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USEFUL INFORMATION FOR TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: United States citizens must be in possession of valid passport not less than 30 days beyond the intended stay and containing at least 2 blank visa page for endorsements. For more information on visa requirements contact South Africa Embassy: (202) 232-4400
IMPORTANT NOTE ON PASSPORT PAGES: It is the responsibility of each traveler to make sure their passport is valid and has sufficient “VISA” pages to stamp entry visas. Please note the last 3 pages on the passport are “NOT VISA” pages; they are amendment pages, and thus visa cannot be stamped on these pages. There should be at least a minimum of 2 blank (unstamped) “VISA” pages for each country to be visited. Failure to have 2 blank (unstamped) “VISA” pages you run the risk of being denied entry even when in possession of valid passport.
TRAVELLING WITH A MINOR: In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments, including South Africa’s, have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
MEDICAL AND VACCINATIONS: No vaccinations are currently required if arriving direct from Europe or United States. Anti-Malaria medication is strongly recommended. International Certificate of Vaccination required for Yellow Fever if Arriving from infected area within 5 days
CLIMATE: The climate varies greatly; Winters (June/July) are usually mild although snow falls on the mountain rages of the Cape and Natal. Summers (December/January) may be extremely warm during the day with cool nights. December to February is the best time to enjoy a Mediterranean Summer in Cape Town, while May to September is the ideal time to visit Kruger National Park because it is not so hot, and more animals tend to converge at the waterholes during this dry season.
CLOTHING, ETC.: Dress in Africa is casual although certain hotels and restaurant dress code is semi-formal and men may be required to wear jackets and ties. Clothing should be lightweight, loose fitting and of “breathable” fabrics, such as cotton. While out in the bush neutral colors are best as they blend in with the natural surrounds and show the dust least. Laundry service is available at most hotels, lodges and camps. The nights can be cool, so you should bring a sweater or jacket. While on safari, only 4 or 5 changes of clothes are necessary. For the daytime, shorts and T-shirts are most comfortable with perhaps a light jacket or sweater for early morning games drives. In the evening, long pants and long-sleeve shirts or lightweight sweatshirt is good. Boots are not necessary for safari. Comfortable walking or running shoes are just fine. Sandals or flip-flops are handy around the lodges and swimming pools.
Some lodges and camps have a supply of insect repellent; however, it is a good idea to bring some with you. Many lodges and camps have mosquito nets in the bedrooms. The mosquitoes usually come out at around sunset.
FOOD AND WATER: Tap water is safe in all major hotels, although bottled water is available for purchase in most places. We recommend that you drink bottled water while on safari. Beer, wine, cocktails and soft drinks are also available for purchase.
Most of the dishes served in restaurants are similar to those of Europe and America. Typical South African dishes and may other seafood’s are available.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Bring plenty of film or memory flash card for digital cameras and extra batteries; as such items are very expensive in Africa. Make sure you have some way of protecting your camera from dust while on safari. Most game viewing is done in the early morning and late afternoon and 100 or 200 ASA film is probably the best to use. A telephoto or zoom lens and a wide-angle lens are recommended for some truly outstanding and impressive photographs.
Do not take photographs of military installations, police stations, government facilities, airports, border post soldiers or police. Always ask before taking photographs of people. They will most likely want to charge you, so ask your driver to negotiate for you.
CURRENCY: Local currency in South Africa is expressed in Rand - denoted by the symbol R, and R1 = 100 cents. The rates of exchange should be checked with your hotel or bank. Traveler’s checks and most major credit cards are widely accepted.
SECURITY: As in most major cities sensible security precautions should be taken. Keep a close watch on purses, handbags, wallets and cameras. Avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry. It is advisable to hire a taxi if you wish to move around at night and for your personal safety, avoid deserted lanes and streets.
ELECTRICITY: Voltage in South Africa is 230 - 240 volts, 50 Hz. For your electrical items you will need a voltage converter. These can be purchased at any K-Mart, Wal Mart or similar type of store. You will also need a plug adapter to plug your converter into the wall. The universal plugs that come with some converters indicate that they can be used in Africa. They will not work with the type of plugs that are in use in South Africa
You will need to bring your own converter and adapter if you plan to use hairdryers, electric shavers, etc.
LANGUAGE: English and Afrikaans (which is derived from Dutch) are two main languages spoken, with several African languages.
TIPPING/GRATUITIES: Most major hotels and restaurants include a service charge. Tipping is not obligatory and is entirely at your discretion. A gratuity of 10% is customary at restaurants and bars where a service charge is not included.
On safari, tipping to your driver/guide is not included and once again is at your discretion; approximately $5.00 per person per day or more if the service is above average. Porters at airports, hotels or lodges may be tipped $1.00 per piece of baggage; this too is at your discretion.
AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX: Some South Africa Airports departure taxes are not included in the tour cost. It is payable by the passenger in cash only at time of departure from the airport.
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