South Africa Safari Requirements Zebra by Guru Deon De Villiers
South Africa Safari Requirements Meerkats Tswalu Kalahari

South Africa Safari Requirements

Travel Information

If we do not do something to prevent it, Africa's animals, and the places in which they live, will be lost to our world, and her children, forever.
Nelson Mandela

Understanding South Africa Safari Requirements

This South Africa Safari Requirements information is designed to assist Safari Guru clients in understanding their travel destination prior to departure, as well as planning for the local conditions. Please take your time to read and ensure you fully understand any local customs, political agendas and the history of your chosen destination. Please note that Africa is in a constant state of change and development; therefore, the information provided should be treated as guidance only and could change by the time of travel.

South Africa Entry Requirements

  • Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be valid for a minimum of 30 days beyond the period of intended stay.
  • Passengers must complete the “South African Traveller Declaration” before departure or upon arrival at
  • Passports must contain at least 1 unused visa page for entry/departure endorsements by South African Immigration Service. This does not include the page reserved for “Observations” or “Amendments and Endorsements”.
  • Visitors with a machine readable passport which has been extended or modified in any way are not allowed to enter or transit South Africa.
  • Passports must be machine-readable to enter and transit.
  • If a visa is required, it should be obtained in advance, before your port of departure. See Passports & Visas section below.
  • All travellers arriving into the country through any point of entry shall no longer be required to show proof of either COVID-19 vaccination or a pre-departure COVID-19 test.

Requirements to Exit South Africa

  • Passengers traveling out of the country, will be required to abide by the particular travel, health and COVID-19 related requirements of the transit and destination country.
  • Pre-departure RDT or PCR testing may be considered at the discretion of any of the airlines departing from or terminating in South Africa.
  • There are a number of COVID-19 testing facilities throughout the country, including South Africa’s two major international ports of entry, Johannesburg and Cape Town.


South Africa is typically the first place people think of when talking about a safari. A vast country with a landmass almost five times the size of Britain and twice that of France; but what makes it so fascinating is the sheer diversity of its geography. To the north is the Kalahari Desert with its black-maned lions and beguiling meerkats. The subtropical east is lapped by the warm Indian Ocean and golden beaches, while the stormy and icy Atlantic pounds the Western Cape. The northeast churned by the Limpopo River and vast and rightly famous Kruger National Park, the oldest and most successful of all wildlife preservation areas in the country.

The country boasts many wildlife reserves and cosmopolitan cities such as stunning Cape Town, the Mother City, which is a metropolitan hub of culture, heritage and all-round natural beauty. Plus the beautiful and popular Cape Winelands being the world-famous regions of Constanta, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.

The country also enjoys a stellar reputation for dining – from food markets to fine dining with a simply divine and ethnically diverse quality. Road trippers are spoilt for choice; the country has a relatively well-maintained and signposted network that traverse vast, empty valleys and jaw-dropping mountain passes; but pay attention to local laws, customs and travel alerts.

Due to huge inequality, still sharply marked against racial divides, police in South Africa deal with a high volume of aggravated crime. Their resources are stretched. You may not get the level of service you would in your country of residence, especially for less serious crimes such as theft and fraud. The South African Police Service does NOT have a ‘Tourist Police’ force, and therefore you should avoid falling victim to fake tourist police who’s sole aim is to extort and rob tourists.

Be alert in major city centres and township areas after dark, and avoid protests and large public gatherings. These can become violent. Don’t take photos or video footage.


Area1,219,912 sq km (471,011 sq miles)
Population56,717,156 (Estimate 2017)
Population Density46 per sq km
CapitalCape Town (Legislative); Pretoria (Executive)
Head of GovernmentPresident Cyril Ramaphosa since 2018
LanguageSouth Africa has eleven official languages. English is common and frequently used in urban and other tourism areas.


