Taking time to get to know something about your destination could be very valuable. It can save you time and money. It can also help you plan your trip. From knowing whether you can charge your phone to how much to tip, these travel tips are well worth reading. For example, did you know that ZAR is the abbreviation for Zuid-Afrika Rand, the currency of South Africa and that you can withdraw funds from your own account back home at most ATMs within Southern Africa. So no need to buy foreign currency before you leave home.
Power outlets are in South Africa are 230 volts so appliances from Australia or UK can be used with an adaptor plug. In most hotels, there are outlets that will allow foreign plugs to connect directly but we recommend you purchase an adaptor to ensure you are always able to recharge your phone or connect your laptop, etc. Adapters can be purchased in most Airports or electronic stores.
Do not take anything with you that will create emotional or financial hardship if lost or stolen. There is no guarantee of absolute safety anywhere you travel but you can minimise risk by carrying all documents, money, passport, tickets etc. with you whenever possible. Do not pack these items in your checked-in luggage, not only to prevent theft, but because you will require your passport to pass through security checks and customs. Never leave hand-luggage unattended in hotel lobbies or dining rooms. Avoid exploration on your own of unfamiliar streets or areas. Discuss any travel not arranged by your tour guide with your hotel concierge as they will know the area and will be able to give you advice to ensure your safety. Also avoid excessive displays of jewellery or cash. When sightseeing, keep all valuables locked in the safe in your room.
English is the official language in South Africa although several other languages are spoken. English, French or Portuguese are the most commonly spoken languages in Sub-Saharan Africa other than local dialects.
ATMs are available throughout South Africa and the currency is Rands (ZAR). Virtually all foreign bank cards and credit cards will work in ATMs so you can draw funds directly from your accounts at home. Banks, some hotels and even casinos can cash travellers cheques or exchange foreign currency.
US$ or ZAR can be used in Zimbabwe due to the weakness of the local currency. In all other countries you should be able to access your personal accounts through most ATM’s
All fees and charges are included in your tour so tipping is not required but is commonplace. Incomes in South Africa are low by world standards so you will find that all tips will be gratefully received.
For small services, a tip of R5, R10 or R20 is typical while tips for your game driver or guide will range from R100 to R500.
Dial 112 from any cell phone to contact emergency services. Dialing 10111 will give you direct contact with police.
On tour, all vehicles used have mobile phones and signal coverage throughout South Africa is very good. Radios are also fitted in safari vehicles to keep the safari camps and lodges in contact with the drivers. Although your tour host will be with you most of the time, their contact details are provided to all guests and are contactable 24 hours a day. Travel insurance is essential and medical treatment, if required, is of a high standard and readily available in most towns and all cities.
South African cuisine offers a vast array of dining experiences. You will find your typical western style foods and cooking but you will also find many unusual dishes that are unique to South Africa. In Cape Town, try exotic Cape Malay fare or delicious seafood at one of many restaurants in the world renown water front area. Experience traditional African cuisine made from fresh local produce. Throughout your trip, there will be wonderful new dining opportunities, such as bush dinners in breathtaking African wilderness settings while touring the country or outdoor ‘boma’ dining, providing the quintessential African safari meal under the stars.
Not only is alcohol is inexpensive but South Africa features some of the best wines you will ever taste. Renowned for its world-class wine regions – anyone with a taste for wine will not be disappointed with the quality and choice provided. There are over 150 wineries in the Stellenbosch area alone. Or enjoy a ‘Sundowner’ while watching the distinctive African sunset on the Highveld. Beer drinkers won’t be disappointed either as the quality and selection are excellent.
There are so many cuisine choices and magical memories awaiting.
It is important that you are aware that while on safari you will very likely come into close contact with wild animals. Safari lodges and camps are not always fenced and wildlife is usually free to move in and around these areas. While in a game reserve, always follow the safety instructions from your guide and staff in regards to moving to and from your accommodation and while on game viewing activities. In addition, whilst travelling to and through game parks, you may encounter unsealed roads, which can be rough and bumpy. If you have a pre-existing back or neck injury we recommend that you consult with your doctor prior to travelling.
Knowing a little about the places or locations that you will be visiting can greatly enhance your enjoyment. You can familiarise yourself with the areas, cities, and game reserves that you will be visiting by referring to your itinerary when researching.
