Set in the sub-tropical Mpumalanga agricultural and forestry area, the streets of White River are lined with date palms, bougainvillea and jacaranda trees. It has been said that White River has the best climate in South Africa.
Summer has warm to hot sunny days with possible rainfall. While winter has warm winter days with cold nights and chilly mornings. Winters are generally dry and best game viewing time as the grasses die back and the game is easier to spot. This is also the lowest risk time for malaria which is present in the Kruger National Park Game Reserve.
The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are directly opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere. For summer months, lightweight (cottons and linens), short-sleeved clothes are best, although a light jersey/jumper might be needed for the cooler evenings. Umbrellas and raincoats are essential for the summers. Warmer clothes are needed for the winter months.
OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is the major airport in South Africa and is the hub for 45 airlines from all five continents. Flights from Europe are generally overnight and just a sleep away. The direct flights between the USA and Johannesburg are about 15 hours, and flights between Europe and Johannesburg take about 12 hours. The new Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (just 12 km from Karula) also enables visitors from both overseas and in land to travel conveniently and quickly to the heart of Mpumalanga. Driving from Johannesburg will take about 4 hours.
To find out if you need a visa to visit South Africa, visit the South African Department of Home Affairs website which provides detailed information on South Africa's visa requirements. The website gives particulars about which nationals require visas and which are exempt.
Please note: Visas and other travel requirements changed in May 2014. Enquiries regarding South Africa visa information can also be obtained from South African missions in your home country, or the one nearest to you. It is very important to remember that visas are not issued at ports of entry and must be in your passport before you depart for the country.
Banks and Money
The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1 (one Rand). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Changes. Most major international credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates are widely accepted.
Most restaurants do not add a service charge to bills - thus it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip. Parking and petrol station attendants should be given whatever small change you have available. This is always appreciated, even though it may seem a small amount.
Value-added-tax (VAT) is charged on most items. Foreign tourists to South Africa can have their 14% VAT refunded provided that the value of the items purchased exceeds R250.00. VAT is refunded at the point of departure provided receipts are produced.
NB: VAT is not refundable on hotel accommodation or restaurants - ie. anything that is "consumed" in this country.
Medical facilities in South Africa are, in general, of a high standard, particularly private hospitals and clinics. Private hospitals and clinics in South Africa are of a high standard and offer specialist treatment by high-skilled specialists. It is advisable to take out comprehensive medical insurance before travelling to South Africa as private health care is expensive.
As a rule, tap water in South Africa is safe to drink as it is treated and is free of harmful microorganisms. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation top-notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks - a good thing, too, after a day on in the bush.
Consult your physician or pharmacist for advice on Malaria. If you intend travelling to malaria areas, take the necessary prophylaxis before you leave home.
South Africa boasts a vast array of cultures, communities, sites and attractions. Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists provided they take basic common-sense precautions (for example not walking alone or in small groups in deserted or dodgy areas, and being circumspect about how much visible electronic equipment or flashy jewellery you carry)
Other safety precautions you may want to consider include:
- Locking valuables and luggage away in the car boot while travelling (never leave handbags or cameras on car seats)
- Being vigilant of your luggage and other belongings (never leave them unattended).
- Storing valuables in your hotel safe.
- Limit the amount of money you carry on your person. Also, never accept offers of assistance at ATMs and keep your pin numbers secure.
- When using a credit card in restaurants, ask the waiter to bring a portable credit card machine to your table. Report stolen or lost cards immediately.
- Only use reputable tour operators and travel and transport services. If you're not sure, ask your hotel to recommend a service provider for you.
- Make sure your car is locked when using a remote control. Jamming central locking by thieves does happen.
Our main toll roads are generally in an excellent condition. However, watch out for pot holes and poor surfacing on the secondary and rural roads. In addition, distances between towns can be significant, so if you're planning to self-drive, it is a good idea to plan your itinerary to ensure you don't drive long distances as fatigue is a major cause of road accidents. Avoid long car journeys that necessitate driving at night as it always carries more risk. Also, in some of the more remote rural areas, the roads are not fenced so there may be stray animals on the road - which could be very dangerous at night. (Cows don't have headlights.) Be aware of fellow drivers, and do not confront aggressive or abusive road users.
We have very strict drinking and driving laws - with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. Translated that means about one glass of wine for the average woman and perhaps 1.5 or two for the average or large man. Our speed limits are 120kmph on the open road, 100kmph on smaller roads and between 60 and 80kmph in towns. Be aware that even major national roads cut through residential areas so there may be a speed limit of 80 or 60kmph on a road that looks like an autobahn. This is to protect pedestrians, especially children, so we really do encourage people to comply.
All visitors intending to drive are required to obtain an international drivers permit, visitors found driving without a permit will be fined and not permitted to continue on their journey. Visitors will also not be able to rent a car without a valid driver's permit. Wearing seat belts is compulsory and cellphones can only be used ‘hands free'
South Africa's electricity supply: 220/230 volts AC 50 Hz Most plugs have three round pins but some plugs with two smaller pins are also found on appliances. Adaptors can be purchased but may be in short supply. US-made appliances may need a transformer.
Most major shopping centres and malls operate 7 days a week, but you will find that in the smaller towns and rural areas that shops are closed on a Sunday.