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Enchantment Tours
(South African Office)
30 Dogwood
P.O. Box 2031
Jeffreys Bay
South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 42 296 2563
Sell: +27 (0) 722 377 422
e-mail: here

THETA South Africa

 Welcome to South Africa

 Eastern Cape Tourism Board




Overview South Africa

Since the democratic elections of 1994, South Africa has seen a boom in cultural tourism, mainly focused on the four main black tribal groups and the San Bushmen. How they all came to share this space at the bottom end of Africa is complex tale of mysterious movements, conquests - and cattle.

Ancient Man

More than three million years ago, proto-hominids like Little Foot and Mrs Ples lived here. Their fossilized remains were found in the Sterkfontein caves, just north of Johannesburg. They are thought to be among the early ancestors of the entire human race.

Hunter Gatherers

Much later, southern Africa became home to the hunter-gathering San Bushmen, followed by the pastoral Khoi (Hottentot) and their livestock. They were joined by many more with the mass migration southwards of the abaNtu ("people") and their long-horned cattle in successive streams, possibly spurred on by the desiccation of the Sahara more than 6 000 years ago.

The Asian Influence

There is ongoing evidence of ancient trade between the abaNtu and Arab cultures, with Persian and even Chinese artifacts being discovered at thousand-year-old sites in the northern reaches of South Africa. The coin of the day was gold, ivory, copper - and, of course, beads.

The Europeans

More than 300 years of European (mainly Dutch and English) settlement halted the migration of the abaNtu. But as the European settlers moved north, they found vast swathes of the country empty of people. They weren't to know it then, but they were seeing the results of the Mfecane ("time of hunger or forced removal") of the early 1800s. It was a human catastrophe of giant proportions. The great Nguni and Sotho tribes fought for space and domination throughout southern Africa, killing and displacing hundreds of thousands of people across the sub-continent.


The mid-1900s ushered in South Africa's most reviled political system: Apartheid. This period of skewed social engineering and racial segregation, designed for the protection of the white minority, bred the Bantustan system of forced removals across the country (another kind of Mfecane).

Tribal Heritage

The descendants of the abaNtu living in South Africa today consist of four major groups, broken up into nine distinctive ethnic sub-divisions: the Sotho (North Sotho, South Sotho and Tswana), the Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi and Ndebele), the Shangaan-Tsonga and the Venda people. Each tribe has its own fascinating set of myths, legends and traditions.

Limpopo province in the north, boasts the cultures of the Shangaan, Tswana, Venda and Pedi. The most remarkable archaeological site in the province is Mapungubwe, on the Limpopo River, also one of South Africa’s World Heritage Sites. The area has direct links to the ancient Kingdom of Great Zimbabwe.

The North West Province celebrates the Tswana culture in the main. The Kaditshwene Iron Age ruins on the way to the Botswana border once housed nearly 20 000 people of the Bahurutshe clan. They were skilled coppersmiths, ironsmiths and stone masons and kept huge herds of cattle in their hilltop city.

In Mpumalanga Province, you'll come across Shangaan, Ndebele and Swazi tribes. The South Ndebele Open Air Museum at Botshabelo near Middelburg is a colourful exercise in tribal design and paintwork. It's a working museum where you can meet the various Ndebele villagers and photograph their stunning outfits.

Swinging back into KwaZulu-Natal Province (KZN), the intricacies of Zulu culture top the visitor's list. The presence of the famed King Shaka is everywhere.

Head south to the Eastern Cape, a place which Nelson Mandela calls home. Here, the Xhosa and Pondo rule.

The Xhosa made up the southern spear of the mass abaNtu migration, which was stopped by the 1820 Settlers at the Great Fish River. This led to nine Frontier Wars before the two groups settled down side by side. As rich as both the Xhosa and Pondo cultures are, the emphasis in this region is on more recent political history. This is where the "freedom culture" has its roots in the life stories of world icons like Mandela and the late Steve Biko.

