Check validity of your passport and if you need visas. Check your flight details & onward connections and return flights.
Make sure you have travel and medical insurance - and what it covers. If you are planning adventure activities, you must check it covers you for an accident and read the fine print carefully!
Visitors from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Lichtenstein, Singapore, Switzerland or the United States, do not need a visa for a holiday visit. For more details contact the nearest South African embassy.
Light, summer-weight clothes are fine but with a warm jacket, socks, good shoes and a rain jacket, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses too. If your safari takes you to a bush in the malaria area, do carry insect repellent, cool shirt for sun, long-sleeved shirt, cool long pants for evenings. Good walking shoes, a bandanna & a cotton scarf.
Make copies of your important documents like passports, and memorize credit card numbers, etc. In the event of loss of your baggage, this is very helpful.
Electricity is 220 volts, so choose appropriate hairdryers or other appliances.
If you have been prescribed any drugs, bring a supply and a spare prescription. If you wear contact lenses, consider using disposables for a short holiday, especially if you're planning to river raft, dive or such. Also bring spectacles, as the dry dusty environment of some game farms may irritate your eyes.
You are allowed duty-free gifts and souvenirs to the total value of R1, 250 plus 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250 grams of tobacco, 2 litres of wine, 1 litre of other alcoholic beverages, 50ml of perfume into South Africa without incurring duties. Thereafter duty is levied at 20%. You may not import or export more than R200 in South African banknotes. The alcohol and tobacco allowance applies only to people over 18.
Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied on most goods and services but, as a foreign national, you can reclaim VAT on things you bought to take with you unused. You must do it before embarking on your flight home.
The unit of currency is the Rand, divided into 100 cents. Coins come in denominations of 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5, and notes in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. All currency must be declared on entry.
Traveler's cheque of major currencies is accepted in almost every hotel. All major credit cards can be used in South Africa. Banks are open from about 9am to 3.30pm but those at the airports adjust their business hours to accommodate all international flights.
In restaurants, you should pay 10% of the bill for good service and up to 20% for excellent.
It is customary to tip Hotel porters a few rand per bag and the housekeeping staff as well.
In game lodges usually a ranger may be tipped 10% of the total bill. Another 10% may be for disbursing among the invisible staff - gardeners, cleaners, chefs etc.
South Africa is a multi party democracy with an independent judiciary and a free and diverse press. It has one of the most progressive constitutions, which protects both citizens and visitors.
It is a country with 43 million people, with 77% black, 11% white and 9% "colored"- comprising people of mixed African, Asian and white descent. Just over half the population lives in the cities.
The country straddles 1.2 million square kilometers - a few European countries added together. From Johannesburg in the north to Cape Town in the south, it is a two day drive with a landscape ranging from lush green valleys to semi-desert.
ohannesburg is a city of skyscrapers, which sprawls wider than London or New York. The lights work, the water flows, there are multi-lane highways and indeed traffic jams too!
An inexpensive destination, currently exchange rate favors visitors. A pound can buy one hamburger & a can of Coke or a beer. Ten dollars can buy you four takeaway meals at KFC or Mac Donald's
Banks and Post offices open from about 0830 Hrs to about 1530Hrs weekdays and on Saturday mornings. Most offices operate from Monday to Friday, 0800 Hrs -1700 Hrs. Supermarkets and shops in the malls are open from around 0900 Hrs to 1800 Hrs in Johannesburg, and later at the coast.
There may be exceptions to all of the above in places to accommodate visitors.
Johannesburg, the country's commercial capital, is mild all year round, but can get cool at night. Durban, the biggest port, is hot and sometimes humid, a surfing paradise. And in Cape Town, where the tourists flock to admire one of the world's most spectacular settings, the weather is usually warm and unpredictable.
You need yellow fever vaccinations only if you will be traveling through a yellow fever-endemic area (like West Africa) before entering the country.
You can bring your cell phone with international roaming before you leave home if your phone operates on GSM system. You can rent a phone at the airport on arrival, and use a pay-as-you-go card.