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Travel Tips
A visa is required upon entering South Africa. Travel agents can provide further information on how they can be obtained. Upon arrival, you must be able to prove that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay. You must also have a valid return ticket. Visa inquiries can be directed to the Department of Home Affairs: +27 12 314 8911

Arrange and pack your traveller's insurance to include:

  • Protection against trip cancellation or interruption for unexpected medical reasons.
  • Medical cover for illness or injury while abroad.
  • Emergency medical evacuation benefits.
  • Protection against baggage loss, theft or damage.
  • 24-hr assistance anywhere in the world.

Your Health and Welfare:

  • Your medical travel insurance will be linked to one of the major private clinics in the event of an emergency. Have the emergency number readily available.
  • Your South African travel guide will be able to direct you in the necessary direction if need arises.
  • Your Satour registered guide is a qualified First Aid Helper.
  • Netcare Emergency. 082 911
  • Western Cape Paramedic Service. 0800 225599 or (021) 551 6823
  • Medics Emergency. (021) 511 1111
  • MRI (Medical Rescue International). 0800 111990
  • General Ambulance. 10177
  • Automobile Association Emergency. 0800 010101
  • Using a MTN Cellphone. 112
  • Using a Vodacom Cellphone. 147

South African Tourism Info & Safety Call Line:

  • If you're a tourist in South Africa, travel information can be obtained at a one-stop national call centre waiting to assist you. The Tourism Information and Safety Call Line - 083 123 2345 - is a partnership between Engen and South African Tourism and can handle up to 3 000 calls a month. The centre was launched in February 2003 and is located in Engen Court, Foreshore, Cape Town. The line is a 24-hour operation manned by four people. The line is linked to the national tourism database, which has up-to date information on all services and products - accommodation, transport, activities, events and contacts.

Safety:

  • Take the precautions you would in any major city. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, cameras and leaving belongings unattended.
  • Important: In South Africa we drive on the left hand side of the road. Remember this when you want to cross a road.
  • When in South Africa, travel guides can be obtained at local stationary shops like the CNA, Exclusive Books etc.
  • Police Tourist Support Unit (07:30 - 23:00). Tel nr. (021) 421 5115/6
  • 24-hour Emergency Police Unit. Tel nr. 10111

Water:

  • Tap water is of highest quality.

Time Zones:

  • South African time is set at two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time or Universal Standard Time, one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time and seven hours ahead of USA's Eastern Standard Winter Time. There are no time zone differences in South Africa.

Currency in South Africa: travel information regarding finance

  • Currency: The South African unit of currency is the Rand, indicated by the letter 'R' before the amount. ('rand' is short for 'Witwatersrand', Gauteng's gold-bearing reef). Bank notes are issued in R10 (Green, White rhinoceros), R20 (Brown, African Elephant), R50 (Red, Lion), R100 (Purple-Blue, Buffalo) and R200 (Ocre, Leopard) denominations. The rand is divided into 100 cents ( c ).
  • Foreign exchange: Exchange facilities can be found at the airport, in many banks and bigger shopping malls. Automatic Teller Machines are widely available and will accept most international bank and credit cards
  • When in South Africa, travel guides can be obtained at local stationary shops like the CNA, Exclusive Books etc.
  • Credit cards: South Africa has a modern and sophisticated banking and commercial system, and most shops and hotels will accept credit cards. Petrol (gas) can not be purchased with a credit card but with cash or a separate petrol card.
  • Banking hours: Week day banking hours are from 09h00 to 15h30 and on Saturdays from 09h00 to 11h00. All airports with international arrivals and departures have special banking facilities for international passengers.
  • VAT: South Africa has adopted a Value Added Tax system of 14% on purchases and services. If you area foreign visitor to South Africa, you can reclaim your VAT on purchases if you have spent more than R250. This is usually done at the VAT office at the Airport before checking in on departure. Leave yourself some time to do this - you will need your original tax invoices and your passport, and will need to fill in a form and have the goods you bought available for inspection.
  • Tipping: Many waiters and waitresses are university students who rely on tips to pay their wages. A 10% tip is the norm although it is your decision on how to reward good or not reward bad service. Tables of over eight usually have an automatic 10% service charge added to their bill. A tip of R2 per piece of luggage is acceptable to porters in hotels and at airports.
  • Exchange Rates: Check the financials, generally very favourable for international travellers.

Business Hours:

  • Shopping and business hours: Most shops in the city centre and suburbs open between 08h00 and17h00 to 17h30. Shops in some major malls may open at 09h00 and close at 21h00 or later even on Sundays and most public holidays. Government agencies still keep to traditional weekday only hours. Moslem-owned businesses close at noon on Fridays and re-open at 13h00.

Weather and Seasons:

  • South Africa's average number of hours of sunshine each day is amongst the highest in the world: 8,5 compared with 3,8 in London, 6,4 in Rome and 6,9 in New York.
  • Our annual average rainfall is only 464 mm, against a world average of 857 mm. South Africa is thus largely a dry country. Approximately 31% of its area records a higher than 600 mm rainfall per year with some areas as high as 2500 mm per year.
  • Midsummer occurs in December and January, midwinter in June and July. The climate ranges from Mediterranean in the Western Cape to subtropical on the KwaZulu-Natal coast and in the Northern and Eastern parts of South Africa. On the Highveld, there is sunshine all year round. Summers are hot with thunder; winters bright, dry and cold. At the Cape the summers and early autumn months from January to May are best; winters can be wet and chilly. Most tourists visit Cape Town during our long summer from November to February. A Mediterranean climate with little rain, 11 hours a day sunshine or more and long sunny evenings sets a party mood. The Californian weather explains why Cape Town has become a favoured site for foreign film and TV crews escaping from the Northern Hemisphere winter. In KwaZulu Natal summers are hot and humid with thunder at sea level. June to August is the best months for game viewing.
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Telephones and Communication:

  • If you're visiting from abroad, you can hire a cell-phone (mobile phone) at the airport or in other major centres. You'll need to leave a substantial credit card deposit. Some international mobiles will work here if you have them add a local Sim Card. Cellphone numbers are dialled without the area codes.
  • Some blue public phones work on coins (50c and R1 coins are best) while green public phones work on local Telkom phone cards, which you can purchase in a variety of shops and post offices. If you are an international traveller, it's worth buying one at entry. Land-line numbers starts with a three digit area code (including the zero) followed by the number.
  • Post from South Africa is remarkably reasonable and there are local courier companies who can help you ship your purchases home and deal with formalities.
  • Faxes are widely available.
  • The internet and e-mail facilities are widely available.
  • For directory enquiries phone 1023.

Electricity:

  • 220/230V AC at 50 Hz. plugs with round pins.
Signature Tours operate throughout South Africa, travel guide and transport services can easily be arranged - contact us today.

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Mike, UK
Many thanks for sending us this Newsletter. The comments and photos brought back wonderful memories of the splendid guided tour that we enjoyed so much. In retrospect we came to realise that we did just the right thing in having a fully escorted tour as it gave us the unique opportunity see your beautiful country with a maximum focus of direction and a minimum of risk.

We are advising friends to do likewise when they come to South Africa.
I hope all goes well with you.

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