Since the end of the Apartheid era and the establishment of a democratic government in the 1990s, South Africa’s borders have opened to a flood of tourists who come to enjoy the country’s stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture.
South Africa is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world:
The ‘Rainbow Nation’ has 11 official languages, and its colourful population forms a patchwork of African, Asian and European culture.
Whether browsing the Indian markets in Durban, enjoying a “shisa nyama” (barbecue) in Soweto, or tasting local varieties at a winery in Stellenbosch, visitors will encounter a warm welcome.
Health regulations in South Africa require that travellers from areas infected by yellow fever must carry a vaccination certificate; otherwise no vaccinations are required. There is a malaria risk in the low-lying areas of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga (including the Kruger National Park), as well as northeastern KwaZulu-Natal, and precautions are advised when travelling to these areas, especially between October and May. Medication is readily available in urban areas, but those travelling outside of major cities for an extended period should bring a basic supply kit for emergency self-treatment.
New Year’s Day 1 Jan
Human Rights Day 21 Mar
Good Friday 25 Mar
Easter Monday 28 Mar
Freedom Day 27 Apr
Worker’s Day 1 May
Youth Day 16 Jun
Women’s Day 9 Aug
Heritage Day 24 Sep
Day of Reconciliation 16 Dec
Christmas Day 25 Dec
Day of Goodwill 26 Dec
Money & duty free
South Africa’s currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted.
Travellers to South Africa do not have to pay duty on 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250g of tobacco; 2 litres wine and 1 litre spirits; perfume up to 50ml and 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods to the value of R3,000. All other goods brought in from abroad by South African residents must be declared on arrival.
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
Please note: The South African Department of Home Affairs has introduced a regulation that all children travelling with families or as unaccompanied minors, effective 01 June 2015, must travel with an unabridged birth certificate in addition to a valid passport, when travelling into or out of South Africa. All travellers should confirm requirements with an official government source prior to travel to South Africa with children, just to make sure they have all necessary documentation.
We could have a separate tab for the details as listed below:
ADVISORY: NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILDREN TRAVELLING THROUGH SOUTH AFRICAN PORTS OF ENTRY – EFFECTIVE 1 JUNE 2015
Published: 26 May 2015
The new requirements for children travelling to or from the Republic of South Africa take effect on 1 June 2015. The requirements are aimed at establishing the principle that all minors require the consent of their parents when traveling into or out of the Republic.
1. APPLICATION OF THE NEW REQUIREMENTS
1.1. The documents listed under paragraph 4 shall upon request be produced at a port of entry by:
• South African minors upon leaving the Republic, and
• Minors who are foreign nationals and who are visa exempt when travelling through a port of entry of the Republic.
1.2. Minors who apply for a South African visa at any mission or VFS service-point shall be required to submit as part of the application, documents listed hereunder at paragraph 4, prior to such visa being issued.
1.3. Where a minor applies for a visa inside South Africa or at a South African embassy abroad it shall be standard practice for all supporting documents to be submitted prior to the visa being issued. Sworn translations of the documents should be submitted with the visa application as stipulated in Regulation 9(4) of the Immigration Regulations, 2014. However, persons who are visa exempt need not submit any translations when reporting to an Immigration Officer at a port of entry. Supporting documents should either be the originals or certified copies of the originals.
• Minors who began their journey prior to 1 June 2015 shall not be required to produce the documents listed in paragraph 4 should the return leg of the journey occur after 1 June 2015.
• No supporting documents will be required in the case of minors in direct transit at an International Airport.
• Minors who are South African citizens travelling to South Africa with South African passports may be accepted by conveyors for travel without presenting birth certificates. Such minors will be assisted by Immigration Services upon arrival at South African ports of entry.
• Minors in possession of valid South African visas shall not be required to produce the documents listed in paragraph 4 when travelling through a port of entry of the Republic.
• In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of parents of the travelling minor. Example: Indian passports record the parents’ names on the passport. In this instance, the requirement of an Unabridged Birth Certificate as stated in paragraph 4 may be dispensed with.
• In the case of school tours, the parental consent affidavit may be replaced with an affidavit from the school principal confirming that all consent letters are held by the school. Upon producing this affidavit, immigration officers at ports of entry and South African missions abroad would not require any additional documents from individual scholars such as parental consent, unabridged birth certificates, death certificates, court orders or copies of the passports or identity documents of the parents and of the person receiving the child in SA. This special dispensation applies to all schools registered with the Department of Basic Education and its equivalent abroad. Download the suggested format for this affidavit here.
3.1. Alternative Care
• Section 167 of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), states that a child is in Alternative Care if the child has been placed in:
o foster care;
o the care of a child and youth care centre following an order of a court in terms of that Act or the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977); or
o temporary safe care.
• South African law regards any person younger than 18 years as a child or minor.
