The southern tip of the continent, South Africa embodies all the wonders of nature. A holiday in South Africa offers a unique experience
The Rainbow Nation, as the country is defined, is a mix of cultural and linguistic differences where different ethnic groups live. Located just south of the Tropic of Capricorn, on the southern tip of the continent’s most fascinating planet, South Africa embodies all the wonders of nature. A holiday in South Africa offers a unique experience: the charm of Cape Town, the beautiful mosaic of cultures and architecture suspended between colonial past and modernity, the stunning scenery of the Whale Coast where one may observe the passage of whales from the coast, or the uncontaminated nature of the Kruger Park, the animal paradise.
Cape Town (legislative)
The climate in South Africa greatly varies in relation to the location, the altitude and exposure to the seaside. The subtropical latitude and strong maritime currents makes for the Mediterranean climate that characterizes the southern part of the territory, where temperatures are mild and rainfall exceeds 600 mm. Rainfall is linked to advancing cold fronts coming from the Antarctic during the winter, while most of the rest of southern Africa in the same period is dominated by an anticyclone area that prevents the inflow of moist air from the surrounding oceans. On the contrary, in the summer time when low pressure systems are present, the moist air masses coming from the Indian ocean due to the south-east trade wind invest the eastern coasts and the Great Escarpment, causing abundant rainfall (1000-1500 mm). In particular, the KwaZulu-Natal area has a hot, humid climate, making this province the most favorable area for the cultivation of tropical crops. As you go inland, the rainfall decreases: in the highlands there are around 500-800 mm per year. Rainfall sharply reduces continuing west, reaching only 60 mm in Port Nolloth, on the Atlantic coast. The sharp temperature changes which are quite common on the highlands are much less accentuated on the coasts. <br />For updated news on climate, we suggest you consult the official website www.worldweather.org.
About 80% of the South African population is Christian. The other major religious groups are Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. The Constitution guarantees freedom of worship.
South Africa is a multilingual nation and has 11 official languages, which are: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. The Xhosa song \’Nkosi Sikelel\’ iAfrika, composed by Enoch Sontonga in 1899, is the South African national anthem
Nambia is officially a Christian country where German Lutheranism is the dominant religion, although many traditional African beliefs still hold a strong position.
In South Africa the official currency is the Rand (ZAR), equivalent to about 95 cents. Euros are preferred to dollars due to less possibility of counterfeiting. Foreign currency can be changed at any bank. It is better to use the Currency exchange services at international airports in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, which provide a much quicker service.<br />Import of local currency is limited to 5000 Rand, while there are no limits for the import of foreign currency. In any case, we advise you declare the amount of currency in order to avoid problems when leaving the country.
In South Africa the most widely used credit cards are VISA and MASTERCARD, accepted almost everywhere. Gasoline distributors should instead be paid in cash. With the Cirrus and Maestro bancomat it is generally possible to collect up to 2000 ZAR per day from automatic teller machines (ATM), although the operation can sometimes be costly. The withdrawal of money from ATMs with a credit card is much less expensive.
The time zone, which remains the same year round throughout South Africa, is the same as in Europe, but since in some European countries the time changes from October to April, there is a one hour difference during this period (7 am in Italy is 8 am in South Africa).
Passport is required with validity for at least 30 days after the date of scheduled return and with at least 2 blank pages. Visas for up to 90 days of stay in the country for tourism is issued directly upon arrival at the border. For stays longer than 90 days, it is necessary to apply for an entry visa with the Embassy or Consulate of South Africa in Italy. If you travel with minors under 18 years remember to bring with you the documents indicated in the following link: http://www.dha.gov.za/files/Brochures/Immigrationleaflet.pdf.
An international driving license is required to rent a vehicle (model Vienna Convention 1968). Driving is on the left..
Mobile service is active throughout the country. To call South Africa prefix is 0027 followed by the number. In South Africa the extra charges by hotels on international telephone calls are usually very high so it is more convenient to use a phone card with public telephones. For those who have a cell phone, the GSM coverage is generally assured in all cities and on main roads. There is still little service in a part of Swaziland and in most parks. In the Kruger Park, the coverage is limited to Rest Camps and to their immediate vicinity. For local call, inexpensive local prepaid cards should be used which are available without any formalities, even in supermarkets.
Electricity is 220 V nominal. But be careful: in South Africa sockets are clearly different from those in Europe so it is necessary to purchase a special adapter upon arrival, available in any supermarket. All so-called “universal” adapters that are on the market in Europe are absolutely useless in South Africa.
