FreePh: 0800 336660

See our Facebook page!

Surfing in South Africa

Bordered by some of the largest oceans- the Atlantic and Indian.- South Africa has consistent surf breaks all year round. The coast from Port Elizabeth down to Durban, known as the “Garden Route”, is blessed with some amazing world class waves and a lot of the coastline is relatively untouched.

We’ve outlined Jeffery’s Bay for obvious reasons- nothing needs to be said about this long perfect right hand point break. Its considered one of the greatest waves on the planet and one of those waves that every surfer needs to paddle into during their life.

You’ve either got the option of staying at the J-Bay lodge and exploring the near-by breaks, or spending a few days here then hiring a rental van and travelling the infamous “Garden Route” and surfing your way down the coast to Durban. From New Zealand, flights are via either Asia or Australia to Port Elisabeth.

Apart from the world class surf breaks, South Africa also offers a huge range of unique activities and attractions including; World famous game reserves featuring the “African Big 5” , Dolphin & Whale watching, Shark diving, Bird watching, Deep sea fishing, Horse riding, Quad biking, Kite boarding, Sand boarding, worlds highest bungy Jump, Diving/snorkelling and more...

INFORMATION + MAP (click to open/close)

CURRENCY

South Africa’s currency is the rand (R), which is divided into 100 cents. There is no black market. The coins are one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and R1, R2 and R5. The notes are R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. There have been forgeries of the R200 note, and some businesses are reluctant to accept them.

The best currencies to bring are US dollars, euros or British pounds in a mixture of travellers cheques and cash, plus a Visa or MasterCard for withdrawing money from ATMs.

There are ATMs in all cities in South Africa, most of which give cash advances against cards belonging to the Cirrus network.

Credit cards are widely accepted in South Africa, especially MasterCard and Visa. Nedbank is an official Visa agent, and Standard Bank is a MasterCard agent – both have branches across the country.

VISA

Visitors on holiday from most Commonwealth countries (including Australia and the UK), most Western European countries, Japan and the USA don’t require visas. Instead, you’ll be issued with a free entry permit on arrival. These are valid for up to 90 days, and your passport must be valid for at least 30 days after the end of your intended visit. Unless you request otherwise, the immigration officer may use the date of your flight out as the date of your permit expiry. If you aren’t entitled to an entry permit, you’ll need to get a visa (R425 or US$47 or €43) before you arrive. These aren’t issued at the borders, and must be obtained at a South African embassy or consulate, found in most countries. Allow at least a month for processing; for more information, visit the Department of Home Affairs website (www.home-affairs.gov.za).

CLIMATE

South Africa can be visited comfortably any time. However, depending on what you plan to do, it’s worth paying attention to the seasons, which are the reverse of those in the northern hemisphere. Winter (June to September) is cooler, drier and ideal for hiking and outdoor pursuits. Because vegetation is less dense and thirsty animals congregate around rivers and other permanent water sources, winter is also the best time for wildlife-watching. In the eastern highveld, nights are often crisp and clear, with occasional frosts, so come prepared with a jacket.

More of a consideration than weather are school holidays. From mid-December to January, waves of vacation-hungry South Africans stream out of the cities, with visitors from Europe and North America adding to the crush. The absolute peak is from Christmas to mid-January, followed by Easter. At this time, accommodation in tourist areas and national parks is heavily booked, and prices can more than double. If you visit Cape Town, the Garden Route or other popular areas during this time, it’s essential to book accommodation in advance. On the plus side, the high summer months offer some great festivals, including Cape Town’s Kaapse Klopse.

Spring (mid-September to November) and autumn (April and May) are ideal almost everywhere. Spring is also the best time to see vast expanses of the Northern Cape carpeted with wild flowers.

LANGUAGE

There are eleven official languages of South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Fewer than two percent of South Africans speak a first language other than an official one. Most South Africans can speak more than one language. Dutch and English were the first official languages of South Africa from 1910 to 1925. Afrikaans was added as a part of Dutch in 1925, although in practice, Afrikaans effectively replaced Dutch, which fell into disuse. Dutch was replaced by Afrikaans when South Africa became a republic in 1961, and Dutch was dropped in 1984, so between 1984 and 1994, South Africa had two official languages: English and Afrikaans.

