FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA
This information is intended as a guideline only. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge. Please note that we are providing links to external websites as guidelines for more information only. Karell Travel is not responsible for the content thereof.
What are the entry / visa requirements for South Africa?
Passports are required by all foreign visitors to South Africa and must be valid for at least 6 months after the intended length of your trip. It is essential to have at least two blank, consecutive pages for each country you will be visiting. This excludes Amendment and Endorsement pages. If you do not have the required blank pages, you could be denied boarding on your flight to South Africa.
Visas may be required for South Africa depending on the nationality of your passport. U.S. / Canadian citizens are issued upon arrival at no charge. It is is your responsibility to check the entry visa requirements with the individual embassy of each country you intend visiting prior to departure.
Visa Stamps Upon Arrival
Please check the dates that officials stamp in your passports to ensure the visa has been issued for the entirety of your stay. This will avoid any problems exiting the country. Be sure to check this information before you leave the immigration counter.
*Karell Travel has provided this information as a courtesy only. Although it is accurate to the best of our knowledge, regulations are subject to change without notice and Karell Travel cannot be held liable for travel interruption and/or denial of entry resulting from failure to meet immigration requirements. For the most up to date information, please refer directly to the South African Department of Home Affairs Website.
What is the weather / climate like in South Africa?
South Africa enjoys a high number of clear, sunny days. Although varied through different regions, the climate is generally mild year-round. Snowfall is limited to the highest mountain peaks and mean annual rainfall comes to a relatively dry 20 inches.
Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate – it rains during the winter months and it is chilly. The summer months are dry and warm and can be very windy at times.
Durban’s climate is almost the same as Miami Florida, hot and humid and rainy in the summer, warm dry days and cool to chilly evenings during the winter months.
Johannesburg’s climate is warm during the summer with most of the rainfall during this time. Winters in Johannesburg are moderate, with dry sunny days and chilly nights.
Kruger National Park’s climate during the summertime is hot and humid during the day and cooler in the evenings. Summer afternoons very often bring thundershowers which tend to refresh the air considerably. Winter weather is warm and dry during the days with chilly evenings and mornings.
Make no mistake, in the winter months the evenings and early mornings can be very cold. If you are on safari during this time, you will need to take very warm clothing especially for early morning game drives.
What is the currency of South Africa?
South Africa’s unit of currency is the Rand (ZAR), denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1 (one Rand).
1.00 USD = 17.1 ZAR (As of January 2023)
Credit Cards :
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted throughout South Africa. American Express is less widely accepted.
Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Change. ATM’s are readily available in major cities.
For up to dates rates of exchange click on the following link : WWW.XE.COM
What if I have dietary restrictions / requirements?
Most dietary requirements (kosher, vegetarian hindu etc) can be accommodated provided we request them well in advance of your trip. This is particularly important if you will be visiting game lodges.
Please be sure to inform your consultant of any allergies as well (gluten, lactose, peanuts etc.)
What is the language in South Africa?
South Africa has 11 officially recognized languages, most of them indigenous dialects.
English is widely spoken throughout and is the primary language in cities, commerce, banking, and government. Road signs and official forms are in English and you can expect all hotel/lodge staff to speak it fluently.
Will I be able to do laundry during my trip?
Laundry service is available at most hotels and lodges throughout South Africa. Prices will vary per hotel/lodge.
What are the luggage restrictions / recommendations?
Valuable items such as medications, eye glasses, sunglasses, wallets, passports, computers, iPads, cell phones, cameras, binoculars, jewelry etc should be packed in your carry on luggage. We recommend placing a TSA approved lock on all checked baggage out of an abundance of caution.
Luggage restrictions vary between airlines. Please check with your travel consultant with regard to weight restrictions and quantity / size of bags permitted.
Light Aircraft Flight Restrictions
If your journey contains flights on light aircraft you will be subject to restrictions due to the capacity of the aircraft. You must have a soft-sided duffel bag in order for it to fit in the luggage pod. Hard suitcases are strictly prohibited.
Light aircraft baggage weight allowances typically range from 33 lbs- 44 lbs per person, your consultant will ensure you are aware of the specific requirements of your itinerary. Additional luggage weight allowance can be purchased at a surcharge, subject to availability.
For safety reasons, all light aircraft passengers must provide their personal weight prior to travel to ensure the aircraft is safely loaded within its weight restrictions.
Should I take a camera / binoculars?
