With 11 official languages, the most diverse range of animals, climatic changes, landscapes and cultures, South Africa is quite a tourist-friendly country. Whether you're into beach-bumming in luxurious surroundings, surfing in warm waters, prospecting for diamonds or into more extreme sports, South Africa does not disappoint. To get under the skin of South Africa read, Nelson Mandela's autobiography, 'Long Walk to Freedom', watch Richard Attenborough's 'Cry Freedom' and listen to the South African national anthem, which is in four different languages.
- Capital: Pretoria
- Official Languages: Zulu, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Pedi, English, Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Swati, Venda, Ndebele
- Government: Republic
- Currency: Rand
- Time Zone: +2:00 GMT (3½ hrs behind India)
- Telephone Calling Code: 0027
When To Go
Best time to visit: February and March. The average temperature in South Africa is 16.6°C. The highest average temperature is 26°C in January and February, while the lowest average temperature is 7°C in July.
What To Do
Seafood is staple in South African diet, as are fruits and vegetables. Hake is the most common fish, while rock lobster, mussels, octopus, and cod are also popular. Potatoes, cabbage, corn, sunflower, peppers, and green beans are as common as bananas, pineapples, and mangoes.
What to eat and drink
- Braai: Barbecue
- Boerewors: Farmers sausage
- Biltong: Beef jerky
- Frikkadels: Hamburgers seasoned with nutmeg
- Komkomer sambal: Cucumber relish
- Geel Rys: Yellow rice
- Castle Lager
- Amarula liqueur
Zulu bead work, jewellery, colorful cloth, wooden and leather crafts, carved animals, traditional handicrafts, musical instruments, gold, diamonds, paintings, Amarula liqueur.
The best and easiest way to see the highlights is on an escorted tour, where all your travel, accommodation and sightseeing arrangements are well taken care of. A knowledgeable local guide brings history and culture to life as you travel in the comfort of your deluxe coach.
Unmatched selection, more included features, quality first class hotels, and vast experience make Globus the obvious choice for travelers who want more. The world leader in quality escorted travel, Globus delivers memorable vacation experiences with knowledgeable Tour Directors and local guides.
HOW TO GET THERE
Travelling to South Africa is easy and convenient. Numerous international carriers service the country, flying direct to its 3 international airports. Self-drive visitors on overland safaris in neighboring countries can access South Africa through its many border posts, some of which are open 24 hours a day.
Kenya Airways, Emirates, Air Seychelles, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways provide good connections out of India.
TRAVEL WITHIN SOUTH AFRICA
Be aware that you need to carry your driver's license on you at all times, the wearing of seatbelts is compulsory and national roads are tolled.
Taxis: Taxi services are restricted to private, metered taxis that have to be specifically called for service. Ask your hotel to assist with any necessary bookings.
South African taxis also include minibus taxis, but use these services with caution as vehicles are often unroadworthy and drivers a little careless. For an authentic South African taxi experience, take a short minibus ride with an experienced guide or local.
Rental / Car Hire: If travelling through South Africa on a self-drive journey, hire a car, 4x4, campervan or motorhome for your trip. There are car rental agencies at all airports and in major centers across the country, offering a complete range of vehicles. If you plan to go off-roading, hire a 4x4 through a specialist agency.
Buses / Coaches: South Africa boasts several coach operators that cover routes across the country. You can book a seat on the luxury coaches provided by Intercape, Greyhound and Autopax (Translux). These operators also travel into surrounding African countries, making cross-country adventures easy.
For an ultra-luxurious ride, secure a compartment on the renowned Blue Train, with its opulent décor and exquisite cuisine. Steam enthusiasts can also enjoy day and overnight trips on restored steam trains.
DO'S & DON'TS
- While the sun is shining, there are few areas in the country that are well and truly dangerous, jut use your best judgment and you should be fine (don’t go walking down any blind alleys). Once the sun sets, however, things tend to get a little stickier, so it’s best to keep to the tourist-friendly sections once the sun sets, especially in the city.
- There’s extreme poverty, admittedly, but if you’re polite and you keep moving, you’ll likely only receive open hospitality wherever you turn. This really can’t be stressed enough. Because of the number of people living well below the poverty line, South Africa does have its share of small-time crime. If you’re going to be traveling through a city, it’s best to keep your valuable stuff out of sight and secure on your person. Best not to make yourself a target.
- Gas stations can be few and far between in the country. They’re mostly located in larger settlements and cities. It’s also a good idea to keep a little gas cash on you at all times on the off chance the gas station you stop at doesn’t except credit (this is increasingly rare, but it happens). You don’t want to be sans cash when the next gas station might be more than 100 miles away.
- Watch your money. Make sure that, when switching currency you do so in a reputable hotel, foreign exchange bureau or bank. Do not display your valuables to the world; this will keep you from being the target of theft. Only carry what you need in regards to money when venturing out. Keep yourself "undercover" - do not display jewelry.
- Toilets in the more sparsely populated areas …They’re rare. Like, not even gas stations will have toilets. Just, be prepared.
- Drinking water - Drinking water in South Africa is quite safe when taken from the tap or faucet - in fact the tap water is said to be some of the safest and cleanest in the world. Avoid, however, drinking water from streams and rivers, especially in areas where there is human habitation. These may carry water-borne diseases. But if you encounter an unpolluted mountain steam, a drink should be most refreshing.
- Don’t leave town without a plug adapter. They have different plug faces in South Africa, so if you’re going to bring some electronics, then you’ll need some plug adapters or else you’re going to run out of battery power, or get charged through the nose at a local shop.
- It is customary to tip good service in South Africa. An acceptable amount is 10-15%. ... You do not have to tip if you see a service charge added to your check; however most wait staff depend on tips to make up for the lower wages they receive.