South Africa General Information


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Destination Facts

Full Name:

The Republic of South Africa

Capital City:

Pretoria (official); Bloemfontein (judicial) and Cape Town (legislative).




1,233,404 square kilometers

Language Spoken

Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, Tswana, Sotho, Southern, Swati, South Ndebele


Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and traditional religions


South Africa Transport

Coming and Going

Although about 30 airlines now fly to South Africa, it still isn't exactly a hub of international travel and the fares reflect that. Johannesburg International Airport remains the main international airport, but there are an increasing number of flights to Cape Town and a few to Durban. There's an airport departure tax of 6.00 for domestic flights, 10.00 for flights to regional (African) countries and 30.00 for other international flights. The tax is usually included in the ticket price.

Getting About

South Africa is geared towards travel by private car, with some very good highways but limited and expensive public transport. If you want to cover a lot of the country in a short time, hiring or buying a car might be necessary. If you don't have much money but have time to spare, you might organize lifts with fellow travelers and, if you don't mind a modicum of discomfort, there's an extensive network of minibus taxis, buses and trains.

Two major national bus operators cover the main routes and will usually be pretty comfortable. The hop-on hop-off Baz Bus is cheap and convenient for backpackers.

South Africa Weather 

South Africa has been favored by nature with one of the most temperate climates on the African continent, and plenty of sunny, dry days. The main factors influencing conditions are altitude and the surrounding oceans. Basically, the farther east you go, the more handy your rain-gear becomes, but there are also damp pockets in the south-west, particularly around Cape Town.

The coast north from the Cape becomes progressively drier and hotter, culminating in the desert region just south of Namibia. Along the south coast the weather is temperate, but the east coast becomes increasingly tropical the further north you go. When it gets too sticky, head for the highlands, which are pleasant even in summer. The north-eastern hump gets very hot and there are spectacular storms there in summer. In winter the days are sunny and warm.

Money Matters

Our Currency

South African currency works on the decimal system 1 Rand equaling 100 cents. - Denomination of Rand notes R200, R100, R50, R20, Rl0
Denomination of coins R5, R2, R1, 50, 20, 10, 5 cents
We suggest utilising credit cards as much as possible to pay for services and facilities once here. There is an excellent network of ATM's throughout the country that are linked internationally. Some venues will accept US$ although the rate of exchange may not be controlled.
Travelers cheques in SA Rand are advisable as these are then accepted locally at face value. Available in many countries.

Our Airlines
Air Travel
The country's major point of entry is Johannesburg's International Airport, which also serves Pretoria.  Durban and Cape Town airports also have International status.
Domestic services:
Among domestic centres served by South African Airways are, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, George, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Upington. Nationwide and SA Airlink, and other small airlines serve the lesser towns and main tourist destinations.
Air charter services (including helicopter hire) are widely available.

Our Roads
Road Travel
South Africa has an extensive and well-signposted road network comprising some 200,000 kilometers (124,280 miles) of national and provincial highways. Surfaces are generally in very good condition, though the going can be a bit rugged in the more remote and hilly country areas.

Driver's license: You must carry this with you at all times. Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland licenses are valid in South Africa. So too are other foreign licenses, provided they carry a photograph and are either printed in English or accompanied by an English-language certificate of authenticity. Alternatively, obtain an International Driving Permit before your departure.

Road rules and signs:
In South Africa, one drives on the left. The general speed limit on national highways, urban freeways and other major routes is 120 km/h (75 mph), that on secondary (rural) roads is 100 km/h (60 mph), and in built-up areas 60 km/h (35 mph) unless otherwise indicated.
Main roads are identified by colour and number rather than by name. Using a good map (one which incorporates the route marker system), the visitor should have little difficulty in finding his/her way around city and country

South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where the Municipal tap water is palatable and perfectly safe to drink. Check if the tap water is suitable to drink at the more remote Lodges. Bottled water is readily available in shops, lodges and hotels. Water in streams and rivers could be polluted and Bilharzia is commonly found in rivers and streams on the northern and eastern regions of the country. Bilharzia is not present in the sea or in swimming pools.

Generally, urban power systems are 220/230 volts AC at 50 cycles a second. Plugs are 5-amp 2-pin or 15amp 3-pin (round pins). Not all electric shavers will fit hotel and game-park plug points, visitors should seek advice about adaptors from a local electrical supplier. Generally the 110V video chargers work safely on the 220V supply. Television is on the PAL system

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