Planning a trip to the African countries comes with its own perils. Africa is known to be wild, beautiful, and untamed. South Africa located towards the South of the African continent is the most developed of all African nations and is unbelievably charming. The entire South African landform is remarkably endowed with stunning landscapes which presents you the best of the wild present in the world. All the game reserves, bushes, waterholes, lodges, and safari make for the ultimate travel experience to South Africa.
But even before you make up your mind, just consider these South Africa travel tips which would give you a basic outline of how things actually are in South Africa. Once you are aware of all the basic South Africa travel tips you are all set to go!
1. Visa requirement & application process
The first and the most important aspect of traveling to a foreign land is its visa requirement. There are a lot of countries around the world that have a visa-free access to South Africa (till 90 days). However, Indian citizen must get a visa to travel to South Africa. You can apply at any of the VFS Global offices across India.
VFS is the organization that manages visa and passport issuance-related issue. The company works for its client governments at discretion. The visa-free for Indian citizen is free, however, you have to pay the visa processing fee to the VFS
Know all about the visa procedure and document requirement here
Don’t head to VFS center with the application without double checking all your documents. Avoid any mistake or overwriting in the application form.
2. Best mobile network & internet
You can always buy a local SIM card at the airport. Mobile internet and SIM cards in South Africa are quite cheap. While you can also get the international roaming activated on your phone which would make your trip even more hassle-free. All you need to do is call the customer care of your respective mobile network and ask them to help you with the needful.
Don’t make prolonged international recharge without exploring the local SIM card options. You will end up spending more.
3. Local transport in South Africa
Local transport is good in South Africa provided you keep a few things in mind. South Africa has a good road network. The roads here have proper sign board which means you can take a car (GPS enabled) on rent, and get around on it. If heading to the jungles and dirt ridden path is on your mind then may need a 4×4 vehicle.
South Africa also has a major portion of it as the urban area where taxis are easily available. Gauteng Rail System or the Gautrain is relatively new in Johannesburg and is a convenient mode of transport for tourists. If your hotel has a train station near enough then traveling around will get even more efficient. Public transport and buses aren’t recommended in most of the areas. It is also advised not to hire any random taxi as it might lead to trouble, especially when it grows dark. Therefore, always take a taxi from a trusted service provider or a tour operator.
Don’t hire a cab from any unspecified or remote location. Avoid public transport and buses in areas you aren’t aware of. The same goes for hitchhiking in these places.
4. Local Currency
Rand is South Africa’s local currency. 1 Rand is equivalent to INR 5.39. As you are traveling you have to be quite particular about your expenses. So here are a few tricks that you can consider. Your international debit card is your savior if you have enough balance in your bank. No matter which bank it is, if the debit card is international, which, in most of the cases is, then the dispensed currency will be Rand.
The transaction charges are minimal(around 3%) which shouldn’t bother you. The second thing that you can do is convert the money as per requirement before you board your international flight. If you are planning for a jungle safari, stock up money in advance as you might not find ATM in such rural areas.
If you are in big cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town then you might also get plenty of opportunities to swipe your credit card. But my advice would be, DON’T! They levy a heavy charge on each transaction which would hurt you dearly when you will receive a lengthy bill at the end of the billing cycle.
Don’t use the credit card until you aren’t in a grave situation. The same goes with money exchange counters.
5. Clothes & other wearables
Dull and faded clothes are mostly preferred when you are in out exploring wild Africa. The national parks of South Africa are known to have plenty of wildlife in its vast jungles. When you are walking into the kingdom of animals you must be dressed as they prefer. Animals get turned off by flashy clothes. Therefore, it’s advised to wear modest and clothes faded in appearance. Off-white and khakis are mostly preferred. Carry a hat, sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, and other insect repelling creams when you go for the jungle safari.
Don’t wear red, yellow, green, or any other sparkling colored clothes.
6. Receptive and open-minded approach
South Africa is one of the most vibrant countries have you would have ever been. There are as many as 11 official languages of South Africa with isiZulu or isiXhosa being spoken by 40 % of the population. But you will find English speaking people in major town and cities across South Africa. Afrikaans is another major language and it is advisable to learn the basic greeting words of any country that you are visiting.
Not that it would hamper you in any way but it is only going to leave a positive impression on the locals and they would be more generous to you and end up having lots of discourse with you. The people in South Africa are so vivid, and this place is all about unique experiences.
Don’t ever make racist remarks or friendly with people in the offbeat locations that you aren’t aware. Try to stay with your guide.
Looks like you are certainly more educated and aware of the basics before commencing your trip to South Africa! It’s time you started looking for a perfect South Africa travel guide!