No compulsory vaccinations are required. To travelers from areas where yellow fever is endemic, or from countries at risk of yellow fever, a certificate proving the vaccination has been done is required upon entry into the country. The health care situation is overall very good. The level of private clinics and highly specialized clinics is excellent, while public hospitals are considered rather poor. In any case, it is a good idea to arrange for health insurance before departure that includes, in addition to covering medical expenses, air ambulance repatriation. Health insurance should provide for the possibility of making advance payments in the event of hospitalization. Private clinics, in fact, do not provide medical services without the advance payment of at least one deposit which is sometimes very expensive. The deposit is not required if there is an agreement between the health facility and the insurance company that would cover the aforementioned deposit. There are no particular difficulties in finding most of the more common medicines on the market. In rural areas of the provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal, (including the “Kruger National Park” and the area of “Wetlands” around Saint Lucia) an effective anti-malarial prophylaxis is recommended, after consultation with a doctor.
Generally, there are no particular problems with tap water and then food, especially in large cities and in the structures in the vicinity of the major tourist areas.
It is advisable, in any case, to:
– Maintain a high level of personal hygiene;
– Eat only well-cooked foods and drink only bottled water and drinks without adding ice, especially in rural areas of the provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The classification of accommodations is based on local standards which do not always correspond to European standards. In order to ensure that the traveling conditions are safe and healthy, the chosen accommodations are comfortable and dignified as possible, while they remain compliant with the ethic choice of travel, which is simple and basic. A good adaptability is therefore required. With the exception of Luxury Hotels or Lodges, outside of the capital we cannot always guarantee private bathrooms, hot water and electricity throughout the day.
The cuisine of South Africa reflects the cultural melting-pot that embodies the country. The traditional dishes are served alongside recipes in which there are clear Eastern and European influences. However, whether prepared according to tradition or with some modern twists, the South African food always provides unique sensory experiences.
Meat is the main food of the South African diet. Cooked on the grill or in a three foot skillet (potjie), this is usually accompanied by mieliepap (maize porridge), potatoes or rice. Among the most common vegetables are beets, carrots, cabbage and pumpkin.
Typical dishes include morogo South Africans (African wild spinach), chakalaka, amadumbe and boerewors.
Spinach Morogo can be stir-fried with butter and onions or served along with corn porridge. Often the sauces and seasonings that are used give that extra touch to a South African dish.
Among these is the Chakalaka, a spicy tomato sauce, served as an accompaniment to the main course. It consists in grated carrots, green peppers, onion, vinegar, chili and … a secret ingredient of the chef.
The Amadumbe is a delicious dish made of mashed peanuts and mashed sweet potatoes. The recipe calls for sweet potatoes mashed together with butter and roasted peanuts. The puree obtained is then sprinkled with honey.
If you are a fan of street food, then you have to taste the boerewors roll. Stop at a kiosk at the roadside and order this treat: you will be served a spicy sausage grilled directly on the fire, tucked into a bun covered with mustard and tomato sauce.
If you love sweet treats, try the koeksister, biscuits of Dutch origin, fried and flavored with cinnamon, anise, cardamom and ginger. Another sweet treat is melktert, a delicious milk tart to be enjoyed along with a cup of Rooibos, a typical South African red tea.
In a brilliant triumph of progressive logic Zimbabwe & Zambia have launched the Uni Visa for the 40 Category B visa countries which include most of the main source market countries. This means any nationals in the listed country’s (see below) can purchase a single $50 visa and travel freely between the two countries and visit Botswana for a day trip without paying re-entry fees for an unlimited 30 day period.
The KAZA UNIVISA is a common tourist visa for SADC region that will be released by Zambia and Zimbabwe in six (6) months.
Validity – the KAZA UNIVISA will be valid for 30 days as long as you remain in Zimbabwe and Zambia and customers can cross in Zimbabwe / Zambia frequently as they like within the 30 day period. It also covers those who visit Botswana for day trips through the Kazangula Borders. It will not be valid if staying in Botswana during the night, and in this case you need to buy a new visa.
The UNIVISA can not be extended but you can buy a new UNIVISA (up to 3 per year).
Citizens of the following countries are eligible for the KAZA UNIVISA obtainable to eight ports of entry, like, for example, at Livingstone and Lusaka airports and the border posts at Victoria Falls and Kazangula.
Citizen/Countries list: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Great Britain (UK), Brunei, Burundi, Canada, Cook Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy. Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Rwanda, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, United States of America .