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South Africa Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit South Africa in 2023

South Africa Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit South Africa in 2023

Welcome to South Africa

Welcome to this ultimate South Africa travel guide, a must-read for every traveler who wants to see South Africa. This guide will teach you everything you need, including destination information, travel documentation requirements, COVID-19 restrictions, and much more.

Located at the southernmost tip of the African continent, South Africa is a country of significant cultural, historical, and natural variety. During your trip, you will find destinations such as the Kruger National Park, the Western Cape, the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Town.

Get ready to plan an incredible trip!

Document checklist for South Africa

It is essential to know what kind of documents are needed to travel to South Africa. That is why at iVisa, we have made a list of documents you may be asked for when traveling to South Africa:

  • Valid passport - To enter South Africa, it is necessary to have a valid passport with at least six months of validity from the date of travel.

  • Vaccination certificate - It is necessary to present the certificate for diseases such as yellow fever and others.

  • Lodging - Present the list of lodging reservations for all your hotel rooms.

  • Economic proof - You must show that you can afford the trip during the entire period and that you can return to your country at the end of it.

  • Air ticket - It is important to demonstrate that you are not staying in South Africa but will travel with a return ticket to your country.

If you don't have all these documents, you must leave South Africa immediately.

Essential South Africa Travel Information

Here you will find some general information about South Africa that will allow you to better plan your trip. Let's see:

  • Currency - The official currency of South Africa is the Rand, and its nomenclature is ZAR. The current approximate value of the Rand compared to the Euro is 19 Rand.

  • Languages - 11 official languages characterize South Africa. They are Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Pedi, English, Tswana, Sotho, Tsonga, Swati, Venda and Ndebele. However, it should be noted that the entire population speaks English.

  • Socket type - In South Africa, the standard voltage is 230 V with a frequency of 50 Hz. The plugs and sockets are D/M type, so the need for an adapter will depend on the voltage and plugs in your country of residence.

  • Time zone - The zone is two hours ahead of UTC (UTC+02:00) and is the same as Central African time.

  • Top 3 cities to visit - South Africa has three capitals. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa, Cape Town is the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. You can also visit the central business districts and get to know the most luxurious streets. Its principal cities are Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Nelspruit, and Kimberley.

  • Top landmarks/monuments - The primary destination in South Africa is Kruger Park, where you can enjoy the best safari experiences in Africa. Another destination is Cape Town, one of the world's most attractive cities. You can discover Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, and the Cape Winelands. Grootbos is another incredible destination, and it is a private National Geographic nature reserve. Here, you will have the opportunity to see an authentic marine safari with whales, penguins, and even white sharks.

Visa information for South Africa

The visa is an essential document, but not everyone requires it, and it may vary depending on the purpose of the trip. Therefore, we have made a list of the types of visas that South Africa offers. These are the following:

  • South Africa Visit Visa - This document is for travelers who are not visa-exempt and want to travel to South Africa for tourism or business purposes. On the other hand, if you are visa exempt but plan to stay longer than the exemption allows, you will need to apply for this type of visa. This document is valid for 90 days.

  • South Africa Business Visa - This visa allows you to work or invest in the South African economy. To open a business, you must fill out specific online forms. It is valid for a stay of no more than 90 days.

  • Work visa for South Africa - This visa is for travelers with special skills that South Africa needs. It is for a specific job, and the length of stay depends on the work you are approved to do in South Africa. According to some local laws, this type of visa is not for every visitor.

  • South Africa Medical Visa - This visa allows the traveler to receive medical treatment in South Africa. It is valid for up to 6 months to stay in South Africa. To be approved, you must complete a special form and submit a letter from your doctor stating why you require the treatment in question.

  • Study visa for South Africa - This visa allows you to study full-time and at any level of education in South Africa. It is valid for the duration of your studies. You must provide proof of entry, proof of study, and parental consent if you are under 18 years of age. Local authorities must check and approve this type of travel document.

  • South Africa Exchange Visa - This visa is intended for persons under 25 who wish to participate in cultural, economic, or social programs. A public institution in South Africa must organize the program. It will be valid for the duration of the program.

  • South Africa Tourist eVisa - The South African Department of Home Affairs announced new regulations in November 2019. All eligible nationalities can apply for an eVisa to enter South Africa. You must determine if your nationality allows you to do this process. This is only a visa. It is not considered a South African passport or a legal resident permit. Last but not least, feel free to use our convenient visa checker to learn more about the visa requirements for your country.

Typical costs and budget for South Africa

This travel advice is about the approximate expenses you can expect for a trip to South Africa. Take this information into account when planning your trip.

  • Daily spending per person - The average daily expenditure, excluding what will be mentioned below, represents tourism expenditures and extras for each traveler. Generally, the daily expense is between 25 and 50 euros depending on the cost of entrance fees and the activities you want to do.

