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Cape Town, the Garden Route & Safari

South Africa

Fully Guided

B&B (+1)

Flights & Transfers

  • Explore South Africa on this 13-night guided group holiday.
  • Discover Cape Town with a city tour & cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain.
  • Savour the flavours of the region on a full day wine tour of local vineyards.
  • Encounter African Penguins on a full day tour of the Cape Peninsula.
  • Walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela on a visit to Robben Island.
  • Drive the scenic “Garden Route” to discover breathtaking scenery, historic towns & unspoilt landscape.
  • Spend 3 days at Kariega Game Reserve encountering animals like hippos, zebras, hyenas & lions.
  • Includes 8 nights on a bed breakfast basis, 3 nights on a full board basis.

Book Your Trip From € 4648 pp

Book your trip from € 3879 pp, from € 4648pp from € 3879pp, add to wishlist, remove from wishlist, view hotels, your guided group holiday to south africa.

Travel with us to encounter local wildlife, unique culture and spectacular scenery on this 13-night guided holiday to South Africa. Our tour begins in Cape Town, where we’ll encounter some of the city’s most famous landmarks including the majestic Table Mountain and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. Next, we’ll visit the stretch of south-eastern coast known as the Garden Route. Staying in characterful towns as we travel, we’ll be treated not only to magnificent coastal views, mountains and lagoons, but also a taste of rural South Africa. Our final stop is Kariega Game Reserve, a family-owned and operated private safari reserve located in South Africa's Eastern Cape. Situated on the Garden Route, the reserve is the perfect place to take game drives in search of the ‘Big Five’ game animals.

Please Note:

Outbound flights to Cape Town will be via Doha, Dubai, Istanbul or Frankfurt and return flights home will depart from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) via Johannesburg then via Doha, Dubai, Istanbul or Frankfurt depending on your chosen dates.

travel department south africa

Trip Itinerary

Busy

Activity Level: Busy

Travel to cape town south africa, depart for cape town.

Depart for Cape Town to enjoy the beauty of South Africa's Garden Route and one of the many highlights of the trip, a Big Five game safari!

Cape Town - We have Arrived!

Discover table mountain and orientation tour.

We have arrived! Let's meet our guide and kick start our holiday with an excursion to the iconic Table Mountain (weather permitting). Take in the spectacular views of the city on the cable car ride up the mountain, stretching to False Bay, including Robben Island and the Devil’s Peak on a clear day. After our excursion to Table Mountain, we enjoy a short orientation tour en-route to our hotel.

Cape Town At Leisure

The rest of the evening is yours to relax and become familiar with your surroundings. Our guide will be happy to tell you of further places to visit in your free time.

Discover Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and a Wine Blending Game

Guided tour of the winelands countryside.

Embark on a picturesque journey through the delightful Winelands countryside. First stop on our full day excursion is the charming town of Stellenbosch. Let's enjoy a short walk through the town centre. Next we take in the beauty of rolling vineyards while sampling some South African wines, and enjoy a game of wine blending. After our wine blending we savour a some lunch (included). Later we experience the town of Franschhoek on a short orientation tour, before making our way back to Cape Town.

Cape Peninsula Tour Including Boulders Beach African Penguins

Full day guided excursion to cape point.

On today’s guided Cape Peninsula excursion, you will be treated to some of the most breath-taking scenery in the world! We drive along the coast route, overlooking the rocky peninsula and take in stunning views of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans along the way. We experience one of the highlights to Cape Point, Boulders Beach for an up close and personal encounter with African Penguins! Discover the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, where the Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias first established trading routes between Africa and Asia in the fifteenth century. En- route to your hotel you will have the opportunity of visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Lunch is included.

We make our way back to Cape Town and enjoy the rest of our evening at leisure.

Robben Island - Transfer to Arniston or Hermanus (pending your chosen date)

Uncover the historic robben island.

Weather permitting; today you will catch the boat from the Victoria & Alfred waterfront out to Robben Island. Located almost 7km off the coast in Table Bay, the island is internationally known as the location where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Today the island is a UNESCO world heritage site and a living museum, welcoming thousands of visitors every year. You will have a guided tour of the island and museum. Afterwards catch the boat back and transfer onwards to your next destination. Please note: your next destination can vary according to your chosen date of departure.

Travel to Arniston

Depart Cape Town and transfer onwards to the tranquil small fishing village of Arniston for the next two nights of your stay, depending on your chosen date of travel. This quaint village is an attraction for artists and photographers, known for its prettiness, rolling sand dunes, blue sea and rugged cliffs. The transfer will take approximately three hours (210km).

Or Travel to Hermanus (Depending on your chosen date)

On certain chosen dates, your itinerary will include two nights in Hermanus. Please enquire with your sales agent for available dates and more details.

Orientation tour of Arniston

2024 Arniston

Today you will have a short panoramic orientation tour of Arniston, to further become familiar with your surroundings. After you will visit Cape Agulhas, included is a stop at the lighthouse, which is situated at the southernmost tip of Africa. The rest of your day is at leisure to further discover this charming little village of Arniston, your guide will advise on places of interest to visit.

2025 Arniston

This morning let's discover Arniston together on an orientation walk. The rest of your day is a free day to embrace the essence of this enchanting seaside destination. Take a leisurely stroll and fully enjoy the refreshing sea breeze. Ask your guide to tell you more insider tips on must-see attractions for you to discover.

Or Hermanus (Depending on your chosen date)

Hermanus 2024:

Today let's discover Hermanus on an orientation tour and a  enjoy a visit to Cape Agulhas. The rest of your day is at leisure, your guide will advise on places of further interest to visit at your own pace.

Hermanus 2025

This morning let's discover Hermanus together on an orientation walk. The rest of your day is a free day to embrace the essence of this enchanting seaside destination. Take a leisurely stroll and fully enjoy the refreshing sea breeze, coastal walks, and small shops. Ask your guide to tell you more insider tips on must-see attractions for you to discover.

Transfer to Knysna via the Garden Route

Take in the beauty of the garden route.

After breakfast transfer from Hermanus or Arniston (depending on your chosen date) along the N2 via Mossel Bay to Knysna, enjoying some of the most scenic landscape in the world along the Garden Route, the journey will take approximately four and a half hours drive to the coastal town of Knysna (364km). This town lies on the Knysna lagoon, the mouth of which is guarded by two promontories known as ‘The Heads’ and is famed, due to the number of sailors who lost their lives sailing through this dangerous stretch. Spend the next two nights of your holiday in Knysna.

Uncover Featherbed Nature Reserve

Guided excursion to the featherbed nature reserve.

Today we visit the Featherbed Nature Reserve, where we make our way by ferry across the Knysna Lagoon. The reserve lies on the unspoilt western head of Knysna, and here you will be driven in a 4x4 to see stunning views and beautiful flora & fauna. Savour a buffet lunch sitting underneath a canopy of Milkwood trees. Also included is the option to take a guided walk through coastal forest and fynbos into ancient sea caves.

Note: Please note your visit to the Featherbed Nature Reserve is subject to weather conditions.  If possible, another attempt will be made and/or an alternative excursion organised.  Our guide will reconfirm the arrangements locally. It is recommended to wear comfortable and supportive shoes during this excursion for the walk.

At Leisure in Knysna

Let's enjoy the rest of our day at leisure to further soak up our surroundings.

Transfer to Port Elizabeth via Tsitsikamma National Park, Forest

See the tsitsikamma national park & forest.

Let's see more as we depart Knysna and make our way to Tsitsikamma, where we experience the dramatic coastal areas of the Garden Route, where the forest meets ocean. Visiting the Tsitsikama National Park, a glorious 10km stretch of wild and rocky coastline characterised by massive cliffs, narrow isolated beaches and shady indigenous forest, composed of Stink Woods and Yellow Woods along the river valleys.

Continue to Port Elizabeth - Gqeberha

After, we make our way towards our hotel in Port Elizabeth where we will spend the night, our journey today will take approximately three and a half hours (261km). Let's check in and enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure, time to relax and unwind.

Transfer to Kariega Game Reserve

Kariega game reserve - we have arrived.

We depart Port Elizabeth and make our way to Kariega Game Reserve approximately two hours journey (144km), where we will spend the next three nights. Kariega is a family-owned and operated private safari reserve located in South Africa's Eastern Cape and is situated along the Garden Route and one of the many highlights on our tour. Make sure to have your camera ready, as animals can appear at any time, not just while on a safari drive!

After lunch at the lodge, you will enjoy your first game drive in the Kariega Game Reserve. The experienced game rangers will try to bring you close to the Big 5 - lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard as well as a multitude of other African wild game and bird species. Have your camera ready and the binoculars polished in anticipation for your game drive.

After the game drive, dinner will be served in the lodge. Enjoy the rest of your evening at leisure. Relax more, and soak up the enchanting African surroundings.

Experience a Game Drive in Kariega Game Reserve

Early morning game drive.

It’s time for safari! You will set off early this morning while it’s still cool and the animals are most active, in an open top four-wheel drive vehicle to explore some of the magnificent 10,000 hectares of Kariega Game Reserve. If you are lucky today, you might witness a lion hunting, or the heart-warming social interactions of an elephant herd.

Afternoon Game Drive

You will return to the lodge for lunch and depart in the afternoon for a second game drive in the reserve. You might be able to see other species such as hippo, hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, eland, kudu, waterbuck and a variety of other antelope, as well as a myriad of bird species including the nesting crowned eagle, martial and fish eagles.

See More on a game drive in Kariega Game Reserve

Another early morning start, this time you will drive through a different area of the park in search of some new species of birds and animals to the ones you saw yesterday.

After enjoying lunch at the lodge, you will enjoy your last game drive in the reserve. This is your last chance to see the big 5 so keep your eyes peeled!

Return Home

Depart south africa.

Today we say farewell and transfer to Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) Airport for your flights home, the journey will take approximately two hours (144km). Check in for your return flight home after enjoying the many memorable highlights South Africa has to offer.

Arrive Home

Arrive home following your once in a lifetime trip to South Africa.

Customer Reviews

Hotels available.

President Hotel

Cape Town   South Africa

President Hotel

Situated in the suburb of Bantry Bay, in the city and by the sea, the President Hotel is a peaceful place just a step away from the buzz of Cape Town’s CBD. Guests can enjoy the endless horizon view …

Arniston Spa Hotel

Arniston   South Africa

Arniston Spa Hotel

Arniston Spa Hotel is set in one of the Cape's most beautiful locations, next to an old fishing village in Arniston, surrounded by pristine beaches and nature reserves.The hotel is ideally located cl…

Premier Hotel Knysna

Knysn   South Africa

Premier Hotel Knysna

Secluded amongst the banks of the Knysna Lagoon and nestled in woodland gardens, this is a pleasant and picturesque hotel. Situated 3 km from Knysna city centre, it is one of the most popular destina…

The Kelway Hotel

Port Elizabeth   South Africa

The Kelway Hotel

Located within walking distance of multiple tourist attractions and the stunning beaches of Port Elizabeth, this hotel is a place for those looking to relax and enjoy their vacation. Built as a timbe…

Kariega Main Lodge

Kariega Game Reserve   South Africa

Kariega Main Lodge

Kariega Game Reserve is a family-owned and operated private safari reserve located in South Africa's Eastern Cape. It incorporates 10,000 hectares of the pristine African wilderness, as well as the K…

Windsor Hotel Hermanus

Hermanus   South Africa

Windsor Hotel Hermanus

The Windsor Hotel is situated in central Hermanus, South Africa. The hotel is close to several attractions including the Whale Museum, the Old Harbour Museum and is also only a few minutes walking di…

Know before you go

Will i be met at the airport.

