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Tips and travel information South Africa.

Everything you need to know about South Africa, the country in the Cape.

time zone

In Central European Summer Time, Germany and South Africa have the same time. During our winter (normal time), South Africa is one hour ahead of us (12:00 in Cape Town = 11:00 in Berlin).

languages

Since the end of apartheid, a total of 11 languages have been officially recognized: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, Siswati, Isindebele, Sesotho, Northern Sotho, Xitsonga, Setswana, Tshivenda and isiXhosa. With English, you can easily get by anywhere. German is occasionally understood — particularly in the Cape Town area. If you want to discover South Africa on your own, we recommend that you have at least a basic knowledge of English.

Traveling

The public Local and long-distance transport is not comparable with that of Europe. There are hardly any passenger trains that travel between cities. In the areas of Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria) and Cape Town, there is a system of local trains, but we strongly advise against using them. The Gautrain, South Africa's first high-speed train, runs between Johannesburg and O.R. Tambo International Airport, as well as to Pretoria. It is considered safe and recommended to use. taxis They exist in cities. They generally have to be ordered or you can get on at taxi stands. Private transfer operators, who can also be called by your hotel, are often better (but also a bit more expensive). The transport service provider Uber is also strongly represented and is often used. In all cases, you should inquire locally for the best local solutions.


Motoring

There is left-hand traffic in South Africa. In principle, the road system in South Africa is well developed. About a third of all roads are asphalted, including all main roads. Apart from national parks and game reserves, almost all routes used for tourism are paved, so that a four-wheel drive is generally not necessary. However, it is advisable to choose a more robust vehicle (e.g. a 2x4 off-road vehicle or an SUV) as a rental car. This definitely makes driving a car more relaxed and even as a driver, you don't always have to just stare at the road conditions in front of you. On some routes, there are problems with potholes (“potholes”). You should drive extremely carefully here, especially when it rains.

There are a wide variety of road types in South Africa, ranging from ten-lane motorways to dirt roads that have an official number. National roads (N) are often developed as multi-lane motorways in urban regions, but in rural areas they are often only two-lane, similar to our federal roads. Her condition is generally very good. In some regions, they are subject to tolls (“Toll Road” — T). In urban areas, there are many gas stations that are often open 24 hours and also accept credit cards. In rural regions, this network is becoming significantly thinner and you should pay attention to your gas levels and refuel earlier than you might be used to. Here, gas stations often have limited opening hours and you often have to pay in cash. Refueling is usually carried out by personnel, who often also clean windows and check air pressure and oil if necessary. The gas station attendant is very happy to receive a few marginal coins.

You should plan your routes so that you can reach your stage destination while still bright. We do not recommend driving at night. The roads and vehicles are often poorly lit and pasture and wild animals often roam around on the roads. You should also avoid driving through townships and taking hitchhikers along. As in some other countries, there is no right to left right of way rule. 4-way stop junctions are popular. All arriving vehicles stop and set off again in the order they arrived. That works wonderfully!

The speed limits — unless otherwise stated — are 60 km/h in urban areas, 100 km/h on country roads and 120 km/h on motorways and marked national roads. There are frequent speed traps and checkpoints, so please be sure to comply with the limits. Should you be pulled over and asked to pay a speeding ticket directly in cash, do not do so. The police are not authorized to accept cash or demand immediate payment. Insist on receiving an official ticket ('Section 56 Notice”), which you can usually pay within 30 days in a variety of ways and easily.

Our recommendation is to carry an international driving license — so you are always on the safe side!

gratuity

As everywhere in the world, many people who have provided you with a service are happy to receive a tip. In the following, we have tried to make a small recommendation, but of course it can only serve as a guide and depends very much on the respective situation. It is always advisable to have a few coins or small notes (10R) in your pocket, which you can then quickly access when needed without having to pull out your entire wallet. In the restaurant, 10% is usual. If the service is particularly good, it can also be a bit more, if the service is poor, it can be less. When refueling, you should give the gas station attendant 2-3 edge if the windows have also been cleaned or the air and oil levels have been checked, a little more. For parking lot attendants, the tip may vary slightly depending on the duration. For short stops (up to approx. 1 hour) 2-3 rand, for longer periods of standing or good service including admission and expulsion, etc. 3-5 rand. In hotels, you should give 5 rand to luggage carriers. All other tips are usually collected and placed in a box. Chambermaids usually get their tips from this. Depending on the category, you should plan for 30 to 70 rand. Of course, you can also give employees who were particularly helpful to you a small note at any time. On safaris, there are mostly local recommendations. Here, it is often common to reward your personal driver separately with a tip; all other employees receive their share as a result. Depending on the quality of the service, you can roughly focus on 80-120 rand per day, for the ranger and for the community.

