Journey Through South Africa & Zimbabwe

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South Africa

One of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth, South Africa, fondly known by locals as the 'Rainbow Nation', boasts 11 official languages, and its inhabitants are influenced by a fascinating mix of cultures. Discover the gourmet restaurants, impressive art scene, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful beaches of Cape Town; enjoy a local braai (barbecue) in the Soweto township; browse the bustling Indian markets in Durban, or sample some of the world’s finest wines at the myriad wine estates dotting the Cape Winelands. Some historical attractions to explore include the Zululand battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and Robben Island, just off the coast of Cape Town. Above all else, its untamed wilderness is astonishing: wildlife roams freely across massive unfenced game reserves such as the world-famous Kruger National Park.


Entry Requirements

U.S. citizens do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days. Non U.S. citizens should consult with your local embassy.

Effective Nov. 8, 2019: Foreign children can enter and depart South Africa without being required to provide birth certificates, consent letters and other supporting documents relating to proof of parentage as long as they are accompanied by an adult. South African children are still required to provide supporting documents, in line with the requirements of the Children’s Act. The same applies to unaccompanied foreign children.


Banking and Currency

Currency

The currency is the Rand, which is divided into 100 cents. There are R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10 notes. Coins come in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. To check the current exchange rates, visit www.xe.com.

Banking

Banks are found in most towns, and are generally open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays (Closed Sundays and Public Holidays). Most of them offer foreign exchange services - with cash, bank & credit cards as well as travellers cheques. You can also obtain cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs). Several international banks have branches in the main city centres. Always advise your bank that you are travelling outside of the country as they might block your purchases if they are not informed.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Travelling around South Africa is relatively easy by air, road and rail.

Principal air routes are serviced by SAA and British Airways, operated by Comair. There are 2 low-cost carriers on main routes, namely Kulula.com and Mango.Facilitating travel around South Africa are 10 airports managed by the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa). In addition, there are some 90 regional airports, including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit and the Skukuza Airport, offering access to the Kruger National Park.

An extensive tarred road system makes travelling in South Africa by vehicle convenient and easy. You will find gravel roads in rural areas though.

In South Africa one drives on the left hand side of the road. The speed limit is usually 37-50 mph in built up areas and 75 mph on highways. Safety belts must be used at all times. Overseas visitors must carry a valid international driving license. Should travellers not be in possession of a valid international driving license before leaving their country of residence, they will not be permitted to hire a vehicle in South Africa. Talking on a cell phone whilst driving is an offense and if caught you will be fined. Filling stations are conveniently situated throughout the country. Unleaded fuel is available. Most filling stations are open 24 hours a day. Filling stations are not self-service. Please bear in mind that you are only able to pay for fuel in cash.

Another means of getting around South Africa are luxury inter-city bus services such as Greyhound and Trans-Lux. Metrobus buses are available for in-city transport. Metered taxis must be ordered by telephone. There is also a hop-on-hop-off bus in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The rail system includes the long-haul, inexpensive Shosholoza Meyl Metrorail trains. More luxurious options are the Blue Train, Premier Classe and the steam train Rovos Rail. There is also the new Gautrain rapid transit railway system in Gauteng Province which links Johannesburg, Pretoria, Ekhuruleni and OR Tambo International Airport.


Health and Medical Information

Please consult your health-care provider 4-6 weeks prior to travel to ensure you are receiving all required vaccinations and that the medication has enough time to take effect. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance with medical benefits and that you bring any personal medication with you. Please also check with your health department prior to departure for any changes in health regulations.

Required Immunizations/Vaccinations:

  • Yellow Fever - all travelers coming from a yellow fever infected country will be required to show a valid Yellow Fever certificate on arrival. It is otherwise not required or recommended. You should be vaccinated at least 10 days before you travel, as this will allow enough time for your body to develop protection against the yellow fever infection. Your proof of vaccination certificate will only become valid after this time.