You will be met on arrival at your destination airport and transferred to your accommodation. You will be accompanied on all included excursions by your Travel Department guide. Your expert local guide is also available to give you tips and advice on any aspect of your holiday.

Do I need a Visa?

Please visit our visa page for information on requirements for each country's entry requirements

What if there is an emergency?

We have local representatives in all of our destinations who are available 24/7 as well as an emergency contact number for our offices in Ireland should you ever need it.

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Inspiration by Country

Highlights of our south african holidays.

  • Travel Department
  • 30 June 2022

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Special Interests Inspiration by Country

7 worldwide wonders for your travel wishlist.

Are you looking for some travel inspiration for your holidays? Travel has never been more accessible and now is the time to experience some of the most iconic attractions in the world.

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Inspiration by Country Special Interests

Top tips for handling a long haul flight.

Check out our top tips for handling a long-haul flight.

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South Africa Traveler View

Travel health notices, vaccines and medicines, non-vaccine-preventable diseases, stay healthy and safe.

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After Your Trip

Map - South Africa

There are no notices currently in effect for South Africa.

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Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor at least a month before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need. If you or your doctor need help finding a location that provides certain vaccines or medicines, visit the Find a Clinic page.

Routine vaccines

Recommendations.

Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines before every trip. Some of these vaccines include

  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)

Immunization schedules

All eligible travelers should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Please see  Your COVID-19 Vaccination  for more information. 

COVID-19 vaccine

Active cholera transmission is  widespread  in South Africa. Cholera is rare in travelers.  Certain factors  may increase the risk of getting cholera or having severe disease ( more information ). Avoiding unsafe food and water and washing your hands can also help prevent cholera.

Vaccination may be considered for children and adults who are traveling to areas of active cholera transmission. The following areas do not have active cholera transmission: Cape Town, Durban, Kruger National Park, and Port Elizabeth.

Cholera - CDC Yellow Book

Hepatitis A

Recommended for unvaccinated travelers one year old or older going to South Africa.

Infants 6 to 11 months old should also be vaccinated against Hepatitis A. The dose does not count toward the routine 2-dose series.

Travelers allergic to a vaccine component or who are younger than 6 months should receive a single dose of immune globulin, which provides effective protection for up to 2 months depending on dosage given.

Unvaccinated travelers who are over 40 years old, immunocompromised, or have chronic medical conditions planning to depart to a risk area in less than 2 weeks should get the initial dose of vaccine and at the same appointment receive immune globulin.

Hepatitis A - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Hep A

Hepatitis B

Recommended for unvaccinated travelers younger than 60 years old traveling to South Africa. Unvaccinated travelers 60 years and older may get vaccinated before traveling to South Africa.

Hepatitis B - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Hep B

CDC recommends that travelers going to certain areas of South Africa take prescription medicine to prevent malaria. Depending on the medicine you take, you will need to start taking this medicine multiple days before your trip, as well as during and after your trip. Talk to your doctor about which malaria medication you should take.

Find  country-specific information  about malaria.

Malaria - CDC Yellow Book

Considerations when choosing a drug for malaria prophylaxis (CDC Yellow Book)

Malaria information for South Africa.

Cases of measles are on the rise worldwide. Travelers are at risk of measles if they have not been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to departure, or have not had measles in the past, and travel internationally to areas where measles is spreading.

All international travelers should be fully vaccinated against measles with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, including an early dose for infants 6–11 months, according to  CDC’s measles vaccination recommendations for international travel .

Measles (Rubeola) - CDC Yellow Book

Rabid dogs are commonly found in South Africa. If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other mammal while in South Africa, there may be limited or no rabies treatment available. 

Consider rabies vaccination before your trip if your activities mean you will be around dogs or wildlife.

Travelers more likely to encounter rabid animals include

  • Campers, adventure travelers, or cave explorers (spelunkers)
  • Veterinarians, animal handlers, field biologists, or laboratory workers handling animal specimens
  • Visitors to rural areas

Since children are more likely to be bitten or scratched by a dog or other animals, consider rabies vaccination for children traveling to South Africa. 

Rabies - CDC Yellow Book

Recommended for most travelers, especially those staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities or rural areas.

Typhoid - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Typhoid

Yellow Fever

Required for travelers ≥1 year old arriving from countries with risk for YF virus transmission; this includes >12-hour airport transits or layovers in countries with risk for YF virus transmission. 1

Yellow Fever - CDC Yellow Book

  • Avoid contaminated water

Leptospirosis

How most people get sick (most common modes of transmission)

  • Touching urine or other body fluids from an animal infected with leptospirosis
  • Swimming or wading in urine-contaminated fresh water, or contact with urine-contaminated mud
  • Drinking water or eating food contaminated with animal urine
  • Avoid contaminated water and soil

Clinical Guidance

Schistosomiasis

  • Wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in contaminated freshwater streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, or untreated pools.

Avoid bug bites

African tick-bite fever.

  • Avoid Bug Bites

African Tick-bite fever

Chikungunya

  • Mosquito bite

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever

  • Tick bite 
  • Touching the body fluids of a person or animal infected with CCHF
  • Avoid animals

Rift Valley Fever

  • Touching blood, body fluids, or tissue of infected livestock
  • Mosquito bite

Rift Valley fever

Airborne & droplet

Avian/bird flu.

  • Being around, touching, or working with infected poultry, such as visiting poultry farms or live-animal markets
  • Avoid domestic and wild poultry
  • Breathing in air or accidentally eating food contaminated with the urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents
  • Bite from an infected rodent
  • Less commonly, being around someone sick with hantavirus (only occurs with Andes virus)
  • Avoid rodents and areas where they live
  • Avoid sick people

Tuberculosis (TB)

  • Breathe in TB bacteria that is in the air from an infected and contagious person coughing, speaking, or singing.

Learn actions you can take to stay healthy and safe on your trip. Vaccines cannot protect you from many diseases in South Africa, so your behaviors are important.

Eat and drink safely

Food and water standards around the world vary based on the destination. Standards may also differ within a country and risk may change depending on activity type (e.g., hiking versus business trip). You can learn more about safe food and drink choices when traveling by accessing the resources below.

  • Choose Safe Food and Drinks When Traveling
  • Water Treatment Options When Hiking, Camping or Traveling
  • Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene | Healthy Water
  • Avoid Contaminated Water During Travel

You can also visit the Department of State Country Information Pages for additional information about food and water safety.

Prevent bug bites

Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in South Africa. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. You can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.

What can I do to prevent bug bites?

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent (see below).
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
  • Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

What type of insect repellent should I use?

  • FOR PROTECTION AGAINST TICKS AND MOSQUITOES: Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours.
  • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone
  • Always use insect repellent as directed.

What should I do if I am bitten by bugs?

  • Avoid scratching bug bites, and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce the itching.
  • Check your entire body for ticks after outdoor activity. Be sure to remove ticks properly.

What can I do to avoid bed bugs?

Although bed bugs do not carry disease, they are an annoyance. See our information page about avoiding bug bites for some easy tips to avoid them. For more information on bed bugs, see Bed Bugs .

For more detailed information on avoiding bug bites, see Avoid Bug Bites .

Stay safe outdoors

If your travel plans in South Africa include outdoor activities, take these steps to stay safe and healthy during your trip.

  • Stay alert to changing weather conditions and adjust your plans if conditions become unsafe.
  • Prepare for activities by wearing the right clothes and packing protective items, such as bug spray, sunscreen, and a basic first aid kit.
  • Consider learning basic first aid and CPR before travel. Bring a travel health kit with items appropriate for your activities.
  • If you are outside for many hours in heat, eat salty snacks and drink water to stay hydrated and replace salt lost through sweating.
  • Protect yourself from UV radiation : use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during the hottest time of day (10 a.m.–4 p.m.).
  • Be especially careful during summer months and at high elevation. Because sunlight reflects off snow, sand, and water, sun exposure may be increased during activities like skiing, swimming, and sailing.
  • Very cold temperatures can be dangerous. Dress in layers and cover heads, hands, and feet properly if you are visiting a cold location.

Stay safe around water

  • Swim only in designated swimming areas. Obey lifeguards and warning flags on beaches.
  • Practice safe boating—follow all boating safety laws, do not drink alcohol if driving a boat, and always wear a life jacket.
  • Do not dive into shallow water.
  • Do not swim in freshwater in developing areas or where sanitation is poor.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming. Untreated water can carry germs that make you sick.
  • To prevent infections, wear shoes on beaches where there may be animal waste.

Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection that can be spread in fresh water, is found in South Africa. Avoid swimming in fresh, unchlorinated water, such as lakes, ponds, or rivers.

Keep away from animals

Most animals avoid people, but they may attack if they feel threatened, are protecting their young or territory, or if they are injured or ill. Animal bites and scratches can lead to serious diseases such as rabies.

Follow these tips to protect yourself:

  • Do not touch or feed any animals you do not know.
  • Do not allow animals to lick open wounds, and do not get animal saliva in your eyes or mouth.
  • Avoid rodents and their urine and feces.
  • Traveling pets should be supervised closely and not allowed to come in contact with local animals.
  • If you wake in a room with a bat, seek medical care immediately. Bat bites may be hard to see.

All animals can pose a threat, but be extra careful around dogs, bats, monkeys, sea animals such as jellyfish, and snakes. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, immediately:

  • Wash the wound with soap and clean water.
  • Go to a doctor right away.
  • Tell your doctor about your injury when you get back to the United States.

Consider buying medical evacuation insurance. Rabies is a deadly disease that must be treated quickly, and treatment may not be available in some countries.

Reduce your exposure to germs

Follow these tips to avoid getting sick or spreading illness to others while traveling:

  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home or in your hotel room, unless you need medical care.

Avoid sharing body fluids

Diseases can be spread through body fluids, such as saliva, blood, vomit, and semen.

Protect yourself:

  • Use latex condoms correctly.
  • Do not inject drugs.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
  • Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture.
  • If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sanitized.

Know how to get medical care while traveling

Plan for how you will get health care during your trip, should the need arise:

  • Carry a list of local doctors and hospitals at your destination.
  • Review your health insurance plan to determine what medical services it would cover during your trip. Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
  • Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, your blood type, chronic conditions or serious allergies, and the generic names of any medications you take.
  • Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call South Africa’s embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.
  • Bring all the medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) you think you might need during your trip, including extra in case of travel delays. Ask your doctor to help you get prescriptions filled early if you need to.

Many foreign hospitals and clinics are accredited by the Joint Commission International. A list of accredited facilities is available at their website ( www.jointcommissioninternational.org ).

In some countries, medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) may be substandard or counterfeit. Bring the medicines you will need from the United States to avoid having to buy them at your destination.

Malaria is a risk in some parts of South Africa. If you are going to a risk area, fill your malaria prescription before you leave, and take enough with you for the entire length of your trip. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the pills; some need to be started before you leave.

Select safe transportation

Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries.

In many places cars, buses, large trucks, rickshaws, bikes, people on foot, and even animals share the same lanes of traffic, increasing the risk for crashes.

Be smart when you are traveling on foot.

  • Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks.
  • Pay attention to the traffic around you, especially in crowded areas.
  • Remember, people on foot do not always have the right of way in other countries.

Riding/Driving

Choose a safe vehicle.

  • Choose official taxis or public transportation, such as trains and buses.
  • Ride only in cars that have seatbelts.
  • Avoid overcrowded, overloaded, top-heavy buses and minivans.
  • Avoid riding on motorcycles or motorbikes, especially motorbike taxis. (Many crashes are caused by inexperienced motorbike drivers.)
  • Choose newer vehicles—they may have more safety features, such as airbags, and be more reliable.
  • Choose larger vehicles, which may provide more protection in crashes.

