Capital city: Cape Town is the legislative capital, Pretoria is the administrative capital, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital
International airports: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth +
Languages: Afrikaans and English
Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone: South Africa Standard Time (EST + 6)
International dialling code: +27
Emergency services: Dial 112 or 10111 for police, 10177 for ambulance
U.S. Embassies: A: 2 Reddam Ave, Steenberg Estate, Cape Town, 7945 | T: +27 (0)21 702 7300
A: 1 Sandton Dr, Sandhurst, Johannesburg, 2146 | T: +27 (0)11 290 3000

passport & visa

  • A valid passport is required for entry to South Africa. Your passport must contain at least two blank pages and must be valid for at least six months beyond your date of departure.

  • A free tourist visa will be issued for stay of up to 90 days.

  • You must be in possession of a return or onward ticket upon entry to South Africa.


  • There are no compulsory inoculations for entry to South Africa.

  • Pack prescription medications in their original containers with pharmacy labels in your carry-on luggage. Also bring along copies of your prescriptions in case you lose your medications or run out. Don't forget an extra pair of contact lenses or prescription glasses.

  • Use sunscreen and stay hydrated throughout your trip.

  • Insect repellant is recommended around dusk when on safari.

  • Tap water is safe to drink in most of South Africa. In safari parks we recommend following the guidance of your lodge and purchasing bottled water if necessary.


  • South Africa's high crime rate is largely due to social inequalities, which makes crime a risk to travellers visiting the country. Despite the statistics and headlines though, the majority of travellers visit without incident. 

  • Listen to local advice on unsafe areas and be aware of your surroundings including people behind and around you.

  • Do not show signs of affluence, display money or carry valuables such as laptops or camera openly in public.

  • Keep a small amount of cash handy and separate from your other money, so that you don't need to pull out a large wad of bills for making purchases.

  • When at restaurants or bars, do not leave your bag under your seat or table or hung over the back of a chair, keep it on your lap.

  • Crime significantly increases after dark. In Cape Town avoid walking from downtown hotels to the waterfront at night.

  • If confronted by an armed individual, the advice is to immediately comply, avoid sudden movements and eye contact, and avoid resistance.

  • Do not open your hotel door to anyone without verifying their identify with reception first.

  • Uber is the safest ride share app and form of transport in South Africa.

  • If hiking, stick to paths, take a map and be prepared for sudden weather changes.

what to pack

  • Important documents: passports, travel insurance details, emergency contact details, International Driving Permit (IDP), credit cards, debit card for ATM withdrawals and +/-$200 USD of South African cash (ZAR)

  • Safari days: neutral-coloured, non-distracting clothing, warm layers for mornings and evenings spent in open air safari vehicles

  • Relax days: swimwear, beach bag, cover-up and flip flops

  • City days: loose light layers: shorts, t-shirts, skirts and sundresses

  • Evenings: skirts, dresses, pants, shirts, cardigan, sweater and a light scarf

  • Practical: day pack or cross-body bag, sunglasses, sunhat, reusable water bottle, binoculars and comfortable shoes

  • Toiletries & medicines: sunscreen, after-sun, bug spray, prescription medications

  • Electronics: chargers, travel adapters (South Africa has predominantly type D and M sockets), phone and camera

  • For fun: books, magazines, deck of cards, travel journal or notebook