South Africa Travel Tips
Some tips for first time travellers to South Africa.
It is always useful to know more about a particular country before arriving there. Visit your local library and search the World Wide Web for information on the chosen country.
Below are a couple of tips for those people who wish to visit South Africa.
South Africa has eleven official languages, but it is not necessary to carry a phrase book around, as English is one of the official languages and is also the most widely understood of all the languages.
The following phrases/words are widely used in South Africa, irrespective of the language being spoken.
Dankie: thank you.
Sorry: almost all South Africans will say
sorry when you trip or fall or have an
accident, irrespective of whether they
were the cause or not. It is a polite
way of showing concern.
Shame: Also used as a sign of respect to show
Bakkie: a small truck
Eina: pronounced "aye-nar".
It means "ouch."
2. THE FOOD
South Africa is a civilised country and you should find all types of international cuisine at different restaurants and hotels. Highly recommended are the eastern dishes, especially the curries.
The following food and snacks are inherent to the ordinary South African way of life:
Barbecue. A great favourite, but unlike the traditional American barbecue. All sizes and types of red meat are barbecued, but lamb chops, steak and *wors are preferred. Salads are served with the "braaied" meat as well as grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, *pap and sous, and *roosterbrood.
a type of sausage.
It is pronounced "pup" and is actually boiled corn meal, and is similar to grits.
sauce - normally containing onions, tomatoes and gravy.
a bread dough formed into rolls and cooked on the "braai" or grill.
dried, salted meat made from beef, ostrich of antelope. It is similar to jerky.
3. TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Be sure to find out the telephone numbers of the local police, emergency services and clinics before embarking on any expeditions. If involved in an accident, try and avoid the general hospitals - they are understaffed and in filthy condition. The clinics on the other hand are neat and hygenic and compare favourably to the world's best.
Take your mobile along and buy a starter kit and pay-as-you-go cards from one of the cellular telephone service providers, MTN or Vodacom, in South Africa. They are very cheap and can be bought at most supermarkets and stationery shops. The local service providers also provide emergency numbers to dial.
The running water in the city centres are safe to drink - beware when visiting the more rural areas. Carry bottled water (freely available in South Africa) with you.
Know the currency and the value of South Africa. The currency is Rand (paper) and Cents (coins).
Coins come in the following colours:
one cents, two cents.
five cents, ten cents, twenty cents, fifty cents, one Rand, two Rand.
*One Rand is equal to one hundred cents.
The paper money comes in Rands of the following values: ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred, two hundred.
Find out what the value of the Rand is before spending your money, as it has tended to fluctuate during the last few years.
Never carry around large sums of cash. Use approved credit cards and/or travellers' cheques. If you find yourself in a position of carrying large sums of cash, ensure that you do not advertise this! Keep small amounts of cash hidden in different places.
If you decide not to be part of a tourist group and want to experience life on the street by yourself, make sure that you do not broadcast the fact that you are a tourist - do not carry your expensive photographic equipment in the open. Do not assume that each person confronted will be willing to help a poor, lost tourist - unless they are willing to help themselves to your possessions, that is! Dress down - do not wear expensive clothes and do not display jewelry, watches and expensive handbags.
Walk with purpose, as though you know where you are going. Be alert to your surroundings and the people near you.
As desirable as it may seem, never board a train, unless you are in the company of trusted friends. You will not experience the "true South African experience" by boarding a third-class carriage. Although you may meet normal people, the chances are that you will also meet up with a couple of vicious criminals.
Hiring cars is easy and most car rental companies in South Africa are trustworthy. However, ensure that you know exactly how to get to your destination. Never travel late at night, especially if you are on your own.
Car hi-jacking is rife in South Africa and if you are confronted by a gun-wielding hi-jacker, never challenge him. Slowly lift your hands from the steering wheel and wait for the hi-jacker to open the door, or indicate that you will open the door, SLOWLY. Get out of the car, keeping your hands visible at all times. If the hi-jacker allows, back away from the car, still keeping your hands in the air. Never make any sudden movements.
Sightseeing is safer in a group - rather join a travel group than travel alone to South Africa.
Game farms and national parks: as peaceful as the wild life may seem, never get out of a vehicle to take close up pictures of the animals. A resting lion can turn into a savage beast if approached.
The animals seem to tolerate tourists, if they remain in their vehicles at all times.
South Africans, as a whole, are friendly, but be careful of people who are "over" friendly. Listen to advice about which areas to stay away from and when going out at nights, take a taxi to your destination - never go for a walk at night, especially if you do not know the area.
South Africa is a beautiful country and you can enjoy yourself immensely in this country. Just remember to do your homework about this country first, as you would about any other country that you are travelling to. It is far better to travel in a group, but if you insist on travelling alone, then be street smart!