Recommended Immunizations/Vaccinations:

  • Malaria prophylaxis - highly recommended for all travelers (even if you are only visiting malaria-free areas as there has been an increase in malaria in southern Africa)

Malaria

Expert opinion differs regarding the best approach to malaria prophylaxis. It is important to bear in mind that malaria may be contracted despite chemoprophylaxis, especially in areas where chloroquine resistance has been reported. 

We strongly recommend you take the following preventative measures:

  • Use plenty of mosquito repellent. Some camps provide a locally made repellent but please bring your own as there may be skin sensitivity.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks in the evenings.
  • Please use the mosquito net over your bed where supplied/available.
  • If staying in a bungalow or tent, spray with a suitable insecticide to kill any mosquitoes that may have flown into your room.
  • Mosquito coils are also effective.

There is a six to seven day minimum incubation period before symptoms present themselves. If you become ill on your return, while still on prophylaxis or even once you have stopped taking them, ensure that your doctor does everything to establish that your illness is not malaria. Please remember the best precaution is the preventative kind. 

It is inadvisable for pregnant women to visit malarial areas as malaria infection during pregnancy can be detrimental to both mother and child.

Stomach Upsets

It is advisable to carry medication supplied by your physician for simple stomach upsets.  In the first few days of your trip you may suffer from mild upsets attributable to a change in food and water.


Safety Notices

The city centre in downtown Johannesburg is not for casual sight-seeing. If you do want to visit central Johannesburg, we recommend that you take an organized tour or a private guide. This is also the case with Soweto, which is badly signposted and confusing to the casual visitor.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Tap water in South Africa is safe to drink and cook with when taken from taps in urban areas. Not all tap water in rural areas is safe for consumption, so take precautions if necessary. Standards of hygiene in relation to food health and safety in South Africa, are generally high in hotels, restaurants, pubs and nightspots.

It is safe to eat fresh fruit, vegetables and salads, and put ice in your drinks. South Africa's fish, meat and chicken are of excellent quality, so there is no need to limit yourself when enjoying the local cuisine.

Restaurants are subject to South Africa's food safety control legislation, which is implemented by local government. Regulations include certification and regular inspections by health inspectors to ensure hygienic standards are maintained.

Street food is not as common in South Africa as it is in other countries, although vendors selling traditional snacks and meals can be found in city centres and townships. Food safety in such instances cannot always be guaranteed.


Climate and Weather

South African temperatures, which are measured in centigrade, average at highs of 80°F to average lows of 45°F in the summer months while winter temperatures range from 30°F at night to around 65°F in the day.

Average annual rainfall is on the low side at under 20 inches a year, making the country somewhat dry. Much of the rain falls in the Western Cape in the winter, differing from the rest of the country, which experiences summer rainfall. On the plus side, the South African climate boasts more than its fair share of sunshine, recording an average of 8.5 hours a day.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Summer

Bring clothes that are cool, light and comfortable because summer temperatures can get well into the 85 - 105 degree Farenheti range in some areas.Also bring an umbrella or raincoat during summer as this is when most of the country gets its rain, but don't forget a swimsuit.

Winter

The winters are generally mild, comparing favourably with European summers. But there are days when temperatures dive, especially in high-lying areas such as the Drakensberg, so be prepared with jerseys and jackets. Cape Town gets its rain during the winter season so it’s advisable to bring rain gear along.

General

Always bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock as the sun can be strong even in the winter months.

Walking shoes are a good idea all year-round, with warm socks in the winter.

If you are doing business in the country, business attire (suit and tie) is generally called for in the corporate sector, but media for example generally dress more casually.

For game viewing, a couple of neutral-toned items will be useful, but there's no need to go overboard. A good pair of walking shoes is also advisable.

For the evening, if you are dining at an upmarket restaurant or seeing a show, smart-casual attire is recommended.