Many people in South Africa follow a traditional pattern of life and visitors should be sensitive to customs, which will inevitably be unfamiliar to them. Casual clothing is acceptable in most areas of interest, unless specific cultural centres or areas are on the agenda. At all times, normal courtesies should be observed.

Always carry a copy of your passport data page and the page containing your visitors permit for South Africa. It is safer to keep your passport in a hotel safe or another safe location.

Smoking is uncommon, and it is prohibited on public transport and in most public buildings. 


In 1487, Bartolomeo Dias of Portugal became the first European to lay eyes on South Africa. A little over a century later, the Dutch East India Company set up a refreshment station at the Cape for ships and slaves toing and froing from Asia. The increasingly insatiable imperial appetite of the British meant they were never going to be far behind.

As European influence and ambition gradually expanded into the hinterland, the indigenous population and various other African ethnic groups, who had migrated south over preceding centuries, were increasingly subjugated and outgunned.

The white settlers’ bullying and bloodletting of black South Africans was formally institutionalised by the apartheid system of the National Party, which came to power in 1948 and whose reign was to be characterised by their forced removals of ‘non-whites’ from most urban areas and their increasingly violent suppression of anti-apartheid activists.

The brutal suppression of black activism, which was carried out with callous efficiency, saw sanctions imposed by countries around the world. International isolation and increasingly violent civil unrest eventually broke the apartheid system, which officially began to dismantle in 1990 after negotiations between President FW De Klerk and the African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela, in jail at the time on Robben Island.

In 1994, South Africa’s first fully democratic elections swept the ANC to power and the iconic Mandela; finally a free man after serving 27 years behind bars, became the first president of the new South Africa, unswerving in his philosophy of forgiveness and reconciliation.

But since Mandela’s retirement, South Africa’s young democracy has continued to be hampered by the legacy of apartheid, as is apparent in the stark socioeconomic and even geographical disparity between white South Africans and a small black elite on the one hand, and the vast majority of black South Africans on the other.

Mandela’s successors have failed to fill his shoes, with the aloof Thabo Mbeki doing little to combat the ravages of violent crime and an AIDS pandemic, the collapsed and corrupt regime of Jacob Zuma, and current ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet trying to instil a sense of effective governance in a judicial system fraught with corruption and factionalism.

Passports & Visas

It is best your passport be valid for at least six months after the date of your intended departure date from South Africa. It is your responsibility to ensure adequate passport pages, obtain any visas and satisfy any entry requirements. 

PASSPORT PAGES – At least two blank “visa” (not “endorsement”) pages are required for a visa. If you do not require a visa, then one blank page will be sufficient.

British, French, United States of America and Australian passport holders do not require a visa to enter South Africa for business or tourism purposes for a period of up to 90 days.

For all other foreigners who require visas to enter South Africa as tourists are eligible for this service, which are available on their General information about South African Visas page.

Travelling with Children (under 18)

South Africa has relaxed its requirements for travelling with children under the age of 18. Visa exempt children entering South Africa accompanied by an adult are required to present only a valid passport on arrival, regardless of whether the child is travelling with both parents or one. 

For ease of travel, and free movement, Safari Guru recommends that all travellers still have on their person copies of birth certificates for all minors where possible. 

Medical, Immunisations & Safety

When visiting South Africa; if you have arrived from, transited through, a country with the risk of yellow fever; such as such as those in East Africa, you are required to present a certificate of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival. It is always recommended to to check for a change in country legislation: TravelHealthPro website.

For immunisations, please consult your medical practitioner or a travel medical centre for advice on medical issues related to your destination. The following websites may be helpful to you: and Please note that many immunisations require administration some weeks prior to travel in order to be effective. During your trip, should emergency assistance be required, each game-drive vehicle has radio contact with the camp and each camp has 24 hour radio contact with their base support headquarters. Medical emergency evacuation will be arranged if necessary. 

Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you’ll take and that it’s for personal use only. It is advisable to check if your medication is legal in each country you’re travelling to.