Wherever your journey takes you, you will be in a photographer’s paradise so we highly recommend taking a camera with a capable zoom. Smartphone cameras are great but they are sorely lacking in zoom functionality which can make capturing crisp wildlife pictures very difficult past a short distance.
A good pair of strong binoculars is a must on safari to get the most out of your sightings. Guides generally have their own pair that they will gladly share, but in our experience having your own creates a much better experience.
Camera equipment and lenses are heavy and are included in baggage allowances so for your convenience, there are certain game lodges that rent equipment for the period of your stay. Speak with your consultant for more information.
What is the electrical current in South Africa?
All electrical appliances in South Africa run on 220V (in the U.S. we run on 110v). Outlets are made to fit round 3 pin, 15 amp plugs. Although adaptors are generally available at hotels, we highly recommend taking your own adaptor. Most modern electronics (smartphones, tablets, laptops etc) have dual voltage capability and can be safely used with a plug adapter. Any devices that do not support dual voltage should only be used with a voltage converter adapter.
What Time Zone is South Africa in?
Local time in South Africa is GMT +2
That means it is 6 or 7 hours ahead of the eastern United States depending on whether daylight savings time is in effect in the U.S.
What are the tipping/gratuity guidelines?
Tipping is not compulsory. If, however, you want to tip because you have received good service, we have enclosed a brief guideline to assist you:
Transfer driver : US$ 5 per person
City Touring Driver and/or Guides : US$ 10-15 per person for half day tours, US$20-25 per person for full day tours.
Safari Guide / Game Ranger at Game Lodges : US$20-25 per guest per day
Trackers at Game Lodges : US$ 10 per guest per day.
General Staff at Game Lodges : US$ 10-15 per guest per day
Porterage : US$ 1-2 per person per movement.
Restaurants: 10% is customary
Do I need vaccinations for South Africa?
There is no formal requirement for any shots for entry into South Africa including Covid-19 vaccination. Certain safari areas do present a malaria risk so you should speak with your physician about anti-malarial medication. They may have other optional recommendations for you to consider, we defer to their medical expertise.
Please consult with your physician for recommendations regarding inoculations/immunizations.
Can I drink tap water in South Africa?
Although tap water may be fine in most areas for bathing and brushing teeth, we recommend that you drink bottled water at all times.
What should I pack for a safari in South Africa?
As a general guideline, comfortable casual wash and wear clothes are recommended. In the bigger cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban you may want to pack something a little more formal for dinner in the evenings.
If you are going on safari, the less you take the better as most lodges and hotels do offer laundry service if you are staying at least two days.
Muted colors such as stone, khaki, beige or brown are recommended when you are on safari.
Game drives in the early morning and evenings can be quite cold especially in winter so you must pack accordingly.
The key is to dress in layers in the early morning and strip down layer by layer as it gets warmer as the sun rises. Vice versa for evening game drives.
Light weight shirts/blouses with long sleeves as protection from the sun and mosquitos
Jeans or safari trousers
A light weight water-proof jacket
Comfortable walking shoes/sneakers
Comfortable walking sandals or flip flops for warmer days
A wide brimmed hat with under-chin tie to prevent it from flying away
A warm windproof jacket (winter)
A fleece (winter)
A warm polo neck shirt (winter)
A beanie (winter)
A warm scarf (winter)
Equipment & Other
Spare prescription eye glasses/contact lenses
Cameras and related paraphernalia like lenses etc and plenty of memory cards and spare batteries
A small powerful flashlight and extra batteries Travel alarm clock
Small purse size umbrella can come in handy
Small lint roller
A light pack-able backpack or tote to carry equipment and stuff on game vehicles
A supply of Ziploc bags in different sizes may come in handy for dust or water proofing cameras , wet bathing suits etc.
Chargers for cell phones, iPad, cameras, computers and you may want to invest in a mini travel charger surge protector with dual USB ports and five charging outlets.
Personal First Aid Kit
Itch spray for bug bites
Sunscreen with high SPF factor
Purse size kleenex packets Eye drops
Any prescription medications that you rely on on a daily basis.
Can I get a tax refund on my South African purchases?
A VAT rate of 14% is levied on most products and services. To qualify for a refund, you must be in possession of a valid passport, valid tax invoices, and goods purchased.
Make sure your invoices explicitly state their purpose as a VAT invoice and show specific amounts charged. Goods cannot be intended for use or consumption within SOUTH AFRICA and must be in their original packaging.
This can be a lengthy process at airports and harbors , so make sure you allow enough time to obtain your refund.