Republic of South Africa. South Africa travel and vacation.
The history of the Republic of South Africa as a country began with the landing of European settlers on April 6, 1652. On this day a group of colonists who came from Holland, founded the first settlement on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, at this site today is the city of Cape Town. By then, seafarers from Europe, starting with Vasco de Gama, had rounded the southern tip of the African continent many times, and needed a base to repair ships and replenish supplies. The Dutch East India Company established such a base and began to attract settlers from different countries. As they merged into a single nation, the colonists became known as Boers and their language, Afrikaans, became a branch of Dutch.
A new phase in the life of South Africa came with the arrival of British troops. England claimed the areas developed by the Boers as its colonial possessions. The Boers responded by migrating to the interior of the continent. After a fierce struggle with the local tribes, they were able to reclaim the new lands and build them up. Two Boer countries appeared on the world map at once: the Free Orange State and Transvaal. They existed quietly for about forty years, until the reserves of gold and diamonds were found on their territory. The “gold rush” that began prompted Great Britain to try to take control of the rich deposits. Two Anglo-Boer wars followed; the second conflict, which lasted from 1899 to 1902, was especially fierce; the British were only able to break the resistance of the Boers with great effort. Britain created the Union of South Africa on the conquered lands, giving the new colony self-government.
Over time, an apartheid regime was established on the territory of the SAC. All residents were divided by race into whites, blacks, Asians, and people of color. Each race was given a certain set of rights, institutions, transportation, even beaches were segregated. The black population, if possible, was resettled to places of compact residence, the so-called “bantustans. The authorities were careful to limit the number of blacks needed to work in cities and banned them from living in white homes, even as personal servants. As more and more African countries gained independence, the apartheid regime began to provoke great global resentment. The United Nations imposed sanctions on South Africa, and most economically developed countries severed trade relations with South Africa. The apartheid regime was abolished only in 1994, when representatives of the black majority came to power as a result of general elections.
Now in South Africa all citizens enjoy the same rights, but the country has lost many skilled professionals who emigrated abroad; according to various data, one in five members of the white community left. The economy has been severely damaged, although the Republic of South Africa continues to outpace all other countries on the African continent in terms of development.
Capital city: Pretoria Area: 1,221,037 km 2 Population: 57,725,600 (2018) Language: English, Afrikaans, Venda, Zulu, Kosa, Southern Ndebele, Swati, Northern Sotho, Sesotho, Tswana, Tsonga Official website: https://www.tourism.gov.za/Pages/home.aspx
Flight time: Flights to Johannesburg airport from Moscow – from 14 hours 50 min (1-3 connections) from St. Petersburg – from 15 hours 5 min (1-3 connections) from Kazan – from 16 hours 310 min (1-3 connections) from Ekaterinburg – from 16 hours 5 min (1-3 connections) from Novosibirsk – from 17 hours 25 min (1-3 connections)
Big Guide to South Africa
Hi, I’m Lesya hellofriend__travel, and I’m a fan of Africa. I’ve spent about a year total in the countries of the Black Continent and have seen it from many different angles – through the eyes of a tourist, a volunteer, a guide, and a hitchhiker vagabond.
In 2019, South Africa is expected to become a trendy travel destination: exotic, unusual and tickling the nerves. However, many tourists to South Africa are often disappointed, not expecting the African country to have ATMs on every corner, fancy malls, great roads and better service than Russia. And also a huge number of whites, for whom this place is their third-generation or older homeland.
But it is in South Africa where you can plunge into the exoticism of Africa without the risk of being left without drinking water in the middle of the savannah, the usual amenities of civilization, or with an attack of malaria after the trip, and the cost of a trip to this country can be compared with a five-day safari in Tanzania or Kenya. I will tell you about it one by one.
How to get to South Africa?
Definitely by plane. You can take a ticket from Moscow to Johannesburg to Moscow and change planes in Abu Dhabi for 32-34 thousand rubles. There are flight connections from Addis Ababa, London and Istanbul. If you have Schengen, you can check out flights from Europe, like Frankfurt or Paris. Now Ethiopian Airlines are launching regular flights to Cape Town, and with the right skills you can get a ticket for the same 34-35 thousand rubles. The best way to look for tickets is through airseals.
