Travellers are recommended "not to look too wealthy", which
is something we do with ease! As with other countries, the cities are
more dangerous than the country areas, and several hotels warned us against
venturing out at night. We felt quite safe in the tourist centres of Cape
Town and Pretoria, and in the towns on the Garden Route.
appeared to be a no-go area for the casual vistor on safety grounds. Many commercial and
residential buildings all over South Africa have signs like the one shown above.
The Rand is the main money unit, divided into 100 cents. Value Added Tax is
added to many purchases, and this can be claimed back before flying home
(actually, we kept all of the receipts but in the end we concluded that
it wasn't worth the hassle of making a claim at the airport). There are
ATMs in the cities, whilst banks in smaller towns will cash travellers
cheques. Credit/debit cards are usable in many retail outlets.
is a way of life in South Africa so 10% should be added to payments in
There are no less than eleven official languages in South Africa, with Afrikaans and
English being used everywhere. The main African language depends on what
is mostly used in the province you are in. We found it a friendly thing
to speak a little Xhosa (pronounced a bit like 'korsa') when in the Cape, and
Zulu when in Kwazulu-natal and Mpumalanga.
Waiters can easily be coaxed
to teach you a few words in their language (don't forget to tip them for
this extra service), and will be amused by your efforts! In order to avoid
a gaffe when trying out new words, it is useful to ask what is the 'first
language' of the person you are addressing.
South Africa's climate varies from 'Mediterranean' in the Cape, through
desert in the north-west, to sub-tropical in the north-east. Snow falls
on the higher mountains in the winter. We went in October (Spring) and
found the weather on the Cape and Garden Route very pleasant, Durban sticky, Lesotho
cool and windy, Swaziland hot and Kruger very hot on one day followed
by wet and cool the next!
in South Africa