Internet Availability

Most accommodation offer Wifi (free or paid) in their business centres, rooms or restaurants. Internet cafes are found in most business areas and shopping malls. In addition, some South African restaurants offer WiFi access (free or paid).

There are also outlets such as PostNet that offer internet, fax and postage facilities.  


Electricity and Plug Standards

Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter plug should be brought for your electrical appliances - such adapters are also available at major airports.

On safari, many lodges and tented camps operate their own generators which offer intermittent electricity by day for lighting and refrigeration. Please be aware that some properties do not have plug sockets in your room/tent at these lodges. The lodge may be able to recharge your camcorder at the main reception area.


General Guidance

Language

South Africa has eleven officially recognized languages, most of them indigenous to South Africa. English is one of these, and everywhere you go, you can expect to find people who speak and understand it. English is the language of the cities, of commerce and banking, of government and official documents. Road signs and official forms are in English. The President makes his speeches in English and at any hotel the service staff will speak English.

Social conventions

Public Holidays

The dates of certain public holidays change from year to year – refer below. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, then the Monday is also declared a public holiday.

Jan 01 New Year’s Day
Mar 21 Human Rights Day Varies Good Friday
Varies Easter Monday Varies Family Day Apr 27 Freedom Day
May 01 Workers Day
June 16 Youth Day Aug 09 National Women's Day
Sep 24 Heritage Day
Dec 16 Day of Reconcilation
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Day of Goodwill

Time Zone

South African Standard Time, or SAST, is the name of the time zone used by all of South Africa, as well as Swaziland and Lesotho. South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year.

National Emergency Numbers

Department of Home Affairs (012) 810-8911 Medical Rescue Netcare 911 (011) 254-1911 Or ER 24 (011) 803-7707 Automobile Association 0800-010101 (Toll free) Life Line 0800-012322 (Toll free) Police 10111

US Embassy

Physical Address: 2 Reddam Ave, Westlake 7945

Tel: +27 (21) 702-7300

Fax: +27 (21) 702-7493

Mailing Address: PO Box 9536 Pretoria 0001

Tel: +27 (11) 290 3000

Fax: +27 (11) 884 0396

Website: southafrica.usembassy.gov

VAT

The VAT rate is 14% and is levied on most products and services. Foreign tourists can have VAT refunded at a port of exit provided the value of each invoice for goods purchased exceeds ZAR 50.00 and the total value of all items purchased exceeds ZAR 250.00. To qualify for a refund, visitors must be in possession of a valid passport, valid tax invoices and must produce the goods purchased. Please note that a receipt stating “for information only” is not accepted by the VAT authorities. The document must stipulate that it is a VAT invoice and show the amount charged.


Zambia

This unique, peanut-shaped country, once known as Northern Rhodesia, offers visitors an authentic African experience complete with adrenalin pumping adventure sports, a variety of fascinating cultural activities, and an abundance of indigenous wildlife, which finds refuge in Zambia’s vast national parks. Spend your evenings enjoying the spectacular site of the world’s largest waterfall, the Victoria Falls, while sipping on sundowners after an exhilarating day of whitewater rafting down the rapids of the mighty Zambezi River. If that sounds a little too adventurous for your taste, take a houseboat cruise along the exquisite Lake Kariba while watching wild elephants drink at the riverbank as you try your hand at catching the elusive tiger fish. However you choose to spend your time in this unique country, you are bound to leave with a heavy heart and a desire to return again soon to this exceptionally beautiful Southern African country.


Entry Requirements

U.S. citizens are required to obtain a visa for entry into Zambia. Non U.S. citizens should consult with your local embassy.

U.S. citizens can obtain their visa upon arrival into Zambia for $50 USD single/$80 USD multiple. 

For ease of payments for visas, these payments may now be done via bankcards at the following Zambian airports:

  • Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka
  • Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone
  • Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola

The following bank cards will be accepted:

  • VISA
  • MasterCard
  • Maestro
  • American Express

The system is operational, but Airport Authorities have advised that, should there be any network issues that affect the systems, passengers will be permitted to go to the nearest ATM and draw the required cash in local currency.

