Here is all the practical information you need to know to enjoy a smooth visit to South Africa!
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
Car hire companies are located in Plettenberg Bay, George and Port Elizabeth Airports and various other centers.
Plettenberg Bay is renowned for its hot yet pleasant summers and wet mild winters. It is characterized by almost year-round sunshine with hot summers (October-March), with temperatures rising to 27°C (80,6°F) and sometimes even touching the mid-thirties Celsius (mid-nineties Fahrenheit). Winter is typical of the Cape Coastal area, mild weather or rainy during the rainy season. One can expect to be changing clothes as the day progresses from the cool dawn through the warm day and into the cool night. Rest assured though that in general the weather of the Plettenberg Bay will greet you with a hospitable display of sunshine and temperance.
For more information on weather in the Plettenberg Bay and environs, contact the South African Weather Bureau on +27 21 288 0030 or visit the weather website at www.weathersa.co.za
The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere is 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 and the Western Cape winters. Warmer clothes are needed for the winter months.
Generally speaking, our facilities for disabled visitors can be improved, and this is an area our government is working on. An increasing number of accommodation establishments have wheelchair ramps and bathroom facilities for the disabled. Almost every national park has at least one accessible chalet and many accommodation establishments have one or two wheelchair-friendly rooms. Most public buildings also cater for wheelchair access.
Non-residents are permitted to drive with a driving license issued and valid in their own country provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is in English. If your driver’s license does not meet these requirements, an international driver’s license is required. Driving is on the left and the wearing of seatbelts is compulsory.
South Africa’s electricity supply: 220/230 volts AC 50 Hz
Exceptions: Pretoria (230 V) and Port Elizabeth (200/250 V)
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.
Food and water
As a rule, tap water in South Africa is safe to drink as it is treated and is free of harmful microorganisms. 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 the beach or in the bush.
George Airport is the major airport in the region serving Plettenberg bay and is a mere hour’s drive away, Port Elizabeth Airport two hours drive away and for private flight arrivals, Plettenberg Bay Airport is only 5 minutes from town centre. All three airports support flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Flights from Europe are generally overnight and just a sleep away – an aperitif, dinner, sound sleep, and a good breakfast – and voila, you’re in South Africa! The direct flights between the London and Europe to Johannesburg and Cape Town take about 12 hours
Health and Safety
Many foreigners are unaware that South Africa has a well-developed infrastructure, high standards of water treatment and medical facilities equal to the best in the world.
Hospitals and medical care
In a great many medical disciplines, South Africa is a global leader. In fact, South African trained doctors are sought after all over the world, so this should give an indication of the standard of medical care available. A number of public and private hospitals are situated in the area, offering excellent service. However, clients must have adequate health insurance to cover the fees private hospitals charge.
Intercity bus services
The Cape Garden Route offers excellent Inter-City transport and intercity bus services between many destinations in the province and to Cape Town. Luxury bus services operate daily between the Plettenberg Bay, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Passports and Visas
For the majority of foreign nationals who travel to South Africa for vacation, entry is straightforward and hassle-free. All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country, and in some cases, a visa. Please contact the Department of Home Affairs for precise requirements.
For visitors, South Africa is as safe as any other destination in the world. South Africa boasts a vast array of cultures, communities, sites and attractions. Plettenberg Bay and the Cape Garden Route especially can be safely visited by tourists provided they take basic common-sense precautions (for example not walking alone in deserted areas at night and being circumspect about how much photographic equipment or flashy jeweler you carry. Most of the crime that takes place in South Africa is between people who know each other and random acts of violence are the minority of cases.
If you are in doubt as to the safety of a particular area or attraction, contact the Regional Tourism information and Safety Line on 083 123 2345. This number may also be used for practical assistance in replacing lost documents or reporting incidents.
New Year’s Day 01 Jan
Human right’s Day 21 Mar
Good Friday 14 Apr
Family Day 17 Apr
Freedom Day 27 Apr
Worker’s Day 01 May
Youth Day 16 Jun
National woman’s Day 09 Aug
Heritage Day 24 Sep
Day of reconciliation 16 Dec
Christmas Day 25 Dec
Day of goodwill 26 Dec
Our transport infrastructure is excellent and our roads are in good condition. However, the distances between towns are 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.
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
An extensive and efficient national and international telecommunication system in South Africa facilitates communication.
The local exchange code must be dialed together with the telephone number when making local calls (within a metropolitan or municipal area) and national calls (to a different metropolitan or municipal area). Local exchange codes are preceded by a zero (0).
Calls from an international destination to South Africa must be preceded by the exit code from the relevant country, the South African international code 27, the local exchange code without the zero (0), followed finally by the local telephone number.
For example, calling Plettenberg Bay and Bitou Tourism you would dial your exit code followed by: +27 44 533 4065.
Directory Enquiries 1023
Dialing codes can be found in the front of the white-page telephone directory.
International Operator 0009
International Directory 0903
Electronic Yellow Pages 10118
Trunk/Collect Calls 0020
Plettenberg Bay and the Cape Garden Route offers major shopping centers and malls operating 7 days a week. Some shops are closed on a Sunday.
Monday – Saturday: 09:00 to 17:00
Some trading on Sunday
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.
For more information visit www.dfa.gov.za/consular/vat.htm
South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, making it an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time and seven hours behind Australian Central Time.
Most restaurants does 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.
Visitors who are entering South Africa from a yellow fever zone must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Only infants under the age of one year are exempt. Immunization against cholera and small pox are not required and no other vaccinations are required when visiting South Africa.