3.3. Equivalent Document
• Any official document (Example: identity document or passport issued by the relevant authority of any country) or letter issued by a foreign government (including a foreign embassy) or a letter issued by the Director-General of Home Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, recording the identity of the parents of a child shall be accepted in lieu of an Unabridged Birth Certificate. These instruments shall serve to identify the parents of the child intending to travel through a port of entry of the Republic.
• Unless the context indicates otherwise, the word “parent” includes adoptive parents and legal guardians.
3.5. Parental Consent Affidavit
• Parental Consent Affidavit is an affidavit which must accompany an Unabridged Birth Certificate or Equivalent Document when any parent is not travelling with his or her child.
• A South African Embassy in the traveller’s country of residence may be approached to commission the oath or solemn declaration required in the Affidavit free of charge.
• The Affidavit must not be older than 6 months when presented. The same affidavit will still be valid for the departure or return in relation to the same journey regardless of the period of the journey.
• A suggested format of the Parental Consent Affidavit is here: Parental Consent Affidavit
3.6. Unabridged Birth Certificate
• In South Africa, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) is an extract from the Birth Register containing the particulars of a minor and those of his or her parent or parents. UBCs are official documents issued by the Department of Home Affairs in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992). All birth certificates containing the details of a child as well as the parents of the child shall be accepted for the purposes of these Requirements as UBCs , regardless of the country of issue.
• In the case of countries that do not issue UBCs, an ‘Equivalent Document’ containing the particulars of the child and his or her parent or parents, issued by the competent authority of that country, or an embassy of that country may be used instead of an UBC. A suggested format for such an Equivalent Document is available at here
4. DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL THROUGH A PORT OF ENTRY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
4.1 Where both parents are travelling accompanied by one or more of their children, such children have to produce:
• Valid passports and an UBC or Equivalent Document for each child travelling.
4.2. Where only one parent is travelling with a child, (or children), each child has to produce:
• A valid passport, an UBC or Equivalent Document for each travelling child and the Parental Consent Affidavit from the non-travelling parent whose details are recorded on the UBC or Equivalent Document.
4.3. An unaccompanied minor has to produce:
• A valid passport; an UBC or Equivalent Document; Parental Consent Affidavit; letter from the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in the Republic, a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic.
4.4. A person who is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child, such child must produce:
• A valid passport, an UBC or Equivalent Document and Parental Consent Affidavit.
4.5. A child in alternative care shall produce:
• A valid passport and a letter from the Provincial Head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides authorising his or her departure from the Republic as contemplated in section 169 of the Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005).
4.6. Explanatory Notes:
• One of the following documents may be presented in the absence of a Parental Consent Affidavit referred to above:
o A court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship of the child exclusively to the travelling parent ;
o A court order granted in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2015, (Act No. 38 of 2005) which is a court order granting permission for the child to travel in the event that there is a dispute or no consent forthcoming from the parent/s of a child; or
o a death certificate of the deceased parent.
• Where only one parent’s particulars appear on the UBC or equivalent document, no parental consent affidavit is required when that parent travels with the child.
• In the case of divorce, where custody of a child/children is shared, parental consent by both parents is required.
• Where a Parental Consent Affidavit is presented, also required are full contact details and copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
• The consent of parents recorded as such on the Unabridged Birth Certificate or Equivalent Document shall be required regardless of the marital status of the parents of the child.
5. INABILITY TO CONSENT DUE TO RECENT DEATH OR MENTAL OR PHYSICAL DISABILITY:
5.1. Where any parent/s recorded in an UBC, or equivalent document, are unable to consent to the travel by a child due to recent death, or mental or physical disability, persons acting on behalf of the child/children may apply for a special dispensation in lieu of the parental consent affidavit by directing a request and full motivation, together with all supporting documents (example, treating medical practitioners certificate), to the Office of the Director-General of Home Affairs, at the following e-mail address: email@example.com
5.2. Explanatory Note:
• This dispensation only applies to incapacity, and does not apply where a parent is either unwilling to consent or unable to be located due to separation or divorce.
• Where a parent refuses to give consent, a court order in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), may be presented in lieu of such parental consent.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round, three-pin plugs are standard.
The international access code for South Africa is +27. GSM mobile phone networks providing 900 and 1800 frequencies serve the country, and there are roaming agreements with most international mobile operators.
South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho. English is widely spoken.
Immigration & border crossing
Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources. The South African Immigration Authorities do not accept loose leaf temporary travel documents. Note that South Africa’s immigration laws have changed dramatically as of May 2014, and there may be some confusion as to the correct procedure.
Please consult your nearest consulate regarding these laws.
The best time to visit South Africa is late spring (October and November) and early autumn (March and April) to avoid the intense heat of summer and the cold and wet winters in the Cape. However, many tourists relish the hot summer months between December and February.
What you pack for your South Africa holiday depends on where and when you want to visit.
Given the country’s mostly temperate climate, you’ll be comfortable during the summer in lightweight clothes but pack a jacket and closed shoes to be safe.
