South African Safari Information
- Airports & Travel
- Malaria & Health
- Safari Packing Guide
- Day at a Game Lodge
- Wildlife Conservation
Airports & Travel
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) operates this country’s ten principal airports, including O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg as well as Cape Town and Durban International Airports. The others are domestic airports in Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, East London, George, Kimberley, Upington and Pilanesberg Airport. For more information, contact ACSA
Information desk: +27 (0)11 921 6262g> or ACSA Flight information: +27 (0)86 727 7888
Airport Contact Details:
- Johannesburg: OR Tambo International Airport
- Cape Town: Cape Town International Airport
- Durban: Durban International Airport
- Kruger Park: Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
- Other National Airports: Bloemfontein, East London, George, Kimberley, Pilanesberg, Port Elizabeth and Upington
South African Airways (SAA) - Online Bookings
Flysaa.com is the South African Airways travel portal offering everything one needs to travel to, from and within South Africa. The site provides a comprehensive range of interactive online services and useful information for local and international travellers. Over 1 million people visit the site every month and a high percentage of SAA ticket sales are booked directly on flysaa.com.
Omni Charters is based at Rand Airport in the heart of the City of Gold, and is an established air charter company providing the convenience of charter flights to boundless destinations throughout Africa.
General Travel in South Africa
Languages: There are 11 official languages in South Africa, but most people speak English.
Standard time: South African standard time is two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT + 2), one hour in advance of central European winter time and seven hours in advance of United States eastern standard time throughout the year. There are no time zone differences within the country.
Electricity: 220/230 volts AC at 50 cycles per second. Three pronged plugs are universal, so take an adapter. Most hotel rooms have 110 volt outlets for electric shavers and small appliances.
Banking, currency and money: The South African unit of currency is called the Rand and it is divided into 100 cents. Coins come in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5, and notes in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200.
South Africa has a very sophisticated banking sector and automatic teller machines (ATM’s) are widely available in the main cities and towns, although only a R1000-00 at a time may be drawn at an ATM. Credit Cards are widely accepted, except at gas stations. Traveller’s cheques (American and Visa) and credit cards (American Express, Visa and Master Card) are widely recognised and accepted.
Road Travel: There is a well-maintained network of roads and motorways in populous regions. Traffic drives on the left. In non-residential areas, speed limits are 120kph, and 60kph in urban areas.
Petrol stations are usually open all week, 07h00 to 19h00, and some are open 24 hours. Petrol must be paid for in cash. Wearing of seat belts is compulsory, and driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence. It is required that you carry a valid driver's license at all times whilst driving.
Malaria & Health
Many of the main tourist areas in South Africa are malaria-free, however, the Kruger National Park, the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal do pose a malaria risk in the summer months. Health care professionals recommend you take malaria prophylaxis.
Consult your doctor for advice concerning malaria prophylaxis, and remember that the treatment requirements differ for different areas. A simple blood test can determine if you have malaria or not. Get tested when you get home. It’s just a pinprick and a drop of blood gets examined under a microscope. It will cut out the possibility of symptoms developing months later, and the faster you catch it, the better.
The most important and most effective way of preventing Malaria is to prevent mosquito bites. The following preventative measures can be taken:
- always use mosquito repellent
- wear long pants, closed shoes and light long-sleeved shirts in the evenings and at night
- sleep under a mosquito net in endemic areas
- use insect repellent containing di-ethyl toluamide or DEET
- thin clothing should be sprayed with repellent, especially around the elbow and ankles
- apply insect repellents to exposed skin areas every 4-6 hours
- screened mosquito proof windows and doors guard against mosquitos entering your room.
Medical facilities: South African medical facilities are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of game parks, but they may be limited elsewhere. Pharmacies are well-stocked and equivalents to most American medicines are available. South Africa has some of the best doctors and hospitals in the world. Make sure you get travel insurance since quality healthcare is not cheap.
Drinking water: South Africa’s tap (faucet) water is of a high quality and is both palatable and safe to drink straight from the tap. It is treated so as to be free of harmful micro-organisms, except in informal or shack settlements.
In some areas, the water is mineral-rich, and you may experience a bit of gastric distress for a day or two. Bottled mineral water is readily available. Drinking water straight from rivers and streams could put you at risk of waterborne diseases, especially downstream of human settlements.
Sun exposure: The African sun can be harsh, and you should wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat whenever you are out of doors, particularly between 10am and 4pm, regardless of whether there is cloud cover or not.
Immunizations and vaccinations: You will need to make an appointment with your personal physician or travel clinic at least one month prior to departure to review pertinent health precautions including necessary vaccinations and medications. Make sure your doctor knows you are travelling to South Africa, not just Africa, so he can prescribe the right medication.
