South Africa Travel Guide
Welcome to my South Africa guide. South Africa has been a second home after my Dad moved to Pretoria 20 years ago. I spent many a happy holiday there in my childhood and now Becca and I make regular visits.
Below you will find guides to some of my favourite places as well as useful information about the country.
South Africa Travel Guides
- The Voortrekker Monument
- The Union Buildings
- The Blue Crane Restaurant and Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary
Useful South Africa Information
ℹ️ Information and Stats
South Africa is the southern most country in Africa covering an area approximately 5 times the size of the UK.
The population of South Africa is around 55 million people.
One of the great things about travelling to South Africa from the UK is that is is almost due South meaning very little time different. It is GMT +2 meaning they are either 1 or 2 hours ahead of us depending on UK daylight saving.
The flag of South Africa was adopted on April 27th 1994 and was designed to show unity. The red, white and blue colors were taken from the colors of the Boer Republics.
The yellow, black and green are taken from the African National Congress (ANC) flag. Black symbolises the people, green the fertility of the land, and gold the mineral wealth beneath the soil. Those colors were adopted by the ANC in 1925.
There are 11 official languages of South Africa and scores of unofficial ones. By numbers, the three most spoken are Zulu followed by English and then Afrikaans. English is the most popular language in business, big cities and most tourist destinations. Having spent a lot of time in South Africa I have never found it a problem getting by in English. If you want to learn more about the languages of South Africa then there is a fantastic article at ‘Brand South Africa‘.
The currency of South Africa is the Rand (ZAR) named after Witwatersrand the ridge that Johannesburg is built on and where the first gold deposits were found.
It is a beautiful currency, adorned with pictures of the big 5.
For the past few years the exchange rates from Pound to Rand have been very favourable for tourists making South Africa a trip that is good value for money. There is a live currency converter at the bottom of this page.
Tipping is widely practiced in South Africa from restaurants to car park attendants. 10-15% is normal in bars and restaurants and some loose change for petrol stations, car park attendants and anyone else you might meet!
🚉 Getting Around
- Cars drive on the left-hand side
- Speed limits are in Km/H
- A lot of roads in South Africa are toll roads so make sure you keep change with you
- South African petrol stations are not self-service. Pull up and ask for how much you and what type of fuel you want in the tank. Don’t forget to leave a tip
- There are a lot of strange driving terms that we’re not used to in the UK!
- Circles are roundabouts
- Robots are traffic lights
- Taxis are minibuses
- Bakkies are pickup trucks
- There are also some different road rules
- Four-way stops are often used at crossroads. This means that it is give way from every direction and it is first come first go (in theory!). Be polite but assertive
- Expect the unexpected on South African roads. Many people drive without licenses. Turning right from the left hand lane with no indication? Yep that’s ok. Undertaking on a freeway then braking in front of you? Yep that’s ok. Well it’s not really ok, but do your best to stay safe and stay alert.
🔌 Modern Living
South African plugs are three-pin but rounded so you will need an adapter if travelling from the UK.
There can be regular power surges and lightning hits in South African, especially in the stormy summer months. Only leave things plugged in if they really need to be to protect them from power problems
🚑 Health & Emergency
- South African tap water can be very inconsistent even in the big cities. Many homes and businesses have filters attached but if you are worried at all then bottled water is a must.
Save these numbers on your phone before you go or have them written down and to hand.
- Nationwide Emergency Response – 10111
- Cell Phone Emergency Response – 112
- Ambulance Response – 10177
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- Visiting the Voortrekker Monument: A Complete Guide
- The Union Buildings, Pretoria [History and Guide]
- The Blue Crane Restaurant & Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary