In South Africa we use hostels and guesthouses with twin beds
South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted, except in petrol stations where cash is required. Visitors should take care and be vigilant when withdrawing cash from ATMs as there is a high incidence of credit card fraud involving the use of ATMs.
Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in South Africa. You could also consider taking a universal electric adaptor.
Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference.
We recommend that you bring thin clothes and a high-necked long-sleeved T-shirt or a thin cotton roll-neck jersey for the nights to protect you against mosquitoes. Additionally, bring a jersey or a sweater and a raincoat. An umbrella is useful as protection against the rain as well as against the fierce sun. A pair of worn-in walking shoes with a good tread and strong soles is important. Acacia thorns can easily perforate soft soles. Sandals or flip flops are comfortable footwear on days we are not walking. Other important items to pack are sunglasses, suntan lotion, toiletries, basic medical travelling kit, sun hat or scarf, photo or film equipment and an adequate amount of film, spare batteries, torch, maybe a pocket knife (not in your hand luggage), alarm clock (wind-up or battery powered), stationery, books, passport, sufficient cheques and cash, copies of passport and travel insurance.
Try to read something about the local way of life before departure. That way you will not be too surprised about the primitive circumstances in which people sometimes live. It increases the chance that you will enjoy your trip. Intend to look at everything that is there rather than wondering too long about the things that may be lacking.
In general, South Africa has European standards. However, if you want to have a truly open conversation about serious topics like Mugabe or Aids, be aware of racial sensitivities following white minority rule.
In the big cities, beggars will definitely approach you. They will ask you for money, soap or pens. Sometimes they want sweets. Some beggars immediately mention the sum required of you. By giving them money, you will by no means solve their problems. More likely, it will make them more dependent on this type of income.
If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.
Yes you can pre-book transfers (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring. You can add these to your booking form.
Yes we recommend you to take a sleeping bag with you.
You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. Please check the embassy if you need a visa for South Africa and check out this link for info about the current situation. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure if you need a visa so you do not run into time problems. The current information is that UK/EU citizens do not require a visa for entry into South Africa.
The international access code for South Africa is +27. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code. As of 8 January 2007, South Africa has changed to 10-digit dialling (so city codes must be included, e.g. 021 for Cape Town) and international dialling has changed from 09 to 00. The country is served by three GSM mobile phone networks providing 900 and 1800 frequencies. Mobile service providers offer very cheap 'pay-as-you-go' Sim cards, which are a good option for visitors staying for some time. Internet cafes are widespread. Card and coin operated pay phones are also widespread.
If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller (same sex when possible) unless you have booked a single room.
Visitors to South Africa should be aware of the country's high incidence of crime. Although this tends to be concentrated in pockets throughout the country, for example in the township areas, opportunistic crime is fairly widespread. Travellers should always be aware of these risks and exercise the necessary precautions. Doors should be locked when driving and one should not walk alone at night in city streets, isolated beaches or remote areas. Berea and Hillbrow in Johannesburg are high risk areas and visitors should be cautious in these areas.