471,400 sq miles
Pretoria, South Africa (UTC+2)
South African Rand
South Africa: Paradise Awaiting To Be Explored
South Africa is a country like no other. It is the ideal destination for those seeking a unique sensory/spiritual reawakening, a place that leaves its visitors feeling inspired, enriched and rejuvenated.
There’s not much that South Africa doesn’t have to offer its visitors. The Kruger’s private reserves deliver Africa’s most reliable Big 5 game viewing, while Cape Town and its surrounding wine valleys provide an elegant, Mediterranean twist to a South Africa safari. July to November sees South Africa’s Whale Coast hum with activity as migratory whales arrive. And then there are the beaches …
Welcome To South Africa
Here are just few reasons why to visit South Africa:
- South Africa is a welcoming, friendly and fun destination, with people known for warmth, hospitality and authenticity.A safari in the untouched wild, a breathtaking view, a sun-soaked beach, the pulse of a bustling city, a fascinating window into a vibrant culture, an unforgettable adventure through an outdoor playground – in South Africa you can have it all!
Prolific Big 5 Game Viewing
Encountering Africa’s iconic Big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo) is a major item on any safari goer’s bucket list. South Africa is one of the very few places on Earth where you’re able to tick off all five in one day.
Easily Combine Bush, Beach & Vine
Cape Town’s gorgeous coastline offers its visitors sun-kissed beaches, while the famous Cape Winelands will delight any gourmet. Superb infrastructure and daily domestic flights make combining a Kruger safari with a beach holiday a piece of cake.
World-class Service & Amenities
Experience culinary excellence from award-winning chefs in Cape Town, the Winelands, and Kruger’s private reserves and concessions. Plus enjoy top-notch service and amenities like spas, gyms and art galleries in each location.
Daily commercial flights link all the major cities, chartered airplanes can get you to safari lodges with their own private airstrips, and a self-drive holiday along the beautiful Garden Route is made safe and easy thanks to well-maintained road networks.
A Trip For Every Traveller
Multi-generational broods will love South Africa’s variety of family-friendly accommodation. Couples will find the perfect trip to celebrate a special occasion. Adventure seekers will relish in Cape Town’s plethora of outdoor activities …
Thanks to a very favourable exchange rate, it’s easy to find superb accommodation that offers that extra bit of holiday pampering. And dining out in South Africa is very affordable, so you can enjoy a great meal and local vintage without feeling guilty.
Get inspired at Kruger National Park!
When you think of South Africa, the incredible Kruger National Park most certainly comes to mind. Not only can you catch a glimpse of the famous Big Five, but you will find yourself surrounded by hundreds of species of birds, ancient trees, winding rivers, superb accommodation and adventure. Basically, it’s a one-stop shop for all of your wildlife dreams.
Imagine rising with the South African sun. Driving out of your camp, filled with anticipation as you keep your eyes peeled for an overnight lion kill, a leopard casually draped over the branch of a big tree or a herd of elephants taking a morning stroll. Then ask yourself, is there anywhere else in the world you’d rather be?
The Kruger National Park is home to thousands of animals. From giraffes browsing for Acacia leaves to chew on and a herd of buffalo crossing the road right in front of you, to elusive big cats enjoying a spot of shade and fish eagles letting out their distinctive call – it’s the Lion King in live action.
It’s hard to believe your eyes when you see the herds of hundreds of antelope or crocodiles basking in the afternoon sun while the hippos keep cool under water. Not to mention the things you’ll hear, they are just as unbelievable – hyenas cackling the night away as male lions roar for dominance, and if you’re lucky, the almost silent footsteps of a pack of wild dogs on the prowl.
Preparing For A Trip To South Africa?
Visa Information / Entry requirements – South Africa
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in South Africa set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how South Africa’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
You can travel to South Africa for any purpose for up to 90 days without a visa. You should check the expiry date of your visa or entry stamp and make sure you do not overstay.
You may need to complete a health form to enter South Africa.
See Visas and Passport validity sections for more information.
If you’re fully vaccinated
South Africa has lifted its coronavirus travel restrictions. You no longer need to present proof of vaccination status, or a PCR test.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
South Africa has lifted its coronavirus travel rules. You no longer need to present proof of vaccination status or a PCR test.
If you’re transiting through South Africa
The rules set out above also apply to travellers wishing to transit South Africa.
There are no exemptions to South Africa’s entry requirements.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are visiting South Africa, your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive.
Your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa, in line with South African immigration regulations. However, some immigration officials still request that a passport should have at least 6 months validity on the date of entry to South Africa. To avoid problems at the airport on arrival, you’re advised to ensure your passport is valid for six months.
Your passport should have at least two blank pages when you arrive in South Africa.
If you’re visiting South Africa for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa. You should check the expiry date of your visa or entry stamp and make sure you do not overstay.
For more information on visas, contact the South African High Commission.
If you hold South African citizenship, you must enter and exit South Africa on your South African passport. It is an offence for a South African citizen aged 18 or over to enter or leave the country on a foreign passport.
Travelling with children
There are special requirements for travelling to South Africa with children under the age of 18. There are different requirements for unaccompanied children entering South Africa.
Check the advisory from the South African Department of Home Affairs for more details, and consult your nearest South African high commission or embassy if you have any questions about these requirements.
South Africa has implemented biometric capturing at all ports of entry. This may result in some delays at land borders. You should allow additional time for border crossings.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
South African authorities advise that UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, transit and exit from South Africa. ETDs should have a minimum of 6 months validity for entry, transit or exit.
UK Emergency Passports
UK Emergency Passports are accepted for entry for life-threatening emergencies only. If you need assistance for a medical evacuation from a neighbouring country, call +27 12 421 7500 and follow the options for consular assistance.
