South Africa is founded on a strong national pride – and with good reason. It is known as one of the most naturally beautiful, diverse and culturally rich countries in the world.
From the spring flowers of Namakwa to the eerie desert of the Kalahari, the buzzing nightlife of Cape Town to the mountain paradise in the Drakensburg, visitors can spend months in South Africa and still fail to take it all in. It has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and is home to some of the best restaurants in Africa – or the world, for that matter – but head out on safari to take a savannah teeming with wildlife and it’s as if human civilisation simply never was.
Business in South Africa is formal and the people are proud of their cosmopolitan outlook. There are plenty of chances to unwind after hours. Renting a car to get around can make a trip a great deal more rewarding as it gives visitors a chance to see beyond the urban core. Always remember, however, that beneath its modern veneer lies a layer of discontent that may not completely be housed in the nation’s past.
Johannesburg is the main international airport, though many European flights also fly into Cape Town. Daily buses run from destinations in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia. Connections with Zimbabwe have been disrupted due to fuel shortages and political difficulties.
Buses are the main form of public transport; long distance services run through the night. There are also slow but comfortable trains between most cities. Vehicle rental is relatively inexpensive; however the road accident rate is extremely high.
Language(s): English and Afrikaans
Time: UTC + 2
Climate: Semi-arid. Hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Temperature: Max 26°C (January), Min 7°C (July). Rainfall: Max 75mm (July), Min 4mm (February).
Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
Business etiquette: Formal. Suits are standard for meetings. Punctuality is important and appointments are often required.
Tipping: Widely practiced, not just in restaurants. 10 percent to serving staff, ZAR2 to petrol or parking attendants, and round off the cost of a bill when making small purchases such as newspapers.
Duty free: 200 cigarettes or 20 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 1l of spirits or 2l of wine; 50ml of perfume; 250ml of eau de toilette; other goods to ZAR3000.
Safety: Avoid isolated areas and visit townships only with organised tours.
Laws: Drug offences incur a heavy penalty and often lengthy imprisonment.
Healthcare: Vaccinations for diphtheria, hepatitis A and tetanus are required. Medical facilities are good in cities but may be lacking elsewhere. Up front payment is often required – health insurance is recommended.
Socket type: Type M