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Practical information about South Africa

On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions about South Africa. You can read more, for example, about weather, visa and currency. See also our selection of South Africa Holidays.

Practical information about South Africa
Practical information about South Africa

Practical information about South Africa

On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions about South Africa. You can read more, for example, about weather, visa and currency. See also our selection of South Africa Holidays.

Best time to travel

The location of the country south of the equator means that the seasons are the opposite of the seasons in the UK, so it’s summer in South Africa when it’s winter here in the UK.

Summer in South Africa (November to February)
This period is both South Africa’s summer season and (for Kruger National Park) rainy season. The weather switches from sunshine to rain, but mostly sunshine and warm temperatures. It is this combination of sunshine and rain that makes the landscape so incredibly lush and densely vegetated. The hot weather and the high humidity also mean that there may be a risk of heavy rain at times.

You are in with a good chance of seeing baby animals in South Africa’s safari parks from late November and the rest of the period. If you’re fascinated by birds, from December to February you can experience lots of interesting bird species in the national parks.

Autumn in South Africa (March to May)

During this period, the days are sunny, the temperatures are pleasant, and rainfall is limited. It can be a little cooler in the evening, during the night and in the morning.

The landscape is lush, and there is still plenty of water in the rivers and water holes, attracting wildlife. There are generally fewer visitors in the national parks, and you are in with a good chance of enjoying unique wildlife experiences.

Winter in South Africa (June to August)

This period offers warm, sunny days with pleasant temperatures, yet relatively chilly nights. There is virtually no rainfall in the north of the country. In the south of the country, however, there is a little more rain, and some days can feel like a grey autumn day in Europe.

The small amount of rainfall makes for a less lush landscape and there are fewer leaves on the trees. The wildlife is therefore easier to spot in the bare bushes and around the few water holes where there is still water. The chances of seeing the Big Five are therefore also incredibly high. Along the country’s coastline, you can see large pods of whales.

Spring in South Africa (September to October)

During this period, there is limited rainfall, while the days are sunny and lovely and warm. Temperatures are rising steadily, and especially at the end of the period, it can feel very hot during the day.

The animals are active and still easy to spot in the relatively barren landscape. They gather around the water holes where there is still water. Along the long South African coastline, whales are gathering to breed, giving you a great chance of spotting them on a whale watching tour.

This period is also the ideal time to visit Cape Town as there is a limited amount of rain and wild flowers are blooming, creating a colourful coastal landscape.

Weather statistics for Nelspruit (Kruger National Park): JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 29 29 28 27 25 23 23 25 27 27 27 28
Average minimum temperature 19 19 18 14 10 6 6 9 12 14 17 18
Rainfall mm 127 108 90 51 15 9 10 10 26 75 115 131
Weather statistics for Johannesburg: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 26 25 24 21 19 16 17 19 23 24 24 25
Average minimum temperature 15 14 13 10 7 4 4 6 9 11 13 14
Rainfall mm 125 90 91 54 13 9 4 6 27 72 117 105
Weather statistics for Cape Town: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 26 27 25 23 20 18 18 18 19 21 24 25
Average minimum temperature 16 16 14 12 9 8 7 8 9 11 13 15
Rainfall mm 15 17 20 41 69 93 82 77 40 30 14 17
Weather statistics for Port Elizabeth: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 25 25 25 23 22 20 20 20 20 21 22 24
Average minimum temperature 18 18 17 14 12 9 9 10 11 13 15 16
Rainfall mm 36 40 54 58 59 62 47 64 62 59 49 34
Passport & visa

It goes without saying that you need to bring your passport with you.

On arrival to South Africa, UK citizens receive a visa for a stay lasting up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for at least 30 days past the duration of your stay, and there must be at least two empty pages in your passport. Please note that extended passports or temporary emergency passports are not recognised on entry into South Africa.

If you plan to combine your visit to South Africa with one of our other destinations, you should also be aware of the visa regulations for these destinations.

You can read more about the new entry regulations here.

We encourage you to always check visa regulations on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.

Travel documents

Before your departure, you will be sent some travel documents containing important information, which we recommend that you print out and bring with you on your tour. You will, for example, receive your travel itinerary as well as the telephone numbers of our local partners at the destination, allowing you to get in touch with them if you need help along the way.

It is important to check your name for spelling mistakes. The name on the reservation must be exactly as in your passport. If your travel documents need to be corrected, please contact us as soon as possible.

We recommend that you download the WhatsApp app to your smartphone and add the phone numbers of our business partners. You can send messages and call them for free using the app when you have a Wi-Fi connection.


We advise you to contact a medical specialist, your GP or an authorised vaccination clinic. You can also read more about the rules regarding travel vaccinations here.

