Facts You Should Know Before Leaving for South Africa

As a holiday destination, South Africa has a lot to offer. People are friendly and there is a lot to do – from life in the big cities to the vast open countryside. Relax on the beach or hike in the mountains. View a variety of wildlife and plant species in such abundance it will boggle the mind. Choose adventure travel or a luxurious spa experience.

The Culture

This is a truly cosmopolitan society so expect to experience a complete meld of different cultures. There are several official languages but most people can speak English. South Africans are generally sports mad – the predominant sports being rugby, cricket and soccer. They also love the outdoors and the climate does lend itself to that.

The Weather

On the whole, the weather in South Africa is mild and sunny. Always use sunscreen. Expect hot and humid conditions during summer – with January usually being the worst. It is coldest during June and July but temperatures don’t usually drop below freezing during the day. Some regions do get winter snowfall. That said, whenever you visit South Africa – be prepared for changeable weather. It has been known to snow in Spring. Rainfall varies according to season and province so check with your travel agent to ensure a sunny holiday. .

Should you Tip?

Tipping in restaurants is generally an accepted practice in South Africa – it is usually not included in the bill. A reasonable tip for good service is considered to be 10%-15%. Also expect to tip hotel porters, formal taxi drivers and, at times, petrol attendants. An area that is novel in the rest of the world is the car guards that guard your car whilst you are shopping. It is general to tip anywhere between R2 to R10, depending on how long you have left your car there. You are not required to tip but this is usually the only form of income these people receive.

Safety Concerns

If you listen to the world press, you would be forgiven for thinking that you are liable to be mugged or murdered leaving the airport when you get to South Africa. It is true that South Africa is not the safest country in the world but, by applying a little common sense, you will be okay. General tips include keeping car doors locked, seatbelts on and car windows closed; not venturing into dangerous neighbourhoods at night; not flashing your valuables and holding on tightly to handbags, cameras etc.

As with anywhere else, be on the alert and be aware of your surroundings. If something looks dodgy, avoid it. Most crimes in South Africa are crimes of opportunity. Keeping all the tips in mind will ensure that your South African holiday is fun and safe.

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