What to Bring

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.

Drugs/medication
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.)

Important documents
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 18.

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 item.


Visa Requirements

No visa requirements
If you fall under any of the following categories, then you do NOT need a visa to travel to SA for tourist, business or transit purposes (unless you have been specifically advised that your visa exemption has been withdrawn):

1. Holders of South African passports (or official travel documents issued in place of a passport) do NOT require visas.

2. Holders of passports of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - including the British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Mann and Virgin Islands - as well as the Republic of Ireland, are totally exempt from South African visa control.

HOWEVER: Nationals of the British Dependent Territories are subject to visa control. These Territories are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Cucie and Oeno Islands, the Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Turks and Caicos Islands.

3. Holders of passports of the following countries may visit South Africa for holidays or business of unspecified length - or for transits - without a visa (unless specifically advised that their visa exemptions have been withdrawn):

Australia
Austria
Belgium
Canada
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Iceland
Italy
Japan
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Portugal
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United States of America

No visa requirements for up to 90 days
Holders of passports of the following countries may visit South Africa for holiday or business trips of up to 90 days - or for transits - without a visa (unless specifically advised that their visa exemptions have been withdrawn):

Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Ecuador
Israel
Jamaica
Malta
Paraguay
St Helena
Swaziland
Uruguay
Venezuela
No visa requirements for up to 30 days
Holders of passports of the following countries may visit South Africa for holiday or business trips of up to 30 days - or for transits - without a visa (unless specifically advised that their visa exemptions have been withdrawn):
Antigua and Barbuda
Barbados
Belize
Benin
Bolivia
Botswana
Cape Verde
Costa Rica
Cyprus
Gabon
Guyana
Hong Kong (Only holders of Hong Kong British National Overseas passports, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports, or Hong Kong Certificates of Indemnity)
Hungary
Jordan
Lesotho
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mauritius
Mexico
Namibia
Peru
Seychelles
Singapore
Slovak Republic
South Korea
Thailand
Turkey (Turkish Republic of North Cyprus passport not acceptable)
Zambia
Visas required

You WILL require a visa to travel to South Africa if:
You do not fall into one of the above categories; or
You intend to stay in South Africa for longer than the relevant exemption period; or
You intend to work or study in South Africa; or
You intend to take part in a sports event; or
You intend to take up permanent residence in South Africa.
You will also require a visa - regardless of your nationality or the duration of your stay - if the purpose of your visit is related to the pursuance of your career - for example, clergy who wish to address church meetings, representatives of the media who wish to report, or academics who wish to present lectures or conduct research. Categories affected by this regulation include:
Concert performers.
Stage artists.
Musicians.
Religious workers.
Journalists or persons connected with the news media on extended stay.
Photographers.
Sports persons with contracts.
Models.

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