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another African country.


There is currently no Covid-19 vaccination requirement for entry into South Africa. However, these rules may change at short notice. It is your responsibility to check these rules before departure.

Please note that certain Covid-19 rules may apply at the stopover airports on your way to/from South Africa. It is also your responsibility to check this before departure.

You’re always very welcome to contact us if you have any questions about this.

Travel terms and conditions

Please read our general travel terms and conditions carefully, as these are part of the agreement terms for tours purchased at TourCompass. Tours purchased from us are covered under the “Package Travel Act”.

Click here to read our travel terms and conditions.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it.
Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate click here.

Travel insurance

We always advise you to obtain comprehensive travel insurance when heading off on your dream holiday. It is also highly recommended to acquire cancellation insurance for extra protection. 

Click here to proceed to our page on insurance, where you can read more about our recommendations.

Currency, price level & tipping

The local currency in South Africa is called the rand (ZAR).

Visa, MasterCard and Diners are accepted in most places. You can exchange to ZAR at the airport, banks and hotels or withdraw from cash machines.



In South Africa, tips are part of the wages of people working in the service industry. The tipping of porters, waiting staff, maids and guides is therefore expected and highly appreciated.

Tipping is, of course, voluntary and it’s completely up to you how much you want to give.

The following is customary:

  • Guide/drivers: 100–150 rand for a full day excursion with two people travelling together
  • Waiting staff: 10-30 rand or 10% of the bill
  • Cleaning staff: 10–20 rand a day

Tips for staff at the place where you are staying are paid in cash. At restaurants/bars, you can add a tip to the bill.

Food & allergies

At the vast majority of our destinations, we are able to take allergies, as well as allergens or preferences into account when it comes to food, however it is important that you inform us of this when you book the tour.



Telephones, Wi-Fi & electricity

The standard voltage is 220 V and 3-pin plugs are used.

In the hotel descriptions on our website, you can see whether Wi-Fi is available at the hotels. Please note that the connection may be unstable.

What to pack

Make sure you pack all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, vaccination cards, travel documents, insurance documents, credit cards, money, computers, mobile phones and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

We recommend that you pack light clothes for the safaris and that you avoid bright colours where possible. Bring long trousers and long sleeved shirts that protect against mosquitoes after sunset and, if necessary, against the sun during the day. Avoid bare feet and legs in the evening due to the mosquitoes.

Remember to bring a small torch and extra batteries in case of the occasional power cut.

Bringing plant products into the UK

Visitors are not permitted to bring plants, seeds, fruit and other plant products into the UK from their travels outside the UK, unless they are accompanied by a plant health (phytosanitary) certificate. These rules also apply to smaller quantities of plants and plant products.

Read more about the rules here.

Travellers with impaired mobility

Please note that this tour is not generally suitable for people with impaired mobility. Please contact us for information about your options in relation to your specific needs.

Airline tickets

Most airlines have electronic tickets (e-tickets).

It is important that you check your name for spelling errors, as the name on the reservation must be exactly as it appears on your passport. If your name needs to be corrected, please contact us as soon as possible. Please note that this may incur a fee from the airline.

Seat reservation

The airline will assign you a seat on the plane at check-in. If you have specific wishes regarding where you sit on the plane, you can make a seat reservation yourself on the airline’s website or in their app. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation.

It varies when airlines open for seat reservations, but as a general rule, you can book seats from the time of booking and up to 48 hours before departure.

We also point out that the airline has complete control over all seats on the plane and that they are therefore entitled to make changes to the reservation at any time.
If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will assign you a seat at check-in.


Your passport and your booking reference, which appears on your itinerary, are required to check in.

We recommend that you download the airline’s app on your phone. In the app, there is an option for online check-in, which typically opens 24 to 48 hours before departure. The app also allows you to stay informed of any flight changes and other important information about your flight.

Please note that the flight times may have changed in relation to those listed on the travel itinerary you received when you booked your holiday. It is always the flight times in the airline’s app or on the airline’s website that apply.

At the airport

We recommend that you arrive at the airport to check in at least two hours before departure. It is a good idea to check the airport’s website for the latest updates.


We use many different airlines for our destinations. You can check the exact rules for hand luggage and checked baggage on the airline’s website or in their app.

If you are flying via O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, please be aware that checked baggage must have at least one flat side and must not have long, loose straps (such as a backpack). If you are travelling with a round sports bag or a backpack with long straps, you should make use of the baggage wrapping service at the airport before checking in your luggage.

Please note that if you fly via Johannesburg, you are required to collect your luggage from the baggage carousel and bring it through customs yourself, and then hand it in at the check-in counter again in the domestic terminal.

Delayed baggage

If your baggage is delayed, please contact the staff in the baggage reclaim area to report your missing baggage.

