TRAVEL TIPS FOR TOURISTS
Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa, is situated in the Gauteng Province. Gauteng is South Africa’s smallest province, but it is highly urbanized. The province has a matchless climate of warm, thundery summers and crisp, dry and sunny winters. Late spring and early autumn are the best months to visit, but the weather year-round is good, with an average of nine hours sunshine per day. Click here for more information for travellers.
Telephones are fully automatic with direct dialing to most parts of the world. Calls from hotels and guesthouses generally carry a surcharge. Public pay phones are found at post offices, hotels, shopping malls and cafés. Pay phones accept coins as well as telephone cards (green public phones use phone cards in denominations of R10 to R200) that can be bought at hotels, post offices and supermarkets.
The international dialing code for South Africa is +27 followed by the local regional codes.
The South African monetary unit is the South African Rand (R) which is made up of 100 cents (R1 = 100 cents), with international symbol ZAR. Bank notes are issued in the denominations of R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10. Coins are available in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c.
Current is 200/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter is required for razors and hairdryers.
In the event of an emergency requiring the police, ambulance services or rescue services, call South Africa’s national emergency number: 10111. Below is a list of other important numbers that you may call for assistance in different circumstances.
Internet services are generally available. Most telephone connections at hotels and other accommodation are able to support fax/modem devices. Please consult your concierge should you need to dial up from a portable device. Calls are charged at hotel rates, which are the cost of a local call plus, a surcharge.
Traveller’s cheques and foreign currency notes of all major currencies can be exchanged at any commercial bank and Foreign Exchange Bureaus found at most tourist points, while most hotels also offer exchange facilities for guests. Fluctuations in foreign exchange markets are reflected in new rates daily.
In South Africa, we have a well-developed infrastructure and very high standards of water treatment and sanitation. Our medical facilities are equal to the best in the world and in most of the country we have a very healthy climate. However, there are a few health issues you should be aware of when travelling to any destination.
• Aquatic Safety
Most of our beaches are safe and patrolled by lifeguards but please do not be careless. Do not swim out too far, and be aware that some beaches do have currents. Also – one of the major contributing factors to drowning worldwide is alcohol. So – by all means enjoy a sundowner on the beach but a long swim after a few drinks is asking for trouble.
• Casualty evacuation and medical insurance
Our medical facilities are equal to the best in the world and, if you should fall ill or have an accident, you will receive excellent care. It is imperative that you carry medical insurance to deal with such an eventuality. Of course, accidents can happen anywhere – including in the middle of the bush – in which case you would need specialised casevac or medical evacuation. Fortunately, we have excellent casevac facilities, which have reciprocity agreements with most international emergency medical services, so your existing insurance will probably cover it. But do check before leaving home.
• Food and water
As a rule, tap water in South Africa is safe to drink as it has been treated and is free of harmful micro-organisms. You will also find that in almost every establishment you would consider staying in, the standard of hygiene and food preparation is absolutely fine, and your chances of contracting serious ailments are slim indeed. So you do not need to forego the pleasures of eating our fresh fruit and munching away on salads for fear of contamination. And you can safely put as much ice as you like in your drinks – a good thing, too, after a day on the beach or in the bush.
HIV is prevalent, but really should not cause any concern for visitors. But do bear in mind that unprotected sex, on holiday as at home, may put you at risk.
• Infectious and tropical diseases
Bilharzia can be a problem in some of the east-flowing rivers but it is easily detected and treated if it is caught early. If you are concerned, you could have a routine test a month or two after you get home - just to reassure yourself. Ticks generally come out in the early spring and may carry tickbite fever, which is easily treated. Other health issues you should be aware of include hepatitis, for which you can be inoculated. But, really, we have a pretty healthy climate and, except in the most out-of-the-way places, our standard of water treatment and such is equal to the best in the world.
If you are travelling to the far northeast of South Africa you should consult a heath-care professional for the best and latest advice concerning malaria prophylaxis as it changes regularly.
Malaria is endemic in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and on the Maputaland coast of KwaZulu-Natal and you are most at risk in the summer months. Should you travel to one of these high-risk areas, take the necessary precautions.
We have a warm sunny climate and you should wear sunscreen and a hat whenever you are out of doors. Even if you have a dark complexion you can still get sunburned if you are from a cooler climate and have not had much exposure to the sun. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn.
People entering South Africa from the following countries would require a yellow fever vaccine. The person landing at the international airport without prior immunization would be fined $40.
Yellow fever endemic countries
• Countries in AfricaAngola
Central African Republic
Sao Tome & Principe
• Eastern CountriesIndia
• Countries in South AmericaBolivia
About 70% of Gauteng’s population is African, 23% are European, 4% coloured (mixed race) and 2% Indian/Asian. This compares with the racial composition of South Africa as a whole, where 70% are African, 11% are whites, 9% are coloured and 3% Indian/Asian.
