South Africa Travel Guide

Continent: Africa
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South Africa Travel Essentials

Ideal Duration: 10 - 14 days

Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)

Best Time: May - September Read More

Budget: Affordable

"Where Natural Beauty Abounds "

South Africa Tourism

South Africa is in the southern part of Africa and shares borders with Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. It's known as "The Rainbow Nation" because of its love for diversity, with three capitals, eleven languages, and lots of national parks and special places recognized by the United Nations. South Africa is famous for its stunning landscapes and amazing animals. You'll find landmarks like Table Mountain and Kruger National Park, plus a vibrant cultural scene.

But South Africa also has a tough history because of apartheid, a system that separated people by their race. This ended in the early 1990s when Nelson Mandela was freed, and the country had its first democratic elections. Now, South Africa is a democratic country with a mix of people, a variety of jobs like mining and farming, and it's part of important groups like the African Union and the United Nations, helping make decisions on the continent and around the world.

Must Know Before You Travel to South Africa

  • Safety: While South Africa is generally safe for tourists, it's important to be aware of your surroundings, especially in urban areas, and to avoid displaying valuable items in public places.
  • Health Precautions: Consult a doctor or travel health clinic for vaccinations and health advice before visiting South Africa. In some regions, anti-malarial medication may be recommended.
  • Packing Tip: Pack clothing suitable for the varying climates in South Africa, from warm days to cooler nights. Be prepared for changing weather conditions.
  • Currency: The currency used in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). While credit cards are widely accepted at major establishments, it's a good idea to carry some cash for smaller expenses, especially in rural areas.
  • Cultural Etiquette: Respect local customs and dress modestly when visiting religious sites or rural areas. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, as some may prefer not to be photographed.
  • Plug Points: South Africa typically uses 220-240V, and the plug type is Type D and Type M. It's advisable to bring the appropriate adapters for your electronic devices.
  • Language: South Africa has 11 official languages, with English, Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans being some of the most commonly spoken. English is widely used in tourist areas.
  • Smoking: South Africa has strict smoking regulations, and smoking is prohibited in indoor public spaces, restaurants, bars, and other designated non-smoking areas. Some places may have designated smoking zones.
  • Tap Water: It's generally recommended to drink bottled water or use filtered water in South Africa. Ensure that the seals on bottled water are intact before consumption.
  • Scams: While South Africa is a safe destination, tourists should be cautious and aware of potential scams, especially in crowded areas or tourist hotspots. Be wary of individuals posing as authorities and always verify the legitimacy of tour operators before booking any tours or safaris.
  • Pollution: Some urban areas in South Africa may experience air pollution, so it's advisable to check air quality indices and take necessary precautions, especially if you have respiratory issues.
  • Travel Insurance: It's important to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers your specific needs, including for adventure activities or safaris.
  • Bargaining: Bargaining is common in South African markets, and it's acceptable to negotiate prices respectfully, particularly in informal markets and with street vendors.
  • Tipping: Tipping is customary in South Africa, and it's typical to tip around 10% for good service in hotels, restaurants, and from guides.

South Africa Travel Packages

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Best time to visit South Africa

The overall best time to visit South Africa is during its spring and autumn months, from April to May and September to October. The weather is generally mild, and the landscapes are at their most pic (Read More)turesque during these periods. South Africa's diverse attractions are at their finest, from wildlife to cultural experiences, making it an ideal time for a well-rounded journey.

Holidify's opinion on Travel to South Africa

What's Great?

Multilingual nation.  Abundance of wildlife. Cheaper cost of living. Good weather.

What's Not So Great?

Frequent power outages. Traffic in the cities. Pollution.

For Whom?

Adventure lovers. Wildlife enthusiasts. Photographers. Solo Travellers.

Read More on South Africa Travel

Exchanging Money in South Africa

South Africa has a well-run financial system. ATMs can be found nearly everywhere. Credit and debit cards are also easily accepted, as are traveller's cheques. Banks and hotels will also help you exchange currency safely and quickly. However, several experts and frequent travellers say that it is better to always carry cash with you. There are a couple of national parks in the country that will only accept US dollars as their entry fee!

Nightlife in South Africa

South African nightlife is pretty amazing. The country boasts of a lot of nightclubs scattered across cities. Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Sandto and Johannesburg are the top cities to visit to enjoy the nightlife. Dance clubs, pubs, bars and more can be found at all of these cities. Electro dance music has taken South Africa by storm, so you can expect to groove to those beats at most of the clubs. International DJs are also known to host nights at several clubs.

Shopping in South Africa

South Africa can cater to all your shopping needs. There are sprawling complexes such as shopping malls in all the major cities. Apart from these commercial giants, you will also find tiny boutique stores selling everything from fine jewellery to beautiful clothes. Shops tucked away into street corners, bustling flea markets and more make up the rest of the shopping scenario in South Africa. Flea markets are great if you'd like to shop for knick-knacks and souvenirs. The country also has a lot of hawkers who will try and sell their wares on the streets, at traffic signals and in the rural areas. These hawkers sell homemade sweets, sculptures, fruits and home decor items.

Festivals of South Africa

The most popular festivals of South Africa are Knysna Oyster Festival, Ficksburg Cherry Festival, Splashy Fen Music Festival, Hermanus Whale Festival, Prince Albert Olive Festival, Robertson Wacky Wine Weekend, Cape Town Jazz Festival and Oppikoppi Bushveld Music Festival. Fun, games, music and dance fill the streets of the cities during all of these celebrations.

Hygiene in South Africa

Tap water is safe to drink. But if you're travelling in rural areas, do not drink from the taps there. Public toilets are available at several tourist spots and are maintained and cleaned regularly, by the staff.

Customs of South Africa

Do not initiate a handshake with a South African woman. It is always safer to wait for them to do so. If you are invited to somebody's home, do not go without a gift for the host such as flowers or chocolates. Always be punctual, as time is valued. Tipping is expected here.

Tips for visiting South Africa

Make sure to carry binoculars, as there are lots of beautiful and rare bird species to be spotted here. Do not walk around the city during the night, as even big groups of tourists can be harassed. Tipping is expected, especially by drivers and valet services. Note that the word 'robot' here means 'traffic signal', so do not be surprised if someone tells you to stop at the next robot.

Food of South Africa

As a result of the colonisation and immigration that took place in the country, South African cuisine contains a lot of different influences. Apart from foreign influences, the local indigenous people have also contributed towards the flavour and diversity of the cuisine. The Cape Dutch form of cuisine is very popular here, characterised by the use of chilli peppers, nutmeg, and allspice. The name of this cuisine traces its roots back to the Dutch East India Company, also explaining why so many spices are used. Cape Malay cuisine, on the other hand, includes a variety of stews, pickled fish, minced meat and spiced curries. The influence of Indians is also seen in their cuisine. They prepare a lot of Indian curries, chutneys, samosas and other sweets. Some popular South African dishes are Bunny Chow, Potjiekos, Chakalaka relish, etc. Regarding beverages, beer is most popularly consumed.

Photos of South Africa

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FAQs on South Africa

How to reach South Africa from India?

The airlines that go from India to South Africa are Kenya Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Jet Airways and Turkish Airlines.


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