South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world. Exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture offer the traveler a unique and inspiring experience. Here are the quick facts to get you started.

South Africa is located on the southern tip of the African continent, bordered by northern neighbors Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It encompasses the independent mountain kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland and is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the warm Indian Ocean on the east - giving the country its spectacular range of biodiversity.

South Africa occupies 4% of the continent's total landmass, covering an area of 1 221 040 square kilometers. The country is five times larger than Great Britain and three times the size of Texas.

South Africa enjoys a temperate and pleasant climate, with lovely warm sunny days most of the year. The seasons of the southern hemisphere are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere so our summers runs from November to February, when most of the country is characterized by hot weather with afternoon thunderstorms. Winters are generally mild and dry. South Africa enjoys one of the world's highest average daily hours of sunshine - 8.5 compared with 3.8 in London, 6.4 in Rome and 6.9 in New York.

Average temperatures in ºC Summer Winter
Cape Town 20 12.6
Durban 23.6 17
Johannesburg 19.4 11.1
Pretoria 22.4 12.9

For daily and long-term forecasts for South Africa, visit www.weathersa.co.za.

South Africa is home to some 43 million people - a colorful population as diverse in makeup as the country's geography is varied. Almost 77% are black (or African), 11% white and 9% "coloured", the local label for people of mixed African, Asian and white descent. Just over half the population live in the cities. Three-quarters are Christian and most of the other major world religions are represented here.

There are 11 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.

Provinces & Major Cities
South Africa is divided into nine provinces, namely Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu- Natal, Limpopo, Mpumulanga, Northern Cape, North West and the Western Cape. Major cities include the modern economic hub of Johannesburg, coastal Cape Town picturesquely perched between mountain and sea, historic Pretoria and the 'sun and surf central' city of Durban.

Time Differences
South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, making it an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time and seven hours behind Australian Central Time.

The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1 (one Rand). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureau de Changes. Most major international credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates are accepted for most purchases.

How long is the travel time to South Africa?

South Africa is served by more than 70 international airlines and our national carrier, South African Airways, flies to many destinations in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. So we are never more than a flight away if you are on a major international air route. The flights from Europe are generally overnight and just a sleep away - an aperitif, dinner, sound sleep, and a good breakfast and you're in South Africa! The direct flights between the USA and Johannesburg or Cape Town are about 15 hours, and flights between London and Johannesburg take about 12 hours. For more info, check out www.flysaa.com.

When is the best time to visit South Africa?

South Africa is a fabulous all year-round destination so when you visit depends on what you would like to do. The best time for game watching, for instance, is early spring (August to October). The southern right whales can be seen off our coasts from about mid-June to the end of October, and the humpback whales from August to December.

The diving is generally best from April to September, and so is the surfing, but these activities are by no means limited to these periods. Flowers are at their best in August and September. River rafting is better at the end of winter in the Cape; and in summer (late November to February) in KwaZulu-Natal.

In Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, activities are not quite as time-dependent but spring and autumn are best for hiking since summer can be very hot. If you want to lounge on the beaches, midsummer is the best time to do so, though bear in mind that everyone else will be there too. The beaches of KwaZulu-Natal are warm and sunny, even in midwinter.

When are your peak seasons?

Many of the best areas to visit can be quite busy in peak season. For example, the coast tends to be a bit crowded around Christmas and New Year, when all the schools are on holiday, the universities are out and many local people take their annual leave. So, if you're looking for peace and quiet - this is not the time to visit.
Another major peak is over Easter - when the schools are also on holiday and, once again, many people take their leave so they can spend holidays with their children. A major advantage of traveling out of peak season, of course, is availability of special out of season deals.

Can South Africa guarantee winter sun?

Yes! South Africa experiences one of the highest numbers of "sunshine hours" per year of any country worldwide.

What are the most popular choices of activity or itinerary, and why?