Malaria can occur in some areas of South Africa, being more prevalent in the northeast of the country, especially during the rainy season (November to April). You should consider taking malaria prevention medication and seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache. 

Other mosquito-borne diseases (including filariasis) also occur.

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases by using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing in Safari Guru suggested safari destinations (with the exception of Tswalu Kalahari Private Reserve).

Travel Insurance

It is a pre–requisite of travel that all clients obtain comprehensive travel insurance cover at their own expense. it is always advisable to furnish your booking agent with your travel policy details – if applicable.

Further reading and understanding of travel insurance with frequently asked questions.

Your Health (Food & Water)


In South Africa some local tap water is not fit for consumption. 

Sealed bottled water is safe to drink and reputable brands can be purchased in hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores. You will be supplied with water at your camp, which has been filtered through a reverse osmosis process. 

It is essential that you drink plenty of water each day (a minimum of 2–3 litres). The dryness and heat will dehydrate you very quickly. If you are feeling lethargic or have a headache, there is a good chance it is simply dehydration, so make sure you increase your water intake. 

It is a good idea in the warmer months to travel with spare rehydrate sachets.

The water used for washing salads and making ice has also generally been filtered. 

Cash and Credit Cards, Tipping & Other


The country’s currency is the Rand (ZAR) which is used to purchase items locally, tipping and general expenses. There are limits on the amount of currency you can bring into South Africa. For cash in South African Rand, the limit is 25,000 ZAR. For combinations of cash in other currencies, the limit is USD 10,000 (or equivalent). You should declare any amount higher than this on entry to South Africa, but we highly advise you not to travel with such values in this country.

Personal expenses in the camps, such as souvenirs from the camp shop, can generally be paid with Visa or MasterCard, in USD, or in the local currency. A surcharge may be levied on credit card transactions. Be sure to contact your bank prior to departure if you plan to use your credit card in Africa. When carrying USD cash, it is a good idea to carry small denominations as it is often difficult to get change. As a general rule, check that USD notes are 2010 or newer and not damaged or marked. 

Please consider carrying small denominations for tipping; most importantly for luggage porterage, road transfers, lodge staff and guides. Do not display excess cash in public areas.

Meet & GreetMeet and greet services at Johannesburg and Cape Town international airports – your personal escort will guide you through the airport, helping with immigration, visas, and assistance through security, quarantine, and customs. We recommend USD10–20 per service, at your discretion
Camp StaffThere will generally be a communal staff tip box at all the camps, or if not, the manager will inform you how best to offer any gratuity. The usual gratuity for camp staff is USD10 per guest per day.
Specialist StaffSafari Guides and Butlers, it is USD10–20 per person per day, given directly to the person at the end your stay at each camp.
TrackersUSD5 per person given directly at the end your stay
Massage TherapistsWe recommend about USD2 – USD3 per treatment.
Hotel StaysBaggage porterage is usually tipped (about USD2 – USD3 per guest per movement, depending on how much luggage). Tips for housekeeping are generally not expected unless significant services have been provided.
Non–Safari TransfersE.G. airport–hotel: We recommend around USD2 – USD3 per guest per movement, minimum USD5 total.

We would like to emphasise that tipping is definitely not a requirement and should be undertaken only by choice, dependent on the service received. 

Climate, Clothing and Luggage


Most Safari Guru travellers will visit either the coastal regions of South Africa’s Cape, or the interior of the country.

Cape Town has a Mediterranean-style climate with an annual average temperature of a delightful 17 degrees. The Mother City and the Western Cape experience hot summers and mild and rainy winters. In winter, most months have more than one hundred millimetres (3.9 inches) of precipitation. In the summer months (December to March) it is warm, sunny and dry.

The Northern Cape’s (Kalahari) weather is typical of desert and semi-desert areas. This is a large dry region of fluctuating temperatures and varying topographies. The annual rainfall is sparse, only 50 to 400mm per annum. In January, afternoon temperatures usually range from 34 to 40º C.  Summer temperatures often top the 40º C mark.

