Visas: Make sure you have two blank, consecutive pages in your passport before traveling to South Africa. Really.
It’s not such an unusual step: customs officials will place a temporary residence sticker on one page and use the other for stamps. Cases have been reported of travelers’ being refused entry for not having the adequate room in their passports. So, see whether you need to add pages to your passport, and spare yourself any potential hassle.
Transportation: Driving is the most common form of transportation in South Africa, and it is done on the left side of the road. Travelers usually rent a car; hiring a driver is
also common practice, especially for people traveling with children, but is significantly more expensive.
When traveling in a group, consider using buses; if you plan to backpack, note that the Baz Bus is an inexpensive option. If you’re planning to travel long distances by bus, we recommend choosing private companies, like Greyhound and City Liners, over public options. Domestic airlines such as Kululu, Mango, and 1Time are also inexpensive, and faster than the bus, too. As the World Cup began in June 2010, South Africa also introduced the continent’s first high-speed train: the Gautrain links the OR Tambo International Airport with Sandton, Pretoria, Johannesburg, and other locations on both above-ground and underground tracks.
Mobile Phones: If you have a GSM mobile phone, you can use it in South Africa; consider buying a prepaid SIM card at the airport if you don’t have an international plan.
Safety and Security
The U.S. Department of State’s consular website has a great deal of information about safety and security in South Africa. It can’t be repeated often enough: be sensible when you travel. Crime rates vary between cities and townships in South Africa. Be alert and aware about your surroundings. We don’t recommend walking at night in downtown areas: you might be targeted as a tourist and mugged.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to South Africa or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.