Think about the driver.

  • Do not drive after drinking alcohol or ride with someone who has been drinking.
  • Consider hiring a licensed, trained driver familiar with the area.
  • Arrange payment before departing.

Follow basic safety tips.

  • Wear a seatbelt at all times.
  • Sit in the back seat of cars and taxis.
  • When on motorbikes or bicycles, always wear a helmet. (Bring a helmet from home, if needed.)
  • Avoid driving at night; street lighting in certain parts of South Africa may be poor.
  • Do not use a cell phone or text while driving (illegal in many countries).
  • Travel during daylight hours only, especially in rural areas.
  • If you choose to drive a vehicle in South Africa, learn the local traffic laws and have the proper paperwork.
  • Get any driving permits and insurance you may need. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Carry the IDP and a US-issued driver's license at all times.
  • Check with your auto insurance policy's international coverage, and get more coverage if needed. Make sure you have liability insurance.
  • Avoid using local, unscheduled aircraft.
  • If possible, fly on larger planes (more than 30 seats); larger airplanes are more likely to have regular safety inspections.
  • Try to schedule flights during daylight hours and in good weather.

Medical Evacuation Insurance

If you are seriously injured, emergency care may not be available or may not meet US standards. Trauma care centers are uncommon outside urban areas. Having medical evacuation insurance can be helpful for these reasons.

Helpful Resources

Road Safety Overseas (Information from the US Department of State): Includes tips on driving in other countries, International Driving Permits, auto insurance, and other resources.

The Association for International Road Travel has country-specific Road Travel Reports available for most countries for a minimal fee.

For information traffic safety and road conditions in South Africa, see Travel and Transportation on US Department of State's country-specific information for South Africa .

Traffic flows on the left side of the road in South Africa.

  • Always pay close attention to the flow of traffic, especially when crossing the street.
  • LOOK RIGHT for approaching traffic.

Maintain personal security

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home, and always stay alert and aware of your surroundings.

Before you leave

  • Research your destination(s), including local laws, customs, and culture.
  • Monitor travel advisories and alerts and read travel tips from the US Department of State.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) .
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home.
  • Pack as light as possible, and leave at home any item you could not replace.

While at your destination(s)

  • Carry contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate .
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
  • Follow all local laws and social customs.
  • Do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry.
  • Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
  • If possible, choose hotel rooms between the 2nd and 6th floors.

Healthy Travel Packing List

Use the Healthy Travel Packing List for South Africa for a list of health-related items to consider packing for your trip. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you.

Why does CDC recommend packing these health-related items?

It’s best to be prepared to prevent and treat common illnesses and injuries. Some supplies and medicines may be difficult to find at your destination, may have different names, or may have different ingredients than what you normally use.

If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic . Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.

If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home. If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.

Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history.

For more information on what to do if you are sick after your trip, see Getting Sick after Travel .

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Apply for a visa

If you want to visit South Africa, you must produce a valid visa before you can enter into the country. A visa will be issued for a visit for tourism or business purposes and is valid for a period of 90 days.

Some countries are exempted from visa control, which means that citizens from those countries do not need a visa to visit South Africa.

Visas are not issued at South African ports of entry, and airline officials must insist on visas before allowing passengers to board. If you arrive without a visa, immigration officials are obliged to put you onto a flight back to your home country. Depending on your intended visit, you can apply for a Visitor’s Visa or a Transit Visa. Find out more about the:

  • requirements for a visa
  • types of visas
  • countries exempt from South African visas

or contact the Department of Home Affairs .

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South Africa Travel Advisory

Travel advisory february 5, 2024, south africa - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Updated to reflect safety consideration when using GPS navigation. 

Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to  crime  and  civil unrest . 

Country Summary:   Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and "smash-and-grab" attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark.

Using GPS navigation can lead to unsafe routes. GPS navigation may suggest shortcuts through townships as the quickest preferred route but can lead to increased risks of crime.

There have been incidents in which tourists traveling in Cape Town while using GPS navigation apps have been routed through residential areas with high rates of violent crime. The safest approach to return a rental car to Cape Town International Airport is to take the N2 highway and follow signs to Airport Approach Rd ( exit 16 ). Alternatively, request the rental car company to collect your vehicle and subsequently arrange an airport transfer from established taxi companies or established ridesharing services to reach the airport.

Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events have the potential to turn violent. 

Please see our  Alerts  for up-to-date information. 

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to South Africa. 

 If you decide to travel to South Africa: 

  • Research your route in advance, stay on major highways, avoid shortcuts through townships, and avoid reliance on GPS navigation apps.
  • Avoid walking alone, especially after dark. 
  • Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area. 
  • Do not display cash or valuables. 
  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed. 
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location. 
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program  ( STEP ) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter . 
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for South Africa. 
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist . 
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest  Travel Health Information  related to your travel. 

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COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

South Africa travel advice

Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)

Last updated: March 13, 2024 14:10 ET

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Safety and security, entry and exit requirements, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate, south africa - exercise a high degree of caution.

Exercise a high degree of caution in South Africa due to the significant level of serious crime.

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Nationwide power shortages or rolling blackouts, referred to as load shedding, are still occurring regularly. They are occurring numerous times a day and for multiple-hour stretches. They are expected to continue through 2023 and into 2024.  

Though the potential for a nationwide blackout is low, the associated risks are high, including a nationwide loss of power for days or weeks.

South Africa has already experienced blackouts for up to 12 hours in a 24 hour period. Increased demand for power during the coldest winter months of June and July means that blackouts could last longer. Expect a dark and cold winter.

An official schedule of the planned blackouts provides advance notice of the shortages. However, they can also occur with very little notice. 

Blackouts could increase the risk of criminal activity in affected areas, which could in turn lead to opportunistic theft and prolonged outages.

Blackouts can affect the following services and businesses:

  • telecommunications and security systems
  • stores and food supply
  • hotels and other accommodations
  • banks and ATMs
  • gas stations
  • public lighting and traffic lights

Interruptions to water supply occur occasionally and can be lengthy in some areas, causing considerable inconvenience.

If you’re in South Africa:

  • be prepared for extended power outages
  • make sure you always have a complete emergency kit on hand, including several flashlights
  • always carry a cell phone, power banks, chargers and a list of emergency numbers handy 
  • keep a sufficient supply of water, food, medication and fuel on hand for several days
  • keep your travel documents up-to-date
  • monitor local media
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

Useful links

  • List of planned blackouts  - Eskom, South African electricity public utility
  • Get Prepared - basic emergency kit

Violent crime

South Africa has a very high level of crime. Crime is the primary security threat to travellers.

Violent crimes, including rape and murder, occur frequently and have involved foreigners.

Muggings, armed assaults and theft are also frequent, often occurring in areas that are popular among tourists. Carjackings, robbery and assault also occur.

Armed robberies at shopping malls occur. To minimize the risk of personal assault if confronted by an armed individual:

  • immediately comply
  • avoid making sudden movements
  • avoid resisting or antagonizing the assailants
  • avoid eye contact with your assailant

Crime significantly increases after dark in major city centres and townships. After dark, avoid the areas of:

  • Hillbrow and Yeoville in Johannesburg
  • Sunnyside in Pretoria
  • the beachfront and Victoria wharf in Durban
  • Cape Town downtown hotels to the waterfront

Crimes of opportunity

There is a high risk of pickpocketing. You should not carry your wallet in your back pocket.

Do not show signs of affluence, display money or carry valuables such as laptop computers or cameras.

When at restaurants or bars, do not leave your bag under your chair or table or hung over the back of a chair; keep it on your lap.

Ensure that all your bags’ zippers, straps and fasteners are closed and secure, and be aware of people behind and around you.

Criminals are known to target people who appear distracted and are not paying attention to their immediate surroundings.

If you believe that you are being followed, go directly to a police station.

Crime in and around airports

Passengers have been followed upon arrival at airports and then robbed either on their way to or once they arrived at their final destination. There are also reports of theft from checked luggage.

Some areas around Cape Town International Airport are less secure. There are reports of an increased risk of attack on secondary roads near the airport.

When travelling to and from an airport:

  • stay on highways and main roads
  • avoid shortcuts
  • if you are using a GPS, make sure that the itinerary avoid townships and secondary roads
  • plan your trip in advance and verify your travel itinerary with a trusted local source
  • consider arranging an airport transfer

On the road

Be vigilant at vulnerable points such as:

  • traffic lights
  • yield signs
  • highway off-ramps

Smash and grab incidents are frequent. This is when car windows are broken and valuables such as handbags are taken while cars are waiting at junctions.

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Do not pick up strangers
  • Ensure that vehicle doors are locked and windows are closed at all times

Hotel theft

Theft from hotel rooms and guest houses is common. Never leave your windows or doors open or unlocked, even when you are present.

  • Check the level of security at guest houses, hotels, lodges, backpacker lodges or any accommodation before making bookings
  • Don’t leave luggage and valuables unattended; place them in safekeeping facilities
  • Don’t open the door to anyone without taking necessary precautions. If someone claims to be a member of staff, verify with the reception prior to opening the door

Police officer impersonation

Criminals may pose as police officers to extort or rob tourists. There are reports that criminals use fake IDs and flashing blue lights to stop cars with the intent to rob the passengers or steal the vehicle. 

If you face this situation:

  • do not stop your vehicle
  • put on your hazard lights and continue to the nearest police station or secure location

There is a threat of kidnapping across South Africa. Foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the past. Kidnappings are generally for financial gain or motivated by criminality.

Scammers could kidnap you to extort money from your loved ones in exchange for your release.

  • Be wary of online romance, employment and money scams
  • Never accept an invitation to travel to an unfamiliar location
  • If you think you've been scammed, do not travel overseas to get your money back

Demonstrations

Demonstrations can occur anywhere across the country and sometimes on short notice. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in South Africa. Do not give personal or financial account information to anyone.

Don’t attempt to use ATMs that appear damaged or defective, or are in isolated or poorly lit areas. Don’t accept any offer of assistance with your transaction. If suspicious at any time, cancel your transaction and use another ATM.

  • Pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • Use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • Avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • Cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • Check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Overseas fraud

Reserves and hiking trails

There have been attacks on hikers and tourists at reserves, hiking trails, including Table Mountain, Lions’ Head, Signal Hill and other tourist attractions and their parking lots.

Avoid the Numbi Gate entrance to the Kruger National Park, as well as the R538 road leading to it due to an increase in criminal activity in the area, including the murder of a foreign national in October 2022.

  • Hike in groups and take all appropriate precautions
  • Avoid isolated picnic areas and beaches
  • Don’t stop at deserted roadside resting places on national roads

Spiked food and drink

There have been incidents of food or drink being drugged and tourists robbed when unconscious.

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Individuals who may be inspired by terrorist groups may carry out “lone actor” attacks targeting public places, including where foreigners gather.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

South African authorities have successfully disrupted planned attacks and made arrests related to terrorism offences. Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.

Regional unrest

Xenophobic attacks, primarily targeting refugees or immigrants from other African nations, related demonstrations, looting and outbreaks of violence occur. This type of unrest could occur in any region of the country and with little warning.

Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities at all times.

Townships and rural areas

Avoid townships and informal settlements if you are unfamiliar with them, except when travelling with organized tours provided by a reputable company or in association with an experienced local organization.

Wildlife viewing

Wildlife viewing poses risks, particularly on foot or at close range. Be aware of the threat of monkeys and baboons overwhelming sightseers in their search for food. They are known to get very aggressive.

