Frequently Asked Questions
We are a South African Tour Operator with experience and dedication.
Travelling to South Africa
About South Africa
Best times to Travel
Safety & Health Care
Why Visit South Africa?
South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world. Exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture offer the traveller a unique and inspiring experience. South Africa is a heady mix of third and first world cultures – along with the best and least crowded beaches in the world. Throw in wildlife parks such as the Kruger National Park, Eight World Heritage Sites, beautiful natural scenery, a great infrastructure and a stable post-apartheid environment and you have a great destination waiting to happen. South Africa is also regarded as one of the world’s foremost winemaking areas.
The country is highly diverse in terms of its climate, culture, tourist activities and infrastructure, catering for every tourism niche, from business, eco – and cultural tourism through to adventure, sport and paleo-tourism.
South Africa boasts 8 World Heritage Sites. This is thanks to South Africa’s diverse culture, history and her spectacular natural resources and wildlife. This is truly a world in one country. A Rainbow Nation indeed.
How do you travel around in South Africa?
Buses in South Africa aren’t the deal that they are in many other countries. However, together with the less-appealing minibus taxis, they’re the main form of public transport, with a reliable and reasonably comfortable network linking all major cities. Note that many long-distance services run through the night.
A good alternative to standard bus lines is Baz Bus (www.bazbus.com), which caters almost exclusively to backpackers and other travellers. It offers hop-on, hop-off fares and door-to-door service between Cape Town and Johannesburg via the Northern Drakensberg, Durban and the Garden Route. It also has a loop service from Durban via Zululand and Swaziland to Johannesburg, passing close by Kruger National Park, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and several other urban areas have city bus systems. Fares are cheap, and routes, which are signposted, are extensive. However, services usually stop running early in the evening, and there aren’t many buses on weekends.
Car & Motorcycle
South Africa is ideal for driving, and away from the main bus and train routes, having your own wheels is the best way to get around. If you’re in a group, it’s also often the most economical. Most major roads are in excellent condition, and off the main routes there are interesting back roads to explore. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, as in the UK. There is no self-service. An attendant will always fill up your tank for you, clean your windows and ask if the oil or water needs checking, and should be tipped between US$0.30 and US$0.70. Along main routes in South Africa there are plenty of petrol stations, many open 24 hours.
Car rental is relatively inexpensive in South Africa. Rates start at about US$40 per day, including insurance and 200km free per day. Rental of a 4WD starts at about US$60. For cheaper rates and unlimited mileage deals, it’s best to book and prepay through your agent at home before coming to South Africa.
The National Road System is a network of excellent highways that links all the major population centres and good secondary roads. Construction of new roads and repairs on existing roads continue today.
Mini Bus taxis
Minibus taxis run almost everywhere – within cities, to the suburbs and to neighbouring towns. They leave when full and, happily, ‘full’ in South Africa isn’t as full as it is in many neighbouring countries. Most accommodate 14 to 16 people. Driving standards and vehicle conditions often leave a lot to be desired, and there are many accidents. Always ask for local advice on lines and areas to avoid before using minibus taxis as transport.
South Africa’s Shosholoza Meyl passenger trains are run by Spoornet and offer regular services connecting major cities. These are a good and safe, albeit slow, way to get around, and are more comfortable than taking the bus.
South African Airways is the main domestic carrier, with an extensive and efficient route network to major cities. Domestic fares are not cheap. Other airlines include Kulula.com, Mango, British Airways.
What is the weather like?
South Africa is a year-round destination so when you visit depends on what you intend and prefer to do.
South Africa is famous for its sunshine, with the one of the world’s highest averages of daily sunshine hours. Generally speaking March to May are the most pleasant months when the rainy season in the summer rainfall has ended and before the rain has started in the winter-rainfall area.
What is the South African culture like?
South Africans have been referred to as the ‘rainbow nation’, a title which epitomises the country’s cultural diversity. Many different ethnic groups live together in South Africa with their many different traditions and cultures. The existence of 11 official languages in South Africa is proof of the multicultural South African people.
The population of South Africa is one of the most complex and diverse in the world. Of the 49 million people, nearly 38 million are Black, 5 million White, 3 million Coloured and one million Indian.
With political, social and economic changes transforming South Africa, the age old ways of life bound to ethnic cultures of the region are slowly fading.
What about food and drinks?
South Africa has a fantastic, rich culinary tradition from Africa, Europe and Asia and its wines are world famous. Appletizer, Grapetizer, Mampoer, Savanna and Amarula are some of the local specialities to look out for.
South Africa’s popular cream and marula spirit, Amarula, debuted in sixth place in a recent poll of the world’s hottest bar brands by respected global publication ‘Drinks International.’
The fresh water in South Africa is drinkable and clean but bottled water is available throughout the country.
What is the Fauna and Flora like?
South Africa enjoys the third-highest level of biodiversity in the world. The country’s rich natural heritage is vast and staggering in its proportion. Although the country covers only 2% of the world’s land area, nearly 10% of the world’s plants and 7% of its reptiles, birds and mammals are found here.
The Cape Floral Kingdom – one of 8 Unesco World Heritage Sites – is the smallest kingdom in the world with the largest variety of plants and the most endemic species.
The magnificence of the South Africa’s nature reserves offers any visitor an experience that will go unmatched in their travel experience. The Kruger National Park is just one of 20 national parks dedicated to conserving South Africa’s wild animals, plants and natural environments – with two more under development. South Africa aims to increase land under formal conservation to 8% by 2010 (from 5.4% in 1994) and marine protected areas to 20% (from 11% in 1994).
June to August?
February to April?
The Autumn months (February – April) is the time of harvesting in the Wine Lands in the West Cape Province and especially beautiful with the vineyards turning colour and the climate mild. See our Robertson Wine Valley Tour. Autumn is a good time for travelling in South Africa with mild temperatures and low rainfall.
September to November?
Spring (September – November) is a beautiful time to visit, especially for nature lovers.
What kind of health care if available?
Medical facilities in cities and larger towns are world-class, but you will find that in rural areas the clinics and hospitals deal with primary health needs, and therefore do not offer the range of medical care that the large metropolitan hospitals do. Trained medical caregivers are deployed round the country, so help is never far away.
Should I be concerned about Safety when visiting South Africa?
Safety is an issue that is paramount in the minds of tourists visiting South Africa.
Crime in South Africa, like many other places in today’s world, can be a problem, but all you really need to do is take the usual sensible precautions and follow some basic safety rules.
Although South Africa is generally a safe country, like all other countries where tourists visit, there is crime, but with a bit of common sense and following a few guidelines your safety in South Africa is easy.
Crime has had a negative impact on the country’s growing reputation as a desirable travel destination. However, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism is lobbying and working together with safety and security agencies to combat crime.
Travelling with Africa Treasure Tours, Travel & Safaris you will be in a safe environment at all times.