Useful ways to research:
- Contact your tour host at Escorted Tours Africa
- Use the internet and visit sites such as Google or Yahoo
- Read travel books such as Lonely Planet or books relating to Safari
- Books such as The Elephant Whisperer or the classic Cry the Beloved Country are excellent reading
Reconfirmation of Flights
We suggest that you contact your airline or travel agent at least 72 hours before your initial flight, to confirm your departure details. With most airlines, it is usually possible to check in 72 hours before departure.
Luggage Restrictions and Security
International checked in luggage limits vary with different carriers so check with your airline. Most allow one bag of 20kg and many allow more. Carry-on is limited to 7kg and must fit in an airplane overhead compartment. Passengers should make sure that they do not include anything of high value (personal or financial value) within their luggage. This includes, but is not limited to jewellery, cameras, video equipment, reading/sunglasses, laptops or other computer/ electronic equipment and medication. We recommend that all checked luggage is locked. It is also a good idea to use ID tags and attach an ID label inside your checked in and carry-on luggage. Sometimes luggage is delayed during air transit. It is recommended to take a change of clothing and any essential medication in your hand luggage, or pack some clothing in your travel companion’s bag. If your luggage is lost, having your name and contact details on your luggage will help with its location and safe return to you. Should your luggage be delayed, it is the responsibility of the airline to deliver it to you. Claims for reimbursement should be submitted directly to the airline – a claim form should be filled out at the appropriate airline desk upon arrival. If you need assistance in contacting the airlines for information regarding your delayed luggage, please ask your Tour host.
Airport & Airline Security Do not forget your passport. Check it is in your carry-on luggage when you leave for the airport. Do not put your passport in your checked in luggage. Arriving early at the airport is advisable – 2 hours before departure for domestic and 3 hours before departure for international is recommended. This allows time to check in, pass through border control, security and get to your boarding area. Keep in mind that sharp objects and most liquids should be stored inside your check-in luggage as they will be confiscated if they are in your carry-on luggage (liquids of less than 100ml are allowed in carry-on luggage). Be aware that you may be required to put your shoes and belts through x-ray checks, so be prepared to remove them.
When returning to your home country, be aware that luggage can be inspected by Customs or Quarantine officers. All food and other such items of plant and/or animal origin need to be declared, as do items on which duty or tax might be payable (check with Customs about the duty free concession).
Late or Missed Flights
The purchase of travel insurance is essential. Please ensure that you have travel insurance as a missed flight can be expensive. In the unfortunate event that you miss a flight completely, please immediately advise the airline representative that you are a tour passenger bound for a specific location, as well as the date and time to join your tour or to check into a pre-tour hotel.
Comfort & Avoiding Jetlag
- Wear loose clothes and comfortable shoes during your flight
- Try to hydrate yourself constantly with water (avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks, and eat light)
- Alleviate pressure in your ears by chewing gum, yawning, swallowing, or gently blowing your nose
- If possible, try to walk up and down the aisle to stretch out your limbs and get blood circulating. You could also do a few isometric exercises while seated
- If you arrive in the morning, try to sleep during your flight so you can stay awake until the evening
- Avoid wearing contact lenses during your flight because aircraft cabin air tends to dry them out
All transfers are included in the tour. You will be met at the airport in the arrivals area and escorted by the tour host to your hotel.
Hotels in South Africa operate much the same as elsewhere in the world with a 2pm check in and 10am check out in most cases.
Game Park Seasons
South Africa is a year-round destination with opportunities for game viewing throughout the entire year. However, the dry season is the optimal season in which to see animals. Watering holes attract a large concentration and wide variety of animals, making it easier to view wildlife. The thin vegetation during the dry season improves viewing as well.
The Big Five – The Big Five are the main animals sought after in Africa. They are rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard.
Walking around the Camp/Lodge – For reasons of safety, when staying at camps and lodges within game reserves, you are restricted to walking only along designated paths. Longer walks will be taken with a guide or ranger but cannot be taken unaccompanied.
Currency Conversion: www.xe.com
Customs Australia: www.customs.gov.au
Customs New Zealand: www.customs.govt.nz
Customs Canada: www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca
Customs UK: www.gov.uk/uk-border-control/overview
Customs EU: www.ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm
Customs USA: www.cbp.gov
International Telephone Calling: www.countrycallingcodes.com
Australian Government Advisory & Consular Service: www.smarttraveller.gov.au