South Africa’s three major international airports are OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg); Cape Town International Airport (Cape Town); and King Shaka International Airport (Durban). There are also many regional airports, including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Mbombela (Nelspruit).
Most car rental companies are represented at South Africa's main airports and in most city centres. Vehicles may generally be picked up at one centre and dropped off at a branch in another centre, subject to a fee. It is advisable to take out the insurance offered by the vehicle rental companies, unless you have specific cover in place. All major credit cards are accepted.
South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR) and comes in a range of coins (R1 = 100 cents) and note denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200.
Climate & Seasons
South Africa is known for its multitude of warm sunny days, hence the title, ‘Sunny South Africa’. Most of the nine provinces have summer rainfall, except for the Western Cape, which experiences winter rainfall. The high-lying areas, such as the Drakensberg mountains in the interior of Kwa-Zulu Natal, can be chilly in winter.
Spring: September to November // Summer: December to February // Autumn: March to May // Winter: June to August
South Africa has a well-developed communications infrastructure. A number of cellphone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas although access to free Wi-Fi is still limited. Most hotels and lodges offer a guest computer of access to Wi-FI which may be a chargeable service.
The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. With a few exceptions (in deep rural areas), electricity is available almost everywhere.
There are nine provinces in South Africa, namely: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape.
South Africa is a true Rainbow Nation with 11 official languages, namely: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. Although less than a quarter of the population has English as their mother tongue, English is the language most widely understood and generally the second language of the majority of South Africans.
About 80% of South Africa's population is Christian. Other major religious groups include Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. The country's Constitution guarantees freedom of worship.
Use common sense and take basic safety precautions. Keep valuables locked away and don’t wear expensive watches or jewellery, flash expensive cameras, or walk in deserted areas. Keep car doors and windows locked at all times. If in doubt, ask a guide or at your accommodation for safety guidelines.
Smoking is banned in public places, but there are usually designated areas where people can smoke. Under-18s may not enter a designated smoking area or buy cigarettes.
Tips and tipping
As a rough guide the customary tip for a waiter in a restaurant is between 10% to 15% and about USD10 (or equivalent) per day to a game ranger. However, the tip amount is a personal decision and should be based on whether the service exceeded your expectations.
South Africa has an extensive road infrastructure including national highways and secondary roads. Speed limits are set at 120km/h on highways; 100km/h on secondary roads; and 60km/h in urban areas. Most roads are in good condition, but there are exceptions especially in more rural parts of the country. Keep left, pass right is the general law of the road. South Africans drive on the left-hand side of the road, and the cars – rental cars included – are therefore right-hand drive vehicles, the gear shift being operated with the left hand. All distances, speed limits (and speedometers) are marked in kilometres. Wearing of seat belts is compulsory. Using hand-held phones while driving is against the law.
There are rail connections between the main centres, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town.
In urban areas tap water is usually of high quality and safe to drink. It’s quite normal to have ice in drinks in South Africa. However, when travelling to remote rural areas and the bush you should buy bottled water.