​South Africa|​Frequently Asked Questions?

​Frequently Asked Questions?

When is the best time to visit South Africa?

South Africa is in the southern hemisphere so their seasons are reversed from ours in the UK. Mid-winter (June/July) in Cape Town will see day time temperatures of about 15-18 degrees and some rainy days. At night expect the mercury to dip down to about 7-10 degrees. However in other parts of the country such as the Kruger, Durban and Johannesburg this is the dry season with clear crisp skies and chilly nights. By day you can expect glorious sunshine with day time temperatures of about 25 degrees. The optimum time for safari in the Kruger National Park is generally agreed to be the months of September and October after the dry winter, when there is less grass. This means less cover for animals and they are forced to congregate around the remaining water sources. January and February can be very wet in the Kruger.

How long are the flights to South Africa?

There are direct flights from London Heathrow to either Cape Town which is 12 hours, or Johannesburg which is 10 and a half. Johannesburg acts as a hub for onward flights to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and areas inside South Africa such as the Kruger National Park and Durban.

Can I fly from a regional UK Airport? There are no direct flights from other UK regional airports but it is possible to fly via Heathrow with South African Airways, Virgin or British Airways; Amsterdam with KLM; or via Dubai with Emirates.

Do I need a visa to visit South Africa?

This will depend on which nationality passport that you have, but British Passports do not need to get a visa, it will be issued free of charge on arrival. All visitors must have 2 full clear pages in their passport, this is a requirement of the immigration department and is strictly enforced. Your passport must also have a minimum of 6 months validity from your date of departure.

When is the whale watching season in South Africa?

The Southern Right whales can usually be seen off the south coast of South Africa from July to November. We have always found September to be the best month because this is generally when calving happens.

When is the sardine run?

The sardine run occurs off the wildcoast, KwaZulu Natal and happens generally during June/ July. This attracts a wide variety of marine life such as dolphins, penguins, albatross, sharks and sometimes even whales, as they come to feast. The Sardine Run sometimes coincides with the Humpback whale annual migration, as they head north.

When is the best time to see the wild flowers?

It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict the great bloom of South Africa’s wild flowers. When I did a self-drive itinerary in mid-September 2012, there were some fantastic shows of iridescent pinks along the Garden Route and the flowers at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens were looking fabulous, although I was a little too late for the Birds of Paradise. Generally the flowers start blooming in the winter time during August. These can be seen up the western coast of South Africa – Namaqualand or along the Garden Route.

What other countries can I add-on to South Africa? There are many countries which can be tagged onto your trip to South Africa. Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Mauritius. A very popular combination is South Africa safari and Mauritius beach – perfect for honeymooners!

Where can I see free roaming white lion in South Africa? The best place to see free roaming white lion is at Pumba Game Reserve. Pumba Game Reserve is a malaria free Big 5 game reserve on the Eastern Cape, just 1.5 hours drive from Port Elizabeth.

Where can I take my 5 year old on safari?

There are a number of game lodges which specialise in family safari holidays. Lodges such as Impodimo, Jaci’s in Madikwe, Kariega, Lalibela and Shamwari in the Eastern Cape have the added advantage of being malaria-free. In the Kruger region Thornybush Lodge offers a comprehensive childrens programme with safari ‘Bumbles’, bug collecting with nets, and making Plaster of Paris casts from animal foot prints. Some reserves will allow children under 12 to accompany adults on a full game drive but usually the family will have to book a private game vehicle (at an additional cost) However the ranger can refuse any children on a game drive if they feel the child may be in danger. There are also a number of day trips on offer to smaller game parks which welcome children, these are situated all along the Garden Route.

How much luggage can I take?

The international airlines mostly work on an allowance of 23Kg for checked bags and 1 piece of hand luggage plus a camera bag or handbag. This is the same for scheduled domestic flights.

However if you are travelling by light aircraft to a safari lodge you will be allowed a total of 15Kg including your hand luggage. This allowance is at the Captain’s discretion and will depend on whether the flight is full, but we advise to err on the side of caution and assume this is your weight limit. Most lodges offer a laundry service which is often free of charge, so our advice is to take advantage of this to reduce your luggage.