Tourism Health Information – South Africa
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 10177 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
Other health risks
According to the 2018 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic South Africa has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world, with 7.1 million people living with HIV. HIV prevalence is high among the general population at 18.9%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. There is no reciprocal health care agreement between the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Local medical care
South Africa has a very high standard of private medical care, comparable with the UK. Private health care can be expensive, so make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of medical treatment abroad, and repatriation.
Public medical care varies across South Africa, and standards of treatment and hygiene may not be the same as you would expect in the UK.
Private rehabilitation centres are widely accessible to foreigners visiting South Africa. The British High Commission does not usually contact or visit people who have travelled specifically for medical treatment. Further information on medical tourism is available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre. If you do choose to attend a rehabilitation centre in South Africa, you should:
- do extensive research in advance, ensuring you choose a reputable facility that is registered with the South African Department of Social Development
- ensure you have the appropriate visa for your stay
- take out comprehensive travel insurance, which includes medical cover suitable for a rehab stay and your particular circumstances
Substance use abroad can increase your vulnerability; and although travel does not cause substance dependence, it can provide an opportunity to misuse substances or cause relapse in addiction survivors. More information on the impact of travel and substance use is available on the website of the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers.
Make sure to organise a contingency plan to cover what will happen if you relapse abroad, if the treatment plan is unsuccessful and/or you require unplanned repatriation to the UK (this plan may need to include additional availability of funds).
Read More On Visas
Weather & When To Go To South Africa
Since South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, it’s summer down here when it’s winter in Europe and North America. Summer begins in November and lasts till February, which if you think about it, makes this the ideal time to visit if you want to escape the cold weather.
Depending on where you’re visiting, the average day temperature in summer ranges from a minimum of 15°C ( 59°F) to a maximum of 28°C (82°F). In winter the average day temperatures are 19°C to 23°C (66°F to 73°F). Just ensure you have a jacket to put on as it can get chilly at night.
If you’re intending on going on a safari in Mpumalanga and Limpopo then the best time to visit would be in winter. Why? Because these two provinces are very pleasant as it’s sunny and warm during the day and dry and cool at night. Late winter is popular for game spotting because the vegetation is sparse and animals visit the waterholes to drink. Summer in the Lowveld can be extremely hot due to high humidity. Alternatively, you can go on a winter beach holiday in Durban or on the KwaZulu-Natal coast as average temperatures hover around the 26°C mark.
In Cape Town, the best time to visit is in spring and autumn, which is April and May or the beginning of September to October. Spring is particularly breathtaking as you’ll get to witness first-hand some of South Africa’s most beautiful indigenous flowers bloom. Autumn offers a relief from the summer heat while the vineyards of the Cape Winelands start to change colour. Winter in Cape Town is less attractive as it’s characterised by wet and windy spells when cold fronts pass through.
The sardine run (May to July)
Aptly described as “The Greatest Shoal on Earth”, the sardine run takes place every South African winter when millions of small silvery sardines surge from the cold Cape waters up to the warmer sanctuary of the KwaZulu-Natal coast. The reason for this hasn’t been determined however there are many prominent theories that attempt to make sense of this phenomenon. Whatever the reason, it is quite the spectacle as the shoal is approximately 15km long, 4km wide and 40m deep. It’s a feeding frenzy for dolphins, sharks, seabirds and other marine life – making it a watching frenzy for people interesting in marine life.
Whale watching (May to November):
Every year, from late winter through to early summer, different breeds of whales migrate to mate and calve in sheltered bays off the Cape coast. One of the best places to see these majestic marine animals is from the coastal town of Hermanus. It’s well known for a reputation of offering the best shore-based whale watching in the world. When you do decide to go, make sure you have a fully charged camera as you might consider being a full-time photographer afterwards with a portfolio of stunning whale shots.
Namaqualand spring flowers (late July to October)
This dazzling display of spring flowers in an arid semi-desert area of the Northern Cape is regarded as one of the world’s most dramatic and vivid natural spectacles. Stretching 500km north up the Cape coast and 100km inland, carpets of the brilliant colour burst into vibrant life. You’ll find that over 4000 species of plants have been identified here, so you will be spoilt for choice.
The National Arts Festival (July)
One festival you should look forward to is the National Arts Festival. This festival takes place at the Eastern Cape’s cathedral and university city of Grahamstown. It has become one of the biggest annual celebrations of the arts in Africa. So if you make it, you’ll be surrounded by world-class dance, music, drama, film, jazz and visual arts.
The Comrades Marathon (June)
What started off as a tribute to South African soldiers who lost their lives during World War I has now become an event not to be missed in South Africa. The Comrades Marathon is a long-distance running race that has gained traction around the world. If you’re still not impressed, at around 90km long, it is one of the world’s oldest and longest ultramarathons.
The Cape Argus Pick ’n Pay Cycle Tour (March)
Billed as the world’s largest timed cycle race, this event attracts a field of around 35 000 cyclists. The vast majority are ordinary people who want to take on the challenge of cycling around one of the most beautiful peninsulas in the world. However, over the years the race has also attracted its fair share of celebrities, including former Springbok rugby captain Francois Pienaar, who in turn persuaded American actor Matt Damon (who played him in the film Invictus) to ride.
Read More On Health
At The Earth Trip we will design and plan your personalised itinerary according to the exact requirements of your trip. Whether you prefer to be on a mountaintop or under a waterfall; wake up in the middle of a jungle or have a picnic with locals in the tea plantations – we select the accommodation and activities in order to suit not only your preferences, but also your budget.Discover Tailor-Made