Passport and visa
Citizens of the E.U. countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, the USA and Singapore do not need a visa to enter South Africa. If you also travel to Swaziland and Lesotho: good news, they have the same requirements as South Africa. However official rules and regulations can change – always check with the South African embassy in your country for the current requirements.
Upon arrival you get a free visa, which is stamped on an empty page in your passport. The same happens when you visit Swaziland and Lesotho. So make sure you always have at least two blank right pages in your passport before you travel!
When leaving South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho or Namibia, your passport needs to be valid for at least another month (30 days). So check well before your departure what the validity of your passport is. You will need enough time to get a new one.
A useful tip: upon arrival at passport control ask for the maximum tourist visa, usually three months, this will make life much easier if you are delayed for whatever reason when travelling back home. If you don’t get it, don’t worry, we will help you with extending your tourist visa in case of need.
If you are citizen of another country you have to check the current visa regulations yourself – usually you’ll have to obtain a tourist visa before you start your trip. Make sure you apply in time, but no too soon, since visas have a limited validity period. Four weeks before you travel is usually a good moment.
Due to local requirements for renting a car in southern Africa, you need to be at least 21 years of age and have a valid driving license with a photo of yourself on it. If your license is not in English you will also need an international driving license. Check for your own country where you can obtain this. Usually you need to bring one or two photos and then you get it on the spot, but will have to pay a fee.
Tip: having an international driving license is handy in any case for police checks etc.
We do not like to point out the obvious, but here it is: as stated in our booking conditions, while we do our best to inform you correctly, it is your own sole responsibility to check, obtain and bring the required travel documents for all members of your traveling party and for all countries you visit. This includes passport and, if required, visa and/or driving license.
As Live2Roam-Africa we are not allowed to give you medical advice. We can only give you general information about health issues in southern Africa. It is your sole responsibility to obtain all information and requirements regarding health issues and to make sure you have/get the necessary vaccinations and the certificates to prove so. You can get all information from your local professional travel clinic or on www.who.int, site of the World Health Organization. It is noteworthy that advice from different professionals often differs, especially regarding malaria, but that the actual chance of getting a tropical disease is very low if you follow their advice.
Compared to many other countries in Africa, healthcare in South Africa is good to excellent. The standard in Lesotho and Swaziland is lower. Generally vaccinations against Hepatitis A and DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio) are recommended, as well as the use of a good mosquito detergent and malaria prophylaxis if you visit the Kruger area. In places with a lot of mosquitoes the hotels and lodges have either aircon, mosquito nets or a fan, so you don’t have to bring your own mosquito net. It is however handy to bring duct tape to fix those pesky holes and tears.
Always put your vaccination certificates in your carry-on luggage – any checks for this are before you retrieve your checked-in luggage! If you carry personal medical drugs, check with your doctor if you need a medical passport. This can prevent a lot of questions or even seizure when entering a country.
Do NOT underestimate the sun and the high temperatures! Sunshine can be very fierce and temperatures rise quickly during the day. Dehydration is a real danger. Which is why you have to bring a cap, sun cream and good sunglasses. ORS (oral rehydration salts), also very effective against dehydration if you get diarrhea, are for sale in most places along the way.
Water: in urban areas tap water is usually of high quality and safe to drink. It’s quite safe to have ice in drinks and to eat salads. However, when travelling to remote rural areas and the bush you should take your own drinking water along or buy bottled water. Most camps and hotels in the bush provide clean drinking water in your room.
Last but not least: if you fall ill within three months after you return home, always consult your local doctor and tell him when and where you travelled. In fact, even if you fall ill months of even years after you have traveled, it is wise to mention you have been to Africa. Many illnesses have an incubation period of several weeks or months, some even longer.
Most travelers find South Africa is not an expensive country compared to Europe and the USA. The currency of South Africa is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided in 100 Cents. Swaziland has the Lilangeni/Emalangeni (SZL) and Lesotho the Loti/Maloti (LSL). Both are fixed 1:1 to the Rand and you can freely use the Rand in both Swaziland and Lesotho, though not the other way round.
Denominations up to 5 Rand are in coins; notes are for 10 Rand up to 200 Rand. Try to save up on coins for tips etc. The exchange rate fluctuates between 8 and 11 Rand to the US$ or 12 to 16 Rand to the UK £. You can find the latest exchange rates on www.oanda.com. Having South African money is not boring – the notes depict a who-is-who of South Africa’s famous wildlife.
Card or cash?
You’ll find that most smaller payments are cash; most hotels and restaurants also accept credit card. A noticeable difference are petrol stations, where you (mostly) pay cash. Bring your credit card in any case for a deposit if you rent a car.
You can get cash (1,000-3,000 ZAR/day) regularly from ATM’s, providing your bankcard is valid for cash withdrawal in southern Africa – check this with your bank. Always bring some cash in case an ATM is out of order – around ₤ 200 or US$ 250 should be enough.
PS You are limited to bringing 5,000 Rand cash into the country, there are no such limits on (reasonable) amounts of other currencies.
Throughout all of southern Africa the current is 220/240 Volt/50 Hertz. You can charge your camera and cell phone in all hotels, lodges and camps. Sometimes a generator is used to provide electricity and then sudden peaks in voltage can occur. The generator is generally switched off at night. So bring a decent torch. Almost all so-called worldwide plugs do not fit in southern Africa, but you can buy a cheap, fitting plug locally. Most hotel rooms have one European two-pronged electricity outlet for battery chargers, but not for English or American plugs.
You’ll see plenty, plenty of wild animals during your tour. Sometimes up-close, sometimes far away. This is why a camera with a good zoom lens is not only handy but almost obligatory. Also bring binoculars. You will see most animals around dusk so make sure your camera can handle those conditions without using a flash. Don’t forget to bring a dustproof bag (or a sturdy plastic sack) – game drives in open vehicles can get dusty.
Memory cards and some battery types are available in the larger towns. However we advise you bring enough spare batteries and memory cards – you will make many more photos than you think…
Please consider yourself a guest in a foreign country and ask before you take a photo of someone. Most people love being on a photo when asked and it makes for great conversation starters. If you take down their address for sending copies after you return, please do so only if you mean it and don’t disappoint them by not sending the photos after you return. Police, border crossings, airports and military object are off-limits for taking photos or videoing.
WIFI AND CELL
Having Wi-Fi is one of the criteria we use for selecting our accommodations. As a result most accommodations we offer have Wi-Fi availability, but not all. Don’t be surprised to find it is limited to certain areas or times and that you have to pay for using Wi-Fi. Having said this, most places are catching on rapidly and Wi-Fi availability is improving in a high rate.
Do you have a cell phone with 900/1800 MHz tri-band or quad-band? It should work, but though South Africa has good overall coverage, not all places have a network. Costs and availability depend on your contract and your provider. Check these with your provider. If you want to call often with a companion we advise buying a local simcard, providing your phone is simlock-free. If you have a contract which includes data traffic we advise you check costs and conditions thoroughly before departure and switch it off when not in use!