SA Travel Info & Facts

Flag

The flag of South Africa was adopted on 27 April 1994, at the beginning of South Africa’s 1994 general election, to represent the country’s new democracy after the end of apartheid – replacing the flag that had been used since 1928.

According to the flag’s designer, the red symbolizes the blood that was shed during the various wars and conflicts in the country, that the blue represents the sky and the two oceans that flank the country, the green symbolizes the farms and the rich, natural environment of the country, while the yellow represents the natural resources, particularly gold. Finally, the black and white represent the population of the country.

Languages

11 official languages:

  • Afrikaans
  • English
  • Northern Sotho
  • Southern Ndebele
  • Southern Sotho
  • Swazi
  • Tsonga
  • Tswana
  • Venda
  • Xhosa
  • Zulu

Slang

  • Biltong – dried, seasoned meat, similar to jerky
  • Boerewors – a farm-style sausage cooked on the braai
  • Braai – a BBQ
  • Droewors – dried sausage
  • Just now – meaning ‘a bit later’
  • Lekker – great / nice / delicious
  • Now now – meaning ‘soon’
  • Robot – traffic light
  • Shame – expression for sympathy or admiration
  • Yebo – meaning ‘yes’

Useful Words

English Xhosa Zulu Afrikaans
Hello Molo Sawubona Hallo
Goodbye Sala kakuhle Sala Kahle Totsiens
Please Nceda Ake Asseblief
Thank you Enkosi Ngiyabonga Danke
Yes Ewe Yebo Ya
No Hayi Cha Nie

Time

South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, one hour ahead of Central European Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern USA time and ten hours ahead of Western USA time.

Organisations

Regional:

Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, Southern African Customs Union, Antarctic Treaty System, and the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa.

International:

Commonwealth, United Nations, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, G20, and G8+5.

General Info

Capital

  • Pretoria (executive)
  • Bloemfontein (judicial)
  • Cape Town (legislative)

Largest City

  • Johannesburg

Dialing Code

  • +27

Area

1 221 037 km² (471 445 mi²)

Population

55.91 million (2016)

National Bird

The Blue crane

Public Holidays

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 21 March – Human Rights Day
  • 30 March 2018 – Good Friday
  • 2 April 2018 – Family Day
  • 27 April – Freedom Day
  • 1 May – Workers Day
  • 16 June – Youth Day
  • 9 August – National Women’s Day
  • 24 September – Heritage Day
  • 16 December – Day of Reconciliation
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Day of Goodwill

Religion

South Africa is a secular state whose constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

Many religions are represented in the ethnic and regional diversity of the population, with Christianity overall being dominant.

Money

The South African currency is the rand which fluctuates quite regularly. As of November 2017: ZAR100 = USD 7.08, GBP 5.321, EUR 6.077.
Rand note denominations are R200, R100, R50, R20, and R10.
Coins are in denominations of R5, R2, R1 and then 10, 20 and 50 cents.

Credit Cards

Most hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and the bigger shops will take credit cards. Most of the bigger banks will advance local currency against a credit card. Most banks have ATM’s which accept Visa cards for cash. Visa is more readily accepted than MasterCard or American Express.

Currency

It’s best to come into the country with either travellers’ cheques, Dollars, Euros or Pounds which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureaux de Change in the main towns, and at airports. If you are offered an exchange on the black market at the borders, exercise extreme caution as they are notorious for cheating you without you even realising it. Travellers cheques attract a commission when changing to other currencies.

ATMs

ATMs are available at all banks, and are available in most main towns.

Visa Information

Most nationalities don’t need a visa to enter South Africa as a tourist as long as your stay doesn’t exceed 30-90 days.

You do need a valid passport which doesn’t expire within 6 months.

Travel to S.A

Internal travel in South Africa is possible by air, road, train, bus and boat.

International Airlines

  • South African Airways
  • British Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Thomas Cook
  • Emirates
  • Cathay Pacific
  • EgyptAir
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Etihad Airways
  • Saudia
  • Lufthansa
  • Iberia
  • Air China
  • Qatar Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • EL AL Israel Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • RwandAir
  • Air France
  • Kenya Airways
  • TAAG Angola Airlines
  • SWISS International Air Lines
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Eurowings
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Air Mauritius
  • United Airlines
  • Qantas Airways

International airports in South Africa

  • Bloemfontein International
  • Cape Town International
  • Durban International
  • Gateway International
  • OR Tambo International Airport
  • Lanseria International
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
  • Pilanesberg
  • Port Elizabeth
  • Upington

Medical & Health

A yellow fever certificate is mandatory if you are travelling from an infected area. Malaria is virulent in the low-lying areas of the country which include most of the good wildlife destinations. Doctors advise taking prophylactics two weeks before arrival and continuing two weeks after leaving. Your chemist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available as certain drugs lose their effectiveness.

Tap water in the major towns is purified and perfectly safe to drink. In the more remote areas always boil it first, except if you’re staying at a lodge or hotel where drinking water is boiled already. Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns.

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance should be purchased before you leave your own country and should include emergency air evacuation coverage if you’re spending any time in remote parts of the country.

Vaccinations

By law, no vaccinations are required to enter South Africa. Most of the main tourist destinations are malaria free but the disease is still present in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo and on the Maputaland coast of KwaZulu-Natal. When planning to visit those areas do tell your doctor so that you can take the appropriate medicine with you.

Safety & Security

The crime rate in South Africa is still high but fortunately it’s restricted to townships while the tourist areas are not that exposed. Avoid walking in the city at night and always keep copies of your travels documents at hand. Keep your personal belongings with you all the time especially when using the public transport. Be very careful when changing large amounts of money as well.

Emergency Numbers

  • POLICE / EMERGENCY: 10111 / 112 (cellphone)
  • AMBULANCE: 10177
  • CRIMESTOP: 08600 10 111
  • CHILD LINE: 0800 05 55 55
  • LIFE LINE: 086 132 2322
  • NETCARE 911: 082 911
  • ER24: 084 124
  • TRAVEL DOCTOR: 086 130 0911
  • TOURISM SAFETY & SUPPORT: 086 187 4911
  • TOURISM & TRAVEL INFORMATION: 083 123 6789
  • ROAD & TRAFFIC INFORMATION: 084 303 0345
  • TELEPHONE DIRECTORY: 1023