SOUTH AFRICA. What you need to know before your trip.

Memo for a tourist when traveling to South Africa.

Customs. There are no limits on the amount of foreign currency to bring in and take out. Importing up to $50,000 in cash does not require a declaration. No import or export of weapons, poisons, narcotics, uncut gems and metals are allowed. Precious stones, metals, ivory and animal skins require an export certificate obtained at the time of purchase.

VAT refund (tax free). On departure from South Africa you can receive a VAT refund (i.e. VAT) of 15% of the value of goods purchased in South Africa. The total amount of purchases – from 250 rand (regardless of the date and amount of purchase in each store). You should:

  1. When buying goods show your passport, get and keep receipts that indicate: date, name of seller, list and quantity of goods, amount of purchase in rends including VAT, VAT amount.
  2. At the airport of departure before check-in at the VAT Refund (or Tax Refund) counter present your passport, receipts, unpacked goods. The cheques will be stamped and returned. Then you can put the goods in the luggage.
  3. After check-in and passport control at the VAT Refund (or Tax Refund) window show your passport and receipts stamped. They will issue a Visa card, calculate the amount to be refunded in rand and transfer it to a card in dollar or euro (at your choice). In a few weeks you will receive an SMS or letter with the activation code, and you can use the money on the card. It is not possible to get a refund in cash at the airport of departure.

Time. Time is 1 hour behind Moscow (e.g. 17:00 in Moscow, while in South Africa it is 16:00).

Health. No vaccinations are not required. When visiting Kruger Park in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana territories antimalarial prophylaxis or use of repellent is recommended. Bottled water is recommended.

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Climate. South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana are located in the Southern Hemisphere, so the seasons here are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere. Conventionally we can distinguish 3 seasons: summer from November to March, winter from April to July, spring from August to October. The climate is fertile, dry, tropical and subtropical. The bright sun shines 300-350 days a year.

Personal safety. You can walk in the evening: in Cape Town – along the Waterfront and the surrounding streets, in Johannesburg – through the Sandton area, in Durban – along the waterfront, at Victoria Falls and in safari parks – not recommended. Large sums of money, expensive jewelry should not be carried at any time of the day (leave them in the safe in your hotel room).

Racial composition. South Africa: 78% black, 9% mulatto (colored), 11% white, 2% Indian.

Religion. South Africa and Zimbabwe: 70-80% Christians, 15-20% follow local faiths, the rest are Muslims and Hindus. Botswana: 10-20% Christians, 70-80% follow local beliefs; the rest are Muslims and Hindus

Languages. The official language is English (all understand and speak it), also used languages of local nations.


  • South Africa: Only the local currency used in calculations is the South African Rand (ZAR) = 100 cents. 1 USD = 14-15 ZAR. Coins circulating: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, 1, 2, 5 rand; 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 rand bills. Major credit cards are accepted in stores, hotels, and restaurants. Automated teller machines are widely available. The receipt, received when exchanging foreign currency into rends, should be kept for re-exchange at departure.
  • Zimbabwe: Only United States Dollars (USD) are accepted, national currency is not in circulation and is sold as a souvenir. It is recommended not to use ATM or credit cards, and to have plenty of small bills, 1, 2, 5, 10 USD (but not coins).
  • Botswana: Payment is made in US dollars (USD) and local currency Botswana Pula (BWP) = 100 Thebe, 1 USD = 10-11 BWP. Coins are used: 5, 10, 25, 50 Thebe, 1, 2 and 5 pula; bills 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 pula. It is recommended not to use ATMs and credit cards, and have plenty of small bills 1, 2, 5, 10 USD (but not coins) to pay for souvenirs and hotel services and if necessary to exchange into local currency.
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It is better not to exchange currency in the hotel or airport where the local currency exchange rate is always undervalued, but in a bank.

Transport. The main mode of transport is a personal car. City buses are irregular. Cabs should be ordered through the hotel or Uber app. It is not usual and safe to vote in the streets.

Clothing and shoes to bring on the road – lightweight, loose, comfortable, closed.

  • long-sleeved shirts and long pants, preferably cotton or linen, in light colors.
  • worn shoes, sneakers or sneakers
  • A parka or jacket for evening walks or safari trips, river and sea voyages.
  • A windproof and rainproof jacket, raincoat or windbreaker.
  • For sun protection: Hat (wide-brimmed hat, panama, cap with a visor), sunglasses, sunscreen with at least SPF 50, but preferably SPF 100
  • swimsuit

Cuisine. A combination of cooking from different cultures. European dishes have undergone changes over time, Africanized. In the methods of cooking and seasonings appeared local flavor. And the products themselves are often unknown to Europeans both by name and taste. Meat dishes dominate in the food.

  • SOUTH AFRICA. You can have ostrich omelette for breakfast and juicy antelope steak or boar escalope or even crocodile for lunch! Since the shores of South Africa are washed by two oceans, seafood is plentiful.
  • Zimbabwe and Botswana. Cuisines are a mixture of mild British and heavy African food. The national dish is “sadza,” a porridge of ground corn (sometimes wheat) accompanied by an appetizer of meat and tomatoes or dried fish.

Dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables sold in stores are usually safe.

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