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Landscapes, cities, safaris

South Africa offers you diverse, inspiring and beautiful experiences. Wildlife encounters include the big five at Kruger National Park, whale watching in Hermanus or watching penguins waddle onto the beach in cosmopolitan Cape Town. For history buffs a battlefield tour of Rourke’s Drift in Kwa Zulu Natal will bring the past alive, while connoisseurs can discover the world class vineyards in the Cape Winelands before embarking on a road trip through the beautiful landscape along the Garden Route. Luxury travel is surely epitomised by opulent train journeys on the Blue Train and Rovos Rail. Combine South Africa holidays with Dubai, Mauritius or the Seychelles for the ultimate multi centre experience. Download our special edition of Footprints for more inspiration on holidays to South Africa. 

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South Africa Tours (4)

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South Africa Multi Centre Holidays (5)

Let us show you the world on our group and private tours.

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Discovering Cape Town and Namibia
Beach City and Wilderness

Hotels

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South Africa Self Drives (3)

Create your own adventures with our hotel and car hire holidays.

South Africa Rail Journeys (1)

Watch the world go by on a classic train journey.

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Multi-stop experience

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Excursions in and around South Africa

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Flight Information

There are a number of carriers flying from the UK to South Africa.

Direct Carriers: South African Airways, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly to Johannesburg and British Airways fly direct to Cape Town. Average flight time is approximately 11 hours.

Indirect Carriers: Emirates flies via Dubai and KLM flies via Amsterdam to both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Departure Taxes: These are included in the cost of your airline ticket.

 

Visa Information

British passport holders do not require a visa to enter South Africa. Please ensure you have two blank pages in your passport or you may be refused entry. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in South Africa. Please contact the South African High Commission for up to date country and visa information on 0207 451 7299.

On the 1st June 2015 new regulations have come into effect for passengers aged 18 and under:

Where both parents are travelling with a child who is under 18:

  • All parents travelling with children under the age of 18 to or from South Africa must produce an unabridged birth certificate of each child which shows details of the parents of the child.

Where one parent is travelling with a child who is under 18, they must produce:

  • An unabridged birth certificate.
  • Consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate, authorising them to enter or depart from South Africa with the child.
  • A court order granting them full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate.

Where an adult is travelling with a child, who is not their biological child, they must produce:

  • A copy of the unabridged birth certificate of the child.
  • An affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that they have permission to travel with the child.
  • Copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

Children travelling alone must produce:

  • Consent from one or both of the parents/legal guardian in the form of a letter or affidavit, for the child to travel into or depart from South Africa. If only one parent is able to provide proof of consent, they must also have a copy of a court order granting the full parental responsibilities.
  • A letter from the person who is to receive the child in South Africa, containing their residential address and the contact details where the child will be residing.
  • A copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in South Africa.
  • Contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

As advised from the local governments and the FCO, customers travelling to and from South Africa, with immediate effect, must have a Machine Readable Passport, as immigration will not be accepting passports which are non-machine readable.

Currency

The official currency is the South African Rand and you can buy them in the UK. The import and export of local currency in cash is limited to 5,000 Rand. If you need to change your UK Pounds in South Africa, you can do so at banks, currency exchanges and many hotels.

How to get your currency

Major credit cards are widely accepted at almost all hotels, shops, restaurants, and game reserves. The only exception seems to be petrol stations. Cash machines will also accept international cards and can be found in all towns, cities, shopping malls, and petrol stations. Traveller's cheques can be used at banks, hotels, restaurants, and some shops.

Currency code

ZAR

Tipping

Much like in the UK, a tip of 10 to 15 percent tends to be expected, although it is worth checking that a service charge has not already been added to your bill. The good news is the service in South Africa is usually worth every penny.

Health

Before travelling you should make sure you are up to date with the standard vaccinations such as Diptheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis A and Polio. Also recommended is Typhoid. Anti-malarial protection is essential for Kruger National Park. Yellow fever immunisation is required if arriving from an infected country or area. For full details, please contact your GP.  

What to pack

How you fill your suitcase for holidays in South Africa depends on where you are going and what you are doing. Think beachwear, city-chic outfits, muted safari gear, or all of the above. South Africa is very laidback, so there is no need to dress up for dinner (unless you want to) in all but the smartest of restaurants. Most places offer a glimpse of incredible scenery, so your camera and binoculars are essentials.

A jacket

jumper or fleece and long-sleeved cover-ups for evenings and breezy days;

High factor sunscreen;

A wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face;

Passport;

Cool

lightweight summer clothing;

Swimwear;

Sunglasses;

Comfortable walking shoes for exploring;

An electrical plug adaptor (the power supply in South Africa is 230 volts at 50 hertz).

A waterproof jacket;

Mosquito repellent;

Neutral coloured

practical clothing for safaris;

Your camera and binoculars;

South Africa Specialities

The country's diverse heritage has helped cook up its varied cuisine, with a mix of flavours both borrowed and distinctly South African. As a result, the nation's restaurant scene is thriving and a perfect match for the superb local wines. People love their meat here, from beef and chicken to springbok, warthog, and ostrich barbecued on a braai in true South African style. Seafood is abundant too, thanks to the miles and miles of coastline. Other local tastes include the sweet curries of Cape Malay cuisine in Cape Town, and the spicy Indian influenced dishes in Durban.

Potjiekos
This traditional Afrikaans stew is cooked in an iron pot called a potjie over an open fire. The recipe includes meat, vegetables, rice, or potatoes, all left to simmer with spices for up to six hours, ideally with a fireside chat while you wait. Stirring is frowned upon, the idea being that the different flavours mix as little as possible.

