South Africa

Yearly Weather

South Africa has a warm temperate climate making it a popular spot for foreign visitors. South Africa is a relatively dry country and is well known for its sunshine. With an average annual rainfall of only 464mm (18.2 in), the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter.

Best time of the year to travel to South Africa depends on what you want to do. The flowers are at their best in August and September. The best time for game viewing is in the late spring months of September and October. The Southern Right Whales are off the coasts from about mid-June to the end of October.

Top Tours

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    South Africa: A Safari Dream
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    South Africa: Cape Town with Safari
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    South Africa: Cultures and Wildlife of South Africa
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    South Africa: Highlights of South Africa and Swaziland with Safari
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    South Africa: Traditional Cultural Tour
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Travel Facts

VISAS & PASSPORT

Your passport must be valid for at least 30 days after your intended date of departure from South Africa.

South African law requires travelers to have two fully blank visa pages. Blank “endorsement” pages are not sufficient. The blank pages must be “visa” pages. All travelers should have at least two fully blank passport visa pages upon each arrival in South Africa, including following trips to neighboring countries.

Travelers without the requisite blank visa pages in their passports will be refused entry into South Africa, fined, and returned to their point of origin at their own expense.

As a general precaution, all travelers should carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from their passport.

U.S. citizen visitors to South Africa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism, short business meetings, or in transit do not require visas in advance. Visitor visas will be issued at the port of entry in South Africa. Applications to extend visitor visas may be submitted for a single 90-day extension while in South Africa and must be submitted at least 60 days prior to the expiry of the current visa. Additional extensions will not be accepted unless the visitor is in need of emergency life-saving medical treatment for longer than three months, or is an accompanying spouse or child of a holder of a business or work visa, who wishes to apply for a study or work visa.

ENTRY REQUIREMENT

South Africa requires a valid yellow fever certificate from all foreign visitors and citizens over 1 year of age traveling from an infected area or having been in transit through infected areas.

ELECTRICITY

The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ.

Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins. If an adaptor is called for, consider bringing one with you, although they can be purchased locally.

US-made appliances may need a transformer. (Bring an All in One adapter with you!)

Most hotel rooms have 110-volt outlets for electric shavers and appliances.

HEALTH

Drinking water in South Africa is safe to drink and cook with when taken from taps in urban areas. Not all tap water in rural areas is safe for consumption, so take precautions if necessary.
Tap water undergoes treatment which ensures it is free of harmful micro-organisms and contaminants. In some areas, South African drinking water is rich in minerals and may involve a bit of getting used to.

CLOTHING

For the summers, bring clothes that are cool, light and comfortable because summer temperatures can get well into the 30-degree range in some areas.

Bring an umbrella or raincoat during summer as this is when most of the country gets its rain.

The winters are generally mild, comparing favorably with European summers. But they do get some days when temperatures dive, especially in high-lying areas such as the Drakensberg, so be prepared with jerseys and jackets. Cape Town gets its rain during the winter season so it’s advisable to bring rain gear along.

Always bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock as the sun can be strong even in the winter months.

Walking shoes are a good idea all year-round, with warm socks in the winter.

For game viewing, a couple of neutral-toned items will be useful, but there’s no need to go overboard. A good pair of walking shoes is also advisable.

SAFETY

South African safety precautions are not unlike those recommended when traveling to other countries and major cities. More common sense than hard and fast measures, safety precautions in South Africa mostly require vigilance on behalf of the traveler and sound travel preparation.

Important South African safety advice includes avoiding deserted areas at night; securing valuables such as photographic equipment and wallets on your person; and leaving expensive, flashy jewelry in your hotel safe while out and about.

Other safety precautions you may want to consider include:

Locking valuables and luggage away in the car boot while traveling (never leave handbags or cameras on car seats)

Being vigilant of your luggage and other belongings (never leave them unattended).

Storing valuables in your hotel safe.

Limit the amount of money you carry on your person. Also, don’t accept offers of assistance at ATMs and keep your pin numbers secure.

When using a credit card in restaurants, ask the waiter to bring a portable credit card machine to your table. Report stolen or lost cards immediately.

In rural areas, watch out for wild or farm animals – road signage will warn you when you need to take care.

If you intend traveling to malaria areas, take the necessary prophylaxis before you leave home.

CURRENCY

The currency of South Africa consists of banknotes and coin and is denoted in Rand (R) and Cents (c). It is managed by the Bank as prescribed in schedule 2 of the South African Reserve Bank Act 90 of 1989.

TIPPING

Restaurants

It is expected for diners to tip a standard 10-15 percent of the bill in both bars and restaurants. Similar to Canada, low-paid wait staff rely on gratuities as part of their income.

Our suggestions for daily tipping are the following:

Drivers: $ 2.00 to $ 5.00

Tour Guide: $ 10.00 to $ 20.00

House Keepers: $ 2.00

Porters: $ 1.00 per luggage