I had a major opportunity last year to explore the culturally rich, historic and vibrant country of South Africa with Explore Africa Tours and it was everything that I could have ever dreamed.
South Africa is a traveler’s dream; if you want an up-close encounter with The Big 5 in an open-top jeep, you’ve got it. Want to sip wine at the world’s oldest vineyards? Not a problem. Want to visit the only street in the world that is home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners? Vilakazi Street, here we come!
Have I helped to convince you that you NEED to visit South Africa? If I have, or if you’ve already booked and waiting to jet set, there are a few things that you should know before you travel to the Cradle of Humanity.
- South Africa Is A Country – First thing’s first. South Africa is located in the continent of Africa. It is a democratic republic, that was once a colony of the Dutch and English.
- Ensure That You Have Two Blank Passport Pages – It is critical that you have two consecutive empty visa pages in your passport to gain entry into South Africa. While you may get be able to slip past an airline attendant who should be checking to see if you have those blank pages, you may not make it past officials in South Africa. Why is it necessary? I’m not too sure, I think if you are coming from a country that needs a South African visa that is what it is what it will be used for. Don’t quote me though!
- Seasonal Difference – One of the most important things to remember when booking your trip to South Africa is the weather! Remember, South Africa is located in the southern hemisphere, therefore seasons are opposite to that of Europe and North America. If it’s winter in North America, it’s summer in South Africa! However, South Africa’s climate is very sub-tropical, meaning lots of sunshine
- Vaccines Unnecessary – While you may need vaccinations for other countries in the continent of Africa, very rarely you will need any for South Africa. I didn’t need any, but it does depend on which country you are coming from. With that being said, you should always check to see if you need any.
- Time Difference – Even a veteran traveler makes mistakes. On my return from South Africa, I made a snafu by booking the wrong date to head home. Why? I didn’t pay enough attention to the time difference and missed my connecting flight. There is a seven-hour time difference as the country is on South Africa Standard Time.
- Dollar Is Strong – One of the advantages of travelling to South Africa is the ability to get more rands for your dollar. The dollar is very strong compared to the South African rand, the exchange right as of me typing is 1 USD – 13.67 R. This means that your money will go very far in South Africa. Average meals were about $30 USD for two people when I visited.
- Language Barrier – One thing that you do not have to worry about when in South Africa is a lack of communication due to a language barrier. While there are 11 l official languages spoken in the country, with English being one of them; you will also find a variety of other languages being spoken.
- Power Converter – When travelling to South Africa if you want to stay charged up, you will need a power converter or an adapter to charge your items. If you’re from a country that uses different plugs and sockets than of SA, a quick visit to Amazon for a durable one will take you but a few minutes. In South Africa the power sockets are type D, M and N and the standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Men usually have a problem using their shavers and women their hair dryers!
- Diet – First thing’s first, the food in SA is amazing and very inexpensive! If you’re not a meat lover, you may be a little annoyed because South African’s love meat! Their diet consists of lots and lots of meat and very little “sides”. You can find just about anything on the menu from chicken, fish, seafood, beef, and even game meat (Ostrich, Zebra, Antelope, Crocodile, just to name a few). If they can hunt it, you probably can eat it. Ostrich is delicious though! A major must!
- Go With An Open Mind – South Africa is a truly amazing country. They don’t call it the rainbow of nations for nothing; you will find so many different people, cultures and experiences. I urge you to go with an open mind. Everything that you have ever heard about the continent of Africa, all of the stereotypes, prejudices, preconceived notions and assumptions, let it go. Go with a blank slate. Go experience South Africa for yourself.
LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!