South Africa is approximately 3.5 times larger than Germany and home to some 60 million inhabitants. Also known as the ‘Rainbow Nation' due to its wide variety of ethnicities, South Africa is the powerhouse of Africa and the granary of it's neighbouring countries, which import many products from South Africa. A large part of the country lies on a central plateau 900 - 2000 m above sea level, with the highest elevation at 3'482 m in the partly snow-covered Drakensberg mountain range. Temperatures are usually higher and the air more humid in the Lowveld (e.g. Kruger National Park) and along the coast to Mozambique.
Climate and best times to visit
South Africa can be visited all year round. South Africans travel prolifically from mid December to mid January, and the lodges during this period can be quite full. November to April is hot with a risk of rainfall. Temperatures are comfortable throughout the autumn months from May to June. July to September is generally relatively cool and dry; temperatures slowly begin to rise again in October.
The region around Cape Town has an inversion climate and is thus subject to so-called winter rains. The benguela current, which brings cold water from the Antarctic, is a dominant climate factor, even along the coast towards Namibia. The weather is rainy from April to September (winter), and dry with quite a fierce wind from November to May (summer).
Please note that Johannesburg sits on a central plateau at 1600 m above sea level, temperatures here are therefore generally lower.
Immigration rules and regulations
Both Swiss and EU citizens require a passport which is valid at least one month beyond the date of your departure from South Africa, and must contain at least two blank pages. No visa is required. Exact details must be clarified before arriving.
South Africa is usually accessed via Johannesburg with an effective flight time of approximately 10 hours. Johannesburg offers excellent connecting flights to the rest of South Africa and its neighbouring countries.
In the main Cape Season from October to April, Edelweiss offers direct flights from Zurich to Capetown.
There is a restriction of 20-23 kg per person when flying in light aircraft. Do not bring hard suitcases, but only soft sports bags.
Health and insurance
The Lowveld around Kruger National Park, Phinda and the coast south of Mozambique are malaria regions and prophylaxis must be considered. Please seek advice from your doctor. Make sure that you are adequately insured, particularly for a medical evacuation from a remote area and repatriation. All necessary medication must be brought from home and kept in your hand luggage. Johannesburg hospitals are regarded as being amongst the world's best.
Currency and methods of payment
The national currency is called the South African Rand. Major credit cards are accepted, but please make sure that your PIN code works, as transactions via the automated teller machines (ATM) are faster and much more reliable. Most lodges accept credit cards. Tips to guides and camp staff can be given in cash in Euros, Dollars, Rands or by credit card. It is very difficult to change all other currencies into the local currency.
There is no specific clothes that you need to bring on a safari. Comfortable, casual clothes are your best choice. For the game drives, all colours are allowed. For walking safaris, only brown, green or beige tones are recommended. For the period from May to August, bring warm clothes, including hats and gloves. As for footwear, we recommend comfortable, open sandals and a pair of sturdy shoes. Hiking boots are not necessary unless you have planned extensive walks.
There are 11 official languages, one of which is English. Mobile connection is usually good, unless you are far away from urban centres. However, most camps provide Internet / Wifi access nowadays.
Food and drink
Food at the lodges is of excellent quality. We recommend you to drink only bottled drinking water. Only bottled mineral water and filtered ice are available at the lodges.
The power supply is 220 - 230 volts. Adapters for all countries are present at all good lodges. Computers, cameras and iPods can then be recharged. The power supply is available 24 hrs a day at most lodges. The plugs have three large round prongs. When buying an adapter, make sure that the Swiss three-pronged plugs also fit.
Clothes can be washed at almost all lodges. Do not take too many clothes, instead make use of the laundry service wherever possible.
Traffic in South Africa drives on the left-hand side.
November to March: +1 hour
April to October: No time difference.