HISTORY & POLITICAL

South Africa’s history extends back to around 40,000 BC when the San people first settled Southern Africa. By AD 500, Bantu-speaking peoples had arrived from West Africa’s Niger Delta. Competing colonial European powers began settling here in small numbers from the 17th century, mostly in the Cape. Widespread colonial settlement of South Africa began in the 19th century.

The Republic of South Africa is a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The President of South Africa, serves both as head of state and as head of government - in the same manner as prime ministers of other nations, the President is elected by the National Assembly (the lower house of the South African Parliament) and must enjoy the confidence of the Assembly in order to remain in office. South Africans also elect provincial legislatures which govern each of the country's nine provinces.

Since the end of apartheid in the 1990s the African National Congress (ANC) has dominated South Africa's politics. The ANC is the ruling party in the national legislature, as well as in eight of the nine provinces (Western Cape is governed by the Democratic Alliance).

RELIGION

The major faiths practised in South Africa are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, traditional African religions and Judaism. European and other foreign settlers brought most of these religions. Traditional African religion is very popular and arrived here with our North and West African ancestors. It is often combined with elements of Christianity and Islam. The most important thing is that in the new South Africa religion and spirituality are used to create greater understanding and harmony rather than to divide people as was done in the past.

HEALTH/MEDICAL FACILITIES

The World Health Organization (WHO; www.who.int/en) recommends all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as hepatitis B, regardless of their destination. The consequences of these diseases can be severe, and outbreaks do occur.

The north-eastern areas of the country (including the Kruger National Park and St. Lucia and surrounds) are seasonal malaria zones, from about November to May. The peak danger time is just after the wet season from March to May. Consult a physician regarding appropriate precautions, depending on the time of year you will be travelling.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (www.cdc.gov), the following vaccinations are recommended for South Africa: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid, and boosters for tetanus, diphtheria and measles. Yellow fever is not a risk in the region, but the certificate is an entry requirement if you’re travelling both from an infected region to some of South Africa’s neighbouring countries such as Mozambique.

Hospitals

It is best to avoid public hospitals where possible. Private hospitals (such as the Netcare Group [84] ) are of world class standard.

Pharmacies

The major pharmacy chain found at shopping centres catering to tourists (e.g., Sandton City, V&A Waterfront) is Clicks. Some supermarket chains like Checkers have in-store pharmacies.

South African pharmacies are generally comparable to their counterparts in Europe and North America. However, note that the retail shelves of South African pharmacies tend to have a smaller selection of drugs than their North American counterparts, and a higher amount of dietary supplements. South African pharmacies do carry many OTC drugs, but if you don't see them on the shelf, you'll have to ask for them at the counter when the pharmacist is in.

WATER

Municipal tap water is usually safe to drink. In some area such as Hartebeespoort Dam, it is advisable to boil your water before drinking.

Milk is widely available at most supermarkets, but bottled orange juice not-from-concentrate is much harder to find than in North America. Most South African retailers carry only orange juice reconstituted from concentrate or orange juice blended with other juices or milk.

Soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are widely available. Consider trying popular domestic soft drinks like Appletiser (carbonated apple juice), as well as the unique Creme Soda and Iron Brew produced by Sparletta.

The legal age to purchase and drink alcohol in South Africa is 18. Almost all restaurants are licensed to serve liquor. Electricity South Africa’s electricity supply runs at 220/230V, 50Hz AC. Sockets take unique round-pinned plugs; see http://www.kropla.com for details. Most hotel rooms have sockets that will take 110V electric shavers, but for other appliances US visitors will need an adaptor.

TIPPING

Ten to fifteen percent of the tab is the normal tip at restaurants and for taxis – but don’t feel obliged to tip if service has been shoddy. Keep in mind that many of the people who’ll be serving you rely on tips to supplement a meagre wage on which they support huge extended families. Porters at hotels normally get about R5 per bag. At South African garages and filling stations, someone will always be on hand to fill your vehicle and clean your windscreen, for which you should tip around R5. It is also usual at hotels to leave some money for the person who services your room. Many establishments, especially private game lodges, take (voluntary) communal tips when you check out – by far the fairest system, which ensures that all the low-profile staff behind the scenes get their share.