There are two ways of organising a holiday. The first is
to decide on the spur of the moment to head off, and do just
that. It's a valid option, but you will probably have to maintain
that frame of mind or you might start getting irritated at
the things you forgot to organise and pack.
The more usual way is to plan ahead a bit, thus ensuring
that you won't have any unpleasant surprises. Check your passport
isn't about to expire, check whether you'll need visas, organise
travellers' cheques well in advance, organise travel insurance
and medical insurance. Check your flight details and don't
forget to confirm them including onward connections
and returns. Don't forget to order special meals on flights,
or children's meals, if necessary.
What to pack
Pack a while ahead. Most of the time you'll be most comfortable
in light, summer-weight clothes but do pack a warm jacket,
socks, good shoes and a rain jacket. Pack sunscreen
lots of it and a hat and sunglasses. Make sure you
have at least one cool shirt with a collar for sun protection.
Stock up on insect repellent and, if you'll be in a malaria
area, ensure you have a cool, long-sleeved shirt and cool
long pants for evenings. Bring good walking shoes.
Always pack a bandanna or cotton scarf and a sarong, kanga,
pareo, kikoi whatever you want to call it. These two
garments are probably the most useful and versatile items
in the world. If you're spending time watching game, you should
try to wear reasonably neutral colours but, really, you don't
have to look like an extra on the set of Out of Africa. You
don't need formal clothes, but you will need something pretty
smart for exclusive hotels and the Blue Train.
If you are dependent on any drugs or medication, as
we say bring a supply and a spare prescription. (We
call our drugstores pharmacies. By drugs
we mean such substances as cocaine, ecstasy, heroine, marijuana
and the like.)
Make two copies of all your important documents, like
passports. Take one with you, in a different bag to the original,
and leave one at home with a responsible, easily reachable
person. Try to memorise all your important numbers - passport
numbers, credit card numbers, etc. If you lose your bag, this
could be an enormous help.
Can I use my hairdryer?
Electricity is generally 220/230 volts, 15 amps, and is
supplied through either 15-amp three-prong or 5-amp two-prong
plugs, in both cases with round pins. If you're bringing anything
electrical, bring an adapter or you could buy one here.
Generally, the 110V video chargers work safely on the 220V
supply. Television is on the PAL system.
Spectacles, contact lenses
Bring spare spectacles, and/or a copy of your prescription.
If you wear contact lenses, consider using disposables for
a short holiday, especially if you're planning to river raft,
dive or such. Also bring spectacles, as the dry dusty environment
of some game farms may irritate your eyes.
If you've forgotten anything don't panic. This is
not the back of beyond, and you can buy whatever you need
probably at a good price.
And pack a camera you'll want to save your wonderful
memories. You can buy film anywhere, and camera batteries
in any city.
Visas, taxes and duty
What documentation will I need to visit South Africa?
Depending on your nationality, and the purpose and duration
of your visit, you may not need a visa to visit South Africa
at all. For information on the basic requirements for entering
South Africa, as well as comprehensive information on visas
what they are, who needs them, and when, where and
how to apply for them.
What can I bring into South Africa?
You may bring in duty-free gifts and souvenirs to the total
value of R1 250 plus 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250 grams
of tobacco, 2 litres of wine, 1 litre of other alcoholic beverages,
50ml of perfume, and 250ml of toilet water into South Africa
without incurring duties. Thereafter duty is levied at 20%.
The alcohol and tobacco allowance applies only to people over
Taking rands out of South Africa
When you leave the country you are permitted to take up to
R500 in South African Reserve Bank notes. A 20% levy is charged
on amounts above R500.
Will I have to pay tax on goods I buy in South Africa?
Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied on most goods and services,
but as a foreign national you may reclaim VAT on anything
you bought for over R250 to take out of the country unused.
You need to do this before you embark on your flight home,
and will have to produce the original tax invoice for the