South Africa is the most developed country and Africa’s second largest African country (after Nigeria) and has several major trading centers (Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, etc.). South Africa is probably best known for its turbulent history under the apartheid regime. In this context, Nelson Mandela, who led the country to democracy in 1994, is an international key person. As an introduction to the African continent, South Africa is very well suited – and many (probably rightly) claim that the country often does not have much more to do with “true Africa” as a result of its development and, above all, the influence of Western countries. However, there are also some places that have not yet been particularly covered by Westernization (for example the Eastern Cape). The country is touristically well to very well developed and has a lot of popular and worth seeing attractions. With the Kruger National Park, it houses one of the largest Big 5 national parks in Africa. Swaziland, the Johannesburg area (the Cradle of Man), the East Coast (especially Coffee Bay), the world-famous Garden Route, as well as the incredibly versatile Western Cape with its Cape Town landmark offer a variety of travel options and activities. These range from water sports, mountain sports, animal observation, cultural activities to wine tours, as well as places with an often historical character, which can be dated back to the colonial era. The main languages are English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa – the vast majority of the people can speak English. Economically, the country is primaer a service country. With a multitude of innovative companies, which are mostly focused on the urban areas.
Good to Know
1.22 million km2
Approx. 56 million
Cape Town (parliamentary capital), Pretoria (presidential seat), Bloemfontein (judicial capital)
ZAR - 1 USD about 16 South African Rand (ZAR)
Tourism, mining (world's largest platinum producer), gold, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, commercial ship repair
220 / 230V - Type M (as in India), adapter to buy on the spot
Important telephone numbers
Police and fire brigade 10111, first aid and ambulance 10177 and 112 (mobile phone)
October to April is optimal, as it is not too wet. High summer is from December to February
Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Cholera, Yellow Fever, Rabies, and Influenza
Prepare Your Trip
In the city areas, safety aspects are still to be considered. Due to the partial extreme differences between rich and poor, South Africa still has problems with crime. As a tourist it’s not recommended to walk alone during the night, apart from inner city areas that are partoled by security guards.
In addition to the standard vaccinations we recommend a precaution against hepatitis A, typhoid and yellow fever (should you be passing through a country within the yellow fever risk area before entering South Africa). Precautions for Malaria only have to be taken when visiting the Kruger National Park.
Most European countries and various other countries you can find about in the official visa exempt list of the Republic of South Africa don’t have to apply for a visa upfront. They will be allowed into the country for 90 days upon waving a return ticket. You can therefore enter South Africa free of charge if your country is on the exempt list.
If you want to get the money we recommend here or here. Best prices you get when you book on unusual days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) and during unusual times (such as during the night). However, you can always use your own booking agent. We will gladly book your flights upon request. Please notify us about your needs in your booking email as this will result in additional costs of $50 per person.
ATMs are widely available. Expect to pay conversion fees. We recommend First National Bank as they charge no extra fees. Depending on your credit institute you will have to pay home country fees. Once in South Africa you will pay with South African Rand. Check the exchange rate before you come. Also expect to be overcharged occasionally. However there is no Mulungu premium to be paid so be aware and check what others pay.
Make sure you get a travel insurance before you start your trip. However there are good private hospitals in the popular tourist areas of South Africa. Rest assured you don’t need any special insurance apart from your usual travel insurance e.g. here.