electricity

Like ours, the electrical voltage in South Africa is 220/230 V, you can use all your electrical devices. For power outlets, you need the “M” three-pin power plug type, which is rarely included in travel plug kits. You can buy adapters at appropriate specialist stores in Germany or much cheaper anywhere else. If you have many devices to connect, it is recommended to bring a German multiple plug/power strip. This means that you only need an adapter and you can still charge or use many devices at the same time.

money

The official currency in South Africa is the rand. 1 rand is equal to 100 cents and has an “R” as the currency symbol, the international code is “ZAR”. Payment with credit cards (MasterCard and Visa) is now widespread and is also often used for small amounts. In rural areas and markets, you generally have to pay with cash. You can get this at currency exchange offices, banks or, most easily, at ATMs. Traveler's cheques are widely accepted in banks and currency exchange offices, but there are usually high fees. At most ATMs (“ATMs”), you can get cash with your Maestro card or credit card. Please check with your bank for the fees. At O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, there are a variety of exchange offices in or behind the direct arrival area. However, there are also many ATMs a little further away.

leisure

There are leisure activities for all ages in South Africa. Sporty travelers can choose from abseiling, fishing, balloon trips, boat trips, snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, surfing, kayaking, paragliding, whale watching, shark cage diving, white water rafting, wildlife viewing, quad biking, sightseeing flights in light aircraft and helicopters and, of course, golfing. For those interested in culture, there are a variety of museums, music events, theatre shows, historical sites, events by local tribes and much more.

entry

To travel to South Africa for a maximum of 90 days for tourism, you as a German citizen need a machine-readable passport, which is valid for at least 30 days beyond your return date and contains at least two free pages, as well as a valid return ticket. Children traveling with them also need their own passport as described above. If you are traveling with minor children who are not your own, there are additional restrictions and requirements. For further information, please contact the relevant consulate, see also “www.suedafrika.org”. If your purpose of travel is other than a purely tourist visit, a visa may be required. Please also contact the consulate here. If you have a nationality other than the German one, please let us know your nationality when making your enquiry or booking so that we can inform you about the relevant entry requirements. Thank you so much!

health

Please contact your doctor before you start your trip regarding your current health situation and your personal situation. In general, medical care in South Africa is good. Private hospitals in cities are generally of European standard. The situation is different in state hospitals and in rural regions. We strongly recommend that you take out travel health insurance and return insurance. Vaccinations are not required for direct entry from Europe (or a non-yellow fever area). However, the usual protection against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid and hepatitis A is absolutely useful. Malaria in South Africa is only found in a few regions and there also varies in severity depending on the travel period. In principle, the regions around Kruger Park and the northeast coast of Kwazulu-Natal are considered endangered. Please also contact your doctor about this. Please also ensure that you have reliable sun protection. Severe sunburns can also occur on supposedly cloudy days.

climate

Due to its size, South Africa has a very different climate depending on the region and therefore also very differentiated vegetation zones. From subtropical rainforests in the east to extreme desert on the border with Namibia, everything is represented. Basically, the seasons are opposite to those in Europe, i.e. if it's winter here, it's summer in South Africa. How does this affect the individual regions and what are the best times to travel?

johannesburg is located around 1750m above sea level and has a very pleasant climate all year round. It never gets too hot in the local summer, but heavy thunderstorms can be expected regularly in the afternoon, which can bring heavy rainfall. Afterwards, the sun usually comes out again. In winter, it is usually sunny with daytime temperatures of up to 23°C. At night, it cools down significantly, even down to below 0°C. Rain almost never falls during this time of year. The area around pretoria is a bit flatter, so the temperatures are usually slightly higher.

Cape Town is affected by the cold Benguela Current and it is cooler here than in large parts of South Africa. The climate is Mediterranean with summer temperatures around 25°-30°C and it rarely rains. In winter, there is more rainfall, but there are also many very nice, warm and dry days. The temperature rarely drops below 10°C, but it can sometimes be very windy.

