A relatively big country, South Africa is on the southernmost (1.22 million km²) tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems. Inland safari destination Kruger National Park is populated by big game. The Western Cape offers beaches, lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, craggy cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town, beneath flat-topped Table Mountain. major capitals in South Africa include Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Bloemfontein.
Official Languages: English, Zulu, Afrikaans, Tswana.
Before you make your journey to amazing South Africa, use the information featured in this section to plan your trip and make the most of your time here, from entry requirements, safety tips, how to get around to weather conditions, currency and accommodations. Your trip planning starts here and we’ve got you covered! Read our updated FAQs to learn more.
Local Currency: South African Rand (ZAR). Approximately 14.1122 South African Rands = 1 US Dollar (January 2019)
ENTERING SOUTH AFRICA
To enter South Africa, you have to present your identification documents, like your ID card or passport. And, depending on your country of origin, a stamped visa. The visa documentation / permission MUST BE DONE in advance of your arrival irrespective whether you fly or drive there.
It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months and has several clear pages for visas prior to departure. If you are traveling on a new regulations require that your passport is valid for 12 months for entry into South Africa. It is suggested that you check your status as regards visas prior to travel with your agent or Wild Frontiers; they change on a regular basis, and some of these states embassies will INSIST you get one prior to travel, whereas they may be freely available on arrival.
Most nationalities require entry visas when traveling to South Africa. Visas can be purchased on arrival at the airport for $50, or can be issued by South African High Commissions in countries where they are represented or applied for online in the comfort of your sits (this part may be strenuous though). The fees for visas issued at South African high commissions abroad are generally more. USD notes have to be dated 2006 or newer and be in good condition with no tears or marks.
EAC nationals will be issued with a 6 months’ visitors pass (renewable) at entry points with no fee.
For more information about entering South Africa, visit https://visas.immigration.gov.za/
It is a strong recommendation that you are covered by some type of medical insurance before you grab that flight to come and experience the South African Safari. Talk to your travel consultant about this. Should you require further information please do not hesitate to contact us. Minimum cover should be $80 for medical and related expenses.
Yellow Fever inoculation is required should you travel between South African countries. This must be done no later than 10 days prior to your departure. If you have a history of liver disorders (hepatitis etc.) you must consult your physician first.
Typhoid may be requested from the authorities when crossing into South Africa, although it is unusual for it to be requested. This can be done by your local GP or through a travel clinic. There is also the tablet form available – only available from certain pharmacies.
Tetanus is also recommended, as is Cholera, but are not compulsory.
Hepatitis inoculation is at the discretion of the traveler.
Malaria prophylactics are a must and can be purchased from your local pharmacy. Please consult your pharmacist/doctor. It is also a good idea to bring some insect repellent with you to spray on yourself in the evenings and early morning when mosquitoes tend to be about.
Diarrhea /Giardia etc. Good personal hygiene and control over the quality of your drinking water should avoid this, bottled water is readily available throughout the country, but take along some medicine in case, particularly if you are planning to spend some time travelling alone and not with a tour. We recommend that guests either buy bottled water, or take along water purification tablets and look after your own drinking water.
As with all medical requirements, your doctor or travel clinic will provide the most up to date information; the above is a guide only.
Some animals are highly susceptible to human diseases including flu and colds. If you are participating in a safari walk then you need to be free of any visibly contagious diseases and this is checked at the start of the trek by the Park Authorities. If they are in any doubt of your condition, they reserve the right to prevent you from continuing on the trek. Our advice is that if you feel you are worried about this aspect, you please inform your safari guide as soon as possible, and he will seek advice as to the best way to manage the situation.
Live updates on weather in South Africa are available here: South Africa Weather
Live updates on flights in OR Tambo International Airport, South Africa are available here: OR Tambo International Airport Live Data from Airline
LUGGAGE AND IMPACT TRAVEL
Due to space limitations in the vehicles it is imperative that luggage be kept to a minimum. We suggest a barrel or soft bag (15 kg maximum) for your main gear, plus a camera bag or smaller ‘day pack’ for inside the vehicle. Samsonite / hard bags / suitcases, etc. are not suitable as it makes packing very difficult. If you are travelling internationally with one we suggest you repack Churchill Safaris Tour items into your soft bag, before the safari, and then leave your hand suitcase at your return point e.g. Any Capetown Hotel to collect later.
If you are traveling on a light aircraft within South Africa, then the luggage restriction is dependent on combined client and luggage weights and varies from plane to plane and routing but usually only up to 10kg per person in soft bags and this is strictly adhered to for safety reasons. Please check your personal allowance on confirmation of itinerary and aircraft.
