When it comes to travelling in South Africa, a little time spent looking through these frequently asked questions will help make your trip even more enjoyable.
The weather plays a crucial role in choosing the places you will want to visit during your stay in South Africa. True connoisseurs of the country even rate the winter months of June, July, and August as the more beautiful.
A safari is particularly recommended during these months. Nights and mornings can be quite cool, but the pleasant warmth of the days more than makes up for it. During this time, many young animals are born and the underbrush is not so dense, so this is a great opportunity to successfully discover animals which may be more difficult to see at other times of the year. From August, the whales near Cape Town can be observed, while the beautiful flora and fauna on the west coast of the country can be best admired in August and September.
These are the peculiarities of the seasons in Cape Town and the Cape region:
Spring: It is September, the temperatures in Cape Town are rising again and Spring is in the air. Cape Town is now in full bloom. The west coast is famous for this, and Spring is a perfect time to visit Cape Town. The weather at the Cape is generally mild, with average temperatures between a minimum of 15 degrees in September and 17 degrees in October, with many days in the [mid-]twenties and often higher! The days are also longer, offering enough time to enjoy Cape Town’s glorious sunshine.
Summer: The hot season starts at the end of November and lasts until February. The average temperature then is 25 degrees, but remember that the warmest months are January and February – you can easily sweat at over 30 degrees, so you should plan activities accordingly.
Autumn: Autumn in Cape Town – March and April – is one of the most beautiful times to visit. The vineyards in the Cape turn bright red, brown, orange, and yellow, while the temperatures remain pleasant. The average temperature in March is 20 degrees, and 18 degrees in April. The wind abates, while the slopes in the countryside turn into fields of gold and scarlet.
Winter: The winter season runs from the end of May to August. Wind and rain sometimes sweep the streets of Cape Town, but on other days the temperature rises to 25 degrees. Anyone who visits Cape Town in Winter and wonders what to pack had best take something for all seasons. Sun, rain, clouds, wind: You experience everything during a good Cape Town winter. Winter is a delightful time to visit Cape Town for those who love nature but do not need 30 degrees every day. The vegetation literally soaks up the water and blooms all over Cape Town. You will never experience the Cape Peninsula greener than at this time of year.
For your holiday in South Africa, your clothing should be light and airy in order to best fit the warm, moderate climate. As there can be great temperature differences between day and night in each region, a jacket or warm sweater, sturdy shoes, as well as rain gear, should be included in your luggage. In general, casual clothing is appropriate unless you plan to attend a particularly formal event.
When on safari, neutral colors such as brown, beige and khaki are ideal. Strong colors or white could irritate the animals. You can protect yourself against the intense sunshine by wearing sunglasses and suitable head cover, and by using sunscreen.
There is no danger of malaria in most areas in South Africa, except the Kruger National Park, which is considered a malaria area. Even though the risk of malaria in the Kruger National Park is regarded as being very low, there is indeed a slightly higher risk during the rainy season between November and March, mainly due to the precipitation that occurs during this period. Please consult your doctor or public health service about recommended and/or required vaccinations and malaria drugs before travelling.
Whether or not you need a vaccination for your holiday in South Africa depends on the exact location of the holiday. There is no vaccination required for a visit to Cape Town, the Garden Route, and the majority of South Africa. However, there are sections of the Kruger National Park where it is advisable to vaccinate against some diseases. Please consult your doctor or public health service about recommended and/or required vaccinations and malaria drugs before travelling.
Personal security during a holiday in Cape Town and South Africa is a much-discussed topic among travelers. My personal tip is that if you do not do anything in Cape Town or South Africa that you would not do in Barcelona or New York, or indeed in other major cities and countries, your holiday in South Africa will be as safe as it would be anywhere else in the world.
German citizens can visit South Africa for up to 90 days without a visa. You must have a passport that is valid for at least 30 days after your departure from South Africa, and have at least two free pages for visas.
New regulations for the travel of minors to South Africa entered into force on 26th May 2014; that is, from 1st June 2015 onwards, persons under the age of 18 must also present a birth certificate on entry and exit.
According to the South African Department of Home Affairs, such certification can also be provided in languages other than English. However, short-term amendments to these provisions, or even different interpretations by individual agencies, cannot be discounted or excluded. Therefore, in order to avoid difficulties when entering and leaving South Africa, it is recommended, until further notice, to provide international birth certificates or, if appropriate, certified English translations when travelling with minors.
If a minor is not accompanied by both parents who share right of custody, it must also be shown, via a sworn affidavit or statutory declaration, plus certified copy of the passport and contact details of the absent parent, that the absent parent either consents to the travel, or that such a declaration of consent is not necessary; that is, via a certified court determination on sole custody, or a death certificate of the absent parent or, in the case that the minor person resides in Germany, a clearance certificate from the German Youth Welfare Office.
Persons traveling with minors who are not their own children must submit a certified copy of the child’s complete birth certificate (not an extract), as well as a sworn affidavit or statutory declaration, plus certified copy of the passport and contact details of both parents or legal guardians of the child.
In South Africa, you will need an international driver’s license. However, this is only valid in connection with a valid national driver’s license, so you should carry both documents when driving. The necessary documents can be easily obtained from the responsible district administration or traffic authority office.
You can pay with Visa or Mastercard, and withdraw cash at ATMs (automatic teller machines) or cash points almost everywhere in the country. American Express and Diners Club are somewhat less accepted. EC cards carrying the Maestro sign can also be used to withdraw cash at ATMs, so an exchange of large quantities of cash is therefore not necessary.
It is usual to give a tip in South Africa. In restaurants this accounts for 10% of the total bill. Taxis get 10% of the fare, and porters get 2 Rand per bag. You should also give a reasonable tip to the rangers and the lodge team when checking out. You will generally find information covering this topic in your room at hotels and lodges.