South Africa has always been a bucket list destination for many of our travelers. From tasting wine in Cape Town to spotting the Big Five in Kruger National Park, there are endless things to see and do while visiting this multifaceted country. Here are a few helpful things to know before setting out on our tour, South Africa: A Journey of Discovery.
Health and vaccinations
For all of our exotic tours, we always recommend visiting your doctor or local travel clinic before you go. They will be your best resource when it comes to knowing which vaccinations (if any) are right for you. Most doctors do recommend taking malaria pills before visiting the regions on this tour, but they are not required. The yellow fever vaccine is also not required; while your plane does make a stop in Senegal to refuel, you will not be disembarking and therefore do not need the vaccine. No matter what, it’s best to check with your physician!
Each of the countries you’ll visit on tour uses a different currency. Here’s the breakdown of which type of money you’ll need and where you’ll be using it:
The South African Rand (ZAR), which currently has an excellent exchange rate with the U.S. dollar.
Here, you can use both the ZAR and Swazi Lilangeni (SZL). We recommend sticking with the ZAR, since you use this form of currency on other parts of the tour as well.
United States dollar (USD).
A lot of restaurants and shops in these countries use wireless credit card machines, which can sometimes be a hassle. Since many of these locations are remote, the machines cannot always get a signal, making it hard to use your card. Because of this, we always recommend having some cash on you. Exchange rates are typically better once you arrive in South Africa, but you can always visit your bank before departure to order the correct currency. To figure out what the current exchange rate is, you can visit a website like xe.com or download the XE Currency app to see how much your U.S. or Canadian dollar will stretch in these countries.
Weather and packing tips
Since South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, it has opposite seasons than what we are used to. That means during our typical winter months (December and January), South Africa will be experiencing some great warm weather. In the north, you’ll find temperatures are hotter and more humid, while the southern cities are cooler because of their proximity to the ocean. If you’re traveling during the South African summer, we recommend packing light. Don’t let the tour’s 17-day length put you off—laundry facilities are available at multiple points during the trip. Additionally, sunscreen, bug spray and a hat are must-haves!
Everyone departing from the U.S. must connect through Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in D.C. There is only one flight from D.C. to Johannesburg each day, which may lead to longer layovers in D.C. depending on where you’re coming from. The flight is broken up with a stop in Senegal to fuel the plane. This is not a layover; travelers continuing on to Johannesburg will remain onboard during fueling. Only those passengers whose end destination is Senegal will disembark. The fuel stop is at least an hour, and then you will be on your way to Johannesburg!
As is required for travel to most countries outside the U.S., your passport must be valid for six months after your return date. Your passport must also have at least two full blank pages for entry stamps. For travelers continuing on the tour extension to Zimbabwe, you will need a visa to enter. We highly recommend getting your visa at the airport when you arrive, as it’s a much easier process.