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For the majority of foreign visitors to South Africa entry is straightforward and hassle-free. All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country and in some cases, a visa. The Department of Home Affairs’ website will provide information on: visa costs, processing time, where to apply, visa requirements (what to submit), requirements for people in transit, duration and purpose of stay, medical visas and photographs. Countries Exempt from Visas General Visa Information Visa Application Form
While on Safari, it is wise to choose clothing in neutral, camouflage colours such as brown, khaki, stone or beige which will make you less visible and able to get closer to the wild animals you may want to see. It is advisable to layer your clothing as this provides more warmth when necessary and allows you to remove clothing during the hottest period of the day.
South Africa does not change its clocks during the year, and there are no regional variations within the country. South Africa Standard Time is (+2) Greenwich Mean (or Universal Standard) Time, (+1) Central European Winter Time, and (+7) USA’s Eastern Standard Winter Time. Time Zone: CAT (Central Africa Time).
South Africa has a warm sunny climate and you should wear sunscreen and a hat whenever you are out of doors during the day, particularly between 10am and 2pm, regardless of whether there is cloud cover or not.
Tipping is common practice in South Africa for a range of services. In restaurants the accepted standard is around 10% of the bill, although sometimes a gratuity will be included (often in the case of a large party). It is also appropriate to tip taxi drivers, tour guides and even hairdressers. If you park a car in a populated area such as near a shopping centre, street security guards will usually ask whether they can watch over your car and in return should be paid a small fee – anything from two rands upwards.
Value-added-tax (VAT) is charged on most items. Foreign visitors to South Africa can have their 14% VAT refunded (value of purchases exceed R250.00). VAT is refunded at the point of departure provided receipts are produced.
There are 11 officially recognised languages, most of which are indigenous to South Africa. English is spoken everywhere you go. English is the language of the cities, of commerce and banking, of government and official documents. All our road signs and official forms are in English and service staff will speak English.
Medical facilities in cities and larger towns are world-class, but you will find that in rural areas the clinics and hospitals deal with primary health needs, and therefore do not offer the range of medical care that the large metropolitan hospitals do. Trained medical caregivers are deployed round the country, so help is never far away. For medical information, service, alerts and advice, check out SAA Netcare Travel Clinics
New Year’s Day – 1 January
Human Rights Day – 21 March
Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday)
Family Day (the Monday after Easter Sunday)
Freedom Day – 27 April
Workers Day – 1 May
Youth Day – 16 June
Women’s Day – 9 August
Heritage Day – 24 September
Day of Reconciliation – 16 December (traditionally the start of South Africa summer vacations)
Christmas Day – 25 December
Day of Goodwill – 26 December
If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following becomes a public holiday