Bobotie
South Africa’s national dish has been eaten in the Cape of Good Hope since the 17th century. This Cape Malay dish is a spicy, baked minced beef stew with a creamy egg-based topping. The recipe traditionally contains dried fruit like raisins or sultanas.

Bredie
Bredie is the Afrikaans word for stew. This meat, tomato, and vegetable dish is usually made with mutton and a dash of chilli, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. It was first introduced to South Africa by Malay people, usually slaves brought to the colony. 

Street Food

South Africa has a multitude of great restaurants, but there is another side to its culinary appeal. Follow your nose, or the hungry locals, to find street food stalls in markets, on city pavements, and in the townships. South African street food reflects the diverse blend of indigenous and migrant people who have settled there, from European-style sausages to Indian-influenced samosas. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean, fresh, and cooked right in front of you.

Boerewors
This Dutch-inspired spicy sausage is made from beef and a blend of spices including allspice, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, and coriander seed. Usually grilled on a braai, it is often served with pap, a South African side dish similar to polenta, or hotdog-style as a boerie roll with a tomato and onion relish.

Biltong
South Africa’s most famous snack is a type of cured, spiced meat cut into strips. Similar to beef jerky but thicker and less sweet, it can be made from any meat, like springbok, ostrich, and even shark, but is usually made from cuts of beef.

Bunny Chow
Also known as kota, this fast food favourite is a scooped out bread loaf filled with curry. Legend has it that it was invented in Durban’s Indian community during apartheid, when people of Asian and African descent were banned from using cutlery.

Average Prices

With more than its fair share of luxury hotels and upmarket restaurants, holidays in South Africa can sometimes be expensive. Generally, though, prices compare very favourably to the UK. In a mid-range restaurant, a three-course meal for two might set you back 300 South African Rand, with a bottled beer at 18 South African Rand. In the shops, you can buy a 1.5 litre bottle of water for around 12 South African Rand.

National Dress

With its varied heritage, from indigenous tribes to European and Asian migrants, South Africa does not have one single national costume. Instead, there are many forms of traditional clothing, most of which have today been replaced by more Western styles. In Zulu culture, vibrant, brightly-coloured dress is a symbol of a woman's single status, as are beaded headbands, necklaces and izincu bands around elbows, waists, and elbows. Married Zulu women wear more demure isicholo hats and ibhayi shawls. While Zulu men traditionally wear different animal hides, depending on their marital status.

Customs & Traditions

Otherwise known as the Rainbow Nation, holidays in South Africa meet a diverse mix of beliefs, languages, colours, and creeds. The country has come a long way from its sad history of colonialism and apartheid, although tensions still linger in issues such as the unequal division of wealth. Around two-thirds of South Africans are Christian, with Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and traditional African beliefs also practised.

When it comes to etiquette, it’s worth keeping the following in mind:

•    Handshaking is the usual form of greeting, although some women may just give a nod of acknowledgment.
•    Smoking is prohibited in public buildings and on public transport.
•    Drinking alcohol on the streets or beaches is illegal.
•    Casual wear is widely acceptable on South Africa holidays.

Crime is still an issue in South Africa, although most occurs in townships and isolated areas away from the usual tourist destinations. The risk in the main tourist areas is generally low and the local authorities make protecting visitors a high priority. It is always worth following a few basic safety rules:

•    Always visit townships with a reliable tour guide.
•    Check beforehand that the areas you plan to visit are safe (ask hotel staff or police).
•    Know where you are going before you set off, particularly at night, and do not walk alone in isolated or unsafe areas.
•    Keep your valuables out of sight when away from the main tourist areas.

Wildlife

One of the world's top safari destinations, South Africa is home to all the iconic African animals that you may only have seen in the zoo before now. Most famous are the Big Five; if you want to see them in their natural habitat, Kruger National Park alone has over 2,000 lions, 10,000 elephants, 2,000 leopards, 20,000 buffaloes, and 10,000 rhinos.Other land mammals include giraffes, gazelles, antelope, zebras, baboons, meerkats, monkeys, hyenas, and cheetahs, which can reach speeds of over 60 miles per hour. Birdlife ranges from kingfishers and bee-eaters to eagles, vultures and the tiny-brained ostrich. Reptiles include tortoises, chameleons and over 100 species of snake, from the python to the venomous black mamba. Cold-blooded crocodiles roam the rivers and lakes, along with huge hippos. In the sea, loggerhead and leatherback turtles are the focus of a major conservation effort, and over 2,000 species of fish include the awesome great white shark. The largest of all South Africa's creatures, the blue whale, can grow up to 33 metres long. Other whales include orcas, humpbacks, and the most commonly spotted southern right whale, which can often be seen from the land as it comes into coastal bays to calve.

Shark Cage Diving
Coming face-to-face with great white sharks from the safety of a cage has to be one of the ultimate thrills. The best time of year to experience shark cage diving is from April to October, although great whites and other sharks are encountered year-round.

Whale Watching
South Africa is one of the world’s best destinations for watching marine mammals, with whales visiting annually from July to late November and pods of dolphins year-round. In the towns of Hermanus and Plettenberg bay, both claiming to be the whale capital of the world, you can see these incredible creatures by boat and even from cliffs and beaches.

Boulders Beach
Not far from Cape Town, this sheltered beach and its huge granite boulders are home to a growing colony of the endangered African penguin. Wooden walkways allow visitors to view these charming flightless birds in their natural habitat.