South Africa Health / Safety / Climatic features

South Africa


The passports of all travelers to South Africa must contain at least two blank (unstamped) visa pages each time entry is sought; these pages are in addition to the endorsement/amendment pages at the back of the passport. Passport not be less than 6 months to the date of expiry. Otherwise, the traveler, even when in possession of a valid South African visa, may be refused entry into South Africa, fined, and returned to their point of origin at the traveler’s expense, or detained for up to several days until extra visa pages are obtained.


Malaria is endemic in the low-altitude areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. Use mosquito repellent throughout the day and night on all exposed skin. Whenever possible cover up your skin with loose fitting clothing especially at dusk when the mosquitoes are at their most active. Tick bites most often occur when hiking or camping in wilderness areas, particularly where there is long grass. Ticks are the hosts of the bacteria. Symptoms vary depending on the bacterial species, your age and current health status. Typical features are fever, severe headache, swollen lymph nodes near the bite site and occasionally a rash will develop. The incubation period is 5-7 days. Avoid bathing in freshwater rivers and dams in sub-tropical and tropical areas. Because it is risk of bilharzia. Always take precautions when having sex, not only to protect yourself from HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted infections too. South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world.


Tipping is customary in South Africa. A guideline for visitors is the following: Porters R5 per item, taxis 10%, waiters and waitresses in restaurants 10 - 15%.


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.


If you wish to make a call from South Africa, you must first dial 00, which is South Africa's international access code.


Although the vast majority of visitors complete their travels in South Africa without incident, visitors should be aware that criminal activity, sometimes violent, occurs routinely. As South Africa is a developing country, crime does exist, so we would advise you to take a few basic precautions. All valuables, passports, cameras, should be locked in the safe of your hotel. Valuables should be carried discreetly when walking in cities. Travelers are encouraged to be vigilant and avoid any large gathering, particularly protests and demonstrations. Do not participate in pavement games as they are operated by well organised gangs and money can be stolen while you are distracted. Public transport is available in South Africa so there is no need to hitch-hike. Local residents will advise you on safe transport. If driving, do not pick up hitch-hickers and ensure that your car doors are locked at all times. The South African Police are easily recognised in their blue uniforms and white & blue patrol vehilces.

Climatic features

South Africa stretches between the 22nd and 34th degrees of southern latitude and hence is part of the subtropical zone. Compared to other regions at that latitude, temperatures in many areas of South Africa are rather lower. The cold Benguela current causes moderate temperatures on the West Coast, and on the central plateau the altitude (Jo'burg lies at 1753m) keeps the average temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius. In winter, also due to altitude, temperatures drop to the freezing point, and in places even lower. Then it is warmest in the coastal regions. Precipitation is to be expected mainly in the summer months, with the exception of the Western Cape which is a winter-rain area. For your tour planning keep in mind that the seasons in the southern hemisphere stand in direct opposition to those of the northern hemisphere.


South Africa has an average annual rainfall of 450 mm, compared with a world average of 860 mm. Sixty-five percent of the country receives less than 500 mm per year, which is generally accepted as the minimum amount required for successful dry-land farming. Twenty-one percent of the country, mainly the arid west, receives less than 200 mm per year. In Cape Town, the capital city of the Western Cape, the average rainfall is highest in the winter months, while in the capital cities of the other eight provinces, the average rainfall is highest during summer. South Africa’s rainfall is unreliable and unpredictable. Large fluctuations in the average annual rainfall are the rule rather than the exception in most areas of the country. Below-average annual rainfall is more commonly recorded than aboveaverage total annual rainfall. South Africa is periodically afflicted by drastic and prolonged droughts, which often end in severe floods.

The land

South Africa occupies the southernmost part of the African continent, stretching latitudinally from 22° to 35° S and longitudinally from 17° to 33° E. Its surface area is 1 219 090 km2. The country has common boundaries with Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, while Mozambique and Swaziland lie to the north-east. Completely enclosed by South African territory in the south-east is the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. To the west, south and east, South Africa borders on the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Isolated, 1 920 km south-east of Cape Town in the Atlantic, lie the Prince Edward and Marion islands, annexed by South Africa in 1947.

The oceans

South Africa is surrounded by the ocean on three sides – to the west, south and east – and has a coastline of about 3 000 km. The coastline is swept by two major ocean currents – the warm south-flowing Mozambique-Agulhas and the cold Benguela. The former skirts the east and south coasts as far as Cape Agulhas, while the Benguela current flows northwards along the west coast as far as southern Angola. The contrast in temperature between these two currents partly accounts for important differences in climate and vegetation between the east and west coasts of South Africa. It also accounts for the differences in marine life. The cold waters of the west coast are much richer in oxygen, nitrates, phosphates and plankton than those of the east coast. Consequently, the South African fishing industry is centred on the west coast.

South Africa's World Heritage Sites:
» Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs (1999)
» Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (2003)
» Robben Island (1999)
» Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape (2007)
» UKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park (2000)
» Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (2004)
» Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (1999)
» Vredefort Dome (2005)

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