Travel in South Africa
Capital of South Africa: Pretoria (Tshwane)
Population of South Africa: 54 million
Languages in South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Sepedi, Sesotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
Time in South Africa: GMT+2
International dialling code in South Africa: +27
Voltage in South Africa: 220/230 AC (250 in Pretoria), 50 Hz
Money in South Africa: South African Rand (ZAR). Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are widely accepted except in remote areas, where you’ll need to carry cash. Tipping is generally expected and very welcome as wages are often low.
Travel in Paternoster
Population of Paternoster: Approximately 2000
Languages in Paternoster: Mainly Afrikaans, English and some Xhosa
Local dialling code: 022
Money in Paternoster: South African Rand (ZAR). Credit card facilities is mostly available.
When to go to South Africa
Although generally pleasant and sunny, the best time to go varies by region. The Cape and the Garden Route have a Mediterranean climate. Summers (November to March) are warm and dry (24-27° C); winters (June to August) are mild and moist (7-18° C).
Nearly everywhere else in South Africa, summer sees the most rainfall, with the east wetter than west. If you are visiting subtropical KwaZulu-Natal it is best to avoid December, February and March, which are particularly humid.
The best time to go to Paternoster is during the August/September flower season. Whales can be spotted off the west coast from June to November.
Cape Town (CPT) is 20km from the city. Johannesburg (JNB) is 25km from the city. Also Durban (DUR), Port Elizabeth (PLZ) and Bloemfontein (BFN).
Cape Town International is 171km from The Smugglers’ Cottage, a comfortable 2 hour drive. Click here for directions.
Getting around in South Africa
South Africa’s major towns are served by an excellent internal air system. On popular routes, tickets can be only slightly more expensive than a bus ticket.
Travelling by train in South Africa is very slow – Johannesburg to Cape Town takes 29 hours. But overnighting can be glamorous on the famous Blue Train or equally luxurious routes offered by Rovos Rail. If you’re planning a long stay in South Africa, want the freedom of a car but can’t face the long drive between cities, consider using an intercity train which allows you to transport your car. Be warned, security can be an issue on some trains.
Buses and coaches are efficient and cheap. South Africa’s roads are perhaps the best maintained and connected on the continent. Car hire is widely available and a little cheaper than in Europe. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road. Potential hazards include other drivers, animals on the road in rural areas and car-jacking in urban places.
South Africa food & drink
South Africans are great meat eaters with barbecue (braai) and stews being popular. Other dishes to look out for include Malay-influenced food in Cape Town (eg. bobotie) biltong (dried meat) boerewors (sausage) and game.
Surrounded by two oceans, South Africa is great for seafood. Look for the SASSI (Southern Africa Sustainable Seafood Intiative) sign in restaurants to ensure that the seafood is sustainably sourced.
Fruit and vegetables are of a high standard and though South Africa is a meat-loving society, most restaurants will have vegetarian options and most major towns will have at least one vegetarian restaurant. Mielie pap (maize porridge), eaten with stew, is the staple of most of the population. South Africa’s wines are superb, its beers unmemorable.
Health & safety in South Africa
Tap water is generally safe in South Africa’s cities. However, you should stick to purified water in rural areas. The worst health hazard you’re likely to encounter is the sun.
Most of South Africa is malaria free, although there is a seasonal risk (October-May) in KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Public hospitals are fairly well-equipped in most urban areas and private hospitals are of an excellent standard.
South Africa has had its fair share of crime but most travellers visit without incident. Limit the risk of being mugged or car-jacked by keeping valuables out of view, car doors locked and windows rolled-up. Also, bearing in mind the country’s high HIV rate, travellers should take precautions.