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Leaving for South Africa

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Practical A to Z

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Practical A to Z

Eating out

Opening hours

You can eat out all day long in towns, but restaurants close at 7.30pm in rural areas.

“Steak houses” and Nando’s

Steak houses and the Nando’s restaurant chain (Mozambican dishes) are decent and moderately priced.


Service is not included and 10% should be added to the bill.


The voltage in South Africa is 220/230 volts, sometimes 250 volts.

Sockets have three large round pins, but adaptors can be found all over the place.

Embassies and consulates

British Embassy –255 Hill Street, Arcadia 0002, Pretoria – t 27 12 421 7500 – http://ukinsouthafrica.fco.gov.uk/en/

Irish Embassy – Southern Life Plaza, 1059 Schoeman Street (Corner Festival Street), Arcadia 0083, Pretoria – t 27 12 342 5062 – http://www.embassyireland.org.za/


Also see Know before you go.


There are periodic outbreaks of cholera in some regions and travellers are advised to ensure fruit and vegetables are washed in drinking water.

The parasitic flatworm responsible for schistosomiasis is still present in rivers and lakes.

In the bush, hikers should take a chemical repellent against ticks and carry an anti-venom .

Medical services

The quality of care in private hospitals and clinics is very high. Even in the case of emergencies, you should produce a credit card as a guarantee of payment. If you have taken out medical insurance, the insurance company will facilitate your medical care.


Police emergencies – Tel 10 111

SOS from a mobile – Tel 112.



The Rand (ZAR) is divided into 100 cents.

Banks / exchange

Banks are open weekdays from 9am to 3.30pm and from 8.30-11am on Saturdays.

Opening hours are more flexible in shopping centre and airport exchange offices.

Means of payment

Traveller’s cheques: accepted in banks and airport and luxury hotel exchange offices.

International credit cards: widely accepted.

The country has a wide network of Automated Teller Machines .

Petrol stations: cash only.


Post offices are open weekdays from 8.30am to 4.30pm and from 8am-12noon on Saturdays.

Postnet (private company) runs several offices where you can buy envelopes, wrap parcels and buy stamps.

Public holidays

1 January

21 March – Human Rights Day

In March or April – Good Friday and Easter Monday

27 April – National holiday

1 May

16 June – Youth Day

9 August – National Women’s Day

24 September – Heritage Day

16 December – Reconciliation Day

25 and 26 December


Violence is an issue that travellers should not take lightly, particularly in some neighbourhoods of Johannesburg, Durban and in most townships.


Arts and crafts

From pearl jewellery, wickerwork and pottery to blown glass from Swaziland, little metal windmills and painted ostrich eggs, South Africa has no lack of arts and crafts shops, although most of the objects are actually mass produced if not from neighbouring countries. Genuine antiques can only be purchased from genuine antique dealers.

Gold and diamonds

Prices are strictly controlled by the Central Bank for gold and by De Beers for uncut diamonds.

Wool and leather

Look out for zebra, springbok or impala rugs, jackal fur blankets (kaross) and clothes made from merinos or angora goats’ wool…

It is against the law to buy rhinoceros horn, ivory or elephant hair jewellery, all of which are covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species; if found with such items you can face up to ten years’ imprisonment.


A few suggestions include natural Constantia dessert wine; muscadel, a liqueur wine; tangerine-flavoured Van der Hum liqueur to perfume cakes; Amarula, a cream liqueur made from the marula fruit.

Vat refund

Non-resident foreigners can claim a 14% VAT refund on all non-consumable purchases on presentation of a tax invoice and if the combined value of purchases exceeds R250.


To call South Africa from abroad

00 + 27 (country code for South Africa) + 10-digit number of the person without the first 0. Toll-free numbers and special rate numbers (0800, 0861, etc.) cannot be dialled from abroad.

South African mobile numbers begin with 08 or 07.

To call from within South Africa

Abroad: 00 + country code (UK 44 and Ireland 353) + number of the person called (without the first 0).

Domestic: all numbers, local and national, are comprised of 10 digits (3-digit area code and 7-digit number).

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