TRAVEL QUESTIONS

TRAVEL INFORMATION

South Africa has the world’s richest floral kingdom, which produces brief but bright and colourful flowering season. You can enjoy the flowering season in the spring months of August and September, when specialist flower viewing trips are run and almost every small town has a flower show.

As well as a vast variety of endemic and migratory birds, South Africa is also home to one-sixth of the world’s marine species along its 2954 km of coast.

 

Before travelling, you should check what your insurance policy/health policy will be covering overseas. If the health insurance policy provides coverage outside your country of origin, travellers should be advised to carry both the insurance policy identity card (as proof of insurance) and a claim form.

Although some health insurance companies will pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for medical evacuation back to the country of origin. Medical evacuation can easily cost $10 000.00 or more, depending on the location and medical condition. Travel/health insurance is compulsory on all our safaris due to the health care system at state facilities in South Africa – it is in your own interest.

Police Emergency – 10111
Ambulance & Fire Emergency – 10177
National Sea Rescue Institute – +27 21 434 4011
AIDS Helpline – 0800 012 322
Emergency Contraception Hotline – 0800 246 432
Flight Information Hotline – 086 72 77 888
LifeLine Counselling Line – 0861 322 322
Malaria Hotline – +27 82 234 1800
Medic-Alert Emergency Medical Information – +27 84 194 4444 or +27 21 461 0000
Netcare911 – 092 911
Poison Hotline – +27 21 931 6129
Snake/Scorpion/Spider Bite Hotline – +27 21 931 6129
Baz Bus – +27 21 439 2323
Local Telephone Directory Assistance – 1023
International Telephone Directory Assistance – 903
Tourist Information Hotline – +27 83 123 6789
South Africa does not change its clocks during the year, and there are no regional variations within the country. South African Standard Time is (+2) Greenwich Mean (or Universal Standard) Time, (+1) Central European Winter Time, and (+7) USA’s Eastern Standard Winter Time.
Credit cards are accepted at most places. Cash can be drawn with most cards from the cash machines in South Africa (as long as part of Maestro/Cirrus network, etc; best to confirm with your bank before leaving if concerned).
These are the two best ways of paying/getting cash while here, and the exchange rates are usually quite good, with minimal bank charges (please also confirm these with your bank before departing). Traveller’s cheques are often a bit of a nightmare, especially in the far out places! However, exchanging them at major tourist centres and airports is not a problem. Some forex (SA Rands in cash) may be useful, but we do not recommend carrying vast amounts of cash around, rather draw while here, as needed. A safe bet is always to draw money at the airport upon arrival.

Remember, if heading straight for the bush, there are no banks/cash machines in most of these spots since the elephants take offense!

The banks are open from 9am to 3.30pm (Monday – Friday), and 8.30am to 11am on Saturdays. All major credit cards can be used in South Africa, with American Express and Diners Club enjoying less universal acceptance. In some small towns, you may find you’ll need to use cash. You can’t purchase fuel with a credit card. You can pay road tolls with MasterCard or Visa.

Whilst tipping is certainly not obligatory, the amount of the gratuity should express the degree of satisfaction that you have obtained and is normally 10 – 15% of the service fee (e.g. restaurant bills, taxi fares etc.). The above are merely guidelines and you should be comfortable with the gratuity you give. On safari it is customary to tip your guide and tracker, and this is variable based on the length of your stay, group size, experience, service, etc. Ask your Brothers Safaris guide or lodge management for guidelines if necessary.

Value-added-tax (VAT) is charged on most items. Foreign visitors to South Africa can have their 14% VAT refunded (value of purchases exceed R250.00). VAT is refunded at the point of departure provided receipts are produced.

There are 11 officially recognised languages, most of which are indigenous to South Africa. English is spoken everywhere you go. English is the language of the cities, of commerce and banking, of government and official documents. All our road signs and official forms are in English and service staff will speak English.
South Africa enjoys a temperate and pleasant climate, with warm sunny days most of the year. The seasons of the southern hemisphere are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere so our Summer runs from November to February, when most of the country is characterised by warm to hot weather.
We have a warm sunny climate and you should wear sunscreen and a hat whenever you are out of doors during the day, particularly between 10am and 2pm, regardless of whether there is cloud cover or not.
Summer – mid-October to mid-February
Autumn – February to April
Winter – May to July
Spring – August to October
While we do make a few comments for you to consider, we strongly advise that you consult your regular doctor/pharmacist on all of these, and accept no responsibility for health issues/advice taken. Regarding vaccinations most doctors recommend more than is generally necessary, ensure that you are being advised on southern Africa/South Africa, and not Africa as a whole.

Regarding malaria, firstly confirm that you will be entering a malaria area on your safari with us. Even though the incidence of malaria has decreased markedly in many areas, we still strongly recommend prophylaxis. Many foreign doctors recommend a drug called “Larium” which has no resistance, but has been known to cause marked side effects. These include insomnia, hallucinations, mood swings, and personality changes, and can ruin a safari for you. We have seen these personally, so know they do occur. Some countries have now brought out strict measures regarding the use of this drug, notably the US where it is produced. There are several new prophylactic drugs available in different countries without resistance and minimal side effects, and we recommend using one of these.
Remember no prophylaxis is 100% and common sense measures to avoid being bitten are most important (insect repellents, long sleeves, etc)

For more information, please have a look at the “Useful Links” page on our website for a link to a comprehensive malaria website.

The above information for you to consider and discuss with your doctor. Brothers Safaris accepts no liability in this regard whatsoever.

Medical facilities in cities and larger towns are world-class, but you will find that in rural areas the clinics and hospitals deal with primary health needs, and therefore do not offer the range of medical care that the large metropolitan hospitals do. Trained medical caregivers are deployed round the country, so help is never far away.
High-quality tap water is available almost everywhere in South Africa, treated so as to be free of harmful micro-organisms, and in any area other than informal settlements, is both palatable and safe to drink straight from the tap.
New Year’s Day – 1 January
Human Rights Day – 21 March
Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday)
Family Day (the Monday after Easter Sunday)
Freedom Day – 27 April
Workers Day – 1 May
Youth Day – 16 June
Women’s Day – 9 August
Heritage Day – 24 September
Day of Reconciliation – 16 December (traditionally the start of South Africa summer vacations)
Christmas Day – 25 December
Day of Goodwill – 26 December
If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following becomes a public holiday.
For the majority of foreign backpackers who travel to South Africa entry is straightforward and hassle-free. All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country and in some cases, a visa. The Department of Home Affairs’ website will give you the lowdown on visa costs, processing time, where to apply, visa requirements (what to submit), requirements for people in transit, duration and purpose of stay, medical visas and photographs.
Services to foreigners
General visa information
Supplemental visa information
Visa application form

The above information is for you to consider and discuss with your doctor. Brothers Safaris accepts no liability in this regard whatsoever.