20 Amazing Tips for Vacationing in South Africa

20 Amazing Tips for Vacationing in South Africa
Before going on vacation in South Africa, all I knew about the Rainbow Nation was from Disney programs and nature videos.
I always awed by the beauty of the cape and two oceans colliding; not forgetting the impression of resilience in all I heard about the great Nelson Mandela. 
Besides that, I couldn’t even tell you where Table Mountain is but this nation was too fascinating. When I finally decided to visit, I couldn’t help but extend my South Africa visa for a few more months, and even then I couldn’t get enough of this melting pot of cultures.

Some Major Tips To Know Before Packing Your Bags For South African Trip

Before you think of taking a trip to South Africa, here are a few things you need to put together:

1. Visa

Like you would before traveling to any other foreign country, get a visa for South Africa. This document gives you the right of passage and stays in the country. There are different types of visa that you could get depending on your intentions for travel. To visit South Africa you can choose the Retired Person’s Visa, South Africa Relatives’ Visa, Tourist Visa, work, study, medical or business. 
The South Africa Visit Visa is what you need if traveling there for pleasure. Citizens from non-exempt countries or those from exempt countries who wish to extend their stay must apply for it. 
To eliminate the need to go to the embassy, South African travel authorities will soon introduce the South Africa Tourist Visa or eVisa. The application form will be available online and once approved the applicant will receive it by email to present at the border to gain entry. 

2. Braai

Food is an important part of anyone’s vacation to this country at the southern tip of Africa. The rainbow nation has much to offer the adventurous palate including minced ostrich, maize, koeksisters and mukomboti, the traditional beer. I might not have been a fan of the maize but braai was to die for. In South Africa grilled mean is known by the Afrikaans word Braai and this version of BBQ is simply phenomenal.
When locals gather to grill, meat it is a real party whether in the seclusion of Kruger national park or in the backyard of their homes. There is often a wide selection of meats to choose from both game and domesticated animals. Ostrich sausage is a staple for the locals but it might take some getting used to.

3. An Adventurous Spirit

If you decide to go on vacation in the South, better be ready for adventure. Freediving in the Kwa Zulu Natal, bungee jumping off the world’s highest bridge, and hiking in the Drakensberg are just some of the ways to get an adrenalin rush.

4. Generous Tipper

Give tips for every service. From the gas attendant to the waitress at your lunch joint; everybody in the country expects a thank you in monetary form. 

5. Safari Land

South Africa is a great safari destination for those who can’t get enough of nature. The country has several game reserves where the Big Five thrive under protection. If your dream is to see elephant or lion, schedule a vacation to go on a magical South African safari. You will forever remember the experience.

6. Which Capital?

South Africa has no definitive capital city so be careful before telling your cab guy to take you to the capital. If you say this, you will end up in Pretoria, Bloemfontein or Cape Town.

7. English

Most South Africans do speak English but you will be surprised to know that it isn’t the most popular. There are 11 official languages here, the most spoken being Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans. English comes fifth in popularity.

8. Road Trip

A road trip is the best way to experience SA and thankfully, the car rentals here are legit. A car or camper van can be rented from a company and the good thing is that prices are fairer than in other southern African countries like Mozambique and Botswana.

9. Jabs

If you are coming from a country where yellow fever is prevalent, the border personnel will need to see your vaccination papers. Otherwise, you do not need jabs when traveling to South Africa unless you are paranoid about malaria.

10. Savvy Shopper

If you need to go shopping in South Africa, better familiarize with the local supermarkets’ hierarchy. Some places are pricier than others and this doesn’t mean that the most expensive places have the best offerings.

11. Where Am I?

It is easy to forget you are in Africa judging from all the hip places to relax. From lavish coffee joints to the sophisticated sushi restaurants, it is easy to see how westernized the place has become. Before long though, crappy internet, bad driving, and poverty will remind you of where you are.

12. Drink

South Africa has clean water for visitors but to reassure yourself, consider bringing your special water bottle with unique filters. 

13. Get Travel Insurance

If nothing else always travel with proper travel insurance. Anything bad can happen while on vacation and you never want to get caught without a plan.

14. Proper Apparel

People who love hiking must invest in proper hiking shoes or boots and sunglasses. Your boots should be strong and your sunglasses should have UV protection for the eyes. Sunscreen is a must when traveling underneath the African sun. It is wise to get some from home because in South Africa you might have to go to the big city for a bottle of proper sunscreen.

15. Madiba!

Honor the memory of Nelson Mandela by visiting Robben Island, home to the prison where he stayed for nearly three decades. Here you will go down history road learning about racial segregation and resilience of many black Africans on the road to freedom. 

16. Currency

The Rand is the local currency in use everywhere including neighboring countries like Swaziland. You can visit local banks with forex bureaus to convert your currency to rand and be assured of easier transacting.

17. Stay Safe

South Africa is a safe country but surely, don’t walk around the place flashing fancy items and looking like a tourist. Consider taking an uber everywhere because walking will just make you more reachable to muggers especially at night. Even when you just want to reach a place two blocks away, hail an uber for safety’s sake.

18. Gateway

You need to land in South Africa first before entering neighboring countries. It is truly the gateway to Southern Africa thanks to its modernization and wealth of resources.

19. Adapter

Because most power plugs are three-prong, it is advisable to get a power converter before your trip. Otherwise, you will have to scour the big cities in search of an adapter.

20. Pleasure

Get used to pleasure, the Afrikaners favorite word. It is to the locals the unofficial way to say “you’re welcome”.

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