First-time visitors generally spend a short stay in Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng, where they can visit the world famous African township of Soweto and experience a truly cosmopolitan culture, bustling with an urban rhythm that can be found in the nightclubs, theatres, restaurants and people. Then they will head for the bush regions, such as the Kruger National Park, for a wildlife experience, and probably spend some time in the Western Cape, more specifically Cape Town and the fantastic Garden Route.

How reliable is the infrastructure in your country?

The infrastructure is very reliable and of a world class standard - except in some very remote rural areas, not frequented by tourists. The road network is superb and well maintained. In recent years major toll roads have opened, making driving long distance even easier. Accommodation establishments in South Africa are world class, so whether your client requires accommodation in a hotel, guesthouse or lodge, their needs will be satisfied.

Does South Africa have big cities with modern amenities?

There's more to Africa than lions. Johannesburg sprawls wider than London or New York. The lights work, the water flows, there are multi-lane highways and - unfortunately - traffic jams. You can book into a Hilton or a Hyatt or a Holiday Inn and eat at cosmopolitan restaurants serving anything from sushi to burgers to crocodile steaks. Or you can just lie back on a couch and choose from five analogue and 53 digital TV channels.

How easy is it to meet and mix with South Africans from all communities?

Very easy indeed. Most South Africans speak English, so it is easy to converse with people wherever you go. South Africans are generally open, friendly people who enjoy welcoming visitors.

What about mobile phones and phoning home?

South Africa's mobile phone operators utilize the GSM system so if your phone is GSM compatible, set up international roaming with your service provider before you leave home. Alternatively, you can rent a phone at the airport on arrival, and use a "pay-as-you-go" (which means exactly what it says) card during your stay.

Fixed line telephones are reliable and dial abroad. The country's telecommunications operator Telkom, is the 28th largest in the world, and accounts for 39% of the phone lines on the African continent.

What about apartheid?

Over a dozen years ago, South Africa was known for "apartheid" or white-minority rule. But the country's remarkable ability to put centuries of racial hatred behind it in favor of reconciliation was widely considered a social "miracle" and inspired similar peace attempts elsewhere, such as Northern Ireland and Rwanda. These days, post-apartheid South Africa has a government comprising all races, and is better known as the "rainbow nation", a phrase coined by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Are there modern banks?

You can use Visa and MasterCard almost everywhere, and bank by ATM or online. There's a sophisticated financial sector, abreast of all the latest technological trends. There are 13 commercial and merchant banks, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is the world's 15th largest in terms of market capitalization.

How far will my money go?

A long, long way. With the exchange rate in your favor, you'll find South Africa a very inexpensive destination.

And the animals?

The animals alone are reason to visit. One of the world's first wildlife conservation areas was South Africa's Kruger Park, more than a century old. Today it is just one part of a single broad conservation area that spans private and public game parks, and even stretches across national borders into neighboring Mozambique and Zimbabwe. An hour's drive from such urban jungles as Pretoria and Johannesburg, you can see lions, elephants, buffalo and hundreds more species in their natural environments. South Africa is also a bird watcher's - paradise.

Will I see the big five?

Maybe. Many reserves have all the big five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - but it's not that easy to see them all, particularly leopard. Leopards are nocturnal, secretive and well camouflaged, but there are some reserves where they are easily spotted. However, just being in the bush, seeing tiny animals like ants and frogs and learning the relationship between them, can be even more exciting than a procession of lions and elephants. So, even if you miss out on one or two of the big guys, you'll still have a great time.

What is the difference between the National Parks and the Private Reserves?

The national parks are administered by South African National Parks which ensures a standardized level of accommodation and facilities.

Park fees are kept to a minimum to enable as many people as possible to enjoy our wonderful natural heritage. The game watching in the private parks is quite often of an equal standard to that of the national parks, but the accommodation is usually far more luxurious, and the service very attentive. Of course, this level of luxury comes at a price, but the private lodges are a good choice if you would like to be pampered.

Where can I see game in a malaria-free area?

The Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, the Northern Cape, parts of the Northwest Province and the Waterberg area of Limpopo province are free of malaria. Of these, the best game viewing is Addo in the Eastern Cape, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape, Madikwe and Pilanesberg in the Northwest, and Limpopo's Waterberg.

Can I visit a game park on my own?

Yes, absolutely. South African National Parks have designed all their parks to cater for the independent traveler, so you can drive in, set up home in your rented chalet, and drive yourself around. However, you may get more out of your stay if you opt to do one or two escorted drives.

Time Differences
South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, making it an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time and seven hours behind Australian Central Time.

Getting there
Johannesburg International Airport is the major airport in South Africa and is the hub for 45 airlines from all five continents. Flights from Europe are generally overnight and just a sleep away - an aperitif, dinner, sound sleep, and a good breakfast - and voila, you're in South Africa! The direct flights between the USA and Johannesburg or Cape Town are about 15 hours, and flights between London and Johannesburg take about 12 hours.

Passports and Visas
For the majority of foreign nationals who travel to South Africa for vacation, entry is straightforward and hassle-free. All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country, and in some cases, a visa.

Travelers from certain regions of the world (Scandinavia, Japan, the USA, and most Western European and Commonwealth countries) do not need to formally apply for a visa. Upon arrival in South Africa, countries falling into this category will automatically be given a free entry permit sticker that outlines how long they may remain in the country. This automatic entry permit is usually for a maximum of 90 days, though the immigration officer may tailor the time period according to the airline tickets held. Foreign nationals from some other countries are offered this service, but for a maximum of 30 days. If visitors want to stay for a longer period, they will have to apply formally for a visa, as opposed to relying on the automatic entry permit.

For the majority of foreign nationals who travel to South Africa for vacation, entry is straightforward and hassle-free. All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country, and in some cases, a visa. However, it is important to note that under South Africa's Immigration Act of 2002 (Act. 13 of 2002) in force since 7 April 2003, (a) Immigration Act, 2002 the passport shall contain at least ONE unused page when presenting the passport for endorsements'. This requirement, reflects the requirements of many of the world's top travel destinations, in line with the majority of global destinations' requirements and failure to have a clear page can result in entry being refused.

To determine whether you require a visa to enter South Africa, visit the comprehensive South African Home Affairs Department website at:
http://home-affairs.pwv.gov.za. For South African missions abroad, visit http://www.dfa.gov.za/foreign/sa_abroad/index.htm.

Banks and Money
The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1 (one Rand). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureau de Changes. Most major international credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates are widely accepted.

Most restaurants do not add a service charge to bills - thus it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip. Parking and petrol station attendants should be given whatever small change you have available. This is always appreciated, even though it may seem a small amount.

Value-added-tax (VAT) is charged on most items. Foreign tourists to South Africa can have their 14% VAT refunded provided that the value of the items purchased exceeds R250.00. VAT is refunded at the point of departure provided receipts are produced.

Disabled Travelers
Generally speaking, our facilities for disabled visitors can be improved, and this is an area our government is working on. An increasing number of accommodation establishments have wheelchair ramps and bathroom facilities for the disabled. Almost every national park has at least one accessible chalet and many accommodation establishments have one or two wheelchair-friendly rooms. Most of our sports stadiums have accessible suites, stands or areas for wheelchairs near accessible parking as well as special toilet facilities. Most public buildings also caters for wheelchair access.

The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are directly opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere. For summer months, lightweight (cottons and linens), short-sleeved clothes are best, although a light jersey/jumper might be needed for the cooler evenings. Umbrellas and raincoats are essential for the summers and the Western Cape winters. Warmer clothes are needed for the winter months.

South Africa's electricity supply: 220/230 volts AC 50 Hz
Exceptions: Pretoria (230 V) and Port Elizabeth (200/250 V)
Most plugs have three round pins but some plugs with two smaller pins are also found on appliances. Adaptors can be purchased but may be in short supply. US-made appliances may need a transformer.