If you’re coming to South Africa for a beach holiday pack plenty of sunscreen, swimming costumes and casual wear for the day, plus a few more dressed-up items for the evenings if you’ll be spending time in the city or restaurants that are near your hotel or B&B.
If you are visiting South Africa in the winter, pack a few warmer layers, a coat and a pair of boots – it can get surprisingly chilly, especially during the June-August months.
For a safari holiday, stick to lightweight, practical clothing in neutral colours with a warm fleece or jacket for early morning and evening game drives.
And finally, wherever you are travelling in South Africa be sure to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes – from city streets to mountain hikes, there is so much to see and do on foot!
South African Tourism, Johannesburg: +27 (0)11 895 3000 or www.southafrica.net
SOUTH AFRICA EMERGENCY NUMBERS
Emergencies: 10111 (Police); 10177 (Ambulance)
- Capetown Beaches – Cape Town has some truly gorgeous beaches, but the most easily accessible are on the Atlantic Ocean where the water is unbelievably cold to the point that the locals tend to keep their swims short. The most popular include Camps Bay beach, a long, wide stretch of golden sand packed with locals and tourists alike and backed by a strip of fashionable bars and restaurants. Another favourite is Clifton, where four beaches are situated beneath exclusive houses and apartments that are set into the cliff to protect sunbathers from the harsh southwesterly wind.
- Cape Point -Most visitors to Cape Town are keen to make the short daytrip from the city centre to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, not only to take in its floral diversity in what at first sight appears to be a bleak landscape, but to stand at the top of the towering promontory at the most southerly point of the Cape Peninsula.
- Robben Island – South Africa’s most widely known tourist attraction is probably Robben Island, 11km from Cape Town in the centre of Table Bay. For nearly 400 years this tiny rocky island outcrop was utilised as a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment for numerous categories of people ostracised by society, ranging from political protesters to lepers. During the years of Apartheid, Robben Island became synonymous with institutional brutality as numerous freedom fighters, including the island’s most famous resident, Nelson Mandela, were imprisoned here for more than a quarter of a century.
- Table Mountain – Cape Town’s most popular tourist attraction is also its most famous physical feature: the flat-topped mountain that stands sentinel over the city. Table Mountain has been proclaimed a nature reserve, protecting its diverse floral species, some unique to its slopes. The views of the city and coastline from the top of the mountain in all directions are quite spectacular. A Swiss-built rotating cable car carries visitors smoothly up the mountain and back. It is possible to climb the mountain via different routes, but inexperienced hikers should take care because Cape Town is prone to sudden weather changes.
- Moses Mabhida Stadium – The Moses Mabhida Stadium was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and is one of South Africa’s most picturesque stadiums. With its iconic ‘arch of triumph’, the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing in the background, and an amazing view of Durban’s Beachfront, the stadium is an epic place to take in a sports game but also offers some other attractions which will delight tourists.
- The Golden Mile – Durban is most famous as a beach holiday destination, so it’s no wonder that its most popular attraction is the sandy beach stretching across one end of the city centre. Known as the Golden Mile, the beach starts in the north at Blue Lagoon, and runs past Suncoast Casino all the way to Ushaka Marine World in the South. A wide, flat promenade runs nearly the entire way, and tourists can enjoy strolling or rollerblading along it, or taking a ride in a colourful rickshaw. The beach itself is wide and flat, and good for swimming and surfing.
- Ushaka Marine World – In January 2004 Sea World closed its doors to the public and reopened as uShaka Marine World, which has become the largest marine theme park in Africa. The park is tastefully themed with African imagery and has five zones offering entertainment, dining, a variety of shops, water slides and access to uShaka Beach. Wet ‘n Wild offers a number of water rides, ranging from heart-stopping, adrenalin-pumping rides to lazy activities for the less adventurous. Sea World has an aquarium with thousands of fish, reptiles, and aquatic mammals on display; a dolphinarium that performs regular musical shows; a penguin rookery; and underwater activities like snorkelling and the ‘shark walk’. The Village Walk features the new Dangerous Creatures exhibit, with spiders, snakes, frogs, scorpions and other poisonous creatures. Rayz Kids World gives kids a place to burn off energy with massive jungle gyms and climbing structures.
Johannesburg’s tourist attractions range from educational cultural and historic exhibitions and museums to fun family outings and interesting displays of local innovation and productivity. With good weather throughout most of the year, sightseeing in Johannesburg is always a rewarding adventure.
The first stop on any list of things to see in Johannesburg should be the Apartheid Museum, which showcases South Africa’s history of black oppression
Another must-see is the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which features the Sterkfontein Caves where the ancient fossil of Mrs. Ples was found in 1947. Finally, a township tour of Soweto is a fascinating cultural experience, incorporating several wonderful museums, fun shebeens (bars) and historic sites.
On a lighter note, a fantastic Johannesburg attraction is Gold Reef City, a ‘gold-rush’ fashioned theme park full of exciting thrill rides, which incorporates some of the old gold mines that the city is built on and guides visitors down the old mine shafts if they want something more educational than rollercoasters.