Mpumalanga’s weather is naturally defined by its topography. Mpumalanga is a province of two halves, namely the high-lying grassland savannah of the highveld escarpment and the subtropical Lowveld plains. Sabi Sand Private Reserve lies with the Lowveld adjoining the Kruger National Park and enjoys relatively plentiful summer rainfall (an average of around 620 mm falls between September and March) and mild to hot subtropical conditions. Visitors to this area can expect temperatures around 30ºC in summer, but occasionally reaching the mid 40’s.


Loose, natural fabrics are recommended, with wet-weather gear and warmer clothes according to the season and area visiting.

Soft bags with a rigid structure at the base – including wheels and/or a collapsible handle – will be accepted. Alternatively, standard soft duffel/tog type bags are also fine.
The maximum dimensions of ALL bags which can be accommodated are as follows: 30 cm (11.8 inches) wide x 35 cm (13.8 inches) high and 70 cm (27.5 inches) long.
The maximum permissible luggage allowance when travelling on a seat rate basis, including carry-on, is strictly 20 kg (44 lb) per person.

Cell Phones, Power, Photography and drones


Tri–band cell phones on global roaming generally work in all major urban centres, however limited services will be experienced in some safari camps. 


Camps are powered by regular electrical power, solar power or generators. Voltage is 220–240V. There is usually ample electricity to charge batteries for digital and video cameras, iPods etc., but not for use of hair dryers and electric shavers etc. In some camps, the facilities for charging batteries are in the main camp area rather than in a room. Many camps have an array of adaptor plugs. 

In South Africa and Botswana, the South African Socket is used. The voltage (220–240V) is similar to Australia and a voltage converter will generally not be required to use appliances designed for Australia. A socket adaptor is usually all that is needed.

Power Plug South Africa, Botswana and Namibia


Airports, official residences and defence establishments should not be photographed. Permission should be obtained to photograph local people.

Serious digital photographers may wish to bring a mobile device for the downloading of images. you are advised to bring a spare battery for use while the other one is being charged, a power converter/adaptor if applicable, cables for computers or cameras and additional flashcards. 


Drones without proper government authorisation are not permitted in South Africa.
Drone laws are continually changing, and if you are interested in bringing a drone on your trip, we recommend double-checking the rules for each country you will be travelling through immediately before departure.

Safari Guru’s South Africa Safari Requirements and a Packing List

Understand more about Packing for an African Safari, with a checklist of packing items, or download Safari Guru’s South Africa Safari Pre-Departure Information Document.

PDF Download – South Africa Safari Pre-Departure Information Document


DISCLAIMER: Please note that whilst we take every care to ensure the information contained herein is accurate, we cannot in any manner or form guarantee the accuracy and correctness thereof. The information is taken directly from relevant country government sources and the IATA travel centre, and can change at any time and without notice. You are therefore advised that any information contained herein should not be construed as a representation made by Safari Guru or its network of suppliers and ground handlers and it remains a travellers sole and absolute duty to double-check current information at the time of undertaking any travel.

South Africa Safari Requirements
"Safari Guru made it possible for us to accomplish every goal we had. Getting the flights arranged for inside Africa was so helpful. Duke’s Camp was lovely. It was where we needed to be in order to do our CLAWS visit. Communicating with Duke’s to make sure we had the private vehicle and a way to Eretsha was vital. Chief’s was great luxury and wonderful sightings. Linkwasha was exceptional! The lodge itself a delight with the water hole and hide right there. But the Hwange park is crazy! You drive to this open area and watch 16 lions laying around with every game you can imagine. Then you watch cheetah hunt and provide a baby impala for her two cubs. You watch the lions hunt and miss. It’s outstanding! Would go back there in a minute."
The Nelson's; United States of America

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