South Africa has 11 official languages – including English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, and Zulu. English is however spoken and understood widely and is the lingua franca for general communication.
In South Africa, one drives on the left side of the road. The general speed limits on highways and open roads is 120 km/hour while the general speed limit in urban areas in most towns and cities in South Africa is 60 km/hour.
The electrical current in South Africa is 220/230 volts AC at 50 cycles per second. Three-pronged plugs are universal, so it is essential to take an adapter. Most hotel rooms offer 110-volt outlets for electric shavers and other small appliances.
It is customary to tip in South Africa. As a guideline you can pay taxis and waiters 10 – 15% depending on the quality of the service.
The currency for South Africa is the Rand (ZAR) where one Rand equals 100 cents. Notes are issued in the following denominations: R200, R100, R50, R20, R10;
Coins consist of R5, R2, R1, 50c 20c, 10c, 5c, with the 2c, & 1c being phased out.
Banks, bureaux de change, and automatic teller machines abound and can be found almost everywhere in the South Africa. Most of the major South African banks having branches and/or automatic teller machines in all the major towns and cities. Banking services are usually of very high standard. Banking hours are typically from 9 am to 3:30 on Mondays to Fridays and 8:30 to 11:30 am on Saturdays. The four major banks in South Africa are ABSA, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank.
All the major credit cards are accepted in South Africa although the Visa and Master Cards enjoy a greater popularity than Diners Club and American Express.
Fuel cannot be purchased with a credit card for local legal reasons, so a specific fuel card is issued by banks for this purpose.
Adults don’t need any inoculations when visiting South Africa unless they visit from areas where yellow fever is endemic. If this is the case certification is necessary to prove your inoculation status.
It is advisable for children to have Hepatitis B inoculations if they have not completed their series of injections.
Exposure to the sun
The African sun can be pretty fierce and sunscreen is recommended between the hours of 10 am and 16 pm to avoid the possibility of sunburn.
Drinking water straight from a tap is generally safe and palatable in most areas of South Africa as water is treated to be free from microorganisms. Drinking water directly from streams and taps in informal settlements is discouraged.
Although Malaria is mostly under control, it is recommended that you consult your medical professional before leaving for a trip to South Africa. Most areas of the country is malaria free and there is no need to take any oral prophylaxis.
Malaria is however endemic to certain areas to the North and East of the country, including Limpopo province, the Mpumalanga Lowveld, the Kruger National Park, and the northern regions of KwaZulu-Natal. In these areas, precaution should be taken in the form of protective clothing, especially after dark, the use of insect repellant sprays and sleeping under protective mosquito nets. These precautions should be taken irrespective of whether oral prophylaxis is taken or not.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infections in the world and precautions should always be taken when having sex.
Private hospitals and medical facilities in metropolitan areas of South Africa are of a very high standard. In the more urban areas, medical facilities could be more basic.
Security and Safety
Although crime is a factor in South Africa, you will generally avoid trouble if you obey some basic precautionary rules:
• Lock away all valuables, including passports in hotel safes
• Stay away from low lit areas at night and don’t walk in the streets alone at night
• Carry any valuables discreetly when walking in the streets – don’t attract attention to yourself by openly display expensive items or wear expensive jewelry and watches in suburban areas
• Don’t purchase expensive items like jewelry, gold or watches from any street vendors as they are usually either false or stolen
• When driving ensure that your doors are locked, that valuables are not left to view on empty seats and don’t pick up any hitchhikers
Tour Operators in South Africa
Vhupo-Tours – Specialising in township tours
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