Travel guide to Garden Route

Passports
Your passport must be valid for 1 month after your return date and have two blank facing pages. Expect long delays at immigration.
Visas
British, European & USA citizens do not require a visa for holidays < 90 days
Health
There are no compulsory health requirements, but you should be up to date with your primary courses and boosters. Malaria tablets are not usually advised for South Africa, except for the Kruger National Park and surrounding areas, but check with your doctor. A good insect repellent and anti-histamine are also recommended. There is no yellow fever in South Africa. Always check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before travel for any other inoculations recommended (eg Hepatitis A+B, Cholera, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Polio, Meningococcal Meningitis, Rabies and TB).
Currency
South African rands (ZAR) - remember to ask for small denominations, which are useful for tipping
Language
English, Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Afrikaans + 6 other official languages
Time Zone
GMT + 1 hour in northern hemisphere summer time (+ 2-hours in winter)
Travel Tips
To ensure that you have the best possible holiday experience, we ask you to read the following information carefully. If you have any questions, please discuss them with us before you depart. 
 
Hand Luggage – pack essential items for a day or two in your hand luggage, in case your bags go astray and take a few days to catch up with you, especially if you have any tight connecting flights. 
 
Baggage – if you are flying on a light aircraft, your luggage must be packed in soft sports bags, usually restricted to 15 kg. Rigid suitcases will not fit into the luggage pods and will be left behind. 
 
Documents – take a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, and leave a copy of your passport with a reliable contact at home, in case the originals are lost or stolen. 
 
Children & Teens – if you are travelling with children < 18 years, remember it is essential to take their unabridged birth certificates, showing names of their parents. If they are not travelling with both their birth parents, consult us about the additional documentation required. 
 
Electronic Devices – ensure these are all fully charge before travel, as you may be required to switch them on at airport security. Any device that does not switch on cannot be checked in and must be surrendered. 
 
Mobile Phones – make sure they are set up for international calls and turn off data roaming to avoid nasty bills. Many hotels offer free Wi-Fi but be aware that some rural regions may not have cell phone coverage. 
 
Credit Cards – remember to inform your bank when travelling abroad. Credit cards are widely accepted, but always ensure you have cash when travelling in the countryside as some places may not accept them. 
 
Clothing – pack in layers according to the season. Take good walking shoes, a day pack, T-shirts, shorts, jeans, sunhat, swimming costume, sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flops for the beach. Rain gear is needed during the wet season and a light fleece in winter. Sanitising hand cleaner/wet wipes and eye drops can be handy, especially if you wear contact lenses. 
 
On safari wear light fabrics in neutral colours – khaki, green & brown are best. Avoid white & bright colours, as these increase your visibility to the animals, and blue & black which attract heat & the tsetse fly. Pack a warm fleece, hat & gloves for evening game drives, which can get very cold even in summer. If you are visiting a game park in a malaria area, take lightweight but long sleeved shirts and long trousers to protect against mosquitos (safari clothing is ideal for this – at least 2 sets). Take a generous supply of insect repellent to spray on your neck, wrists and ankles and avoid using perfume, as this attracts mosquitos. 
 
Accessories – pack your phone (with charger and a spare battery pack), camera (with spare memory cards and batteries – a 200 mm zoom lens is good for wildlife photography), torch and binoculars (large 8x40 is best). If you are a keen birder we suggest one pair per person, as it can be frustrating to share. 
 
Plugs – type M (round 3 pin). 
 
Books – pack a good travel guide, with information on the wildlife and birds of the region. Also a good supply of reading material for quiet evenings and when waiting for flights. 
 
Johannesburg International Airport – on arrival you will be required to clear passport control and collect your baggage, before checking in again for your onward domestic flight. There is a check-in counter as you exit customs, for this purpose. 
 
Water – tap water is safe to drink and to brush your teeth in major towns, but drink only bottled water in game parks and rural areas. 
 
Food – South Africa has a wonderful food culture and large cities offer a huge array of excellent restaurants. Cape Town is world famous for its fine wines. Vegetarians and food allergies are well catered for. 
 
Taxis – in cities only use regulated taxis, which are best ordered through your hotel reception. 
 
Self-Drive – driving is on the left. Purchase a good road map and download the Google Maps (offline) app or hire a sat-nav, as signage can be sparse in rural areas. On gravel roads be careful to avoid stones thrown up by passing vehicles. Any valid UK, European or American driving license is accepted as long as it has a photograph and signature. Pack some CDs as the local radio stations can be a little limited, and always allow some extra time to stop for photographs along the way. A credit card is essential if you are hiring a car. 
 
Load Shedding – as demand for electricity exceeds supply in South Africa, from time to time you may experience scheduled power cuts. Most hotels and restaurants have generators, so you are unlikely to notice them, but you may dine by candlelight in more remote locations. 
 
Safety – as this is a third-world country, take all sensible precautions. Leave valuable jewellery/watches at home, wear a money belt and be alert when outside your hotel. In particular, avoid taking out large wads of cash in public view and keep your spare cash in your hotel safe. 
 
Swimming – there are strong currents along the eastern seaboard, so exercise caution and only swim at designated places where there are life guards on duty and shark nets. 
 
Wild Animals – attacks by wild animals are rare, but we cannot guarantee that attacks will not occur so observe all sensible precautions. We cannot be held responsible for injuries caused during an incident with a wild animal. 
 
Tipping – this is voluntary and should depend on the level of service received. We suggest the following per couple, but this can be reduced for longer stays: 
- overland driver/guide: R125 per day 
- city guide: R100 per day (R50 for half day) 
- game ranger/tracker: R50/R20 per game drive 
- tipping box for hotel staff: R20 per day 
- train journeys: R200 per day 
- waiters: 10% if not already added to your bill 
- porters: R10 per bag.
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