The ‘rainbow nation’ of South Africa has become a popular holiday destination worldwide for solo travellers, honeymooning couples and families with children alike.
It is no doubt the stunning landscapes and captivating wildlife that attract so many people to the country, meaning there are a lot of people who need some tips on how to prepare for their travels. And that’s where we come in with our 6 ways to prepare for your next holiday in South Africa.
Research the temperatures and climate
It is always a good idea to research the particular season and weather of said season before you go away anywhere, not least South Africa. Doing so will allow you to be prepared for the heat, the rain and the cooler mornings and evenings.
If you’re headed to South Africa for a wildlife safari, one of the best ways to prepare for the trip is by researching the weather and what it means for the animals you may or may not be seeing while away. Depending on the season, you might be lucky enough to catch migrations and to see a wide variety of animals congregating at watering holes. The hot weather also means the vegetation is less dense which is more conducive to spotting a wide assortment of animals. We would also recommend taking into account the weather in the mornings and evenings when preparing for a trip to South Africa as you are often out on game drives in the morning, and spend evenings underneath the setting sun. Climate research is a must before heading to South Africa.
Make a packing list
Every seasoned traveller will tell you that making a packing list is vitally important so that you don’t forget anything important when in South Africa. Or, so that you don’t forget the little things that matter to you.
On your packing list, you should account for how many outfits you’ll need (and spares depending on what you’re doing while on holiday), sun cream and a camera with some good storage capabilities. Remember to pack important documents and copies of them too, including your passport and bank card, as well as booking confirmations for safaris and hotels or safari lodges.
A packing list will save you from a lot of travel disasters every time – especially if you have kids! Oh, and another life hack: if you’re travelling as family or group pack a bit of everyone’s clothes in every case so that if one gets lost, everyone still has access to clothes.
You may also want to make a list of the things you have to do before you travel, like renewing the car insurance or paying your phone bill. You know, the boring, everyday stuff.
The media often reports that South Africa has a high crime rate but in many cases is simply a classic case of sensational reporting in the media. A lot of crimes actually takes place away from large tourist areas, so there is no need to be too concerned. Still, it is important that you are aware of the need to be streetwise when visiting most South African towns and cities, just as you would in any other unknown place.
For example, don’t use ATM machines in secluded areas or after dark, and never withdraw large amounts of cash. Although most incidents of violent crime occur away from tourist areas, you just want to ensure that the risk to your person and your belongings is minimal.
Make sure you’re medically prepared for your trip
One of the best ways to prepare for your next trip to South Africa is to ensure that you are medically prepared for your trip. This means finding out whether the areas of South Africa you’re visiting have high malaria rates, meaning you’ll need to buy some malaria tablets.
To find out if you need any malaria tablets, we’d recommend making an appointment with your GP to enquire further about the kinds of tablets available and their side effects as well as the level of risk to your person. Private clinics are also good for this kind of health advice, and will also be able to equip you with the tablets in many cases.
Another way to ensure that you are medically prepared is to make sure your travel insurance covers any medical issues you may have while visiting South Africa.. Ensure you read the policy statement that comes with your insurance and keep an eye out for hospital stays and medical treatment.
Check your country’s visa requirements
While most countries do not require a visa to stay in South Africa, it is important to note that you will need to double check if you require one. You can do that through your government’s official website or through South Africa’s government’s website.
If you are planning on staying in South Africa for more than 90 days, you will require a visa, regardless of where you are from. Ensure you leave a good amount of time to get your visa so that the process is as smooth as possible.
Change your currency
Finally, remember that the South African Rand is the currency accepted in the country. Start following the exchange rates a few months before you head off, to allow for you to get the best price for your money. The South African rand is relatively weak against the US Dollar, Euro or Pound Sterling, which bodes well for tourists descending from these regions.
BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.