South Africa holds incredible value, as a country of incredible cultural diversity and wealth of heritage. It is a continental jewel, being one of the largest and safest countries in Africa, and the only country to have three capitals! Whether you are working or travelling between these three cities, you are sure to come across a landscape to suit your taste. Towering mountains, expansive deserts and rich green forests award the country with a wealth of natural attractions. We’ve listed the essentials to consider before visiting this incredible country!
Even if your only form of transport is your daily work commute, it is always important to consider how you will get around. Within cities Uber can be a great alternative to a metered taxi. It is convenient, quick and remarkably cheaper here than other countries. An even more inexpensive option is to take MyCiti buses, these cover most of the city centre and work on a tap in-tap out system.
Should you just be working in the city, there will likely be a temptation to see what else the country has to offer. Although there are some great, all-inclusive tourist packages, these are often over priced. Car hire in South Africa is relatively cheap, and this can be a decent alternative, allowing you to stop at just the places that take your interest.
- Staying Safe
Parts of South Africa, particularly urban areas, have high levels of crime. Although tourists remain relatively low risk, and the government employs large numbers of tourist police, a few simple precautions will help you stay safe. First of all, make an effort to walk in groups, particularly at night or around deserted areas. Secondly, never take a large sum of cash out with you at any one time. Splitting up any credit cards can also be a useful tactic, so that you never lose track of your finances. Finally, food vouchers are a concept unique to South Africa that can be given to street children and the homeless. These can be purchased at local Pick N Pay/Spar shops and are a safer donation alternative than money.
- Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a low-cost option, that prevents high-cost outcomes! Many companies can offer an insurance quote, against which you can compare and select the best value option. Should you follow our other tips it’s unlikely you’ll need to claim back, but it never hurts to be too cautious.
South Africa’s national currency is the Rand. Although this is relatively weak against Western currencies, such as the US dollar, sterling and the euro, it is still worth checking the exchange rate before your trip. This helps you obtain the best possible exchange rate. A weaker Rand will mean your money goes further once you enter the country.
Should you need to take money out once you are in the country, be aware of issues surrounding ATMs. There are often issues of fraud, so ensure your pin is seen by no one, and refuse any help from bystanders.
- South African SIM card
If you plan to work or travel around the country for a significant period of time, it is highly recommended that you get yourself a South African SIM! Not only will this let you access mobile data – useful for transport and getting your bearings, but it will also save you a tonne of money when sending texts or making calls. These can be easily obtained from any mobile provider store throughout the city centre. Often texts, minutes and mobile internet can be topped up independently.
- Cultural differences
The ethnic makeup of South Africa is 75% black, 14% white, 8% coloured and 3% Indian. There are many forms of ethnic heritage within these groups, each of which holds different values and etiquette. Whether you are travelling for business, to visit family and friends, or just for a solo trip, be sure to research greetings and taboos of the group with which you are meeting. Often the best way to connect with locals is to make an effort. Learning their language for example, even if just a few phrases, is a sign of respect (even if the delivery is shambolic!).
Enjoy your travels!
By Maia Gummer