South Africa is located on the southern tip of Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Indian Ocean on the south and east. Its neighboring countries are Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. The Kingdom of Lesotho is situated in the eastern central plain of the country.
Size of South Africa
South Africa’s total land area is 1 219 912 sq km (471,011 sq mi). The country is larger than Great Britain and can fit into Texas.
Cape Town – 2,499 square kilometers
Johannesburg – 1,644 square kilometers
Durban – 2,292 square kilometers
Kruger National Park – 19,485 square kilometers
Provinces of South Africa
South Africa is divided into 9 provinces: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga. Major cities include Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Bloemfontein.
Capital of South Africa
South Africa boasts 3 capital cities however, it is being considered to have Pretoria as the capital city due to running costs. At present these are:
Bloemfontein: The location of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the highest court in non-constitutional matters. The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg is the highest court in constitutional matters.
Cape Town: The legislative capital of South Africa and home to the seat of Parliament.
Pretoria: The administrative capital of South Africa.
South Africa is a diverse country filled with a myriad of traditional origins, languages and beliefs, and is home to over 55 million people from all walks of life. The population of South Africa is divided into four ethnic groups, black Africans, whites, coloureds and Asians.
The Black Africans make up the majority of the population, which accounts for 80% of the entire countries population. Whites account for 6%, coloureds (mixed White and Black descent) make up for 11% and Asian account for 3%.
Time Zone in South Africa
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GTM), one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, 8 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time and 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time. There is no daylight saving and no time-zone changes between South Africa and its neighboring countries, or between the 9 provinces of South Africa.
Currency & Credit Cards
You will be required to declare all foreign currency in any form when entering/exiting South Africa and therefore we advise that you only change money as required. Most international airports have banks where money can be changed and facilities are usually available at reputable hotels and lodges. The unit of currency is the South African Rand (R), which is divided into 100 cents.
All major credit cards, including Visa, American Express, Diners Club and MasterCard, are accepted at most hotels, shops and restaurants. Proof of identity may be requested in some instances and it is useful to carry a passport or some form of photo identification at all times.
Tipping or Gratuities
In South Africa it is customary to tip for good service. Porters usually receive R5 per item; taxis receive 10% of the bill, and waiters and waitresses in restaurants 10-15%.
Plugs & Electrical power
Electricity in South Africa runs on 220/230V, 50Hz AC and the sockets are adapted to take round or flat pinned plugs. Most hotel rooms have sockets for 110V electric razors. Plugs have 3 round pins, with some plugs having 2 smaller pins. An adaptor can be purchased. Please keep in mind that for the sake of authenticity, some bush camps may not even have electricity.
What type of accommodation is available
A wide variety of accommodation can be found, from rustic camping to five-star hotels to guesthouses, game lodges, “bed and breakfasts” and safari camps. In the cities there are also award-winning boutique hotels and spa resorts. It is strongly recommended that you reserve all your accommodation as far in advance as possible.
Best time to visit
Summer is from October to April and winter is from May to August. Summers tend to be quite hot, with daytime temperatures hovering around 30ºC (86ºF). For beach holidays and bird watching, summer tends to be the preferred time to visit. Winter is the best time for game viewing, as temperatures are lower, wildlife tends to concentrate in areas where water is available and the bush is less dense, improving visibility. Winter temperatures during the day are around 15ºC (59ºF) and night time temperatures can fall to as low as 0º (32ºF). Snowfalls are rare but occasionally occur on the higher mountains.
The check in luggage limits on the regional commercial flights is 20 kg pp (44 lbs per person) plus you are allowed 1 carry-on bag. (South African Airways, British Airways, Nationwide Airlines, Kulula etc) Unless otherwise specified, if your itinerary involves any light aircraft transfers in Botswana, Namibia or South Africa, there is a limit of 15 – 20 kg (44 lbs) per person. This 20 kg includes camera bag and equipment. Please ensure the bag is a soft carry-all (instead of a rigid suitcase).
South Africans drive on the left and give way to the right. Drivers must have a valid driver’s licence, with photo, or an international driver’s permit. Seat belts are mandatory. Driving in South Africa is easy to adapt to, with sign posting in English and rental cars easily available in all major cities. There are a number of toll roads in South Africa that are clearly indicated well before reaching the toll stations, where payment may be made at an attended booth. Overtaking on the inside is not illegal in South Africa and is a common practice. When changing lanes be aware of cars on the inside. In general, speed limits are 120 km/h (75 miles) on freeways and 60 km/h (37 miles) in towns and cities. When outside major towns and cities please be aware of potholes in some areas.
Health / Medical
This will depend on your trip destinations. Speak to your travel agent or doctor to find out if vaccinations are required for the countries you will be visiting. If you’re taking medication or suffer from any form of illness, ensure you have an adequate supply of medication before departing for your holiday. For more information, visit your country’s travel health and advice bureau website.
Please consult your doctor for advice on malaria precautions before travel to South Africa.
It is very important that you drink plenty of water especially if you travel to Africa during the warmer months. Dehydration is possibly the single biggest cause of ill health on an Africa safari. Tap water is safe to drink in South Africa but bottled mineral water is available for purchase.
We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance for peace of mind before and during your trip. It’s important that you protect yourself in case of trip cancellations, baggage delays or loss of baggage, and medical expenses.
You are responsible for obtaining all necessary visas prior to the departure of your trip. Depending on your nationality, you may need visas to enter certain countries included on your trip. Obtaining visas can take up to six weeks prior to your departure. It is strongly advised that you consult your travel agent and the local Consulate or Embassy of the country you are visiting well in advance to determine which visas they require.