IMPORTANT: Those travelers obtaining a visa on arrival at the port of entry are strongly urged to check their passports after it has been stamped by the immigration officer to ensure that the correct number of days stay have been authorized. On arrival in Zambia, instead of being asked how long a visitor is staying in Zambia in total, travelers are often asked how many days they are staying “here” or in “Livingstone” (i.e. point of entry). At this point, the immigration official then authorizes only that number of days in the passport! Thus, if the guests are staying 2 days in Livingstone but then are going on to other destinations in Zambia such as the Kafue, Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa etc, they need to advise the relevant official of the number of days that they are spending in Zambia in total otherwise they will be charged to obtain an extension/additional visa later on.

Please note: If guests arrive in Zambia but continue to another country (such as Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe) and then return to Zambia, OR are staying in Livingstone, Zambia but doing some touring in Botswana or Zimbabwe, then a double-entry visa must be obtained on arrival from the immigration official. 

Further visa information is available on the following website: www.zambiatourism.com/travel/traveladvice/visa-immigration-info.htm

KAZA Visa for Zambia and Zimbabwe 
US citizens can now save time and money because they only have to obtain one visa to visit both countries.  The KAZA visa is $50 USD and lasts up to 30 days as long as you remain within Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also covers those who visit Botswana for day trips for the Kazungula borders.  The KAZA visa can be obtained at the following places:

Zambia:

  • Harry Mwaanga Airport (Livingstone)
  • Victoria Falls Land Border
  • Kazungula Land Border (border with Botswana)
  • Kenneth Kaunda Airport (Lusaka)

Zimbabwe:

  • Victoria Falls Airport
  • Victoria Falls Land Border
  • Kazungula Land Border (border with Botswana)
  • Harare Airport

Should the KAZA UNIVISA stickers be out of stock, you will need to purchase a regular single or double entry visa. 


Banking and Currency

Banking
In the cities and larger towns, you can change cash and travellers cheques at branches of Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered Bank. Larger branches have ATMs that accept Visa. Foreign exchange offices are easy to find in cities and larger towns.

Banks are generally open on weekdays from 08h150 to 15h30 and 08h15 to 12h00 on Saturdays. Banks are closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Currency
The currency in Zambia is the Kwacha. US dollars are no longer accepted within Zambia. Travelers can still pay for Visas in US dollars on entry to Zambia but once past Immigration they will need Zambian Kwacha to pay for airport departure taxes and any other cash incidentals. In order to account for currency fluctuations, it is recommended that travelers carry extra $USD on them. Please note that it is not possible to purchase Kwacha outside of Zambia so you will need to be prepared to change cash at a Bureaux de Change at the airport or carry a blank card and withdraw cash at the airport ATM.

Credit Cards
International Visa and MasterCard are generally accepted but American Express and Diners Club are often not. Please note that Alluring Africa’s camps are unable to accept American Express cards. Some camps in very remote parts of Zambia do not accept credit cards at all so it is advisable to travel with small denominations of cash.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

By Air

For passengers flying out of Zambia, there is a US$30 International Airport Departure Tax, which is not included in the cost of the safari and must be paid directly on departure at the airport (South African Airways and British Airways include this departure tax in the cost of their ticket).

There is also a US$8 per person Domestic Departure Tax payable direct when departing internally on a flight out of Lusaka, Livingstone and Mfuwe airports.

Please ensure that you have the exact amount of US Dollars in cash (change is usually not provided) before you leave your home country as you cannot get any US$ within Zambia. Please note that large denomination bills such as U$50 or US$100 bills are not accepted. Traveller’s cheques and credit cards are not accepted for this purpose.

Proflight flies from Lusaka to Mfuwe (South Luangwa), to Livingstone and the Copperbelt and also does charters.Various air charter companies will fly to any of the many airstrips around the country and most of the areas worth visiting are accessible by air.

