The Republic of South Africa is the southernmost sovereign state in Africa. South Africa has three capital cities. Pretoria is an administrative capital, Bloemfontein is a judicial capital, and Capetown is a legislative capital. The country borders Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique. South Africa is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. On the east, there is the enclave, the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The climate on the south is subtropical and tropical on the north. The average temperature in July is about +10°C and +27°C in January. The best time for travelling to South Africa is spring and summer. June and July is the best time for visiting the national parks.
Major religions are the Christianity and local beliefs. In South Africa, there are 11 official languages, but the most widespread are English and Afrikaans.
The lovers to spend time on a beach will be thrilled with the coastline of Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, and Hermanus. The beach in Durban and the waters in Jeffreys Bay are ideal for surfing. Divers usually go to Sodwana, Gansbaai, and Durban.
Those who prefer out-of-town holidays will be happy to learn that in South Africa, there are many national parks and reserves. The most popular and the oldest is the Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga and it offers safari tours. The Pilanesberg National Park & Game Reserve South Africa is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano. The Addo Elephant National Park and the first maritime Tsitsikamma Forest and Coastal National Park will impress you with the beauty of wild nature. The tourists can visit the Kalahari Desert and the Karoo Desert, Tugela Falls and the Augrabies Falls National Park, see the Howick Falls. There are excursions to the Cape of Good Hope and to the Drakensberg Mountains. Hunting is very popular in South Africa.
Capetown, Johannesburg, Durban, and Pretoria are good places for city entertainments and shopping.
The most convenient way to get to South Africa is a flight.
South African Airways in cooperation with Swiss International Airlines, British Airways, and Lufthansa offers the flights from Moscow and Saint Petersburg with a transfer in Zürich, London, and Frankfurt.
Three times a week, there is a train running between Johannesburg and Maputo.
If you choose to get to South Africa by bus you can do it from Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Lesotho. A bus route links Port Elizabeth, Durban, and Pretoria with neighbouring states.
The Russian and CIS tourists must obtain a visa to travel to South Africa.
The tourists must have a valid international passport with two clean sheets for stamps.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required.
The normal time for processing the documents for a visa is 5 working days. The documents delivered by the courier service or a private courier will not be reviewed.
A multiple-entry or a double visa is issued which allows stay in the country within 40 days.
The import and export of foreign currency is not limited. The import and export of national currency is limited to 500 rands.
The tourists are allowed to bring in:
- 50 ml of perfume;
- tobacco and alcohol;
- gifts (the total cost must not exceed 500 rands).
It is prohibited to import fresh fruits and vegetables.
It is not allowed to export unprocessed diamonds. If you buy processed diamonds and precious jewellery, ask for a certificate confirming that the purchase is legal. To export the skins of wild animals a special permission of the Vet Service of South Africa is required.
The goods you purchased in South Africa are exported duty-free.
When entering the country, you must register your mobile phone.
The authentic South African cuisine is quite variable. It combines hotness of Oriental cuisine, practical cooking traditions of Europe and unusual African way of cooking.
The tourists like such traditional meat dishes as Boboti (pilaf with lamb, dried apricots, and raisins), Bitlong (air-cured meat), Waterblommetjiebredie (meat stew with the waterblommetjies), various meats Caru lamb, hot sausages Burworst, Braaivleis, kebab Sosaties, and mutton with vegetables Bredies. Do not miss a chance to try local steaks, meat and vegetable stew Potjiekos and Samosa (meat pastry). If you crave for something exotic, you will have a chance to try crocodile tail, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, monkeys, antelopes, zebras, wart hog, and even porcupine!
Seafood dishes are a pride of the local chefs. The foodies will try lobsters, squids, mussels, oysters, and fish. Order fish Kingklip, Malay-style eel, and smoked sole. Lobsters with fruit salad, seafood pate, caviar of sea urchin, and shark fins will impress you with their unusual taste.
If you like sweets you should treat yourself to Melktert (cream-based dessert with sour milk and cinnamon), sweet and puffy donuts Koeksisters, and tropical fruits (lichi and granadilla). A dessert is usually served with coffee.
Traditional low alcoholic drinks in South Africa are homemade beer and such beer brands as Lion. Castle, Hunters, Windhoek, Hansa, and Ohlssons. Do not leave South Africa without trying Graptizer and Appltizer and wonderful wines from Constanta, Franschhoek, Paarl, and Stellenbosch.
The official currency is the South African rand (ZAR). In circulation are 10 to 200 rand banknotes and coins (cents, and rands).
The tourists can exchange the currency at banks, airports, in hotels and railroad stations. Bank offices at airports and ATMs work 24 hours.
There are not many exchange offices in South Africa, some of them are located in large cities only. Working hours if the local banks are not very convenient so we recommend taking credit cards and withdraw the money at ATMs.
Large restaurants and shops accept credit cards issued by the leading international payment systems. The tourists can cash traveller’s checks in the offices of travel agencies or at banks (the commission is about 1%).
Gasoline stations accept only cash and only in national currency.
VAT is 14% and it is included in the price of services and goods.
The tax-free system is available in South Africa. To refund VAT you should make a purchase for 250 rands in one shop during one day, receive a tax-free receipt and a receipt for VAT refunding. At the airport, in VATREFUND, show the goods in the original package and all the necessary documents.
Details of interest
You have made up your mind to spend your holidays in a far away and exotic South Africa! What sights to see? What gifts to bring to your family and friends?
Sightseeing in South Africa
- Capetown. The main touristic attractions in Capetown are the oldest building in South Africa Castle, the St, George’s Cathedral in the Company’s Garden, the Parliament Houses, the Nurel Nameyda Mosque and the Pink Palm Tree Mosque, the old Turkish baths, and the longest trading street on the continent. The tourists can visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden which is considered to be one of the best in the world. Take a trip to the Table Mountain National Park, the Cape of Good Hope, visit the National Cultural History Museum, and the South African National Gallery.
- Johannesburg is one of the richest cities in the world. The tourists can visit the Amusement Park Gold Reef City and see gold melting! Among other interesting touristic attractions are the Old Post Office and the National Library of South Africa, the Oppenheimer Gardens, the Complex of Market-Fieche, the mall Sandton, the skyscraper Diamond, and the Complex Benskiti.
- Make your trip to Durban interesting and visit the St. Paul’s Parish Church, the Shree Ambalavaanar Alayam (the first and the largest Hindu Temple in Africa), the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere Juma Masjid, and the Fitzsimons Snake Park.
- In Pretoria, there is the Kruger House Museum and the Transvaal Museum, the Voortrekker Monument, the Union Buildings, and the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa.
- The Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal, the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- The Kruger National Park, Limpopo, Pilanesberg, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, Tsitsikamma Forest, the Addo Elephant National Park.
Souvenirs in South Africa
The skins of trophy animals, leather bags (made of the skins of a blue gnu), South African wines, liqueur Amarula, and spices are sold in Capetown.
Look for hand-painted ostrich eggs and candle holder made of them, handmade carpets, snake and crocodile leather goods on the local markets and in the shops in Johannesburg.
The figurines of people or animals made of ebonite, teak, malachite, souvenirs from buffalo’s horns are sold in Durban. In Kimberley, the tourists can buy sapphire, ruby, emerald, and diamond jewellery. In the province KwaZulu-Natal, you can find Zulu shields covered with Nguni skins.