Safari Packing Guide
Equipment, Personal Care, Safari Clothing & Documentation
- Video camera
- Bird and animal check lists
- Camera in a dust resistant case, with a zoom, plenty of film, memory sticks, batteries etc
- Sunscreen / block
- Insect repellent
- Lip balm
- Water bottle
- A small first aid kit, for personal use, possibly containing a mild pain killer for headaches, Immodium for diarrhea, topical antibiotic for cuts, bites or sores, adhesive pads for blisters, a sufficient supply of any prescription medication you are on, etc
- A small bag to carry these essentials with you whilst on a game drive / walk
- Safari hat with a brim
- Long and short sleeved cotton shirts
- Cotton shorts
- Cotton long trousers
- Sweater, jersey, pullover, safari jacket or windbreaker for the evenings
- Down jacket if you are susceptible to the cold
- Skirts, dresses, slacks for elegant eveningwear
- Bandannas or handkerchiefs
- Woollen gloves
- Underwear and socks
- Walking boots, safari-type shoes, trainers, sandals and / or rubber thongs
Neutral colours such as khaki, beige, olive, green and brown are the preferred colours to wear on safari, as you are less conspicuous to the animals, and therefore less threatening to them.
Non-synthetic, comfortably fitting, cotton clothing breathes more easily, keeping you cooler under the hot African sun.
Shorts and T-shirts are normally the order of the day, and are replaced with long sleeved shirts and trousers at night for warmth and protection from insect bites.
- Valid passport
- Valid visa
- ID photo (eg driver's licence)
- Air tickets
- Expense money
- Travel insurance
- Recommended innoculations / Valid international Health Certificates. Travellers entering South Africa from countries where yellow fever is endemic are often required to present their yellow World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination record or other proof of inoculation.
- Photocopies of the above documentation, carried in a place separate to the original documents
For up to date information on entry requirements and assistance with applying for visas, please visit the South African Department of Home Affairs website.
A Typical Day At A Private Game Lodge
Luxury game lodges provide a host of activities for you to enjoy on your safari, such as game drives, hiking, fishing, bird watching, canoeing, swimming, reading in the library, going to the gym or indulging yourself at the health spa.
Many of the luxury safari lodges also offer adventure filled activities and various safari packages such as balloon safaris, tent camp-outs, area tours, quad biking, micro-light trips, golf, star gazing, horse riding, fly fishing, deep-sea fishing, 4 x 4 trails, children’s wildlife educationals, bush walks, helicopter trips, visits to traditional cultural villages, and then of course, more game viewing.
In the mornings...
In the mornings and evenings, open-topped vehicles will transport you on game drives accompanied by professional rangers and trackers. Morning game drives or walks start at dawn, after a quick snack, to catch the animals when they are most active and visible. Daily walking safaris, accompanied by rangers and trackers, are also normally offered.
In the heat of the day...
After your early morning game drive, you can look forward to a late breakfast or brunch, followed by some time for relaxation during the heat of the day. The animals become inactive during this part of the day and you won't be missing out on any action whilst relaxing at the lodge.
Later in the afternoon / evening, it will become time for another game drive or walk, after which you can spend a magnificent African evening under the stars enjoying a sundowner on the deck of your game lodge.
And if none of this is on your personal agenda for the day, you may simply spend the day working out at the gymnasium, reading in the library or relaxing beside the swimming pool. Or spend the day indulging yourself at the health spa.
The tranquil surroundings of the African bushveld after an evening safari will give you a healthy appetite for the sumptuous cuisine being prepared for the evening meal. The day's eventful sightings will probably be the main topic of conversation as everyone unwinds in front of warm log fires at night, watching tribal dancers displaying their rhythm and dance.
And before you know it, you will be preparing for bed to be well rested for when you wake up to another day of African adventure and enchantment.
The natural surroundings you will be visiting are home to our magnificent animal kingdom, and their environment needs to be respected. The lives of the animals depend on the health of their land.
The animals themselves need to be respected and treated in a manner which does not frighten or disturb them:
- Animals do not like new and unexpected noises, and when you call or shout loudly, they become nervous and feel threatened. They will run for cover, robbing you of the enjoyment of watching them.
- Do not disturb their natural activities, such as hunting for food. To them It means danger in one form or another, and means that they may become aggressive towards you to protect themselves. They may especially become fierce when protecting their young ones.
- Do not tease, corner, or throw objects at the animals, as once again, they may feel threatened and attempt to protect themselves, at your expense.
- Don't shine bright lights on the animals at night, as this frightens them, disrupts their nocturnal activities, and causes them to become disorientated.
- Don't litter the environment. The animals might attempt to eat what you threw away, and it might choke or poison them.
The environment is extremely sensitive, and off-road driving causes erosion and other problems that the animals then have to live with, adapt to, or move away from in search of new homes.
Please remember that the dry African bush ignites easily, and a fire can kill many animals. Please refrain from smoking on game drives.