Discover South Africa travel guide

South Africa, as you would expect, sits on the southern tip of the African continent.

The Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet along its 2,500kms of stunning coastline, and inland there is a diverse landscape of mountains, lakes, forests and sweeping plains. Travellers who come here for an adventure are rarely disappointed.

South Africa borders Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. All of South Africa runs on South African Standard Time (SAST), which is 2 hours ahead of Universal Coordinated Time (UTC+2) and is the same as Central Africa Time.

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Emergency Numbers Policy dial 10111
Ambulance dial 10177
Main Ethnic Groups 76% Black African
13% Caucasian
Main Religion 75% Christian
21% No religion
Geographic Facts

South Africa has 3 official capitals: 
- Cape Town (Legislative capital)
- Bloemfontein (Judicial capital)
- Pretoria (Executive capital)

Largest City: Johannesburg (2million)

  • South Africa is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. South Africans are generally polite, friendly and accommodating of tourists.

  • South Africans are straight forward, so don’t be offended if something comes across as blunt.
  • Hissing or kissing sounds are often used to call someone over.
  • Always accept gifts with two hands as this shows extreme thankfulness.
  • Most traditional social organisations are male centred and male dominated.
  • Sawubona or Howzit = Hello
  • Ngiyabonga = Thank you in Zulu
  • Dankie = Thank you in Afrikaans
  • Ngiyacela = Please in Zulu
Weather and temperatures vary across this large country, so the best time to travel will depend on your destination. If animals are your thing, the best time is May to September during dry season when animals congregate around water holes and the weather is beautiful.
South Africa has moderate temperatures all year round with a generally dry climate. Temperatures below are averages for Johannesburg:
Dec to Mar
14° / 25°
Apr to May
10° / 22°
Jun to Aug
4° / 20°
Sep to Nov
9° / 24°
Once you prepare yourself for the long travel distances, getting around South Africa is fairly easy with a good network of public transport, rental car companies, flights and taxis. However, public transport out to urban areas or safari parks may be non-existent, so you might need to rent a car or book a tour to head out to these areas.
Dialing code +27

Visa - A visa is not required for up to 90 days. Upon arrival, immigration officials will issue a temporary residents visa (TRV) for up to 90 days. However, there are new rules on the number of blank pages in your passport. Always check for up to date information.
The drinking age in South Africa is 18 or over.
Language: Zulu (23%), Xhosa (16%), Afrikaans (14%), English (10%).
Tipping is widely practised. 10 -15% is the standard.
Currency ZAR
(CAD$1 = ZAR$11.5)
*average rate, 2015-2020
Drive on the left side of the road.
Electrical / device: 220 – 240V. Type M plug.
  • Most surfers riding the same wave —110 simultaneously at Muizenberg Beach.
  • The most vuvuzelas blown simultaneously during a soccer match.
  • The smallest living Ostrich at 127cm.
National icons are the South African flag, the King Protea flower and the Springbok.
DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all information as of the date of publishing, Allianz Global Assistance does not accept liability for any errors or omissions. Allianz Global Assistance strongly recommends seeking the guidance of a professional travel agent/agency for further information on a specific destination. On your next trip, whether to another province or country, ensure you have travel insurance as it may assist you in cases of unforeseen medical emergencies and other types of mishaps that can happen while you travel. Travel insurance does not cover everything, please always refer to the policy document for full terms and conditions, including limitations and exclusions. Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.
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