A classic of the genre is to rent a car in Cape Town and drive to Johannesburg, or vice versa. It’s a cool idea, but it only makes sense if you have at least two or three weeks to spare: the distances are great, and there’s always something to see along the way. And to drive nonstop just for the sake of mileage is brave enough, but a little pointless.
If the trip is planned for less than two weeks, it’s better to concentrate on one thing. For example, stop in Cape Town and drive along the Garden Route and the wineries of Stellenbosch, or fly to Johannesburg and take a safari trip to Kruger Park, and if there is time and money, fly to Zimbabwe and take a guide to two interesting places: Victoria Falls and Chobe Park in Botswana.
Those who are interested in a beach holiday should consider Durban and its surroundings. You will find the third international airport in the country there and yet a domestic flight is usually cheaper than a direct flight to Durban from abroad: from $40 for a ticket from Cape Town and from $30 from Johan.
When is the best time to go?
The high tourist season in South Africa starts in November and prices for hotels and safaris get higher.
Despite the fact that this is Africa, in July (the height of winter in the southern hemisphere) in Cape Town or in the mountains it can easily snow. But in December when it’s +42°C in neighboring Namibia, it can be up to +20°C in Cape Town. The climate here is mild and humid.
There is something to do in this country at any time of the year, but it is best to go on safari from May to November, before the rainy season. After the savannah turns green, it will be very difficult to see even an elephant, let alone a lion.
Visas and surprises
The South African government is not as resourceful as its counterparts in other African countries, so surprises can always be waiting for everyone.
A couple of years ago Russian citizens needed a visa to visit South Africa. When we tried to get one from the consulates of neighboring Zimbabwe and Namibia, we were told:
– Fly to Russia, get a visa, and goodbye. – Can I at least get a visa for transit to leave the continent? All flights from the continent go through Johannesburg anyway? – For a transit visa, too, fly to Russia.
In March 2017, South Africa and Russia reached a mutual agreement: Russians can now stay in South Africa without a visa for up to 90 days for leisure purposes. However, in fact, the border guard can also put 30, 10 days, if you say that you flew in for this time. You may or may not be asked for a return ticket and hotel reservation – it all depends on the mood of the individual, so it’s best to be prepared for anything.
Vaccinations and malaria
There are no mandatory vaccination requirements to visit South Africa. The situation with malaria is not as serious as in Mozambique or Tanzania: it is almost non-existent south of the Limpopo River, and even mosquito nets on beds in South Africa are almost never met – they are simply not necessary.
For peace of mind, you can take repellents with you and in the evenings to wrap up in closed clothing. I will not advise to buy “Lariam” for prevention – first, it costs as gold, and secondly, its effect ends simultaneously with the intake of tablets, that is to drink it constantly. In 2-3 weeks there is a chance to lose the liver faster. Just kidding.
If anything happens, the doctor will give you a prescription, and at the local pharmacy for pennies you can buy drugs that make you feel better from the first day. The main thing is to do the test at the moment when the attack begins. Yes, this is advice from personal experience.
South Africa has four major telecom operators: Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom. The most budget-friendly one is MTN. 6 GB of internet and 30 minutes of calls per month with the SIM card cost 490 rand (about $40). 1.5 GB is 150 rand ($10). You can buy a sim card right at Tambo Johannesburg Airport, the offices are to the right of the exit to the arrivals hall. Coverage is generally good, but maps.me is better to download.
South Africa has an unimaginable number of dialects and 11 official languages. Sometimes it’s strange to watch two blacks speak to each other in English: they’re just from different tribes, and the colonizers divided the land by drawing lines on the map, without much regard to ethnicity.
Most whites speak Afrikaans, a mixture of Dutch, German, Kos, Bantu, and one Boer* knows what else. The best word, in my opinion, is “Lekker!” – means everything beautiful, delicious, awesome. It is used in all areas of life, from praise of food, to impressions of the country.
English is one of the official languages of the country, everyone speaks it, so the Afarikaans words will be needed only for the courage.
* The Boers were the first white settlers in South Africa.
Payment by card
In this respect South Africa is pleasantly pleasant even after Russia. Card payment terminals are everywhere: in gas stations, restaurants, stores and national parks. Exceptions are parking lots, private guides, street stalls and some lodges, but the latter warn of their shortage in advance. In almost all cafes and restaurants we were allowed to pay the total bill in installments – each paid with his card – and a 10% tip included.
The average commission of the exchangers is 10%. Cash is best withdrawn from ATMs FNB Banck or CapitecBanck . These are the only ATMs that do not charge foreign cards.