The Gartenroute is located in the transition area between summer and winter rainfall areas. Overall, it is warmer here than in Cape Town due to the Agulhas River. There is rain all year round and winters are mild. This region is at its best between September and the end of April.

Further east in Kwa-Zulu Natal The climate will be subtropical: In summer, there is high humidity and at 30°C it gets humid. You can expect tropical thunderstorms at any time — but there are also many dry days. Winters are very mild and drier.

In the Lowveld Kruger National Park The climate is also subtropical. Here, temperatures can reach up to 40°C in humid and hot summer. The winter months from June to August, which are generally dry, are more pleasant. Early in the morning on Game Drive, it can still be pretty fresh. This is the best time for wildlife viewing, as the bushes and trees are bare and the animals spend more time at water points.

An der Panorama Route Along the Escarpment, the mountain range in the transition from Lowveld to Highveld, winters are mostly dry with temperatures of up to 25°C, in summer it is hotter and there are severe thunderstorms. It is ideal to visit from May to September, but the water in the many spectacular waterfalls decreases significantly towards the end of winter. These are the best in summer.

In the Drakensbergen And the Highveld The temperatures are moderate and, similar to the weather around Johannesburg, it is rather dry here in winter with summer thunderstorms. Snow can also fall at higher altitudes. It blooms wonderfully here in spring between September and November.

that Kalahari Basin consists of desert with very hot summers — over 40°C is possible — and occasional downpours. In winter, the temperatures are more pleasant and it is easier to observe animals as they increasingly gather around the waterholes.


insurances

It is strongly recommended to take out foreign health insurance, which also covers repatriation to your home country. We offer you appropriate insurance through our partner Travelsecure.de.


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Security

It is well known that there are problems with crime in South Africa. However, if you follow a few rules, the risk is drastically reduced. The Federal Foreign Office provides information on the current situation on its website (www.auswaertiges-amt.de) and we strongly recommend that you check here before departure. You should generally avoid the inner cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town after hours, on Sundays, and after sunset. Townships should only be visited as part of an organized tour. If you are traveling with your rental car, pay particular attention to closed windows and locked doors at intersections. Of course, you must never leave valuables uncovered (not even while driving). In addition, avoid driving over land after dark. It goes without saying that you should refrain from wearing jewelry in public and also avoid showing off expensive cameras. If you have obtained cash from the vending machine and counter, please put it in immediately.

Flora & Fauna

There are more than 20,000 different plants in South Africa. These make the region one of the most plant-rich areas on Earth. In the Fynbos (Cape Flora) region near Cape Town alone, you can find more than 9000 species — one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth. In the Fynbos region, the wonderful sugar bushes are best known as 'Protea'. There are more than 100 species of these, which can reach heights of up to 10 m as evergreen shrubs (sometimes even small trees). Large parts of the country are covered with grasses, bushes and acacias. The farther north you get, the more bare it gets. There are only very few forests, but unfortunately most of them consist of imported pine, spruce and eucalyptus and are used for forestry purposes and are pure monoculture. Many water-storing plants such as aloe and euphorbia grow in Namaqualand, north-west of Cape Town. After the first rains, usually in August, the entire section consists of blooming carpets. Unfortunately, this spectacular bloom only lasts a short time. Grass and thorny savannas dominate the Kalahari and the vegetation is very sparse. With more than 300 mammal species, 500 bird species and over 100 reptile species, South Africa has a very diverse animal world. These include some superlatives: the elephant as the largest land animal, the giraffe as the tallest and the cheetah as the fastest land animal. The 'Big Five, 'named after the animals once most feared among hunters: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, are native. A variety of other animals are added to the sea, from whales and dolphins to diverse seal species and a large shark population. You can observe the species-rich wildlife in a variety of small and large game reserves (Game or Nature Reserves) and in the national parks.

note

We cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of the tips and travel information given here in South Africa, nor can we accept any liability for any damage that may occur during your vacation. The regulations described and the security situation may change at any time. As has often been recommended, in case of doubt, we recommend that you contact your competent diplomatic or consular representative or your doctor if you have any health questions.

If you have any questions beyond this South Africa travel information or if one or the other point of our South Africa travel information has changed in the meantime, please contact us, preferably using the following contact form. Thank you so much.

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