  • Always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife
  • Only exit a vehicle when a professional guide or warden says it’s safe to do so
  • Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators
  • Closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice

Water activities

Coastal waters have unpredictable wave and currents patterns, which can be dangerous. Shark attacks have been reported in several areas, including in KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.

  • Follow the advice and warnings of local authorities
  • Be cautious when swimming in lakes and rivers because of the risk posed by wildlife

Water safety abroad

Telecommunications

Cellular phone reception is generally good in major towns and cities but can be intermittent in rural areas. Extended periods of rolling blackouts are impacting internet connectivity and cell phone networks.

Always carry a cellular phone in the event of an emergency. If using your own phone, ensure that it has international/roaming capability for use while in South Africa.

Road safety

Fatal road accidents are common in South Africa.  Accidents occur especially in wet conditions, as roads can be very slippery. Traffic lights are frequently out of order. GPS navigation systems may suggest the most direct route but not the safest.

  • Observe the recommended following distances
  • Avoid undertaking overland travel after dark
  • Treat all intersections with malfunctioning traffic lights as a four-way stop
  • Verify your travel itinerary with a trusted local source, such as your hotel, your travel agent or local police, before driving

Road conditions

Driving can be dangerous due to:

  • insufficient lighting
  • pedestrians crossing major highways
  • wild animals and stray livestock on the road

Driving habits

Drivers do not always respect traffic laws, especially at night. Drivers often drive at excess speed and ignore traffic signs. Drinking and driving is common.

Drivers are often aggressive toward pedestrians and fail to yield the right of way even on marked crosswalks.

Travel on foot is inadvisable in most areas. If walking is unavoidable, use only brightly lit, busy streets in popular tourist areas and maintain awareness of your surroundings.

If you choose to drive in South Africa:

  • always drive defensively
  • plan your trip in advance, especially if you are visiting a rural area
  • avoid travelling after dark
  • choose a vehicle with a robust central locking system, lockable fuel tank cap and vehicle alarm
  • use a reliable rental company offering 24-hour emergency service and ensure that you have the contact details for the service

Public transportation

Avoid using public transportation.

Tourists have been mugged and assaulted in and around bus stations. Avoid the central bus station in Johannesburg.

Train services are slow and several serious accidents in recent years have raised concerns over safety standards.

Violent attacks have occurred on commuter and metro trains between Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as on commuter trains in Cape Town. Don’t travel by train, especially second or third class.

The Gautrain between O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as the Blue Train and Rovos Rail, are, however, safe for tourists.

Taxis cannot be hailed in the street. Ask your hotel to arrange a taxi and ensure that you prearrange transport for your return journey.

Sit in the rear of the vehicle and keep windows up and doors locked at all times. Keep valuables out of sight and place bags by your feet. Negotiate the fare with the driver in advance. Avoid using minibuses and unlicensed taxis.

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from South African authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the  Foreign Representatives in Canada .

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

You may also be denied boarding at the point of departure if you don’t have enough blank pages for the visa. If you plan to visit neighbouring countries and return to South Africa, ensure that there are sufficient visa pages in your passport for those countries’ visas and those of South Africa.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

  • Foreign Representatives in Canada
  • Canadian passports

Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 90 days Business visa: not required for stays up to 90 days Student permit: required Employment permit: required

Canadians don't need a tourist visa to enter South Africa. However, upon arrival, immigration officials will issue a temporary residents visa (TRV) for up to 90 days. Check the expiry date of your TRV to ensure you don’t overstay.

If you overstay without authority, you may be forced to pay a fine upon departure and/or can be refused entry for up to 5 years.

Serious offenders may be arrested before departure and detained until their court appearance. In such cases, visitors may face a very substantial fine and be deported at their own expense.

South African visas - South African Department of Home Affairs

Changing or extending your visa

Some foreigners travelling to South Africa have not gone through the correct channels to obtain, change or extend their relevant visas. This has resulted in arrest and detention due to fraudulently issued visas.

While in South Africa, you must go through regional or district offices of the South African Department of Home Affairs for information on visa requirements and issuance.

Regional travel

If you leave and re-enter South Africa, even for a short time, you will not automatically be given an additional 90-day visitor’s visa. An immigration official can deny you re-entry into South Africa. The immigration officer can also allow you to enter for a limited time only.

If you wish to extend your stay, contact the South African Department of Home Affairs 60 days before your visitor’s visa expires.

South African Department of Home Affairs contact information

Work or study

If you intend to work or study in South Africa, you must apply for the relevant visas prior to your arrival; otherwise, you risk being refused entry and may be returned to your point of origin. You cannot change the type of visa once in South Africa.

Other entry requirements

You must be in possession of a return or an onward ticket. Without one, you may be required to deposit the equivalent of a fare home with customs. The money will be refunded after departure from South Africa.

Residence permit

If you reside in South Africa, you must have valid residence permit in your passport each time you enter and leave the country.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizens must enter or depart South Africa using their South African passport only.

For further information on dual citizenship, contact the High Commission for the Republic of South Africa in Ottawa.

Children and travel

Minors traveling to and from South Africa must have a valid passport and may be subject to additional requirements.

You must produce a long form birth certificate when travelling with children under the age of 18 to neighbouring countries. The long form birth certificate must be in English or translated into English.

Contact the nearest South African mission abroad or visit the South African Department of Home Affairs website, before travelling, to verify the latest requirements.

  • Entry regulations when travelling with children  - South African Department of Home Affairs
  • Travelling with children

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Relevant Travel Health Notices

  • Global Measles Notice - 13 March, 2024
  • COVID-19 and International Travel - 13 March, 2024

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your  routine vaccinations , as per your province or territory , are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Yellow fever   is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country   where yellow fever occurs.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • Contact a designated  Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre  well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada * It is important to note that  country entry requirements  may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest  diplomatic or consular office  of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

Practise  safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

  Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Malaria  is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.   There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination. 

Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving.    Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times:  • Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin.  • Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows. • Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area.  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing.    If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living. 

In this destination, rabies is commonly carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions , including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. In this destination, rabies treatment may be limited or may not be available, therefore you may need to return to Canada for treatment.  

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Typhoid   is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

There is a risk of schistosomiasis in this destination. Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by tiny worms (blood flukes) which can be found in freshwater (lakes, rivers, ponds, and wetlands). The worms can break the skin, and their eggs can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, or urinary problems. Schistosomiasis mostly affects underdeveloped and r ural communities, particularly agricultural and fishing communities.

Most travellers are at low risk. Travellers should avoid contact with untreated freshwater such as lakes, rivers, and ponds (e.g., swimming, bathing, wading, ingesting). There is no vaccine or medication available to prevent infection.

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a country.  Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that can cause fever, pain and bleeding under the skin.  In some cases, it can be fatal.  It spreads to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, or from the bite of an infected tick.  Risk is generally low for most travellers.  Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock.  There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

Rift Valley fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can be fatal. It is spread to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, from the bite of an infected mosquito, or eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from insect bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock, and unpasteurized dairy. There is no vaccine available for Rift Valley fever.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette , which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •   washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) , HIV , and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)   is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities and supplies are widely available in large cities but can be expensive. Medical facilities are limited in remote areas.

Public and private health facilities require an up-front cash deposit for services, guarantee of payment or confirmation of medical insurance before commencing treatment.

Air evacuation may be the only option when faced with a medical emergency in remote areas.

Decompression chambers are available in many hospitals.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a   travel health kit , especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad .

Penalties for using, importing or exporting drugs are severe and may include lengthy imprisonment.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

You may not import or take in-transit any firearm or ammunition without a temporary export and import or in-transit permit issued by the South African Police Service. 

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in South Africa.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of South Africa, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements .

Travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and South Africa.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in South Africa, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the South African court.

If you are in this situation:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in South Africa to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

  • List of Canadian Central Authorities for the Hague Convention
  • International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
  • The Hague Convention - Hague Conference on Private International Law
  • Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
  • Emergency Watch and Response Centre

Traffic drives on the left.

You may use your valid Canadian provincial driver’s licence in South Africa, however, an international driving permit (IDP) is strongly recommended.

It is extremely difficult to obtain car insurance for car rentals or to purchase a car without an IDP. Insurance companies and rental car agencies often require proof of a South African driver’s licence or an IDP to honour an insurance claim, even when such proof was not requested at the time the policy was secured. An IDP must be obtained in Canada before travelling to South Africa, as it cannot be obtained locally.

If your licence is in French, it is advisable to obtain a translation into English and carry it with you.

Foreigners driving a rental car across any border into neighbouring countries must obtain a permit from the Cross-border Road Transport Agency prior to arriving at the border crossing. Failure to do so may lead to arrest and/or a fine.

It is illegal to carry gasoline in portable containers.

  • Obtain a permit  - Cross-border Road Transport Agency
  • International Driving Permit

The currency is the South African rand (ZAR).

Canadian currency can be easily exchanged at major banks and foreign exchange counters. A passport and additional identification is required when undertaking foreign exchange transactions.

Foreigners are permitted to enter South Africa carrying a maximum of ZAR100,000, or US$10,000 or its equivalent in foreign currencies. Customs forms are not required to be completed, but random customs checks are conducted.

Rain Storms

The climate varies from region to region. Storms and flooding can occur throughout the country and at various times of the year. Flash storms can occur in Gauteng and North West provinces from November to April. There are heavy rains along the south coast from June to September and the Western Cape receives heavy rainfall between May and September. Dirt roads can become hazardous during these periods. After heavy rains, do not attempt to cross low-lying river bridges by car or on foot, as there have been fatalities linked to people being washed down river. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

Veld (bush) fires are common during dry seasons. They are very unpredictable and extremely dangerous. They can spread very quickly and travel at speeds of 60 km/h or more, due to high winds. Stay clear of active fires and always verify local conditions with relevant authorities before going on bush walks, particularly during the dry seasons.

The Western Cape Province, including Cape Town, can experience periods of prolonged drought. Local authorities may impose water use restrictions. You could be fined if you do not comply with these restrictions.

Useful links:

  • Information on water restrictions  – City of Cape Town
  • Water restrictions explained –City of Cape Town  

Local services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 10111 or 10112 from a cellular telephone
  • medical assistance: 10177
  • firefighters: 10111 or 10112 from a cellular telephone

Consular assistance

South Africa, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia

For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in South Africa, in Pretoria, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services .

Risk Levels

  take normal security precautions.

Take similar precautions to those you would take in Canada.

  Exercise a high degree of caution

There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

IMPORTANT: The two levels below are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are issued when the safety and security of Canadians travelling or living in the country or region may be at risk.

  Avoid non-essential travel

Your safety and security could be at risk. You should think about your need to travel to this country, territory or region based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with the region, and other factors. If you are already there, think about whether you really need to be there. If you do not need to be there, you should think about leaving.

  Avoid all travel

You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk. If you are already there, you should think about leaving if it is safe to do so.

Welcome to the Department of International Relations & Cooperation

travel department south africa

Advice for South African citizens travelling abroad

When travelling abroad South Africans should take time to learn about the financial, political, cultural and economic environment of their intended destination. Learn at least a few key phrases in the host country’s language. Even a modest command of the local language will go a long way. When travelling abroad the laws of the foreign country apply to everybody. South Africans are not exempt from the law of the host country and cannot expect special treatment.

Find out about the destination, paying particular attention to issues of personal security, safety, health, immigration, customs and import regulations.

South Africans are encouraged to have the contact details of the nearest  South African Representative office and to carry contact details of their next of kin at all times. 

A combination of your South African passport and RSA identity document are the best proof of your South African citizenship. Anyone who intends travelling abroad should have a valid passport.   If you do not have a passport, apply for it well in advance at all regional offices of the Department of Home Affairs.