Health and Safety
Many foreigners are unaware that South Africa has a well-developed infrastructure, high standards of water treatment and medical facilities equal to the best in the world. Here we address any health and safety questions you may have.

Hospitals and medical care
In a great many medical disciplines, South Africa is a global leader. In fact, South African trained doctors are sought after all over the world, so this should give an indication of the standard of medical care available. There is a large network of public and private hospitals countrywide, offering excellent service. However, clients must have adequate health insurance to cover the fees private hospitals charge.

Malaria is found only in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo and on the Maputaland coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Malaria is not much of a risk in the winter months. Although the incidence of malaria is rare, it would be best to take adequate precautions if you choose to visit these areas.

Our government has embarked on an extensive anti-malaria program (in co-operation with Swaziland and Mozambique) and the incidence of malaria is decreasing. One reassuring thing about malaria is that there is absolutely no way at all that you can contract it unless you are bitten by an infected mosquito. And with modern insect repellents and some common sense one can reduce the chances of being bitten to close to zero.

The cheapest, safest and most effective measures against malaria are physical barriers such as a mosquito net, and the use of a good insect repellent. If you decide to take malaria prophylaxis, it is essential that they take the drugs according to the directions on the package insert. You will need to start a week or two before entering a malaria-endemic area and should continue taking the drugs for four weeks after leaving the malaria risk area. It is advisable to consult a medical professional before embarking on a course of malaria prophylaxis. Note that expectant mothers should avoid malaria medications.

Personal safety
For tourists, South Africa is as safe as any other destination in the world. South Africa boasts a vast array of cultures, communities, sites and attractions. Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists provided they take basic common-sense precautions (for example not walking alone in deserted areas at night and being circumspect about how much photographic equipment or flashy jewelry you carry Most of the crime that takes place in South Africa is between people who know each other and random acts of violence are the minority of cases. Most major cities run organized crime prevention programmes Basic Safety Tip guidelines will be available at hotels and tourism information offices

If you are in doubt as to the safety of a particular area or attraction, contact the National Tourism information and Safety Line on 083 123 2345. This number may also be used for practical assistance in replacing lost documents or reporting incidents.

Food and water
As a rule, tap water in South Africa is safe to drink as it is treated and is free of harmful microorganisms. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation top-notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks - a good thing, too, after a day on the beach or in the bush.

Road safety
Our transport infrastructure is excellent and our roads are in good condition. However, the distances between towns are significant, so if you're planning to self-drive, it is a good idea to plan your itinerary to ensure they don't drive long distances as fatigue is a major cause of road accidents. Avoid long car journeys that necessitate driving at night as it always carries more risk. Also, in some of the more remote rural areas, the roads are not fenced so there may be stray animals on the road - which could be very dangerous at night. (Cows don't have headlights.)

We have very strict drinking and driving laws - with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. Translated that means about one glass of wine for the average woman and perhaps 1.5 or two for the average or large man. Our speed limits are 120kmph on the open road, 100kmph on smaller roads and between 60 and 80kmph in towns. Be aware that even major national roads cut through residential areas so there may be a speed limit of 80 or 60kmph on a road that looks like an autobahn. This is to protect pedestrians, especially children, so
we really do encourage people to comply.


Non-residents are permitted to drive with a driving license issued and valid in their own country, provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is in English. If your drivers license does not meet these requirements, an international driver’s license is required. Driving is on the left and the wearing of seatbelts is compulsory.

Visitors who are entering South Africa from a yellow fever zone must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Only infants under the age of one year are exempt. Immunization against cholera and small pox are not required and no other vaccinations are required when visiting South Africa.

Most major shopping centers and malls operate 7 days a week, but you will find that in the smaller towns and rural areas that shops are closed on a Sunday.

Monday - Saturday: 09:00 to 17:00
Sunday: 09:00 - 14:00

Information on this page supplied by SA Tourism


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