Planning a holiday to South Africa? We’ve compiled the practical travel information you will need, including details on flights and airport transfers, visas, customs, language, weather and other we advise you read before you depart.
Arrive in South Africa
A 11 hours journey, no jet lag.
South Africa's international airports are of world-class standards and handle more than 20 million passengers a year. O.R. Tambo International Airport is considered the gateway to South Africa and receives the most direct international flights. Although Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport in Durban, do receive a limited number of international flights, domestic flights from Johannesburg to these destinations are quickly and easily arranged. South Africa also boasts a number of smaller airports including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, that receive charter and cross-border flights from other African countries.
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Tel: +27 (0) 11 921 6262
Cape Town International Airport
Tel: +27 (0) 21 937 1200
Kingsha International Airport
Tel: +27 (0) 31 451 6666
Avis Rent a Car
Tel: +27 11 923 3660
Tel: +27 21 935 4800
Imperial/Europcar Car Rental
Tel: +27 11 574 1000
Drive South Africa
Tel: +27 21 423 1912
Tel: +27 11 774 5247
Tel: +27 12 334 8459
South African Airways
Tel: +27 11 978 1111
Tel: +27 11 921 0111
Car hire begins at around R200 per vehicle per day.
Budget domestic flights begin at around R500 per person return, while premium return tickets start at around R1 000 per person.
Blue Train rates begin at R9 200 per preson sharing a double compartment.
Bus tickets begin at around R180 per person.
Flying to South Africa
These are several airlines that fly from the UK to South Africa. We recommend you to contact the airlines directly for detailed information about flights or reach your local travel agent.
South African Airways: Flights from GBP 553*- Direct flights to Johannesburg with connection to the main state capitals
British Airways: Flights from GBP 599*- Direct flight to Johannesburg and Cape Town
Virgin Atlantic: Flights from GBP 599*- Direct flight from London to Johannesburg
Emirates: Flights from GBP 553*- Flights to Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town (Connection: Dubai)
Quatar Airways: Flights from £ 590* - Flights to Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town (connection: Doha)
Ethiopian Airlines: Flights from £ 489* - Flights to Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town (Connection: Addis Ababa (ADD)
KLM: Flights from £ 444* - Flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town (Connection: Amsterdam)
Turkish Airline: Flights from £ 528* - Flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban (Connection: Istanbul)
Travelling to South Africa from neighbouring countries can also be done through overland safaris, on cross-border coach routes, and self-drive tours, through one of 53 border posts with Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Botswana facilitate entry. Most border posts observe normal working hours and some, like those with Mozambique and Botswana, are open from 06:00 to 00:00. The posts at Ficksburg Bridge and Maseru Bridge (Lesotho), Nakop and Vioolsdrift (Namibia) and Beit Bridge (Zimbabwe) are open 24 hours a day.
South Africa is also home to eight ports, two of which – Cape Town and Durban – receive international cruise ships. Read more information at the UK Tour Operator Fred Olsen.
Flying is the best way to cover the country in a short time. South African’s domestic airlines – including South African Airways, Kulula, Mango and FlySafair serve all state capital capital cities (link to top 10 cities).
South African transportation services include numerous rail operators. Here are a few options:
Rovos rail. Image courtesy © Rovos Rail
Shosholoza Meyl - Book a 2-bed coupe or 4-bed compartment on the passenger train
Premier Classe - Luxury compartment with private bathroom on its sister line
Blue Train - For an ultra-luxurious ride with its opulent décor and exquisite cuisine. Steam enthusiasts can also enjoy day and overnight trips on restored steam trains
Rovos Rail – One of the most luxurious train in the world and experience the extravagance of rail travel to Southern Africa’s most spectacular destinations.
South Africa boasts several coach operators that cover routes across the country. You can book a seat on the luxury coaches provided by Intercape, Greyhound and Autopax (Translux). These operators also travel into surrounding African countries, making cross-country adventures easy.
For those who are more adventurous car rental affords self-drive visitors great flexibility. So pick a ride and get out there and explore beautiful South Africa. If travelling through South Africa on a self-drive journey, hire a car, 4x4, campervan or motorhome for your trip. Be aware that you need to carry your driver's licence on you at all times, the wearing of seatbelts is compulsory and national roads are tolled. Read more information here. Check the car rental agencies at Tours, packages and costs.
They are restricted to private, metered taxis that have to be specifically called for service. Ask your hotel to assist with any necessary bookings. Other possibility is a short minibus ride with an experienced guide or local. Uber is also a strong possibility. For updated fares visit the MyCiti fares calculator.
South African fast facts
Currency: South Africa's currency is the rand, which offers visitors great value for money. The rand comes in a range of coins (R1 = 100 cents) and note denominations of R10, R50, R100.
Climate: South Africa has a temperate climate and is known for its long sunny days, hence the title: 'Sunny South Africa'. Most of the provinces have summer rainfall, except for the Western Cape (winter rainfall). Winter is from May to August; Spring from September to October; Summer from November to February and Autumn is from March to April.
Languages: South Africa is a multi-lingual country and there are 11 official languages including: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
Entry requirements: The maximum period that United Kingdom passport holders may be admitted by the immigration officer is 90 days. The basic requirements that may be requested by the immigration officer at the place/port of entry are: Passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of intended visit; Your passport must have two blank visa pages and a vaccination certificate if required by the Act.
Health and safety: Most of South Africa is malaria-free, but always check with the game reserves you're planning to visit and take precautions if necessary. Make sure you have the latest safety tips from the establishment where you will be staying and take common sense precautions as you would when travelling.
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