Passport application forms are available at all regional offices of the Department of Home Affairs countrywide and at  South African Representative  abroad. If your passport is due to expire within the next six months or has less than two blank pages, check with the foreign embassy or consulate of the country of your intended destination in South Africa for its rules and restrictions regarding passport validity and expiry.

If you have any questions about passports, you can either contact the  Department of Home Affairs  in Pretoria at telephone +27 12 395 4307 (from abroad) or 0800 60 11 90 within South Africa or the Home Affairs Contact Centre via e-mail on  [email protected] ,  or any regional office of the Department of Home Affairs.

Keep certified copies of your passport (including the visa pages) with you for identification purposes. Do not keep the passport and the copies in the same place. An additional precaution is to leave a copy with a relative or friend at home.

If your passport is lost or stolen while you are travelling abroad, report the loss/theft immediately to the local law enforcement agency (e.g. police station). Take a copy of the police report to the nearest South African High Commission, Embassy or Consulate-General where you will apply for an emergency travel document. There is a fee attached to the application for an emergency travel document.

Please note that all passport applications are forwarded to the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa for processing and issuance of new passports. The waiting period to receive a new passport abroad can be several months. In emergency situations the South African Diplomatic or Consular Mission is in a position to issue you with an Emergency Travel Certificate, which will allow you only to travel directly back to South Africa.

In order to apply for a new Passport, or an Emergency Travel Certificate, you must:

  • Complete an application form.
  • Be finger-printed.
  • Produce written evidence of your South African citizenship (e.g. a birth certificate, identity document, certified copy of passport, driver’s license). Where available.
  • Provide a copy of the police report. (in the event of loss or theft)
  • Present two photographs.
  • Pay the prescribed fee (as determined by the Department of Home Affairs).

A South African passport remains the property of the Government of South Africa and may only be used by the person to whom it is issued. Selling your passport or permitting any other individual or agency to use it may lead to criminal prosecution and is considered sufficient cause to revoke the passport and refuse future passport services. In cases where employers insist to “safe keep” passports, please report it immediately to the nearest South African Diplomatic/Consular office.

Please note : It is the responsibility of travellers to ensure that they are in possession of the required valid passports and other required documents, issued by the Department of Home Affairs,  before  departure . As a foreigner in a foreign country, you should always have your South African Passport (with the required visa/study/work/residence permit) with you.

The DIRCO will not intervene on behalf of travellers  before  their departure from South Africa, on matters relating to the  issuance of new RSA passports, the renewal of it or the issuance of ID, Birth-, Unabridged birth-, marriage certificates, or any other matter that falls within the mandate of the functions of the Department of Home Affairs.

A visa or permit is your permission to travel to, transit or remain in a foreign country. A visa or permit does not, however, guarantee entry into the foreign country, as the decision to grant entry  remains the   decision of the immigration officials of the foreign country .

South African passport holders enjoy visa exemptions for certain countries. This means that South Africans can travel, usually for  holiday or business purposes , to such countries without a visa for a pre-determined time. South Africans are strongly advised against using such visa exemption to travel to a foreign country with the real intention to work/study/reside there. 

A work/study/residence permit must be applied for prior to travelling to that country.

South Africans must always check with the travel agent and/or the  Foreign Representative in South Africa  of the country you intend to travel to, whether a visa is required or not. Since requirements can change from time to time it is best to double check the requirements before each trip.

If you do not correctly comply with visa or permit requirements or overstay on your visa or permit you will be subject to any or all of the following: criminal prosecution, imprisonment, deportation and/or being blacklisted.

Please note:   DIRCO will  not  obtain visas- work- study- residence permits on behalf of prospective travellers.

It is strongly recommended that you take out travel insurance before travelling abroad. Travel insurance should cover hospitalisation and related medical costs as well as a possible emergency evacuation. Depending on your age, physical condition and destination you should consider provision in the event of death. Your travel agent or bank will be able to advise you.

Medical costs abroad can be expensive compared to South Africa. In some instances medical treatment can be withheld by the foreign country if a person has no proof of funds or travel insurance.

Travel insurance that cover expenses in the event of death abroad will ensure that family and friends are not burdened with the costs for the preparation and transportation of mortal remains to South Africa. Remember to confirm the details of your coverage with your insurer as pre-existing medical conditions may require additional cover.

It is important to cover all the members of the travelling party adequately.

Airlines may overbook flights during peak season. Therefore, travellers are advised to arrive early for check in.

Prospective Prospective travellers who intend driving abroad must apply for an international driving permit (IDP). These are issued by the  Automobile Association of South Africa . Always ensure that you have both your original driver’s licence as well as your IDP with you and keep copies (preferably certified copies) separate from the originals.

South African drivers’ licences are recognised in SADC countries (Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe). It is recommended that a letter of verification be obtained from the  South African Department of Transport .

When travelling by road to a neighbouring country always take the original vehicle registration documents with plus a certified copy. Establish before the journey where the temporary import permit for the vehicle/trailer is obtained. The temporary import permit must be valid for the full duration of your stay in the country. 

Check with your vehicle insurer that the vehicle will be covered in the country you travel to (have this confirmed in writing) and that the 3rd party insurance is in order. Some countries have specific regulations and required stickers for taking your vehicle across the border. For more information on cross border and sticker requirements, you may contact the  Automobile Association of South Africa . (Fax: +27 (086) 524 2251 / E-mail:  [email protected] ).

It is illegal to take any firearms, ammunition and, in some instances, hunting knives into a country without the required permits. In the event that you wish to carry such items it is recommended that you  contact the  resident mission  prior to travelling.

Make timeous enquiries regarding the health risks in the country/countries you intend travelling to. 

The prescribed immunisations and/or medication can prevent serious long-term and fatal diseases.

It is suggested that the traveller consult with his/her Doctor prior to travelling if the traveller has a history of health challenges.

Travellers are further advised to consult with the Department of Health to obtain updates on specific health situations e,g refer to the DOH website on travelling health risks and vaccination requirements.

For more information on international health requirements contact the Department of Health, Environmental Health Directorate, Private Bag X828, PRETORIA. 0001; Tel: 012 395 8522 / 8518 or go to  www.doh.gov.za  /  www.who.int

Suggestion: When travelling ensure that all your personal belongings are safeguarded by yourself.

Inform yourself thoroughly, prior to your trip, of the safety risks in the country/countries you intend to visit.

As we are well aware, we are exposed to crime everywhere. Basic precautionary measures will contribute to ensuring your safety, for example:

  • Do not attract attention to yourself with expensive jewellery and clothing.
  • Take care when you pay for something – avoid flashing all your cash.
  • Get to know the foreign currency and use a note that requires the smallest amount of change to be returned to you.
  • When travelling by public transport have the correct amount of cash at hand, take care when you hand over the money and keep your eye on it.
  • If secure, keep your passport, travellers’ cheques and extra cash in the hotel safe. Alternatively wear it in a money belt under your clothing and keep only the money you intend using in your pocket/handbag/wallet.
  • Know where you are going. Keep a map with you and consult it regularly. Make sure that you have the contact details of where you are staying on your person at all times.
  • Obtain information from the hotel in which you are staying on security related precautions in the area.
  • Remember that when you are travelling to another country you, unknowingly, stand out making you an easy target for criminals.
  • Keep certified copy of your passport, visa as well as the South African Representatives contact details with you.

You should ideally avoid countries experiencing war and/or civil/political unrest . If the trip is unavoidable, ensure that you prepare yourself by having all the necessary information and contact details of your hosts and South African Representatives in the country of your destination.

Do not become involved in activities that may be, or are, illegal. Please remember, once you leave South Africa, the rights enjoyed under the South African Constitution and laws cannot be guaranteed or enforced in the countries you intend to visit. If arrested abroad, the South African Government cannot intervene to secure your release from prison.

Although Government cannot secure your release, Government is in a position to intercede with local authorities to seek to ensure that your rights, under the laws of the arresting country, are fully observed and that the minimum standards for treatments of prisoners are applied.

Important Notice:

  • Possession or smuggling of drugs is a criminal offence in almost all countries. Penalties are harsh and can lead to a lifetime imprisonment or even the death penalty. Do not accept or carry parcels, baggage or any items that you have not packed personally. Do not offer to collect parcels, letters, documents, etc. on behalf of other persons. Attempting to smuggle drugs is not worth the payment that you may be offered.
  • South Africans who intend to work abroad, especially in war stricken countries like Iraq, should remember that they may find themselves in extremely dangerous situations. It is advisable to register yourself at the nearest  South African Representative  office.
  • Should your passport be damaged in any way, it is advisable to obtain a new passport before travelling.
  • Always keep a certified copy of your passport and visa on your person while on holiday.
  • To cater for unforeseen emergencies ensure that a friend or relative is in possession of your travel plan, contact details, a copy of your passport, visa pages as well as an identity document.
  • Obtain as much information as possible about your destination.
  • Take out sufficient travel insurance to cover hospital treatment, medical evacuation and even death. Pre-existing conditions and the risk associated with your destination or the activities you plan to partake in can influence the travel insurance cover you need.
  • Register your trip prior to leaving South Africa or whilst abroad.
  • Double-check whether you require a visa or permit for the country or countries you are visiting or transiting.
  • Keep a copy of your passport information page, relevant visas, travel insurance, travellers’ cheques and credit card with you but not with the originals. Leave a copy in an envelope with a friend, relative or a work colleague.
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the health risks of the country or countries you intend visiting. Get all the recommended vaccinations and/or medication before travelling. If you need to travel with medication ensure that it meets the requirements of your destination(s). Take your prescription along.
  • Ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months with enough blank pages. Additional passport photographs are very useful should you need a temporary passport or emergency travel certificate.
  • Make sure that your family, friends or colleagues know what your movements will be while away. Leave a detailed itinerary with them. Contact them regularly by e-mail, a phone call or SMS.
  • Remember if you are a dual national you must leave and enter South Africa on your South African passport.
  • Always act within the prescripts of the law.

Working abroad should always be a beneficial experience for both the employee and employer.”

Working abroad can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It may be an opportunity to improve your economic situation, gain valuable work experience, and travel to new and interesting places. However, accepting a job offer without making adequate preparations and taking precautions can put a migrant worker in a vulnerable position, and optimistic migrant workers may find themselves in the hands of unscrupulous employers or human traffickers.

Human traffickers can be very good at identifying and recruiting potential victims. They can make a job offer appear very enticing and realistic.

Before you leave home:

  • Ensure the job offer is genuine

Check to see that the recruitment agency is registered with the local Chamber of Commerce and, if possible, contact the company offering the job on a landline to confirm that they are recruiting, and that the conditions of employment are those promised by the recruitment agency. Offers from third parties, disreputable recruitment agencies, or people who approach you on the street should be treated with caution. You may also contact the local embassy of the country of destination to confirm that the company is reputable, and is permitted by law to employ foreign nationals in the manner promised. Beware of job offers that sound too good to be true and/or which offer to cover all of your expenses,  including airfare and accommodation, up-front.

  • Obtain the correct working permit for the country of destination

Ensure that you are travelling with the correct and legal documentation to work in the country of destination. Most countries will require you to apply for a working visa if you intend to work in the country. The application for the visa must be filled out and signed by you, the employee, and not by the agency. Be suspicious if the recruitment agency attempts to convince you that a visitor’s or tourist visa is sufficient for you to work legally in the country in which you wish to find employment. This is very rarely the case. If you are unsure, you can contact the Embassy of the country to which you hope to travel to and/or check the website of the foreign government, which may provide travel information to prospective migrant workers.

