South Africa Travel Planning
General Travel Information
South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems. Major cities include Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.
It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho (which is completely surrounded by South Africa). It is a vast country with widely varying landscapes and has 11 official languages, as well as an equally diverse population. South Africa is renowned for its wines, beautiful scenery, amazing safaris & an incredible culture. The Cape region is also one of the most truly spectacular spots on the globe. South Africa has the strongest economy in Africa and in 2010, South Africa hosted the first Football World Cup to be held on the African continent.
Travel light. We suggest enough clothes to make it halfway through your stay. Then have your laundry done. Most hotels offer laundry service; however, check with each property on the price and procedure. The climate during their Spring and Summer is very moderate so pack for warm weather. Most importantly, make sure to limit each person to one suitcase, one carry on and one set of golf clubs.
Essentials: A golf umbrella for the odd rain shower; hat and sun screen to protect you against the African sun; two pairs of golf shoes; one or two light sweaters. The dress code in South African golf clubs, restaurants and hotels is smart casual. No jacket required! For ladies, we recommend casual evening wear.
We highly recommend traveling with a light carry golf bag in a canvas style carrying case. Large golf bags and hard carrying cases can cause problems when traveling since it takes up a lot of vehicle space.
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2). South Africa does not have day light saving which means that it is always GMT+2. In December to February (their summer), it can stay light until 8 pm, especially in the Western Cape area. South Africa is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time when daylight saving is on.
When it is 12 noon in South Africa (USA daylight saving on) it is:
- 6 am in New York, Montreal, Atlanta, and Miami
- 5 am in Chicago, Dallas, and Winnipeg
- 3 am in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Vancouver
To call home to the US direct, dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number. If you decide to call from your hotel room, always check the cost as an additional service charge is generally added by the hotel. These charges can be expensive! You can have your mobile phone activated by your service provider to use it either for text messages only or text and call.
Customs operates on the red & green channel system. For more detailed information, we suggest visiting www.customs.gov on the Internet.
The South African currency is the South African Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents (c). Notes are issued to the value of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 in South Africa. Coins are issued to the values of R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c.
Sales Tax Refunds
American visitors can reclaim the 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on purchases over a minimum limit (check with the store for their limit). Ask for a tax-free shopping form with each purchase and follow the simple instructions. At the airport, you can claim your refund at the customs desk. If you have your purchases shipped home by the store, the tax will be deducted by the store on the spot.
Most restaurants are open for breakfast/lunch from 9:00–2:30 and then re-open for dinner from 6:00–midnight. However, it is important to check with each establishment as hours may vary.
In South Africa it is customary to tip where a service charge is not included. Waiters, tour guides, porters, caddies, and even taxi drivers will accept a tip when offered. A tip of 15% is appropriate in most cases.
Golf Club Information
Visitors are always welcome in all clubhouses in South Africa. Golf shoes might not be permitted in certain areas. After golf smart casual attire is suggested.
Caddies / Carts
Electric carts are the norm at most golf courses. At the few where it is not allowed, caddies will be available. Caddy fees are between US $15 – 20. Electric carts are between US $20 – 25 per cart.
Many courses in South Africa have a handicap restriction. Courses hold the right to refuse play if you cannot produce a valid handicap card below the acceptable limit. Make sure to carry your latest handicap card with you.
Other Items To Know
There are 11 officially recognized languages, most of them indigenous to South Africa. However, everywhere you go, you can expect to find people who speak or understand English. English is the language of the cities, of commerce and banking, of government, of road signs and official documents. Road signs and official forms are in English. The President makes his speeches in English. At any hotel, the receptionists, waiters and porters will speak English. Another major language is Afrikaans, a derivative of Dutch.
Summery, without being sweltering. In Johannesburg, the country’s commercial capital, the weather is mild all year round, but can get cool at night. Durban, the biggest port, is hot and sometimes humid, a beach paradise. And in Cape Town, where travelers flock to admire one of the world’s most spectacular settings, the weather is usually warm, though temperamental. If you’re visiting from the Northern Hemisphere, just remember: when it’s winter over there, it’s summer over here. Bring sunglasses and sun screen; leave the mackintosh at home.
South Africa has a world-class, sophisticated financial sector, abreast of all the latest technological trends. From the moment you step off the plane you’ll start seeing banks, bureaux de change and automatic tellers (ATMs) all over. All major credit cards can be used in South Africa, with American Express and Diners Club enjoying less universal acceptance than MasterCard and Visa. Foreign banks are well represented, and you can bank by ATM or internet.
South Africa has two capitals. Cape Town, the oldest city, is the legislative capital, where Parliament sits. Pretoria, 950 miles to the north, is the executive capital, where the government administration is housed. Next door to Pretoria, and close enough that the outer suburbs merge, is the commercial center of Johannesburg, once the world’s greatest gold mining center, now increasingly dominated by modern financial and service sectors. The second-biggest city is Durban, a fast-growing port on the eastern coast, and the supply route for most goods to the interior.
120 kph on a motorway or dual carriageway, 100 kph on single carriageways, 60 kph in built-up areas, or as otherwise directed by road signs.
IN SOUTH AFRICA YOU DRIVE ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD!
Passport & Driver’s License
A valid U.S., Canadian or other national passport is required. To drive a car, a valid driver’s license is sufficient.
Travelers checks are safer to carry than cash and can be used in most places. Be sure to check the exchange rates at both banks and Bureau de Change if you choose to carry US dollar travelers checks as rates can differ.
Credit Cards & ATMs
Most credit cards are now widely accepted and are useful for buying gas, shopping, dining out, etc. The most widely used are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. ATMs are available all over the country, but check with your local bank for compatibility and charges before you travel. In addition, be sure to advise your credit card company that you are traveling and will be using your credit card for purchases overseas.
Golf Handicap Card
Please make sure that all members of your party carry a valid handicap card from their home club. Certain courses may require that you show your card to verify your handicap (although this seldom will prohibit you from playing).
In South Africa, electricity is at 220 or 240 volts; therefore, an adaptor is necessary for most electrical appliances. Some of the better hotels have sockets for electric razors at 110 volts. The best place to purchase such an adaptor is before your flight at the international airport duty free shop, as they are not generally stocked in local stores.
Vacation Travel Insurance
There are varieties of travel insurance that cover everything from health and accident costs, to lost baggage and trip cancellation. They can be obtained with one blanket policy, or they may overlap with coverage you already have. It is best to consult your insurance agent to determine what coverage is best for you.