Visiting South Africa: How to Get Travel Insurance, Plus Travel Tips
Whether you’re planning the honeymoon of a lifetime, you’re a solo traveler fulfilling a lifelong dream, or you’re hoping to create lasting memories for you and your family, South Africa is an awe-inspiring travel destination that will fulfill all your dreams of travel and adventure. And while you’re dreaming of embarking on your first African Safari trip and seeing the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo) in their natural habitat, we want to make sure that you’re fully prepared for your adventure so that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
Planning a trip to South Africa can be incredibly overwhelming, but we’re going to break it all down for you to help you hit the ground running. From travel insurance to packing, to tips on handling money and more, here are some of our best South Africa vacation tips to help you get the most out of this fantastic experience.
Travel Insurance for a Trip to South Africa
Travel insurance is arguably the most important aspect of planning a trip, but believe it or not, it’s the number one thing that people forget to book when they’re preparing to go abroad.
You already know that traveling is an expensive endeavor that requires you to shell out a fortune in advance. If you don’t purchase proper travel insurance, and end up having to cancel your trip, it’s not very likely that you’ll get your money back due to strict policies and rules set forth by travel suppliers. So, it’s smart to protect your investment by purchasing travel insurance in case you have to suddenly cancel your trip for an unforeseen (covered) reason.
Not only does travel insurance have your back before your plane even takes off, but certain policies provide in-country support as well, such as lost-passport recovery or stolen luggage coverage. On top of that, travel insurance can provide financial assistance in case you have a medical emergency while you’re abroad, which otherwise could cost you thousands of dollars out of pocket.
We know that something going wrong is the last thing you’re thinking about when planning the trip of your dreams, but it’s smart to prepare yourself for the worst. Whether something like a job loss throws your finances out of whack, or a global pandemic forces the shut down of international travel, it’s always smart to cover all your bases with the right coverage.
The best part about travel insurance is that it’s an affordable way to give yourself a backup plan. Depending on factors such as what coverage limits you choose, how many people are in your travel party, and the length and cost of your trip, the total cost of insuring your South African vacation can run between 5-10% of the total cost of your trip for basic coverage, and up to 15% for premium coverage.
It’s important that you find a travel insurance policy that fits your needs and your budget, but since there are thousands of travel insurance plans out there, it’s hard to know which one to choose.
Fortunately, TravelInsurance.com’s travel insurance comparison site does all the research and heavy lifting for you. Simply enter your trip information, select the coverage options you want, and you’ll get multiple quotes from top rated providers that match your criteria. Compare easily and purchase your plan directly through our website with a lowest price guarantee. It couldn’t be easier to give yourself peace of mind while you’re traveling.
Currency and Tipping
We know that handling foreign currency can be scary, so we’re going to brief you on everything you need to know about money while you’re in South Africa.
The local currency in South Africa is the Rand. You’ll see notes in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200. The coins are R1, R2 and R5, and five, 10, 20 and 50 cents. You can easily exchange your money for local currency at banks, as well as foreign-exchange bureaus, which you can usually find in city areas.
If you are traveling to rural areas, it’s smart to carry a bit of cash with you at all times since these areas don’t always have ATMs readily available. Sadly, South Africa is known for scams, so banks are almost always wary about credit card transactions that come from there. Try to avoid using your credit card as much as possible. If you plan on using it, be sure to inform your bank of your travel plans before you go so that they don’t assume fraud and put a hold on your card.
If you plan on using traveler’s checks, you can cash them at banks, some hotels, as well as foreign-exchange bureaus. However, the exchange rates will vary depending on where you go.
Make sure that you have cash on you when you take one of the many local tours available throughout the country. It’s customary to tip your tour guides at the end of the trip. For group tours, tip R10 per person in your party, and R15 per person for overland or coach tours. Private tours will be a bit more because of the increased attention, running R50 per person for half-day tours, and R80 per person for full-day ones.
At restaurants, it’s customary to tip 10-15% in restaurants, but 10% is sufficient for smaller cafes. Tipping in taxis is not always expected, but if you feel moved to tip your driver for great service, rounding up your fare will show them your appreciation.
There’s no unfavorable time to visit South Africa in terms of weather, but one thing you should remember is that the country does sit in the southern hemisphere. You’ll want to pack summer clothes between November and March, where you can see temperatures up to 104-degrees in some parts! Think cotton shirts, shorts, and maybe a lightweight jacket if you plan on being out at night.
Visiting during the winter months isn’t uncomfortable either, depending on what you’re used to. For New Englanders, the lower temperatures of 40-degree F might seem like a spring day! Make sure you pack some warmer clothes to prepare for the dips in temperature when the sun goes down.
Regardless of when you’re making your trip, make sure to take your sunglasses and a sturdy pair of walking shoes, especially if you’re planning on taking a safari!
South African Experiences You Shouldn’t Miss
Traveling is all about getting out of your comfort zone and seeking adventure that will create memories you can look back on for the rest of your life. And luckily for you, South Africa offers an abundance of unique experiences that will leave a lasting impression, and inspire you even when you’ve returned home.
Experience the Big 5 up close and personal on a guided safari through either one of the many national parks or private reserves. Then, grab a bomba dinner and converge around a communal campfire, while chatting about the work being done to conserve the wildlife populations.
Explore the Mother City of Cape Town and see the unique convergence of European, Asian, and African cultures in both the architecture and food. Then, sit back, relax or shop the Green Market Square and sip cocktails or tea while watching the sailboats in the harbor!
Get closer to the historical center of South Africa on Robben Island. Discover his tiny jail cell and follow the footsteps of Nelson Mandela as you learn about the impact of apartheid on the country. You’ll be overwhelmed with inspiration when you learn about the resiliency of the nation as they moved forward from heartbreaking institutionalized segregation.
The Top South African Destinations
South Africa is far from lacking sites to see and places to go. If you’re having a hard time finalizing your itinerary, here are a few places we don’t think you should miss. Get your fill of every must-see in South Africa by heading to these top sites.
- Cape Town
- Kruger National Park
- Table Mountain National Park
- Port Elizabeth
If you’re looking for experiences a little more off the beaten path, check out the following unusual locales!
- Addo Elephant National Park
- Plettenberg Bay
- Cradle of Humankind