  • Sign a contract before you leave home

The contract should be in a language you can read, and stipulate your wages and deductions, your duties, working hours and breaks, benefits, leave, and procedures for resignation or termination. Be careful of accepting offers where you are required to pay back money to the employer if you do not fulfil the full term of the contract. The contract should clearly stipulate any amount paid for up-front by the prospective employer (for example, the cost of your airfare) and the conditions under which you will be required to repay this sum. Have an independent attorney examine the contract before you sign. Both you and the employer must sign the contract, and you should each be in possession of a copy of the contract.

  • Have contacts for people/organisations that can provide assistance

Before leaving home, make sure you have the contact details for your country’s Embassy or High Commission or Consulate-General in the country in which you wish to find employment. It is also advisable to notify your embassy that you are in the country and give them your address and contact details. Have a list of emergency contact details in the country you are going to: e.g. migrant worker organizations, churches and shelters, the police, friends and family in the destination country. It is also advisable to agree on a contact schedule with family and/or friends at home before leaving for a new destination. Should something go awry, and you fail to contact them at the agreed time, they will be able to contact the relevant authorities for help.

  • Know your rights as an employee of the country you are going to

Migrant workers are entitled to the same rights as all workers, and should be treated with respect and dignity. Before you work abroad, know your rights, and how to protect them. Be sure to investigate the minimum wages and other conditions of employment in the country to which you’re travelling.

  • Once you arrive in your country of destination

Do not give your passport away to anyone  (see remarks on certain countries of the Arabian Peninsula below):

Do not give your passport over to anyone except immigration officials or if requested to do so for reasons of identification e.g. Police or Hotel check-in reception. It is illegal for an employer to ask to hold onto your passport for any reason and you should never agree to do so, regardless of whether this is stipulated in an employment contract.

The problem that is being experienced by South African citizens in some countries of the Arabian Peninsula goes back a long time and is rooted in the system of sponsorship as practised by these countries vis-à-vis foreigners. It is important to note that sponsorship imposes a number of serious obligations on the sponsor. He/she typically has to provide accommodation, transport, basic sustenance, minimum medical care and repatriation.

Added to that, he/she has a traditional obligation to the private debt that his/her sponsored worker may incur. It is the latter circumstance that, more than anything else, prompts the sponsor to retain her/his employee’s passport.

Diplomatic and consular missions of many countries have, over the years, sought to address this particular complaint with the governments of the countries involved, to little avail. However, until the sponsorship system is not radically altered, the passport issue under discussion will remain. Besides establishing a preferential position of trust with his/her employer, there is not much an employee can do in the circumstances.

A South African or any foreigner may object to his sponsor/employer holding on to his passport, but with a proper understanding of the implications for his employment. As a last resort, he/she may have recourse to the courts, if he feels strongly enough about it.

The Department does not condone the practice, but recognises that it reflects the peculiarities of the expatriate labour system in that particular part of the world.

Intervention, legal or otherwise, must be weighed against the benefit and importance of the individual employee’s labour contract. It is reasonable to assume that the decision ultimately rests with that employee. 

In the final instance the South African Government confirms that the South Africa passport is the property of the Republic and is made available to a citizen for purposes of travel.

  • Make contact

Once you have arrived in your country of destination, contact your local embassy and report that you are in the country. Also contact friends and family at home and let them know that you are safe and give them your contact details. If you find yourself in trouble, make contact with the police or your local embassy.

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The Department of Tourism is wishing South Africans a relaxing Easter holiday season, while urging all tourists to #DoTourism safely and responsibly. This holiday period offers an opportunity to unwind and take a mini-detour, and explore the fun and diverse offerings in our small dorpies, townships and villages.   ​

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​ Today, together with the Mayor of the Cape Agulhas Municipality, Paul Swart, the Deputy Mayor of the Overberg District Municipality, Cllr Helen Coetzee and other Councillors from the region, Minister de Lille visited the Lighthouse Precinct project in the Cape Agulhas National Park.

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​ Let me appreciate the great opportunity of sharing these few remarks here in Khayelitsha, which is a one of the largest townships in this country as well as the Western Cape Province.

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Latest update.

Exercise a high degree of caution in South Africa due to the threat of violent crime.

South Africa

South Africa (PDF 811.22 KB)

Africa (PDF 1.68 MB)

Local emergency contacts

National emergencies.

Call 10111.

Fire and rescue services

Call 10177.

Call 10111, or go to the nearest police station.

Advice levels

Exercise a high degree of caution in South Africa.

  • ​​​​​ Protests and large gatherings can occur anywhere in South Africa at any time. Avoid areas affected by protests and demonstrations.  Use major roads where it's safe to do so and verify that alternate routes recommended by your GPS are safe prior to travel. Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities. 
  • Crime and violence are serious issues across South Africa, including murder, rape, assault, food and drink spiking, robbery and carjacking. South Africa experiences more crime during its rolling blackouts (load-shedding). Be particularly alert in major city centres and township areas and when travelling after dark. Crimes in South Africa often involve the use of weapons.
  • Terrorism is a threat worldwide and can occur anywhere at any time. Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places and follow the advice of local authorities. 
  • Opportunistic criminals also target travellers at the approaches to Kruger National Park, including Numbi Gate, and at the Lebombo/Komatipoort border. Criminals have also been targeting tourist vehicles at the approaches to Pilanesberg National Park and Sun City Resort.
  • Criminals target travellers and their bags at airports and on public transport. Vehicles parked or stopped at intersections are also targeted. Criminals have posed as fake tourist police to extort and rob tourists.
  • ATM and credit card fraud are common. Criminals wait near ATMs to rob people who have withdrawn cash. Be aware of your surroundings, and only withdraw small amounts. Keep your credit card with you at all times.
  • Respect local wildlife laws. Only use professional guides or tour operators. Follow park regulations and advice from wardens. Don't swim in lakes and rivers due to the risk of wildlife attacks and disease.

Full travel advice: Safety

  • HIV/AIDS infection rates are high in South Africa. Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure.
  • Malaria and other insect-borne diseases, such as filariasis, are common. Make sure your accommodation is insect-proof. Use insect repellent.
  • You must present a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you're over one year old and travelling from a country where yellow fever is widespread. 
  • Private hospitals are generally better equipped than public facilities. Medical evacuation is your only option in remote areas.

Full travel advice:  Health

  • Drug offences carry severe penalties, including long jail terms.
  • Dual nationals must enter and exit South Africa on their South African passport. Penalties for travelling on another passport include fines, refusal of entry and jail.

Full travel advice:  Local laws

  • You don't need a visa if you're visiting South Africa for tourism purposes for up to 90 days. In other cases, you'll need a visa. Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of South Africa for the latest details. 
  • If travelling from Namibia to South Africa, you'll need at least two blank pages in your passport.
  • Major routes can be subject to protest activities, often with little or no warning. Exercise caution and stay informed when planning travel and driving.
  • Before you travel by road, check for any disruption on your route. Use major roads where it's safe to do so and verify that alternate routes recommended by your GPS are safe. There have been instances of travellers being rerouted by their GPS through unsafe areas.
  • Rolling blackouts can affect both land and air travel. Confirm with your airline or travel provider.

Full travel advice:  Travel

Local contacts

  • The  Consular Services Charter  tells you what the Australian Government can and can't do to help when you're overseas. 
  • The  Australian High Commission in Pretoria  can provide consular help to Australians in South Africa.
  • To stay up to date with local information, follow the High Commission’s social media accounts.

Full travel advice:  Local contacts

Full advice

Civil unrest and political tension, demonstrations and protests.

Protests and large gatherings can occur anywhere in South Africa at any time. Services may be disrupted. Avoid areas affected by protests and demonstrations. Before you travel by road, check for any disruption on your route and use major roads where it's safe to do so. Verify that alternate routes recommended by your GPS are safe. There have been instances of travellers being rerouted by their GPS through unsafe areas. Follow the advice of local authorities. Monitor local news, radio, and social media for updates.

To protect yourself if you encounter a protest or local tension:

  • monitor local media and other sources for updates, including advice on curfews imposed by authorities
  • don't attempt to cross protester roadblocks, as this could provoke a violent reaction
  • plan for interruptions to phone and internet services
  • avoid areas affected by protests or unrest
  • contact your airline or tour operator to confirm arrangements before you travel
  • follow the instructions of local authorities.

If you're near a demonstration, leave if it's safe to do so.

There have been reports of protesters damaging property belonging to bystanders. Avoid taking photographs or video footage of demonstrations and protests.

More information:

  • Demonstrations and civil unrest

Crime and violence are serious issues in South Africa.

Crime rates in South Africa are significantly higher than in Australia and often involve weapons.

Criminals continue to target tourist vehicles along the approaches to Kruger National Park, including Numbi Gate. Avoid Numbi Gate if possible, only travel in daylight hours, stay on main roads, and be aware of potential criminals in the vicinity of all gates and park approaches.

Armed criminals have been targeting tourist buses along the approaches to Pilanesberg National Park and neighbouring Sun City Resort, including near Lekgalong. If you can, avoid the R556 and use alternative routes available on the N4/R565 via Rustenburg. Travel in daylight hours and be aware of potential criminals near all gates and park approaches and when travelling through small towns.

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 Australia, especially for less serious crimes such as theft and fraud.

The South African Police Service doesn't have a 'Tourist Police' force. Criminals have posed as 'Tourist Police' to extort and rob tourists, including stopping tourist buses to check proof of identity and search luggage.

Crime at airports

Crime in and around airports can occur.

Criminals have robbed arriving passengers, following them from the airport to:

  • foreign currency exchange facilities
  • tourist accommodation

Theft from luggage also occurs. To avoid this, don't place valuables in checked-in luggage.

Other crimes

Crime in South Africa includes:

  • food and drink spiking
  • mugging, robbery  and theft, sometimes with weapons and violence

Robberies involving violence can occur at shopping centres. South Africa experiences more crime during its rolling blackouts (load-shedding), including at shopping centres. Be alert at all times.

Assaults and robberies on local commuter and metro trains happen:

  • between Johannesburg and Pretoria
  • in Cape Town

Theft from hotel rooms and guest houses does happen, including within game parks.

Criminals have stolen bags and backpacks from public places, including restaurants and bars. Be alert in all public spaces.

To avoid theft:

  • don't leave luggage and valuables unattended
  • place your luggage and valuables in safekeeping facilities

Crime rates are significantly higher after dark.

To protect yourself against crime, avoid travelling to:

  • central business districts
  • townships, unless with an organised tour run by a reputable company
  • isolated beaches, lookouts and picnic areas

There's a threat of kidnapping across South Africa. Kidnappings are generally for financial gain or motivated by criminality. Foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the past. Pay attention to your personal security.

Crime involving vehicles

There have been arson attacks on cargo trucks to block roads in South Africa. Check local media for reports of attacks and avoid these areas. 

If you encounter an attack, don't intervene, don't take pictures or videos, and leave the scene as soon as it is safe to do so.

Thieves posing as vendors or beggars target cars:

  • on highways off-ramps
  • at intersections
  • at traffic lights

'Smash and grab' thefts from vehicles and carjacking are common, particularly:

  • on major routes
  • at major intersections
  • during traffic congestion

Cash-in-transit attacks target armoured courier vans, sometimes using automatic weapons, creating a significant risk of death or serious injury to anyone nearby. Avoid driving alongside, parking next to, or being a pedestrian next to cash drops at banks and other venues.

Criminals also place debris on roads to stop vehicles. Don't stop to clear debris.

Road spiking occurs on South African roads, where criminals place spikes on roads to damage vehicles and force motorists to pull over.