On a trip to South Africa you can experience all four seasons. It will also be necessary to take some wet weather gear as it does rain in the mountainous areas of South Africa on a regular basis. We suggest lightweight rain gear for the hike to view the beautiful wildlfie.
During your safari, depending on the style of trip chosen, dress code may vary slightly. Women are advised to cover knees and shoulders when in a rural village or market. None of the lodges/hotels insist on any formal type of dress – ties, jackets etc. The norm would be casual or smart casual depending upon the level. In towns and cities, and at certain of the more up-market lodges and hotels then long pants and shirt / golf shirt would be more appropriate (especially in the evenings), or ladies may wear a skirt of course!
Bush gear i.e. hard wearing clothes, no bright colors, e.g. greens, khaki and similar neutral clothes are recommended. In the day time on safari, generally shorts or lightweight trousers, t-shirts, hat, sunblock etc. are recommended as it is generally fairly warm (25-35 degrees C average). Avoid wearing blue colors in areas where you may find tsetse flies, as they are often attracted to these colors.
We suggest you take something warm e.g. tracksuit, fleece or sweater for the mountainous areas. It is at a higher altitude and will therefore be cooler in the evenings. – a rain jacket/anorak is also suggested as it rains, regularly in the in the rain forest areas, even in the drier months. Long trousers and long sleeved shirts are also recommended for general evening use to assist in the prevention of mosquito bites and also as it’s generally cooler than during the day.
While on your safari walk, you will need a comfortable, hard wearing, pair of walking shoes or boots. Conditions are generally very muddy/slippery. There are uphill sections which may be quite steep and strenuous. It is also advisable to wear a long sleeve cotton shirt and lightweight long trousers to protect yourself from the undergrowth, stinging nettles and biting ants. (Tracksuit pants often get caught on bushes, thorns, etc. and jeans can get very heavy when wet). Gloves are also highly recommended– this will prevent your hands being scratched when holding onto vegetation for support, through dense parts of the forest. Tuck your long pants into your socks/boots to avoid biting insects. Your clothes will in all likelihood get very muddy and may not recover to their original state – therefore take old clothing for the safari walks.
A suggestion from past Tour guests is to mention that if people want to help the poorer South Africans they could bring old clothes etc. with them to give to appropriate organizations/places.
If you are interested in this option you should advise Churchill Tailored Safaris before travel as we can set up times/days on safari where you can visit an orphanage, or school, assist or give a donation for “something specific”. Or South Africa Tourism Board can refer you to various organizations that we work in conjunction with for various community assistance and uplift programmes we can monitor and ensure that the appropriate funds are received by the right people! Handouts of money (except as genuine tips) sweets, pens etc. is to please be avoided. It creates a system of begging and invariably causes fights amongst the children when there is not enough to go around.
Your personal safety and well-being is our prime concern. Please take care of all your personal possessions at all times. DO NOT TEMPT petty theft, pickpockets, etc. with displaying large amounts of money, especially when near markets or in the center of Capetown/ Pretoria / Johannesburg.
If you come to South Africa, here are some tips that will help you have a safe and pleasant experience:
Your personal safety and well-being is our prime concern. Please take care of all your personal possessions at all times. DO NOT TEMPT petty theft, pickpockets, etc. with displaying large amounts of money, especially when near markets or in the center of Capetown / Pretoria / Johannesburg. If you come to South Africa, here are some tips that will help you have a safe and pleasant experience:
When at lodges / hotels we recommend you either keep your money and valuables with you or utilize the safe keeping facilities provided at the various establishments. Please also be sure to check your room and ensure you have everything packed before moving on to a new place.
ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT
Depending on the class or style of your Churchill Tailored Safaris Tour, your accommodation may range from high end class to medium class. There are many different styles of accommodation in South Africa varying from large hotels to smaller more intimate lodges and tented camps. Please consult your personalized itinerary for full details of each place you will be staying on your safari or check out Accommodation.
Should you stay in the more modest local hotels/guest houses you will have the use of showers and toilets, hot water cannot always be guaranteed. The hotels/guest houses themselves are very basic and generally clean, the staff are friendly and helpful. These hotels/guest houses are mainly utilized by local businessmen as not many tourists pass through these areas. They can be fairly noisy, especially on weekends but the atmosphere is friendly and accepting. Food is generally good, hearty African fare, sometimes there are European/Western items available.
