Traveling tips for South Africa – what you should know before a trip to South Africa

Are you planning a trip to South Africa? With its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and rich history, South Africa is a destination that has something for everyone. From the picturesque Garden Route to the raw subtropical coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal, and from the bustling cities to the vast Karoo semi-desert, South Africa is a diverse and exciting country to explore.

But before you go, there are a few things you should know. From researching your destinations and getting the right travel insurance, to understanding the customs rules and currency restrictions, being prepared will help you make the most of your trip. Additionally, knowing what to expect when traveling with children, and being aware of the necessary documents and vaccinations, will ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to know before traveling to South Africa. From general information about the country, to travel tips and requirements, we will cover it all. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this guide will help you navigate the ins and outs of traveling in South Africa, and ensure that you have a safe and memorable trip.

What should I know before traveling to South Africa?

Here are some things you should know before traveling to South Africa:

1. General Information:

  • South Africa is a large, diverse and incredibly beautiful country.
  • It varies from the picturesque Garden Route towns of the Western Cape to the raw subtropical coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal.
  • The vast Karoo semi-desert stretches across its centre, while one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Kruger National Park, sprawls along the northeast border.
  • The big cities attract immigrants from across the continent, making them great, bubbling cultural crucibles.

2. Travel Tips:

  • Research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance.
  • Check the passport validity requirements.
  • Be aware of visa requirements.
  • If traveling with children, check the specific requirements.
  • Check the vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)
  • Be aware of the customs rules.
  • Check the rules for taking money into South Africa.

3. Passport and Visa:

  • Your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa.
  • You need 2 consecutive empty visa pages per entry (not including endorsement pages).
  • You do not need a visa to visit South Africa for tourism or business for up to 90 days.

4. Travel Documents for Minors:

  • If you’re entering or leaving South Africa with a child under the age of 18, you’ll need to have an “unabridged” birth certificate – that is, one that lists both parents’ names.
  • If only one parent is traveling with the child, you’ll need an affidavit from the other parent confirming that they give consent for the child to travel.

5. Currency Restrictions:

  • For entry: ZAR 25,000; Foreign currency unlimited if declared; No Kruger coins.
  • For exit: ZAR 25,000; Foreign currency unlimited if the amount was declared on entry; Up to 15 Kruger coins if proof purchased with foreign currency.

How to travel cheaply in South Africa?

Here are the top 5 tips for traveling cheaply in South Africa:

  1. Use public transportation (minibus taxis, buses, trains) to save money.
  2. Stay in hostels or backpackers for affordable and social accommodation.
  3. Cook your own meals or try street food and local markets to eat cheaply.
  4. Avoid touristy areas and negotiate prices at markets and with taxi drivers.
  5. Travel during off-peak seasons to get better deals on accommodation and activities.

What do I need to travel to South Africa from Nigeria?

To travel to South Africa from Nigeria, you will need the following:

  1. South Africa eVisa: South Africa has launched an electronic visa system for Nigerian nationals. You can easily get a visa for South Africa through an online application. The eVisa is necessary for short-term trips.
  2. Nigerian Passport: A Nigerian or other eligible passport with at least 1 month of validity left after the intended date of departure and 2 blank pages.
  3. Completed Application Form: A completed application form BI-84.
  4. Supporting Documents: supporting documents or written statement confirming the purpose of the visit.
  5. Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate: This is required, if applicable.

How much cash to bring to South Africa?

As for the amount of cash to bring, you can bring a maximum of R25,000 (approximately $10,000) or the equivalent value in a foreign currency, such as gold, coins, or stamps. If you’re carrying more than this amount, you must declare it.

Foreign visitors can bring in an unlimited amount of foreign currencies and traveler cheques, in addition to R25,000, as long as the full amount is declared.

Where should I go for the first time in South Africa?

If you’re visiting South Africa for the first time, here are some of the best places to consider:

  1. Cape Town: is known for its stunning landscapes and rich history. Don’t miss the Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront.
  2. Kruger National Park: One of Africa’s largest game reserves, it’s home to a high density of wild animals including the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos.
  3. Garden Route: This scenic stretch of the southeastern coast of South Africa offers beautiful beaches, dense forests, and several nature reserves.
  4. Johannesburg: The largest city in South Africa, it’s known for its urban lifestyle and rich history.
  5. Stellenbosch: Located in the Western Cape, it’s famous for its wineries and is a great place for wine tasting.
  6. Knysna: Known for its lagoon and forests, it’s a beautiful town on the Garden Route.
  7. Durban: Famous for its Indian and colonial influences, it’s a great place for families

What is the best month to travel to South Africa?

