General information

Facilities
South Africa boasts world-class transport infrastructure, telecommunications, banking, medical and tourism facilities. Accommodation caters for all needs and is accredited by the national Tourism Grading Council, which upholds very high standards.

Electricity
The electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs are round 3-pin or 2-pin. Adaptors can be purchased, but may be in short supply, so it is always preferable to bring yours with you. US-made appliances may need a transformer. Most hotel rooms have 110 volt outlets for electric shavers and other appliances.

Driving
Non-residents are permitted to drive with a driving licence issued and valid in their own country, provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is in English. If your driver’s licence does not meet these requirements, an international driver’s licence is required. Driving is on the left and the wearing of seatbelts is compulsory.

People and Language
Diverse people and cultures combine to make the Rainbow Nation colourful. Population groups include the majority Nguni (incl. Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi); Sotho-Tswana; Tsonga; Venda; Afrikaners; English; Coloureds; Indians; Khoi and San; and immigrants from Africa, Europe and Asia. The majority religion is Christian, but freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Constitution. There are 11 official languages, including English. Most South Africans are multi-lingual and English is fairly widely spoken, notably in urban centres.

Health
Malaria is found only in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga (incl. the Kruger National Park) and Limpopo (north-eastern areas and near the Zimbabwean and Mozambican borders) and on the Maputaland coast of KwaZulu-Natal (north-east as far south as the Tugela River). Malaria risk is highest October-May. Although the incidence of malaria is rare, it would be best to take adequate precautions if you choose to visit these areas. In addition to malaria prophylaxis, insect repellents and mosquito nets can be effective. Medical facilities equal the best in the world and in many medical disciplines; South Africa is a global leader. A large network of hospitals offer excellent service, but make sure you have adequate health insurance.

Safety
Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists, provided they take basic common-sense precautions e.g. not walking alone in deserted areas at night, not flashing photographic equipment or jewellery and, in traffic, maintaining a safe following distance. Most major cities run organized crime prevention programmes and Basic Safety Tip guidelines are available at hotels and tourism information offices. If you are in doubt as to the safety of a particular area or attraction, contact the National Tourism Information and Safety Line on 083 123 2345. This number may also be used for assistance in replacing lost documents or reporting incidents.

Shopping
Modern shopping malls, arts & crafts routes and markets, flea markets and informal vendors provide a wide variety of goods, curios, and shopping experiences. South Africa’s fashion, gold and diamond jewellery, and art are much sought-after, as are the traditional handcrafted items such as Zulu beadwork; carved chessboards; painted ostrich eggs; colourful woven baskets, handbags and soft furnishings; mohair or sisal rugs; traditional wooden masks and carvings; pottery and leather items. And don’t forget the world-renowned Cape wines, exotic fruit liqueurs, brandy, rooibos tea, dried fruit, biltong (dried meat snacks) and chutney. Most major shopping centres and malls operate 7 days a week, but small town shops are often closed on Sunday.

Money
The local currency is the South African Rand (R1=100 cents), which exchanges favourably with the major international currencies. This makes South Africa an affordable destination, where five-star luxury, and many items such as food, wine and lager, can be purchased at a much lesser cost than in many global cities.
Most international traveler’s cheque’s are accepted, however, it is advised that you bring them in a hard currency, such as US dollars or British Pounds. Currency can be exchanged at banks, forex bureaus and sometimes at hotels. Foreign tourists can have their VAT (value-added tax at 14%) refunded at the point of departure, provided they present their original tax invoices. Most major international credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted.

Food and Water
South Africa’s tap water is potable and of the safest and cleanest in the world. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation are generally top-notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks. Restaurants cover a wide variety of cuisines and visitors are normally very impressed with the food. The country’s many cultures makes for varied traditional fare, which is worth exploring.
P.S. No visitor is allowed to leave Durban without sampling a bunny chow! Tipping – Is expected in restaurants, with a minimum of 10% of the total food bill. Please feel free to tip more, should you receive excellent service.

Taxis and Buses
Taxis are plentiful, but do not circulate looking for fares, so need to be ordered from the nearest taxi rank. You are advised to check that the meter is running, and it is also advisable to establish the estimated cost of your journey prior to departure. Taxi fares should only be paid in South African Rands.Durban has a unique midi-bus service, known as Mynah buses, which run throughout the day, linking the major hotels, beachfront, city centre and immediate surrounding suburbs.
One of our latest innovations is the People Mover, the most exciting mode of transport to ever hit Durban’s streets. It revolutionises public transport with world-class safety, luxurious comfort and meticulous reliability. The Durban People Mover covers two routes within the city, linking the beachfront to the CBD as far as Victoria Street Market.

The fleet of ten buses are monitored by CCTV cameras, have electronic ramps for disabled access, on-board audio-visual material, air-conditioning, operate from 06:30-23:00, arrive every fifteen minutes and have easily identifiable bus stops staffed by wardens for passengers’ safety.

Time
South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).