While travelling through South Africa, you will be mostly on tarred roads and they are in reasonably good condition by African standards. There may be some VERY LONG days in the vehicle, but the interesting and diverse scenery generally makes up for it! There are however, some really bad sections of dirt road, especially in the more mountainous areas. In these areas travel will be slower, quite bumpy and there could be a lot of dust experienced en route. There are options for scheduled or charter flights for the longer routes – please enquire for prices and feasibility of this.
The Churchill Tailored Safaris Vehicles you will be traveling in are customized 4×4 vehicles which have been converted for local conditions; they have good leg room and seat between 4-7 persons, depending on the seating configuration, and have opening roof hatches for optimal game viewing. They are a little slower on the road than a saloon vehicle or a smaller ‘family’ 4×4 and do have air conditioning.
Your safari vehicle is generally used throughout the safari for traveling between destinations as well as for game drives and other activities at the lodges and within the National Parks.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY
There is no charge for personal filming of wildlife during the Churchill Tailored Safaris Tour and other scenes with personal video cameras, e.g. digital, slr etc. in South Africa.
Professional photographers, film makers or media should advise us at the time of booking as special procedures are required as well as costs to be incurred for photographing and filming.
Most lodges operate on solar power and so have limited facilities for charging batteries and some none at all, so come prepared with extra, just in case and charge up wherever it is possible en route on your safari – do not wait until down to your last battery!
Do not photograph any government buildings, police or military posts. Ask permission before photographing local tribesmen. For primate photography, a 35 – 70 mm zoom, or 50 mm fixed is usually sufficient, but you may want to carry a longer lens but remember you may well be in low light conditions. Take fast film if using film (200-400 ASA plus), as you are not allowed to use a flash. Please check your camera beforehand to ensure you know how to turn it off manually.
Game & bird photography obviously longer lens would be recommended 80-300mm ideally.
Do not spend all your time on distant wildlife trying for the classic photograph, look around you and observe and enjoy these gentle animals.
Follow the link to the list of all Embassies & Consulates in South Africa
Follow the link to all National/Public Holidays South Africa
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its high density of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. Hundreds of other mammals make their home here, as do diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles and storks. Mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of the landscape.
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is a diverse wildlife conservation park situated close to Port Elizabeth in South Africa and is one of the country’s 19 national parks. It currently ranks third in size after Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The original park has subsequently been expanded to include the Woody Cape Nature Reserve that extends from the Sundays River mouth towards Alexandria and a marine reserve, which includes St. Croix Island and Bird Island, both breeding habitat for gannets and penguins, not to mention a large variety of other marine life. Bird Island is home to the world’s largest breeding colony of gannets – about 120,000 birds – and also hosts the second largest breeding colony of African penguins, the largest breeding colony being St. Croix island. These marine assets form part of the plan to expand the 1,640 km² Addo National Elephant Park into the 3,600 km² Greater Addo Elephant National Park. The flora within the AENP is quite varied, and like all plant life, is a central factor to the ecological system in place. Several species of rare and endemic plants, particularly succulent shrubs and geophytes are native to the South African region within the AENP. Many species are under environmental pressure, however, and are facing possible extinction. More than 600 elephants, 400 Cape buffaloes, over 48 endangered black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) as well as a variety of antelope species. Lion and spotted hyena have also recently been re-introduced to the area. The largest remaining population of the flightless dung beetle (Circellium bacchus) is located within the park.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park is an area of the Garden Route National Park, on South Africa’s southern coast. It encompasses a marine reserve, deep gorges and local vegetation like the Big Tree, a towering yellowwood. The Mouth Trail crosses a suspension bridge over Storms River. The Otter Trail leads to Nature’s Valley, with birds including the Cape batis. The park is also home to small mammals, including bush pigs. Tsitsikamma National Park is a year-round destination. Whale watching season runs from early winter to the beginning of summer (Jun–Nov). There’s a temperate climate throughout the year, with the highest temperatures in summer (Dec–Feb). The Storms River Traverse (Aug) is a 3-day cycling challenge with a course that spans mountains and the coast.
Table Mountain National Park,
Table Mountain National Park previously known as the Cape Peninsula National Park, is a national park in Cape Town, South Africa, proclaimed on 29 May 1998, for the purpose of protecting the natural environment of the Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation. The park is managed by South African National Parks. The property is included as part of the UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site. The park contains two well-known landmarks: Table Mountain, for which the park is named; and the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwestern extremity of Africa. The park runs approximately north-south along the range of mountains that make up the mountainous spine of the Cape Peninsula, from Signal Hill in the north, through Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, Constantiaberg, Silvermine, the mountains of the southern Peninsula, terminating at Cape Point.The park is not a single contiguous area; the undeveloped mountainous areas which make up most of the park are separated by developed urban areas on the shallower terrain.