The best time to visit South Africa depends on the activities you’re interested in. Here’s a general guide:

  1. Wildlife Safari (May to September): The best time for a wildlife safari, particularly in the eastern part of the country where the main parks are located, is from May to September. During these winter months, it’s the Dry season, the vegetation thins out, and animals gather around waterholes and rivers, making wildlife easier to spot.
  2. Visiting Cape Town (November to March): If you’re planning to visit Cape Town and its surroundings, the best time is during the dry summer months of November to March. Cape Town’s Dry and Wet seasons are opposite to those in Kruger.
  3. Festivals (November to March): If you’re interested in festivals and events, November to March is the peak festival season. However, this is also the high season, so accommodation prices can rise by 50% or more, and popular vacation spots may be crowded.
  4. Budget Travel (June to August): If you’re traveling on a budget, the South African winter from June to August brings lower prices (except for safaris) and smaller crowds.

What is the nicest part of South Africa?

South Africa is a diverse and beautiful country, with many nice parts to visit! Some popular destinations include:

  1. Cape Town: Known for its stunning natural scenery, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks like Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope.
  2. Garden Route: A scenic stretch of coastline along the Western Cape, featuring picturesque towns, beaches, and outdoor activities.
  3. Winelands: Regions like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl offer wine tastings, gourmet cuisine, and charming scenery.
  4. Kruger National Park: World-renowned for its wildlife and safari experiences, with an incredible array of animals and ecosystems.
  5. KwaZulu-Natal Coast: Beautiful beaches, lush subtropical forests, and historic sites like Durban and Port Elizabeth.
  6. Drakensberg Mountains: A scenic range with hiking trails, waterfalls, and breathtaking views.
  7. Plettenberg Bay: A popular beach town on the Garden Route, known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities.
  8. Hermanus: A charming coastal town famous for whale watching and scenic drives.
  9. Mpumalanga: A province with stunning natural beauty, including waterfalls, canyons, and game reserves.
  10. Robben Island: A historic island off Cape Town, significant for its role in Nelson Mandela’s life and the fight against apartheid.


How to prepare for your trip to South Africa?

Here are some tips to help you prepare for your trip to South Africa:

1. Carry the Relevant Paperwork if You’re traveling with Kids:

If you’re entering or leaving South Africa with a child under the age of 18, you’ll need to have a few extra bits of paper in your carry-on bag. In a bid to stamp out child trafficking, all minors need to have an “unabridged” birth certificate – that is, one that lists both parents’ names.

If only one parent is traveling with the child, you’ll need an affidavit from the other parent confirming that they give consent for the child to travel.

2. Buy a South African SIM Card and Use Local Wi-Fi:

Public Wi-Fi is fairly easy to find in larger cities and more touristed towns, but if you’re planning on wandering far from the main population centers, it’s worth picking up a South African SIM card on arrival at the airport.

3. Carry Cash, Just Not Too Much:

While credit and debit cards are widely accepted, there are still a few places that only take cash in South Africa. It’s best to keep a small stash of notes and coins for purchases at corner stores, buying things from market traders and for the various tips you’ll be expected to give throughout the day.

4. Safety in South Africa:

The number one question I get asked about South Africa is if it’s a safe destination. The simple answer is yes, as long as you use common sense and you’re aware of your surroundings.

5. Learn the Local Slang:

South Africa has a whopping 11 official languages. While English is third most-spoken language, South Africans have put their own unique twist on it and throw in a mix of Afrikaans and Zulu words for good measure.

6. Tipping in South Africa:

Tipping 10-15% at restaurants in South Africa is common practice. If you’re at a bar, people usually leave any small change from the bill for the bartender.

7. Consider When to Travel, What to Do and Where to Go:

Much research is needed to decide where to go, what to do and how long to stay.

8. Decide How Many Days to Stay:

Visiting for less than two weeks is not ideal – three weeks or more would be a better bet if you can manage so much time away.

9. Consider Your Budget:

South Africa offers a range of accommodations and activities for all budget types.

Save this page to your bookmarks for future reference and insightful travel advice. Please don’t hesitate to leave your comments and questions in the box below. Remember

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