To prevent theft when travelling by car:

  • keep doors locked and windows up, even when driving
  • keep valuables out of sight
  • avoid driving after dark
  • maintain situational awareness and stop at designated areas such as petrol stations
  • if followed by a suspicious vehicle, go to a police station, petrol station or alert a security company

Attacks against hikers

There have been a number of attacks against hikers by criminals on hiking trails and in national parks and reserves. These have included Lions Head, Signal Hill and Table Mountain near Cape Town.

To prevent attacks when hiking:

  • hike in groups
  • advise friends, family or your accommodation provider where you are hiking and how long for
  • be alert to your surroundings and circumstances.

Crime involving cash and credit cards

ATMs in major cities are common. ATMs in rural areas are less common.

ATM and credit card fraud is common. Criminals use skimming devices to copy your card details onto a blank card.

Criminals wait near ATMs and rob people withdrawing cash.

Criminals use spotters to identify victims who have withdrawn cash or made expensive purchases. Be aware of your surroundings.

To protect yourself against cash and credit card crime:

  • only withdraw small amounts of cash at ATMs
  • refuse offers of help at ATMs
  • keep all ATM and credit card payment slips secure
  • keep your credit card in sight at all times when using it

Don't use ATMs that open onto the street. Only use ATMs in controlled areas, such as:

  • shopping centres
  • inside service stations

Scams are common.

Don't be fooled by scams. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

If you're a scam victim, don't travel to South Africa to try and get your money back. The risk of assault is too high.

Fake internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operate from some African countries. These typically take place on internet dating sites or chat rooms.

Someone you meet online may ask you to send money so they can travel to Australia to visit you. As soon as the scammer receives the money, they end their relationship with you.

Some may ask you to travel to Africa to meet them. When you arrive in Africa, they may kidnap, assault or rob you.

Report fraud and scams to the Commercial Crimes Unit of the South African Police Service in Johannesburg on +27 (12) 743 0148 or +27 (11) 220 4052

Cyber security

You may be at risk of cyber-based threats during overseas travel to any country. Digital identity theft is a growing concern. Your devices and personal data can be compromised, especially if you're connecting to Wi-Fi, using or connecting to shared or public computers, or to Bluetooth. 

Social media can also be risky in destinations where there are social or political tensions or laws that may seem unreasonable by Australian standards. Travellers have been arrested for things they have said on social media. Don't comment on local or political events on your social media. 

More information:   

  • Cyber security when travelling overseas  

Power shortages and rolling blackouts (Load-shedding)

Rolling blackouts (load shedding) are occurring throughout South Africa, which are affecting private residences, businesses, municipal lighting, traffic lights, and hotels. 

Blackouts can also affect water availability, internet connectivity, mobile phone network coverage, fuel availability, residential security features, and food supply. 

Power outages can potentially increase crime; for example, traffic jams due to power outages provide opportunities for smash-and-grab crime. Residences can be targeted when lights are out, and security systems are not functioning. Ongoing conditions have led to increased protests and demonstrations, and in some cases, civil unrest, throughout the country.  

Be prepared for issues that may arise from blackouts: 

  • have a communications plan for when there is no or limited power (landline locations, external mobile phone battery/power banks, additional charging cords, hard copies of important numbers).
  • maintain several days’ worth of non-perishable food, drinking water, and other essential items, including medicine and first aid supplies. 
  • store torches, batteries, radios and basic tools in quick-access locations.  
  • identify safe areas around the city, including hotels, hospitals or police stations that may not lose power. 
  • monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities. 

Terrorism is a threat worldwide. An attack could happen anywhere and at any time.

  • Consider likely terrorist targets and the level of security provided, including places visited by foreigners, such as shopping centres.
  • Always be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Report any suspicious items or activities to the police.

In July 2020, ISIL (Daesh) issued a warning via its digital newspaper that its fighters would start attacking Western gas interests in Mozambique 'sooner or later' and also warned it could conduct attacks in South Africa because of South Africa's involvement in anti-ISIL operations in Mozambique. 

In October 2022, there were reports of terrorists planning an attack in Sandton, Johannesburg.

To reduce your risks:

  • take official warnings seriously
  • monitor the media for threats

If there's a terrorist attack:

  • leave the affected area immediately if it's safe
  • avoid the area afterwards in case of more attacks.

Adventure activities

Wildlife safety.

Respect local wildlife laws. Maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife.

Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators.

Follow park rules and the advice of wardens.

Swimming safety

Be cautious about swimming in lakes and rivers due to the risk of wildlife attacks or waterborne disease.

Climate and natural disasters

Flooding, landslides, bushfires, tsunamis, severe weather.

If a  natural disaster  happens:

  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof place
  • keep in touch with your friends and family
  • ask your tour operator if tourist services at your destination have been affected.
  • Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System

Travel insurance

Get comprehensive  travel insurance  before you leave. 

Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won’t pay for these costs.

If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.

If you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.

  • what activities and care your policy covers
  • that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away.

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition. 

See your doctor or travel clinic to:

  • have a basic health check-up
  • ask if your travel plans may affect your health
  • plan any vaccinations you need

Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.

If you have immediate concerns for your welfare or the welfare of another Australian, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or contact your  nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate  to discuss counselling hotlines and services available in your location.

  • General health advice
  • Healthy holiday tips  (Healthdirect Australia)

Medications

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

If you bring restricted medication or don't have the right documents, you could:

  • be arrested
  • have your medication confiscated

This includes countries where you don't leave the airport.

If you intend to bring medicine, check if:

  • there's a limit on how much you can take
  • whether you need any certifications

If your medication is illegal in South Africa, ask your doctor in Australia about alternatives.

Take enough legal medicine so you remain in good health on your trip.

Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:

  • what the medication is
  • your required dosage
  • that it's for personal use

Health risks

Yellow fever

If you're travelling from a country where yellow fever is widespread, you'll need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter South Africa. This doesn't apply to a child aged under 1 year.

If you can't show proof of vaccination, authorities may not let you enter.

You can't get vaccinated when you arrive.

The rate of  HIV/AIDS  infection in South Africa is very high.

Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus.

Victims of violent crime, especially rape, should seek immediate medical help.

Insect-borne diseases

Malaria  is present in parts of South Africa, especially:

  • remote areas in the far north
  • remote areas in the east
  • Kruger National Park

The 90km area along the border with Mozambique and Zimbabwe is a designated malaria risk zone. Some areas nearby may have a malaria risk during the year.

Other insect-borne diseases, including  filariasis , are also prevalent.

To protect yourself from disease:

  • make sure your accommodation is insect-proof
  • use insect repellent
  • wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing

Take medicine to prevent malaria if travelling to an area where it's common.

Cholera  mainly occurs in rural areas. More serious outbreaks can happen from time to time.

To protect yourself against cholera:

  • avoid ice cubes
  • avoid raw and undercooked food, such as salads
  • be strict with your hygiene habits if you travel in rural areas
  • drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids

Tap water in major cities is generally safe to drink.

  • Infectious diseases

Other health risks

Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are prevalent.

Diseases include:

  • drug-resistant  tuberculosis
  • Rift Valley virus
  • bilharzia (schistosomiasis)

Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.

To protect yourself from illness:

  • avoid contact with animal tissues or blood when visiting farms or game reserves
  • only drink pasteurised or homogenised milk
  • don't eat raw meat
  • don't swim in freshwater
  • avoid contact with dogs and other mammals

If you're bitten or scratched by an animal, get medical help immediately. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or diarrhoea.

Medical care

Medical facilities.

The standard of medical facilities in South Africa varies.

Public medical facilities are generally low standard compared with Australia. Private hospitals are often better equipped.

Many regional hospitals only provide basic facilities.

There's no shared healthcare agreement between Australia and South Africa.

Before admitting you, hospitals usually ask for:

  • confirmation of medical insurance
  • up-front deposit for services
  • public hospitals will treat foreigners for free, but the level of care varies.

In remote areas, air evacuation to a major city is sometimes the only option in an emergency. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Decompression chambers are located at:

  • St Augustine's Hospital, Durban
  • Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg
  • Eugene Marais Hospital, Pretoria

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our  Consular Services Charter . But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

If you're detained or arrested, you need to ask officials to tell the Australian High Commission in Pretoria. 

  • Arrested or in prison

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include long prison sentences.

  • Carrying or using drugs

Commercial surrogacy

Get legal help if you're visiting South Africa for commercial surrogacy.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you’re overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.

  • Staying within the law

Dual citizenship

You can't enter or exit South Africa on an  Australian passport  if you're an Australian-South African dual national.

If you try, you may be:

  • turned away from border points
  • jailed for up to 12 months

If you're unsure if you will be treated as a South African dual national, check with:

  • the South African Department of Home Affairs
  • the nearest South African embassy or consulate.
  • Dual nationals

Visas and border measures

Every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders. For specific information about the evidence you'll need to enter a foreign destination, check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering. 

Visa-free travel for short stays

You don't need a visa if you're visiting South Africa for tourism purposes for up to 90 days. In other cases, you'll need a visa.

Leaving and re-entering South Africa won't automatically give you another 90 days.

Check South Africa's immigration rules about:

  • overstaying visas
  • working in or migrating to South Africa
  • changing your visa status
  • extending your visa by travelling to a neighbouring country and attempting to return
  • South African Department of Home Affairs

Other formalities

South African dual nationals can’t enter or leave South Africa with a foreign passport. See  Laws

South African authorities:

  • don't accept  provisional travel documents
  • do accept Australian emergency passports

Travel with children

Children travelling on a valid passport with one or both parents are no longer required to present a birth certificate, parental consent letter and other supporting documentation. However, this is a requirement for other situations, such as unaccompanied minors travelling (under the age of 18) or legal guardianship.

To check the requirements for other situations, such as legal guardianship or unaccompanied travelling minors, visit the South African Department of Home Affairs. 

If travelling from Namibia to South Africa, make sure you have at least two blank pages in your passport.

Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you’re just transiting or stopping over.

Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.

You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.

The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport’s expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it’ll be valid for long enough, consider getting  a new passport .

Your passport must have at least 2 completely blank pages to endorse your entry permit on.

If your passport doesn't comply with these requirements, authorities may stop you from boarding.

Lost or stolen passport

Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.

Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:

  • In Australia, contact the  Australian Passport Information Service .
  • If you're overseas, contact the nearest  Australian embassy or consulate .

Carry copies of a recent passport photo with you. You may need to replace your passport while you're overseas.

  • South African High Commission in Australia

Passport with 'X' gender identifier

Although Australian passports comply with international standards for sex and gender, we can’t guarantee that a passport showing 'X' in the sex field will be accepted for entry or transit by another country. Contact the nearest  embassy, high commission or consulate of your destination  before you arrive at the border to confirm if authorities will accept passports with 'X' gender markers. 

More information:  

LGBTI travellers  

There are limits to how much money you can bring into South Africa. Foreign nationals can enter with a maximum of either:

  • 25,000 Rand (ZAR)
  • foreign currency equivalent to $US10,000

You may have to declare the amount of money you're carrying when you arrive or leave.

Local travel

Power Shortages and Rolling Blackouts (Load Shedding)

Rolling blackouts (load shedding) occur throughout South Africa, affecting traffic lights and causing road congestion and delays. It may also affect other modes of travel, such as air and rail travel. Check with your airline or travel provider.

Public transport

Avoid using minibus taxis. Ask your accommodation host or tour guide for advice about using public transport.

Book local transport through a reputable provider.

  • Transport and getting around safely

Taxis and rideshare services

Tensions between metered taxis and rideshare drivers can escalate to violence.

