What to know for a trip to South Africa

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

South Africa is undoubtedly a suitable destination for those who love contact with the nature, in all its forms: from the African bush, present in the north of the country, especially in the Kruger Park area, to the boundless landscapes that plunge into the ocean, in the southernmost part. You will find animals in the wild, landscapes of historical importance together with cities that have nothing to envy to large metropolises.
Here's what you need to know for a trip to South Africa.


  1. Best time
  2. Required documents
  3. How many days
  4. How to dress and what to bring
  5. To see
  6. Getting around
  7. What to book in advance
  8. Accomodation
  9. Where to eat
  10. How much
  11. How to pay
  12. Safety
  13. Useful advice and rules of conduct
  14. User questions and comments

Best time

South Africa has inverted seasons compared to Italy but, in principle, it can be visited all year round. However, the recommended period is the one that goes from September to March, that is, between spring and summer, when the temperatures are pleasant, there is not much wind and you enter the driest season, also suitable for safaris. Also, November is the best time for whale watching.

Required documents

To enter South Africa you need the passport valid: upon arrival at the airport, a travel visa lasting 90 days. No vaccination is mandatory, except for yellow fever, but only if during your trip you have made a stop in one of the countries where the same is considered endemic disease. For those planning a safari inside the Kruger Park, the antimalarial prophylaxis. To drive, you need the international driving license, remembering that here the guide is on the left!

How many days

  • Minimum travel time: at least 7 days
  • Recommended duration of the trip: at least 12 days

How to dress and what to bring

It has a climate similar to the Mediterranean one, with temperatures that are never very rigid or high. In the period from spring to summer, it is always advisable to pack one windproof jacket, very frequent especially in the south, and a very comfortable clothing, with hiking boots for excursions.
If your itinerary includes a safari in the South African summer time, it is advisable to bring light garments, with long sleeves and legs and in light colors, and a hat.

To see

There are two stages not to be missed: Cape Town and Kruger Park. They are not close to each other, so an additional air connection will be required to reach them, but they are a must for those approaching South Africa for the first time.
If, on the other hand, you have already touched upon these stages, for your second time a road trip along the Garden Route.

  • If you are visiting the destination for the first time: Kruger Park, Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope Peninsula
  • If you are returning to the destination: Winelands, Garden Route, Durban

Getting around

Despite being a highly developed country, some of the main tourist areas are nonetheless immersed in nature or close to the ocean, and these are places where you still live in a simple way. The best way to make excursions, or to make transfers, is undoubtedly a 'rental car. Alternatively, you can move into taxi or with organized excursions.

What to book in advance

For a trip like this, the volo it is necessary to book it well in advance, in order to save.
Definitely atravel insurance is not to be underestimated, but above all it is highly recommended thehealth insurance.
It is also recommended to book in advance therental car, so from define the movements well and don't leave everything to chance.
Most of the excursions are always available and do not need to be booked in advance, especially in the most popular destinations. However, there are a couple of tour which, either due to excessive importance or, vice versa, because they are less known, tend to run out easily. In particular, the visit to Robben Island, the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and the tour of the Heads by boat, in Knysna.


It is always advisable to choose very central accommodations, compared to the attractions to visit, especially if you move away from the big cities.
In Cape Town, the best neighborhoods, for example, are the Waterfront or Caps Bay. For those interested in practicing safaris, you can choose lodges within the reserves while, for other destinations along your itinerary, you can opt for guesthouses, usually very well equipped, even with catering service.
Hotel and b & b starting from € 58,00 per room -

Where to eat

The tradition of South Africa, especially for places overlooking the sea, such as Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, is to enclose the main dining and entertainment activities in the Waterfront, that is a sort of open-air shopping centers, active until late in the evening. Usually they are always very bright and crowded and, inside the restaurants, it is possible to taste typical dishes such as ostrich, kudu or crocodile meat, as well as the famous local mussels and oysters.

How much

  • Cost of flights and travel: from about € 800,00 per person
  • Cost accomodation: from € 50,00 per room per night
  • Minimum daily budget for meals and attractions: from € 60,00 per day

How to pay

The local currency is the South African Rand (ZAR) and 1 euro corresponds to 19,69 rand. The change can be done on site or withdraw at the numerous ATMs. I'm All major credit cards accepted and international ATMs, but it is always advisable to carry your credit card pins and at least two cards belonging to two different circuits, since not all businesses are equipped for all existing circuits. At the restaurant, it is customary to add the 10% tip at the indicated price.


In the centers of major cities, such as Cape Town, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth or Johannesburg, thefts and damage to tourists are frequently recorded, given thehigh crime rate. In the smaller centers the risk is lower, but it is still necessary pay attention. There are no particular environmental risks, as well as terrorist ones, if not on a par with the major tourist destinations in the world. For more detailed information, please refer to the official page on the Farnesina website.

Useful advice and rules of conduct

  1. avoid using public transport as it is not very efficient and safe
  2. avoid walking alone in the evening and outside the center
  3. pay attention to driving, as it is on the left
  4. pay attention to sudden crossing by animals
  5. do not withdraw money at ATMs outside the center
  6. do not venture independently to mountain trails or parks
  7. It is a good idea to tip the waiters between 10 and 15%
  8. Travel / health insurance: recommended.

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