It exists and it works. I recommend to stay at both white and black – most likely the experience will be diametrically opposed, but certainly interesting.
Hotels in South Africa are a visualist’s paradise if the landlord is white. Then you are likely to find interior ecstasy in the style of naive Provence or African ethnicity. I recommend reading the description carefully: lodges are often located on private farms and near national parks, which means that you can get a nice bonus antelope or giraffes walking around outside the window. Lodges located inside national parks will cost an order of magnitude more, and often the costliness is determined solely by the location.
If the landlord is black, there’s a good chance the bed will half cover the bathroom entrance, a new taped TV will hang on the wall for decoration, and you’ll be offered fried potatoes for breakfast. The experience is interesting; once is definitely worth a try for comparison.
You can book lodging through Bucking, Airbnb, or directly on hotel websites. The specificity of South Africa is that most hotels ask for a credit card guarantee and charge almost immediately.
The price for a night in the simplest guest house starts at $ 30 per person. Beautiful lodges with high ratings and included breakfasts will cost from $ 50-70. Cottages on the coast will cost at least $150 a night. Lodges and campgrounds in national parks can cost $150 and $2,000 a night for a double room – all depends on location, type of bungalow and season. A night in a more or less decent hostel in Cape Town will have to pay from $ 13 per bed, double rooms start at $ 22.
There’s no sense bringing your own tent to South Africa unless you’re a hitchhiker on a zero budget. We have traveled through African countries with a tent, and I can say that it’s a real pleasure: to really get a good sleep, and not be disturbed by the visits of surprised locals, it should be placed in the bushes, away from populated areas, sometimes in remote and not the most scenic places – in general, you need to be unnoticed. Besides, in South Africa, where any barn is behind a live fence, it can be simply dangerous.
If you belong to the category of reckless hitchhiker tramps, I strongly recommend going with your tent to equipped and guarded campsites. Sometimes you can get a deal and pitch your tent if not for free, then at a good discount, and the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep and not running into trouble greatly increases.
For those who just want to relax in nature, I advise to rent SUVs with a tent set on the roof. Such cars will cost 1.5-2 times more expensive than usual, but they can safely sleep in nature. In stationary campsites tents are set as a rule: a night may cost from $30 to $150 per person depending on the place and a set of conveniences – electricity, hot showers, etc.
I have extensive experience of hitchhiking through African countries, but I have not had the opportunity to hitchhike in South Africa. All the Africans who gave us a ride in neighboring countries all shouted that hitchhiking in South Africa – madness without courage.
On our last trip to South Africa we rented a car and didn’t try to get to the bottom of it, but our most reckless friends had been driving around South Africa for a month and stayed alive and unharmed. This tends to work, with hard-travelers who have not a penny to their souls – you do not want to steal, and feed. Tattered pants, a shabby backpack, hair in shreds and a crazy smile – that’s the type that adapts well in Africa. Then even black Africans turn a certain switch, and from a rich white purse you automatically turn into a friend, for whom they wouldn’t spare the last bottle of water.
Buses between cities run quite often, but they don’t come cheap. For example, the price for a six-hour bus from Cape Town to Mosselbay starts at $30.
There are buses within cities, too. Buy a MyConnect pass ($2.50) at any supermarket, drop off any amount and pay for the distance. The average fare in downtown Cape Town is 10 to 20 rand (up to $1.5). You can also buy a day pass if you’re going to use the bus full time. There’s also the Metro in Cape Town, 7 to 22 rand ($0.5 to $1.6) per ride, depending on the distance.
The easiest way to get to the suburbs of Cape Town is by train. It’s cheap, authentic, and has a great view, especially if you take the Simon’s Town Line. Just be sure to check the schedule, many of the trains stop running after 6 p.m.
Buses from the airport to Cape Town run every twenty minutes from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and cost about 90 rand ($7) depending on the time of day. Buses from the airport to Johannesburg run every 15 minutes during the day, with tickets starting at $5. Cabs are expensive, but Uber helps out.
South Africa has excellent roads with good coverage, so you do not necessarily need a four-wheel drive car. However there are many different rental companies and a large choice of cars. The price starts from 10$ per day for a Mini, from 20$ for a 4×4 and from 40$ for a 4×4. I recommend the automatic: I took one of the cars on the manual, and it is an extreme.