep yourself, including hands, inside the vehicle, so as not to break the silhouette of the vehicle, as it may attract dangerous animals, or chase away the animals you want to observe. Never get out of your vehicle, unless it is allowed at such an indicated viewpoint. Even then it will be at your own risk. Keep looking out for dangerous animals.
Read and obey the Rules, Regulations and Instructions given to you at your entrance to the Park, and remember you are the visitor to the animals' kingdom. They have the Right-of-Way, and you should keep your distance.
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Touring South Africa stand ready to take you on a journey of your lifetime, throughout the Southern African region and beyond, with standard, as well as any tailor-made tour you may require. All Tourist Guides from Touring South Africa are quality men and women, knowledgeable, informative, well qualified and registered, with years of dedicated experience.
Our tours are well developed over years of experience, enhanced by ongoing further research, with new destinations and exciting places to visit, constantly updating and adding new views and thrills.
Your own specific, tailor-made Activities and Excursions, and Functions are also done at your requirements.
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