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Travel guide to KwaZulu Natal

Passports
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date and have two blank facing pages. If you do not have these, you may be denied boarding at your departure airport. Soiled, damaged or defaced passports will not be accepted. Expect delays at immigration on arrival.
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 region. Northeastern KwaZulu Natal (ie Hluhuwe, Thonga Beach & Sodwana Bay) are in a low risk area for which tablets are not usually recommended, 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 rand (ZAR) - remember to ask for small denominations, which are useful for tipping. VISA & Master cards are widely accepted, but not American Express or Diners Club. Always ensure you carry cash when travelling in the countryside, as some places may not accept cards.
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. 
 
Electronic Devices – ensure these are all fully charge before travel, as you may be required to switch them on at airport security, as any device that does not switch on cannot be check and may need to be surrendered. 
 
Mobile Phones – make sure they are set up for international calls and if you plan to use travel apps such as Google Translate or Google Maps, ensure you check your data package with your provider in advance. Alternatively turn off date roaming to avoid lage phone bills. Be aware that some rural areas may not have mobile or WiFi coverage. 
 
Credit Cards – remember to inform your bank when travelling abroad. 
 
Clothing – pack in layers according to the season. Take a day pack, good walking shoes, T-shirts, shorts, jeans, sunhat, swimming costume, sunglasses, biodegradable sunscreen & flip flops. Rain gear is needed during the wet season. On safari wear lightweight but long sleeved shirts and long trousers to protect against mosquitos (safari clothing is ideal for this). Neutral colours are best – khaki, green & brown. Avoid white & bright colours, as these increase your visibility to the animals, dark blue as this attracts tsetse fly, and black which can get very hot. Take a generous supply of insect repellent to spray on your neck, wrists and ankles and avoid using perfume, as this attracts insects. Also pack a light fleece, hat & gloves for evening game drives, which can get cold even in summer. Sanitising hand cleaner and eye drops can be handy, especially if you wear contact lenses & a 'shewee' is invaluable for ladies in the bush. 
 
Medicines - if you travel with prescription drugs, carry an adequate supply in their original bottles/packaging & keep them in your hand luggage, as if lost they may be difficult to replace. 
 
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). We suggest one pair per person, as it can be frustrating to share. Drones are not allowed in any national parks. 
 
Plugs – type M (round 3 pin). Pack a South African adapter as well as a hand basin plug/stopper, as these are not always provided. 
 
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. Any valid UK, European or American driving license is accepted as long as it has a photograph and signature. A credit card (not debit card) in the name of the main driver is also required to secure the rental deposit. Be aware that you are travelling in a country where driving standards are lower than at home and take all sensible precautions against crime - including not leaving any belongings on display, keeping your car doors locked and not stopping for unknown vehicles. Car guards are common and can be identified by their uniform. They generally expect a small tip on returning to your vehicle. 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. Hire a 4x4 if travelling on gravel roads, take two spare tyres, be careful to avoid stones thrown up by passing vehicles & ensure your tyres are under-inflated when travelling on gravel (ie soft, not hard). Be prepared to pay cash for fuel sometimes (eg if card machines are not working). 
 
VAT Refunds - if you purchase expensive items remember keep your receipts, as VAT is re-funded to non-residents on request at the international departure airport. 
 
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 – 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, passport and a spare credit card 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. 
 
Indemnities - please be aware it is likely you will be required to sign indemnities for safaris and any other potentially hazardous activities. 
 
Pack for a Purpose - if you have a little space in your suitcase, local schools & communities always appreciate gifts of English reading books, pens & pencils, stationery, deflated footballs etc. Specific requests from communities can be seen on the 'Pack for a Purpose' website. 
 
Tipping – this is not compulsory, but if you wish to tip because you have received good service, we suggest the following: 
- specialist guides & rangers: R150 per adult/per full day. This can be reduced for longer stays. 
- tracker (if you have one): R50 per adult/per day. 
- housekeeping: R30 per room per day, placed in communal tipping box 
- luxury train journeys: R150 per adult/per day. 
- waiters: 10% (if not already added to your bill) 
- porters: R10 per bag. 
It is not necessary to tip drivers doing short transfers (eg to the airport). 
 
FCO Travel Advice - consult the UK Foreign Office website for the latest travel advice www.fco.gov.uk.
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