Be careful:

  • around train stations
  • when travelling to and from airports

Avoid catching a rideshare service that is close to a metered taxi.

Driving permit

To drive in South Africa, you must:

  • have a valid Australian driver's licence, and
  • be at least 18 years of age

Driving without the correct licence can affect your insurance.

If you move to South Africa, you can swap your Australian driver's licence for a South African licence. You must do so within the first 12 months of your residency. Contact the issuing road authority if you're requested to obtain a verification of your driver's licence to convert your licence. 

If you're going to ride a motorcycle, check whether your travel insurance policy covers you. Always wear a helmet.

Use extreme caution on roads.

Road travel

There have been arson attacks on cargo trucks across South Africa. These attacks can cause damage to infrastructure, road closures and lengthy delays. Before you travel by road, check for any disruption on your route and use major roads where it's safe to do so. Verify that alternate routes recommended by your GPS are safe using verified sources. Monitor local news, radio, and social media for updates. There have been instances of travellers being rerouted by their GPS through unsafe areas. Follow the advice of local authorities. 

Road conditions are generally good but can vary, especially in rural areas.

Hazards in urban and rural areas include:

  • excessive speed
  • poor driving skills
  • difficult conditions
  • pedestrians and animals straying onto roads, especially at night
  • drunk driving, especially at night

People have been attacked travelling on alternate and secondary roads to Cape Town International Airport. When travelling to or from the Cape Town International Airport:

  • remain on the M2 or N2 highways if safe to do so
  • avoid detours through Borchard’s Quarry Road leading to Nyanga
  • Airport transfers are available

You're more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in South Africa than in Australia.

  • Driving or riding

Emergencies

Depending on what you need, contact your:

  • friends and family
  • travel agent
  • insurance provider

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Medical emergencies.

Always get a police report when you report a crime.

Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Consular contacts

Read the  Consular Services Charter  for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australian High Commission, Pretoria

292 Orient Street Arcadia Pretoria, South Africa Phone: (+27 12) 423 6000 Fax: (+27 12) 342 8442 Email:  [email protected] Website:  southafrica.embassy.gov.au Facebook:  Australian High Commission in South Africa Twitter:  @AuHCSouthAfrica

Check the High Commission website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.

24-hour Consular Emergency Centre

In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
  • 1300 555 135 in Australia

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travel department south africa

  • Passports, travel and living abroad
  • Travel abroad
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South Africa

Entry requirements.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in South Africa set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact South Africa’s High Commission in the UK .

COVID-19 rules

Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel company or airline for changes.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Visit TravelHealthPro (from the UK’s National Travel Health Network and Centre) for general COVID-19 advice for travellers .

Passport validity requirements

To avoid problems at immigration, your passport should:

  • be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa
  • have 2 blank pages

You can read more about South Africa’s  Immigration Regulations on the Department of Home Affairs’ website .

Dual nationals

If you hold South African citizenship, you must use your South African passport to enter and exit the country. It is illegal for a South African citizen aged 18 or over to enter or leave the country on a foreign passport. For more information about South African passports, see the South Africa Department of Home Affairs .

Visa requirements

You do not need a visa to visit South Africa for tourism or business for up to 90 days.

Check the expiry date of your visa or entry stamp and ensure you do not overstay.

For more information on visas, contact the South African High Commission .

Travelling with children

There are special requirements for travelling to South Africa with children under 18, and for unaccompanied children entering South Africa. The South African Department of Home Affairs has more information .

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and vaccination certificates you may need on TravelHealthPro.

Customs rules

Check UK customs requirements before buying products to take back to the UK.

Taking money into South Africa

There are limits on how much currency you can bring into South Africa:

  • cash in South African rand – up to 25,000 rand per person
  • combinations of cash in other currencies – up to 10,000 US dollars (or equivalent)

If you’re taking more than this, you need to declare it when you enter South Africa.

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South Africa: Have a Safe Easter Holiday With These Travel Tips

The Department of Tourism has wished South Africans a relaxing Easter holiday, while urging all tourists to #DoTourism safely and responsibly.

This holiday period offers an opportunity to unwind and take a mini-detour and explore the fun and diverse offerings in small dorpies, townships and villages, the department said in a statement ahead of the long weekend.

"Whether it be a Sho't Left to a quaint picnic park, nature reserve or heritage attraction, visitors are encouraged to play an active role in preserving the cultural and environmental aesthetics of the tourism destinations and to ensure their personal safety by adhering to the rules of the road and being vigilant.

"Tourism growth must be a desire of every patriotic South African, and ensuring the integrity of our country as a safe destination is critical in growing the domestic tourism market and international arrivals," said the department.

It encouraged tourists to keep safe by offering the following tips:

  • Be mindful of travel scams and fraudsters. Tourists should check for the following when making a booking through a travel agent or operator: a functioning and updated website, preferably a membership of a tourism association; and registration number of the company which is visible on the quotation; and carefully read and understand the terms and conditions before proceeding with the booking.
  • Be respectful to all cultures and traditions. South Africa has diverse people and cultures. To enhance your experience, always be mindful and respect the diversity when observing socio-cultural traditions and practices.
  • Watch the weather. The African sun can be intense during summer. Wear sunscreen and carry enough water to ensure that you stay hydrated, especially when visiting outlying areas.
  • Preserve the natural environment. We are renowned for pristine natural beauty and wildlife. Protect fauna and flora by not purchasing products sourced from endangered plants or animals.
  • Be waterwise. Water is a scarce commodity in many parts of the country and should be used sparingly by all. Tap water is safe to drink, avoid drinking water from rivers and streams.
  • Use registered guides and operators. While it is safe to travel throughout the country, certain areas however would be best explored through the services of a registered Tour Operator or Tourist Guide.
  • Get reliable information. To enhance your travel experience, details of where to go and things to do, can be obtained at the various local Visitors Information Centres located throughout the country.
  • Observe beach safety. We have some of the best beaches in the world. Enjoy and be sure to read and follow any signs at swimming areas. Watch out for rip currents which can to be very strong.
  • Buy local. Support local communities by purchasing goods that are produced in South Africa. That way, you can take a piece of us home with you
  • Be safe. Always be alert and make responsible decisions about your safety. Familiarise yourself with the area you are visiting or staying in. Check with your hotel before going for a walk alone. Don't hike alone, rather join a hiking group or friends. Be sure to follow safety tips provided by registered places of accommodation and by local authorities.
  • Be careful. Take care with your personal possessions and travel documents when travelling in cities and other popular destinations. Leave your passport and other documents in a safe place and carry a copy of another form of identification with you. Always keep your valuables in sight.
  • Be vigilant on the road. Avoid driving at night, especially in areas that are not well lit. Inform your holiday residence of your route and estimated arrival time, and keep them updated as you progress. Never stop in a deserted area to talk on your cell phone or even relieve yourself.
  • Tourism complaints. Should tourism services offered at any of our destinations not meet the expected standard, tourists can lodge a complaint with the Department of Tourism at [email protected] Our Tourism Complaints Office is equipped to deal with challenges ranging from booking agencies, tour operators, tourist establishments and bad service.

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Useful contact details:

· Police or any emergency: 10111

· From a cell/mobile phone: 112

· Medical Assistance: 10177

· Tourist Emergency WhatsApp line: A dedicated support system for tourists: +27 (0) 82 321 6018

· E2 National Monitoring Control Centre Hotline: +27 (0) 83 318 2475

· Roadside assistance on N4 route 0800 87 22 64

· SECURA Traveller App: Download this app to access trained emergency response support

Read the original article on SAnews.gov.za .

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travel department south africa

U.S. Department of the Treasury

Readout: deputy secretary of the treasury wally adeyemo’s travel to south africa.

PRETORIA – From March 11-15, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo traveled to South Africa to advance the U.S. – South Africa economic relationship, foster investment in the next generation of South African entrepreneurs and leaders, advance the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), and increase collaboration on illicit finance issues. He met with government officials as well as business leaders, students, artists, and the next generation of South Africa’s workforce in the Western Cape, Gauteng, and North West provinces.

In  remarks to the business community in Johannesburg , Deputy Secretary Adeyemo noted that “South Africa’s greatest resource is the creativity and ingenuity of its people.” To that end, the Deputy Secretary met with a variety of South African business leaders to gain their perspectives on increasing investment in the country and on the continent.

In Cape Town, the Deputy Secretary met with financial executives, investors, and independent entrepreneurs to hear about the challenges and opportunities they face. He also visited Philippi Village, a community hub and business incubator. There, he met artists, creators, and entrepreneurs who have launched micro and small businesses, creative brands, and artistic pursuits in the local community. In Johannesburg, Deputy Secretary toured Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, where over 4 million young South Africans are connected to job and earning opportunity through the mobile platform SA.Youth. He also met with the next generation of talented students at the African Leadership Academy, where he attended the annual Entrepreneurial Festival competition.

South Africa’s prosperity is important to the region and the globe, and the U.S. Treasury wants to be a partner in increasing the dynamism of the South African economy and delivering prosperity to its people. In particular, the transition to clean energy should create jobs and economic opportunity for South Africa, given the global need for so many of the critical minerals that can be found in country.  

Deputy Secretary Adeyemo visited the Sibanye-Stillwater platinum group metals (PGMs) mine in Rustenburg, where he observed the capital investments, workforce development, and infrastructure needed to power responsible sourcing and processing of these minerals. South Africa is home to 89 percent of global PGM reserves; PGMs accounted for 9.7 percent of South Africa’s total exports in 2023, and one quarter of PGM exports went to the United States.

The Deputy Secretary also toured the Cape Town factory location of Ener-G-Africa, a company producing solar panels and affordable, energy-efficient cookware to fill critical gaps for consumers in sub-Saharan Africa.

With government counterparts, the Deputy Secretary discussed ways to deepen economic ties between the two countries, particularly through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and by working with the over 600 American companies with a presence in South Africa. The United States is South Africa’s third-largest trading partner and a major destination for South African investment, and South Africa is the United States’ largest trading partner in Africa. Because of AGOA, over $3 billion of South African exports to the United States entered duty free last year.

The Deputy Secretary’s government meetings included Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana, Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel, South African Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago, Deputy Minister of Finance David Masondo, and Eskom CEO Dan Marakone and Board Chairman Mteto Nyati. These meetings covered key priorities for unlocking the potential of the South African economy.

Additionally, in meetings at the National Treasury , the Deputy Secretary and other senior U.S. officials participated in two technical gatherings: one focusing on South Africa’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regime and combatting illicit finance, and one building upon the work of the  U.S.-South Africa Task Force on Combating the Financing of Wildlife Trafficking . Participants discussed the importance of strong AML/CFT compliance and combatting corruption to attracting investment.

At the conclusion of his trip, Deputy Secretary Adeyemo noted that the U.S. and South Africa remain intrinsically linked through shared fundamental values and offered support for growing economic opportunities between the two democratic countries.

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    As part of the Tourism Sector Master Plan's objectives to stimulate demand by investing in attractive tourism offerings, the Department of Tourism is conducting a number of tourism infrastructure projects across the country. Empowering youth and women through tourism in Khayelitsha in the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality.

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    Visa Information: For foreigners present in South Africa, the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) announced new directives extending the validity of legally-acquired visas or permits until the end of December 2021 for holders who have not departed South Africa since the announcement of the National State of Disaster in March 2020 ...

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  14. Apply for a visa

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  18. Advice for South African Citizens Travelling Abroad

    If you have any questions about passports, you can either contact the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria at telephone +27 12 395 4307 (from abroad) or 0800 60 11 90 within South Africa or the Home Affairs Contact Centre via e-mail on [email protected], or any regional office of the Department of Home Affairs.

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