It is important that you have your baggage receipt when completing your PIR (Property Irregularity Report).

Please note that you must not leave the baggage area at the airport until you have completed the report.

In the event of delayed baggage, we ask you to contact our partner, who will ensure that your guide/driver waits for you.

Flight delays or cancellations

Should any changes occur in connection with your flight reservation before departure, we will of course contact you to let you know.

Should your flight be delayed after check-in, the airline is responsible for rebooking your flight. They will typically book the next possible flight and arrange any meals and accommodation if necessary.

Our partner checks for any changes in arrival times and will naturally still wait for you, even if your flight is delayed.

If, due to a delay or cancellation, the airline books you on another flight number after you have arrived at the airport, please contact us on TourCompass’ emergency number.


Immigration & Customs


When you arrive at your final destination, you will go through immigration, where your passport and any entry documents and visas are checked. In many places, you will be required to provide fingerprints, and a photo of your face will also be taken for biometric recognition. You may also be asked questions about your travel plans in the country and possibly where you are staying.


Once you’ve cleared immigration and picked up your luggage, you will head through customs. If you have nothing to declare, you can go through “nothing to declare”. If, on the other hand, you have something to declare, it is important that you go through “declare”. It’s your own responsibility to check the customs regulations that apply in the country you are travelling to.


When you come out into the arrivals hall at the airport, you will be met by a guide/driver holding up a TourCompass sign with your name on it, who will make sure you get safely to your hotel.

There may be a little waiting time until all the guests have arrived. If this is the case, you will be shown to the airport café, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a cold refreshment.

In the unexpected event that you cannot find your guide/driver, please contact our partner on the emergency number which appears on the travel documents.

If you are travelling on a daytime flight to Johannesburg and arrive in the evening, you will spend the night at City Lodge Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport on the first night. The hotel is a mere 5-minute walk from the airport, and you just have to follow the signs to get here.

When you have picked up your luggage and left the arrivals hall, you walk around the arrivals area (where people are picking up arriving travellers) and continue straight on, out of the arrivals hall and towards the car park.

You don’t need to go all the way out of the arrivals hall – just up one floor and along a footbridge over the car parks.

Follow the clear signs that show you the way to City Lodge/Intercontinental Hotel.

Hotel check-in and check-out

Normal check-in is typically from 2 pm, and you cannot therefore count on getting your room earlier. If you’d like to check in early, this can be arranged for a fee when you book the tour.

When you check in, the receptionist will generally register your credit card and may reserve an amount. This is not an additional fee, but customary at hotels to ensure payment of any consumption from the minibar and the like. When you check out, the amount will be automatically released if you have not made use of this.

It is very normal for hotels to take a copy of your passport. In some places, this is a requirement of the local authorities.

Check-out is normally by 10 am. If you’re not travelling until the afternoon or evening, you can have your luggage stored until it’s time to leave. If you would like a late check-out instead, this can be arranged for a fee when you book the tour.

Tourist tax is payable in South Africa. This is not included in our package prices and will be put on your room bill when you check out from the hotel. We accept no liability for changes in tax.

Type of tour and transport

In the event of unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather, blocked roads or otherwise, it may be necessary to change the order of sightseeing tours and attractions in your itinerary.

The safaris take place in open vehicles.

All other driving is in air-conditioned minibuses.

Children on safari in South Africa

Our safari tours are extremely child friendly. The wildlife on the African savannah is exciting – for children, too, who are welcome on our safaris whatever their age.

However, for safety reasons, they must be over the age of 12 to participate in a bush walk with rangers, and 6+ to participate in an evening safari in an open-topped vehicle.

Driving distances in South Africa (subject to traffic and other local conditions)

  • Johannesburg International Airport– Kruger Gate: approx. 5.5 hours
  • Johannesburg International Airport – Nkambeni: approx. 4.5 hours
  • Kruger Gate – Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport: approx. 1 hour
  • Nkambeni – Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport: approx. 1.5 hours


Need for help during the tour?

We have a 24-hour emergency hotline so that you can always get in touch with us should anything unforeseen occur during your tour. You will also be sent the telephone numbers and emergency telephone numbers of our partners at the destination. In some cases, it may be easiest and fastest to contact our partners due to time differences, if, for example, you find yourself in a situation where your pick-up for an excursion or transfer is more than 15 minutes delayed.


Our livelihood depends on satisfied guests, and we would therefore very much like to hear from you after your return home. Send us an email at or call us on tel.: 01279 704 135.


Catriona Hodge

Catriona is passionate about helping other people fulfill their travel dreams, as she knows how much travel has only improved her life for the better!

Opening hours
Monday-Thursday 9-15
Friday 9-13