SOUTH AFRICA FAQ`S
What is South Africa known for?
The country is famous for its Table Mountain, Kruger National Park, Cape Town, among other interest things. Tremendously rich in minerals and mines, South Africa is considered a leader in the world with almost 90 percent of all the platinum metals on planet earth and about 41 percent of all the gold in the world.
Contrary to the beliefs of some outsiders, South Africa is not devastatingly poor with an unstable government. Although some rural parts of South Africa remain among the poorest and the least developed parts of the world and poverty in certain areas is common. The government is stable, although corruption has become prevalent in certain areas.
A trip to Africa offers the classic African scenery and creatures, along with some of the world`s most luxurious private game reserves and lodges. Wildlife lovers come here from all corners of the earth in search of the `Big Five` - lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino, and elephant.
What are the best places to visit in South Africa?
Dragon-backed mountain ranges, Coral reefs, shark dives, white-water rafting, and stunning golden-sand beaches are just some of South Africa`s many attractions. Traveling around this vast country and exploring the lively cities, visitors can discover the nation`s tumultuous history: in Cape Town, one of the world`s most beautiful cities; in Johannesburg, the city of gold offers an energetic cosmopolitan vibe; The `Friendly City` of Port Elizabeth sits along the picturesque coastline on Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape of South Africa; the subtropical lush Hazyview is a great base to explore safari expeditions and the gateway to the magnificent Kruger National Park; and the charming town of Franschhoek is known as the `Valley of Vines` layered with acres of centuries-old vineyards.
When is the best time to visit South Africa?
The best time to visit South Africa is from May to September. Winter mornings and nights are cold. May and September are wonderful because it is less cold and, especially in September, the wildlife viewing is excellent. South Africa makes a year-round destination.
Being in the southern hemisphere, South Africa`s seasons are the opposite of European seasons. The climate is seasonal, but the country enjoys at least seven months of sunshine, with temperatures dropping in the winter months of May to August. April and May are the most temperate months. Temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit are very common in summer, and frequently reach over 100 in the lower Orange River Valley and the Mpumalanga Lowveld. For more information, check out: Best Time to Visit South Africa.
How many days should I spend in South Africa?
We recommend 7-10 days based on what you want to see and do. We offer flexible vacation packages so you can select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities. We suggest a minimum of 3 nights in larger cities.
What is the best way to get around South Africa?
South Africa`s excellent infrastructure and popularity as a travel destination make it easy to navigate. The country`s most iconic spots — Kruger National Park and the city of Cape Town — are more than 1,100 miles apart, so if your visit includes these two destinations, you should expect to make at least one long-distance trip (a 2.5-hour flight or 20-hour drive). Flights, trains and buses are all viable options, with varying price points and travel times.
By Plane: With 15 regional airports around South Africa, internal flights is a great option, though prices can run high. Most in-country routes are operated by SAA or its affiliates. If you book in advance, you can often times find deals, particularly from Joburg to Cape Town.
By Car: The roads in South Africa are clearly marked and well-maintained, which allows to be relatively easy. Renting a car is a great way to get around, giving you the greatest flexibility, including the ability to visit wildlife reserves and national parks without joining a tour.
Driving is on the right side of the road, making it somewhat challenging for American drivers. Local drivers can also be very aggressive, so stay alert. For example, if you see a car from the opposite direction overtaking another vehicle, you are expected to go into the shoulder lane to allow them to pass. The driver will flash a quick `thank you` with his or her high beams. On highways, be wary of pedestrians walking on the road, and in rural areas watch for animals.
Most major rental companies (including Hertz, Europcar and Budget) are found in South Africa. They`ll often let you pick up and drop off at different locations, even in different countries, for an extra cost. Most rental cars have manual transmission. If you can only drive automatic, you`ll likely pay more for the privilege. Regardless of your plans, booking in advance will almost always give you better rates and more options.
By Train: Often the slowest transportation option, trains in South Africa are less expensive than flights and offer more comfort than buses. For those who have the time, they`re also a wonderful way to experience the country`s vast openness.
Shosholoza Meyl Railways provides service between the country`s major cities. In tourist class, sleeper accommodations are for two to four people with bathrooms and showers shared by each car.
By Bus: All but the most rural parts of the country can be reached by bus using one of the three main companies: Intercape, Greyhound and Translux. Buses in South Africa are affordable and safe, and they usually have air conditioning and an onboard toilet. Note that Intercape “promotes the Christian faith” on its buses, which may involve a prayer at the start of the journey, as well as Christian music and religious movies.
Tickets can be bought directly through each company or from the national booking agency Computicket.
What is the currency of Africa?
The official units of currency in South Africa are the Rand (R or ZAR), one Rand is made up of 100 cents. US dollars are not accepted; make sure to exchange your dollars for Rand before or upon entering South Africa.
South Africa charges a VAT (value added tax) of 14% on goods and services. Vistors can reclaim VAT on their purchases of more than R250, this process is handled at the VAT refund offices at the Cape Town International Airport. You will need your original tax invoice/receipt and your passport. Visit www.taxrefunds.co.za for more information.
Tipping in South Africa is customary at most establishments in the service industry. 10% - 15% of your total bill is generally expected. For more detailed information, consult our guide by clicking here Tipping in South Africa.
Do people speak English in Africa?
The official languages spoken in South Africa are English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa. English is widely spoken in most of the service industries including hotels, restaurants, shops, and transportation. We recommend you get a good English - South African guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me and numbers 1 - 10.