  • Meals - The average daily meal expenditure of a tourist in the country is approximately 18 euros per day. This includes lunches and dinners but not breakfasts, which are usually included in hotels.

  • Transport - Car rental can cost up to 500 euros for 19 days of travel. So, it would be approximately 125 dollars per person for a 19-day trip. This is the recommended amount of days for a worthwhile journey.

  • Hotel - The accommodation cost depends on the hotel you are looking for. Prices in the country can vary from 14 euros a day to 30 euros. Everything will depend on whether it is a luxury hotel, a backpacker, or a day camp, among others.

Transport and ways to travel around South Africa

There are different ways to move around the country. Here are the most common ones:

  • Automobile - A car is a great option because the country has excellent roads and companies with affordable rentals. Remember, you need an international driving permit to rent a car.

  • Baz Bus - The Baz Bus backpacker van is a comfortable option for travel between Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg.

  • Train - Trains are the whole experience for tourists; with beds and a restaurant car, you can take them between Johannesburg, Cape Town and all along the coast.

  • Bus - As public transportation, buses are convenient and are found almost everywhere in the country for a reasonable price.

  • Taxi - These are good for short journeys.

Safety in South Africa

Traveling to an unfamiliar country can always cause a bit of trepidation. But don't worry; the South African Government has provided some tips on how to travel safely in South Africa. These are as follows:

  • Ensure that you have suitable travel insurance with a policy that covers what you need for your trip and COVID-19.

  • Try to use official taxis and insurance recommended by hotels or restaurants. Try not to take street taxis.

  • Try not to take flashy items on the street. Try not to use your cell phone outside tourist resorts or natural parks.

  • Contact the South African Police Service if you encounter any problem or a violent crime.

  • Don't carry so much cash at a time; try to use more debit or credit cards.

  • It is vital to have reputable and professional guides during all the tours in the city. It allows you to feel safe.

  • Make photocopies of your documents and keep them separate from the originals. It is important to keep your documents safe in the hotel.

  • Avoid walking around cities at night, especially if you do not know the destination and are traveling alone.

  • When leaving the hotel or restaurant, ask about areas to avoid and which means of transportation are safer.

  • If you plan to rent a car, try to drive with the locks closed and the windows up, especially in cities.

  • In areas with many mosquitoes, you should use an insect repellent. At dawn and dusk, wear long sleeves and long pants. There are many diseases that mosquitoes can transmit.

  • Don't be overconfident at airports; thefts sometimes take place. It is essential not to be paranoid and enjoy your trip. Problems can occur in South Africa, but many travelers have already traveled to the country, and it has been satisfactory.

Weather in South Africa

South Africa's climate is moderate. It has neither very cold nor scorching temperatures. As a result, its seasons work the opposite way in the Northern Hemisphere.

One of the most attractive aspects of South Africa is that it is a destination to which you can travel at any time of the year because every climate offers new adventures and fun activities.

Must do and see in South Africa

Usually, tourists visit only the major city centres. However, we suggest visiting these sites too:

  • Kruger National Park - Home to the most significant wildlife reserve in the world, with over 500 species of birds, 100 species of reptiles, and almost 150 species of mammals, as well as archaeological sites and a diversity of flora.

  • Cape of Good Hope - This is one of the most remarkable places in the country, both geographically and historically.

  • Cape Town - It stands out for being cosmopolitan and multicultural. Also, for its magnificent architecture.

  • Table Mountain - It is considered one of the world's Seven Natural Wonders and is a destination not to be missed.

  • Apartheid Museum - The museum has a temporary exhibition that explains the country's history, particularly on Apartheid.

Typical South African gastronomy to try

The gastronomy of South Africa is characterized by a fusion of cultures that make the mixture unique in the world. Braai is the main and quintessential food of South Africa, which is a barbecue or roast cooked with any type of meat.

Gastronomy is a custom associated with social gatherings among family and friends, where foreign tourists are also often invited to have a unique experience. It is a distinctive way for South African citizens to create a community and get together.

Meat is the star ingredient in most of the typical dishes of South Africa. In addition, it is usually served with a potato salad and toasted sandwiches.

Vaccine information for South Africa

Some of the recommended vaccinations for visiting South Africa are Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, Rabies, and Influenza.

It is also important to note that malaria is present in some regions of South Africa. Therefore, you should use mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, and antimalarial medication if you travel to these areas.

If a mosquito bites you, it is vital to seek medical advice and visit any nearby medical facilities.

Fun facts about South Africa

Among some of the country's curiosities are the following:

  • Of the country's 55 million inhabitants, only 4% are of white ethnicity.

  • South Africa was the first country in Africa and the fifth in the world to recognize same-sex marriage.

  • Christian Barnard performed the first heart transplant in South Africa in 1967.

  • South Africa has the highest bungee jumping bridge in Africa.

  • In South Africa, you can see penguins on the beach. In Boulders Beach lives a colony of penguins.

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