Here’s some great information you should consider before jetting off and enjoying your trip.
From the UK direct flights to South Africa will take about 10 hours, depending on which airport you fly from. In our experience flying direct with British Airways from London Heathrow is the best and South African Airways are also very good too. With the pretty lengthy flight times we recommend paying slightly more to go direct over night rather than via an alternative destination. This will give you more time to enjoy your holiday and arrive on a morning as opposed to wasting your first day in the air! Remember though to book at the right time of the year for your destination as the number of different climate zone makes the South Africa weather change dramatically throughout the year.
South Africa has an abundance of wonderful locations for you to visit. From enjoying the tranquil wine routes of Constantia, Cape Town, to the incredible venture of The Garden Route, where you could end up watching meerkats waking up at dawn in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape. Then trek north-east to Durban to marvel at the extensive beaches and the country’s busiest port, or even further north to Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa and take a walk through the 125 hectares of the Botanical Gardens. There are sights and attractions to suit any visitor to the country and plenty of great accommodation for you to stay too.
Accommodation in South Africa ranges from cheap 2 star bed and breakfasts to ultimate luxury 5 star resorts with plenty of varied hotels, apartments and more to suit the budget of any traveller. The Kruger Park, Cape Town and The Garden Route are some of the most popular destinations for first time visitors to South Africa and we would suggest that you book your accommodation through a reputable travel agent in the UK such as Kuoni or Virgin Holidays to ensure you get the best out of your holiday.
The top ten places by population are:
> Johannesburg, Gauteng – Pop. 3.88m
> Cape Town, Western Cape – Pop. 3.49m
> Durban, KwaZulu-Natal – Pop. 3.47m
> Germiston, Gauteng – Pop. 2.72m
> Pretoria, Gauteng – Pop. 2.34m
> Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape – Pop. 1.05m
> Bloemfontein, Free State – Pop. 750k
> East London, Eastern Cape – Pop. 724k
> Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng – Pop. 650k
> Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal – Pop. 616k
(Figures correct as of Dec. 2011)
The currency of South Africa is Rand (ZAR) and the exchange rate is roughly around 12 Rand to 1 British Pound (GBP). Check regularly for fluctuations in the exchange rate and try where possible to use a use a company who do not charge commission to ensure you get the best deal possible when converting your holiday money. You can check the current exchange rate from Pounds to Rand online here.
Medical and Travel Insurance
Medical facilities in South Africa are general very good, however in certain areas it can be limited, therefore we recommend you do some brief research and find the closest hospital or medical centre in each location that you visit during your trip. With a majority of english speaking Doctors and good hospital facilities available however, you can be well taken care of should the worst happen. We have personal experience of a family member needing urgent medical attention whilst visiting Oudtshoorn in 2009. It required an overnight stay in the local hospital. The GP, Doctors and nursing staff at the hospital were fantastic, however we did need to pay for the treatment and the over night stay upfront, before we could claim the costs back on our travel insurance, therefore it is imperative that you look at travel insurance and check that you are covered and that it protects you and your family.
For car hire, South Africa has all the main rental providers such as Avis, Thrifty and Hertz. You may like to book this through your travel provider or airline. However if you you would like to pre-book this separately and compare car hire companies before you come, it could save you some money. To pre-book car hire and to check the prices online see our Car Hire South Africa page.
Enjoy your holiday!