Public Transport

There are many taxis available. Prices are negotiable. There is a good bus service to Chipata, Livingstone, the Copperbelt and Harare, but they don’t always follow strict schedules. The main bus terminus is in Dedan Kimathi Road in Lusaka where one can inquire about timetables. Other private bus companies offer more reliable services to Livingstone, Harare and Johannesburg.

Travel by Bus

Long range buses frequently leave from Lusaka to all the main towns. The intercity bus terminal can be found one road up from Cairo Road at the station.


Health and Medical Information

Please consult your health-care provider 4-6 weeks prior to travel to ensure you are receiving all required vaccinations and that the medication has enough time to take effect. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance with medical benefits and that you bring any personal medication with you. Please also check with your health department prior to departure for any changes in health regulations.

Required Immunizations/Vaccinations:

  • Yellow Fever - all travelers coming from a yellow fever infected country will be required to show a valid Yellow Fever certificate on arrival. It is otherwise not required or recommended. You should be vaccinated at least 10 days before you travel, as this will allow enough time for your body to develop protection against the yellow fever infection. Your proof of vaccination certificate will only become valid after this time.

Recommended Immunizations/Vaccinations:

  • Malaria prophylaxis - highly recommended for all travelers (even if you are only visiting malaria-free areas as there has been an increase in malaria in southern Africa)

Malaria

Expert opinion differs regarding the best approach to malaria prophylaxis. It is important to bear in mind that malaria may be contracted despite chemoprophylaxis, especially in areas where chloroquine resistance has been reported. Both chloroquine-resistant and normal strains of malaria are prevalent in Africa. 

Malaria is transmitted by a very small percentage of female Anopheles mosquitoes. They are mainly active in the early evening and throughout the night. Malaria transmission is at its highest during the warmer and wetter months. We strongly recommend you take the following preventative measures:

  • Use plenty of mosquito repellent. Some camps provide a locally made repellent but please bring your own as there may be skin sensitivity.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks in the evenings.
  • Please use the mosquito net over your bed where supplied/available.
  • If staying in a bungalow or tent, spray with a suitable insecticide to kill any mosquitoes that may have flown into your room.
  • Mosquito coils are also effective.

There is a six to seven day minimum incubation period before symptoms present themselves. If you become ill on your return, while still on prophylaxis or even once you have stopped taking them, ensure that your doctor does everything to establish that your illness is not malaria. Please remember the best precaution is the preventative kind. 

It is inadvisable for pregnant women to visit malarial areas as malaria infection during pregnancy can be detrimental to both mother and child.

Ticks

Ticks exist all over the world and are well known carriers of diseases that affect both animals and humans. Symptoms of this disease present after a 5-7 day incubation period and include fevers, headaches, malaise and even a skin rash, but effects can vary dramatically from person to person. A dark black mark usually results at the site of the infected bite and is a helpful diagnostic. The disease is easily treated with antibiotics although this is not always necessary. 

After walking in the bush it is best to brush your clothes down and to examine your body for ticks. If a tick is found, remove it entirely without leaving the biting mouth parts in your skin. Anti-tick sprays such as Bayticol can be very effective against ticks and wearing long pants will prevent many bites.

Tsetse Flies

Tsetse flies exist in large areas of sub-Saharan Africa including parts of Zambia. They are best known as the carrier of trypanosomiases – causing sleeping sickness in humans which can be fatal but is easily treated and cured. In the unlikely event that symptoms are recorded after a visit to an area containing tsetse flies, we recommend that a doctor be consulted. These symptoms can present a few weeks to months after a visit and begin with fever, headaches and pains in the joints followed by dramatic swelling of the lymph nodes. If left untreated these symptoms can evolve to cause anaemia, cardiac and kidney disorders; alternate bouts of fatigue and insomnia can disrupt the sleep cycle.