IsiZulu (Zulu) is the most widely spoken first language, used by 21% of all residents and 36% of Africans. Afrikaans is the second most widely spoken language, used by 17% of all residents, more than two-thirds (68%) of coloureds and more than half (56%) of whites. About 13% of people living in Gauteng speak English as a mother tongue and a further 13% Sesotho. English has become the language of commerce and business.
South Africa is a politically stable country with a constitution that guarantees human rights and freedom of expression so the chances of your having any contact with any kind of political action are extremely slim. If, however, you do find yourself in or near some kind of demonstration or strike – be sensible and resist the temptation to be a spectator.
Our transport infrastructure is excellent and our roads are in good condition. However, you may find the distances between towns greater than you are used to, so it is a good idea to plan your trip to ensure you do not drive long distances, as fatigue is a major cause of road accidents. Always try to travel in daylight, as it is inherently so much safer. Also, in some of the more remote rural areas the roads are not fenced so you may find stray animals on the road – which could be very dangerous at night.
We have very strict drinking and driving laws – with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.5%. Translated that means about one glass of wine for the average woman and perhaps 1.5 or two for the average or large man.
Please adhere to our speed limits – for your own safety and ours. It is 120 km/h on the open road, 100 km/h on smaller roads and between 60 and 80 km/h in towns. Be aware that even major national roads cut through residential areas so you may find a speed limit of 80 km/h on a road that looks like an autobahn. This is to protect pedestrians, especially children, so please comply.
As in other countries, there are a few basic precautions you should take in Pretoria to ensure that your stay is as pleasant and safe as possible. Prudent tourists can avoid becoming victims by following these guidelines.
In the hotel/guesthouse• Never leave your luggage unattended.
• Store valuables in the hotel’s safety deposit box.
• Keep your room locked, whether you are in it or out.
• If someone knocks, check who it is before opening the door.
• Hand the keys in at the desk whenever you leave the hotel.
In the street• Avoid ostentatious displays of expensive jewellery, cameras and other valuables.
• Keep cell phones and wallets tucked away where no one can see them.
• It is definitely not advisable to carry large sums of money around.
• At night, steer clear of dark, isolated areas.
• It is better to explore in groups and to stick to well-lit, busy streets.
• Plan your route beforehand.
• A policeman or traffic officer will be glad to direct you if you get lost.
• If you want to call a taxi, your hotel or nearest tourism information office can recommend a reliable service.
In the car• Plan your route in advance.
• Be on the alert when stopping at traffic lights or stop streets, as well as when arriving at or leaving premises.
• Keep the car doors locked at all times and wind the windows up.
• Lock valuable items in the boot (trunk).
• At night, park in well-lit areas. Street security guards will usually offer to watch over the car and should in return be compensated with a small fee.
• Never pick up strangers.
• If in doubt about the safety of an area, call a police station for advice.
At automatic teller machines (ATMs)• Do not use an ATM located in a secluded or concealed area.
• Avoid drawing cash late at night or when you are alone.
• Be alert and conscious of suspicious looking people near the ATM.
• Watch out for con artists.
• Never write down your PIN (Personal Identification Number) or hand it to somebody else, even if the person is a bank official.
• Immediately change your PIN when you suspect that somebody gained access to it.
• Never hurry when using an ATM. Make sure you are not distracted, intimidated or rushed into your transaction.
• Do not allow anybody to assist you at the ATM.
• Do not force your ATM card into the card slot when it is closed. Leave the area immediately.
• Read the instructions on the screen carefully. Wait for the instruction to insert your card.
• If you are unable to continue with a transaction, choose the option to cancel the transaction. Go to the nearest branch of your bank for assistance.
• Should your card become stuck in the ATM, enter your PIN three times whereupon the machine will retain your card. Then approach the bank or call the helpline number.
• In the event of your card being retained, stolen or lost, contact the toll-free stop card number immediately. The person taking the call does not need to know your PIN to cancel the card.
• Never allow a bystander to call the toll-free stop card line on your behalf.
• Stand close to the ATM when using it. Use your hand as a shield to cover the card slot. This will enable you to take your card immediately once it comes out to prevent a bystander from taking or swopping your card.
• After concluding the transaction, take your card and money and put it in a safe place before moving away from the ATM.
• Remember that safety guards are placed at ATMs to discourage criminals and not to assist you with your transactions or to ensure your personal safety.
Crime• The most common kind of crime you are likely to come across will be opportunistic bag snatching so keep your eye on your possessions. Outdoor cafes and such are favourite places for bags to just “get up and walk away”, so do not leave them on a chair next to you or on the floor behind you. A good habit to get into (anywhere) is to clip your bag onto your chair, or to loop your arm through the strap. That way it should stay put.
• Other sensible advice is not to hitchhike or accept, or carry, items for strangers.
Airport security• Our airport security is quite strict so, to avoid delays in checking in, remove all sharp objects (even nail files, small scissors and hairclips) from your hand luggage.
Visitors to South Africa are required to be in possession of a valid passport. Visitors who intend travelling to South Africa’s neighbouring countries and back to Gauteng are advised to apply for a multiple entry visa prior to arrival.
Where to apply
Full information about visas and entry permits can be found at:
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