What about my golf clubs?

For our golfing clients travelling to South Africa, all of the airlines except British Airways allow one additional golf bag of 12-15kg free of charge. Some domestic flights do charge extra for the golf clubs but we will advise you if this will affect your itinerary.

What should I take on safari?

Cotton layers such as vest t-shirts, t-shirts, a light fleece, shorts and a pair of long trousers are the key items. The temperature can vary quite a bit from the early morning game drive to the heat of the day. Sun screen, a hat and a swimming costume are the other necessities. It is best to avoid bright colours for a safari. Footwear should include a pair of sandals or flip flops and some walking shoes, trainers would be fine. Aside from clothes, we also recommend the following items; insect repellent, some headache/pain killer tablets,some anti diarrhoea tablets as a precaution, also some re-hydration sachets are handy to have. It is easy to get dehydrated without noticing, even though drinking water will be readily available.

Do I need any immunisations or malaria tablets?

The best person to speak to is your Doctor or Nurse Practitioner as the advice can change. Some parts of South Africa, such as the Kruger, are affected by malaria and you will need a course of tablets. Currently anyone that travels to Zambia and then enters South Africa (even in transit) must have a valid Yellow Fever certificate.

Can I drink the tap water in South Africa?

Tap water is safe to drink however bottled water is readily available if you prefer.

How can I contribute to local communities and conservation programmes? Can I arrange township tours?

Many of the lodges, hotels and guest houses in South Africa have their own charities and support the local schools & communities, by staying at one of these properties you automatically contribute to their charity. Further to this there are charities we can arrange for you to visit during your stay in South Africa.

We can certainly arrange township stays during your stay. Visiting townships is the best way to see how the communities spend their day to day live’s.

Can I charge my camera/phone/ipod on safari?

Almost all safari lodges in South Africa are connected to the mains and there will be power points in your room. It is best to take an adaptor with you although they will often have ones which you can borrow. City hotels will have UK plug points or adaptors in the rooms.

Please note that a ‘worldwide adaptor’ will not work in South Africa. You will need a specific South Africa adaptor which can easily be bought at Heathrow or in South Africa.

Is it safe to drive?

We only advocate self drive holidays in South Africa and Namibia, where there are good roads which are well sign posted and safe to drive. Both countries drive on the same side of the road as the UK and have the same traffic regulations. We only use reputable hire car companies who offer 24 hour assistance in the event of an accident or breakdown.

We also supply our guests with a personalised Travel Digest which gives them maps and detailed driving directions for every leg of the journey. It also gives contact numbers for their next destination and a 24 hour telephone number for assistance. The digest will give approximate journey times for each leg so guests can plan what time they want to depart. We never plan an itinerary which means that guests undertake a journey which sees them arrive at a destination in the dark.

Do I need an International Driving Licence?

No, a British Licence will be fine. The stipulation is that it is in English and has a photo, however South Africa are slowly introducing International licences so if you have one then this would give you additional peace of mind.

“My wife and I have been regular visitors to South Africa and each year we drive along the Garden Route from Cape Town to our favourite Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. We break the journey with overnight stops to enjoy the scenery. We have never had any problems or felt unsafe driving along the Garden Route. Facilities in the petrol stations are spotless, and there are plenty of places for a coffee break or a bite to eat. The roads are well sign posted and the travel digest is easy to follow”. (Mr Carter Aged 68)

Is my holiday protected when booking via my travel agent or directly with Visions of Africa and Southern Africa Vacations?

Yes. Visions Of Africa and Southern Africa Vacations are part of the Visions Holiday Group Ltd – Visions Travel Group which holds an ATOL licence no: 5889. This licence has been granted to us by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. This licence offers complete financial protection but only for holiday vacation packages that include flights commencing in and returning to the UK only. Ground arrangement only holiday vacation packages, accommodation only arrangements and other non-flight packages excluding the pre-arranged travel to and from your destination are financially protected through a bond that we have placed with the Association Of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT).

We are also members of ABTA – the Travel Association, IATA, ASTA and AITO – The Association of Independent Tours Operators.