Not all tsetse flies transmit all variations of the disease and in our areas of operation they are regarded more as an irritation (the bites are sharp) than as a serious threat.  Enormous efforts have been made to eradicate tsetse flies in various countries and sleeping sickness has now largely disappeared from Southern Africa. 


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Water in the main towns is usually purified, provided there are no shortages of chlorine, breakdowns, or other mishaps. The locals drink it, and are used to the relatively innocuous bugs that it may harbour. If you are in the country for a long time, then it may be worth acclimatising yourself to it. However, if you are in Zambia for just a few weeks, then try to drink only bottled, boiled, or treated water in town.

Zambia's native cuisine is based on nshima, a cooked porridge made from ground maize normally accompanied by some tasty relish, perhaps made of meat and tomatoes, or dried fish. Safari camps will often prepare nshima if requested, and it is almost always available in small, local restaurants.

Camps, hotels and lodges that cater to overseas visitors tend to serve a range of international fare, and the quality of food prepared in the most remote bush camps is typically excellent.
Out in the bush, most of the camps and lodges use water from bore-holes. These underground sources vary in quality, but are normally perfectly safe to drink.


Climate and Weather

The rains in Zambia come mostly in December, January, February and March though the further north you are, the earlier the rains arrive and the later they leave. Eastern areas and higher areas generally receive more rain than western and lowland areas.

By April and May most of the rain has faded away, leaving a landscape that's still green, but starting to dry out. Nighttime temperatures start to drop, especially in higher and more southerly locations.

In June, July and August the nights become much cooler, but the days are clear and warm. Make sure you bring warm clothes to wrap up if you're out at night, as some nights get very cold! Most of Zambia's small 'walking bush camps' open at the start of June, when the roads have dried out sufficiently to allow access. This is the start of the 'peak season' for these countries – with often cloudless days and continually increasing game sightings.

Into September and October the temperatures climb: the lower-lying rift valleys – Lower Zambezi, Mana Pools and Luangwa Valley – can get very hot in October. However, you'll see some superb game as the animals concentrate around the limited water sources.

November is variable; it can be hot and dry like October, or it can see the season's first downpours. Often it's a very interesting month as you can see both patterns on successive days.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Zambia has mild winters and the summer days can be scourching hot. Lightweight casual clothes can be worn all year round, with a jacket or jersey for early winter mornings and evenings.

On safari keep clothes to neutral colours - kharkis, browns and greens. A sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses and insect repellent are a must.


Internet Availability

Most hotels offer internet and/or Wi-Fi (free or paid) to their guests. Internet cafes are springing up in Zambia, but connections can be erratic and slow. 


Electricity and Plug Standards

Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter plug should be brought for your electrical appliances - such adapters are also available at major airports.

On safari, many lodges and tented camps operate their own generators which offer intermittent electricity by day for lighting and refrigeration. Please be aware that some properties do not have plug sockets in your room/tent at these lodges. The lodge may be able to recharge your camcorder at the main reception area.


General Guidance

Language:
Over 73 African dialects are spoken in Zambia, but the official language is English.

National Emergency Numbers:
Emergency 999
Police 991
Fire Service 993

Public Holidays (customize):

The dates of certain public holidays change from year to year – refer below. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, then the Monday is also declared a public holiday.

Jan 01 New Year’s Day
Varies Good Friday
Varies Easter Monday
May 1 Labor Day
May 12 Youth Day
May 25 Africa Freedom Day
July 3 Heroes Day
Jul 4 Unity Day
Oct 24 Independence Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

VAT:
Prices of all goods and services in Zambia include value added tax (VAT) of 17.5%

Time Zone:
Zambia is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

US Embassy
Tel: +260 (0) 211-357-000
Embassy of the United States, Public Affairs Section, Eastern end of Kabulonga Road, Ibex Hill, P.O. Box 31617, Lusaka, ZAMBIA
Email: IRCLusaka@state.gov
Website: Zambia.usembassy.gov


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