Useful Info for South Africa

Useful info while in South Africa

The area around Cape Town enjoys a moderate, almost Mediterranean climate, with hot, often dry summers (starting around November and ending in February/March), and cool, rainy winters (from June to August).  The temperature rarely drops below 5°C in winter, and can rise to over 30° at the height of summer.

South Africa uses the Rand (ZAR) as its currency.  Coins come in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, and R5, while banknotes come in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200.  All major credit cards are widely accepted in most commercial establishments such as restaurants, shops, and hotels.  Traveller’s cheques can also be redeemed at most commercial banks or foreign exchange outlets.

There are no immunisation restrictions to enter South Africa unless coming from a yellow fever zone, in which case a valid vaccination certificate must be presented upon entry.  While the area around Cape Town is a malaria-free zone, certain other parts of the country do fall within a danger zone, so it’s best to take precautions if travelling to these areas.

Important Telephone Numbers
Ambulance : 10177
Police: 10111
Fire: 107
Flight Information: 086 727 7888
Sea Rescue: 082 911
Telephone Numbers: 1023

Gratuities are generally not added to the bill at a restaurant (except sometimes for very large parties), so it is customary to tip at least 10% of the total depending on the quality of service.

Eleven official languages are spoken in South Africa: English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.  However, most people speak at least a little (if not fluent) English, so communication is not all that difficult.

Visitors are advised to take normal precautions with their own safety as well as that of their belongings.  Most of these precautions fall within the domain of common sense – avoid walking alone on quiet or deserted streets (especially at night), be aware of the area to or through which you are travelling, do not leave valuables unattended, avoid wearing clothing or jewelry in public that will attract unwanted attention or carrying large amounts of cash, and only use taxis that are booked through a reputable service.

South Africa has a modern telecommunications system with coverage throughout the country.  The international dialling code is +27, followed by the area code without the initial 0.  To dial out of South Africa, simply add 00 to the beginning of the number.

Travelling by road
South Africa’s road network is quite sophisticated in the cities and along major arterial routes, but can become rough in more rural areas.  Petrol stations equipped with fuel and food services are available at regular intervals along most routes, and fuel can generally be paid for by cash or credit card.  Traffic laws are quite strictly enforced, including the wearing of seatbelts at all times and general speed limits of 60km/h in residential zones and 120km/h on freeways.

Value added tax is added at a rate of 14% to most purchases in South Africa.  For purchases of R250 or more, a VAT refund can be obtained by visitors to the country upon presentation of original receipts or proof of payment, a valid passport, and the correct form. Customs and authorised VAT personell can facilitate the refund process on your departure.

All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport, and many nationalities will require a visa as well.  Visa information can be obtained from most reputable travel agencies, or direct from a South African embassy or the Department of Home Affairs.  Visas are not typically issued at border posts and should be organised well in advance.  It may also be necessary to obtain multiple-entry or extended visas where required.

The above information serves as a basic guide to Cape Town.  For any other questions you may have, please consult our Frequently Asked Questions page, or contact us directly.

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