Top 10 Things to Know Before Traveling to South Africa

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Avoid unpleasant surprises by planning ahead and understanding what to expect while visiting South Africa for the first time. Here's a quick rundown of Things ... read more...

  1. If you imagine South Africa as a rural and underdeveloped country, you might be surprised to learn that the tap water is safe to drink in most locations. Over the duration of your journey, this might save you a lot of money on plastic bottles.


    Tap water is still considered safe to drink, especially in major cities like Pretoria and Cape Town. However, water treatment facility upkeep is costly, and it is not always carried out successfully - especially in smaller municipal areas. While water treatment plants use several 'cleaning' techniques, the majority of them are concerned with the water's microbiological condition.


    In other parts of the country, the tap water is still unsafe to drink. These are usually found in more isolated areas. Even so, your lodging might have a filtration system in place to ensure that the tap water is safe.

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  2. South Africa, like every other country, is unfortunately not immune to scammers. Because many people visit South Africa with the intention of volunteering, many predators target those who intend to do so. According to World Nomads, some organizations may dress youngsters up as poor in order to elicit large donations from wealthy travelers.


    If you wish to donate to a charity while in South Africa, do your homework first. Choose a trustworthy and official institution that you are confident will not defraud you of your hard-earned money.


    South Africa
    is also a relatively tourist-friendly country, yet pickpockets and scammers are frequent, as they are in most popular travel destinations. Don't show off any pricey jewelry or electronics, and keep valuables like passports locked away in your hotel's safe.

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  3. There are a few things you can take to make your trip to South Africa as safe as possible. Oyster cautions against discussing politics because many people are enthusiastic about the subject.


    Locals have differing perspectives on well-known figures such as Nelson Mandela. Bringing up politics can lead to awkward situations at best and fights at worst. When conversing with locals, it's best to stick to safer, more neutral themes. On that topic, South Africans are notoriously sociable, so you'll almost certainly strike up a discussion with one!

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  4. South Africa has eleven official languages, with English being one of them. Most South Africans, especially if it is a second language, speak English, so tourists will have little trouble talking. If you opt to acquire a few basic terms in a local language, make sure you explore which languages are spoken where in the country, as not everyone speaks all eleven.


    When traveling, it's always a good idea to learn a little of the local language. In other circumstances, understanding the local language will be the only method to communicate because few people understand English. Even if English is widely spoken, knowing a few local language is sometimes just courteous.


    You can literally get away with speaking English in South Africa. One of the official languages of the country is English (there are 10 others). Afrikaans and Zulu are two more commonly spoken languages in South Africa.

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  5. From May through September is the finest season to visit South Africa for a wildlife safari. The Dry season occurs in the east of the country (where the major parks are located) throughout these winter months. During the dry season, wildlife is easier to detect since vegetation thins and animals congregate around waterholes and rivers. The parks and reserves in Greater Kruger and KwaZulu-Natal are covered in the 'Kruger & Around' sections below.

    The dry and wet seasons in Cape Town are the polar opposites of those in Kruger. As a result, the best time to visit Cape Town and its environs is from November to March, when the weather is dry. The sections below about Cape Town and its environs apply to the entire Western Cape as well as surrounding parks.


    Low safari season, which spans from November to April, features lower prices, occasional rain showers, and lusher landscapes that make for beautiful images but can make finding wildlife more difficult. Consult your travel agent about the best options for your schedule and personal preferences.

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  6. Many individuals plan their South African vacations assuming that the country will be small. While it is small in comparison to the rest of the African continent, it is a major country in its own right, ranking as the world's 24th largest.


    It's a good idea to keep in mind that the country is extremely huge, so don't overbook yourself. Remember to factor in travel time between destinations, as viewing everything you wish to see may take considerably longer than anticipated.


    Expect to spend at least a week exploring South Africa, which is roughly twice the size of France. Decide the cities, towns, and locations you want to visit before you leave. The larger cities, such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, attract the majority of visitors, but there's much more to see than the main attractions.
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  7. South Africa is a foodie's dream come true, with incredible restaurants ranging from gourmet dining to informal cafes and marketplaces. South Africa has it all, whether you want to experience traditional foods like "smileys" or "walkie talkies," eat a world-class steak, or learn about great vegetarian cuisine.

    South African cuisine represents the vast spectrum of culinary traditions represented by the country's numerous communities. The Khoisan, one of South Africa's indigenous peoples, hunted over 300 species of edible food plants, including the rooibos bush legume, whose culinary significance continues to influence South African cuisine.


    Following interactions with Bantu pastoralists, cultivated crops and domestic animals proliferated, supplementing traditional Khoisan meat preservation techniques. Furthermore, Bantu-speaking populations developed a diverse range of culinary items and dishes, many of which are still eaten in traditional settlements and metropolitan restaurants today. This is one of the Things to Know Before Traveling to South Africa.

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  8. The website of the South African Department of Home Affairs gives thorough information on which nationalities require visas and how to obtain them. Europeans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and Americans, on the other hand, are free to visit the country for 90 days.


    Your passport should be valid for six months from the date of your arrival in South Africa. According to South African immigration requirements, your passport must be valid for at least 30 days beyond your anticipated date of departure from the country.


    Some immigration officials, however, insist that a passport be valid for at least 6 months on the date of arrival into South Africa. To avoid issues at the airport upon arrival, make sure your passport is valid for at least six months. When you arrive in South Africa, your passport should contain at least two vacant pages. This is one of the Things to Know Before Traveling to South Africa.

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  9. South African public transportation cannot be compared to that of developed countries. Taxis are scarce, and there is no public transportation in the country. The Gautrain operates in Johannesburg and Pretoria, while Uber is available in all major cities. Renting a car and going on a road trip is your best bet, but keep in mind that South Africans drive on the left.


    If you do decide to rent a car while in South Africa, choose for a basic model rather than something fancy. Even if you can afford the best, this is not the place to flaunt it.

    Because many of the people you meet will be poor, you'll have a larger probability of being robbed. Always choose a vehicle with a roof when purchasing a vehicle. This will lessen the likelihood of being robbed. Driving exclusively during daylight hours is also a good idea. This is one of the Things to Know Before Traveling to South Africa.

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  10. Many individuals who have never visited South Africa perceive the country to be extremely rural and undeveloped; nonetheless, the country is fully urbanized in many parts. From infrastructure to shopping malls, the largest cities have all that western cities have. This is one of the Things to Know Before Traveling to South Africa.


    If you were hoping to arrive in a place where giraffes strolled by your window, this may be disappointed. You'll almost always have to go into the jungle and hire a safari tour to see any wildlife. Animals rarely venture into cities.


    Many tourists are also astonished to discover that South Africa is remarkably similar to Western countries when they arrive. The quality of retail stores and restaurants is comparable to that of the rest of the world. So, if you forget anything important, from electronics to clothing, you may quickly pick it up in South Africa.

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