South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana
Things to know
South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana
(Updated on Mar 08 2023)
- Passports must be valid for at least 6 months from the return date of your trip.
- U.S. Resident Aliens need both passport and Alien Resident Card for re-entry to the United States.
- Carry emergency contact person’s name, address and telephone number with you.
- Keep travel documents, the passport, personal necessities and valuables with you at all times and make a copy of them.
- It is suggested to inform your credit card company of your traveling and to confirm your credit line prior to departure.
- Be sure you have all the necessary documents and money before leaving for the airport.
- Tourists to South Africa do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days. However, South African law requires travelers to have at least two blank visa pages in their passports for entry stamps. Travelers without the requisite blank visa pages in their passports may be refused entry, fined, and returned to their point of origin at their own expense. It is strongly suggested that all travelers check the latest requirements at the South African Embassy website before traveling http://www.saembassy.org.
- Effective from 1 June 2015, South African authorities require that all children under 18 years, traveling to/from South Africa, be in possession of their original unabridged birth certificate reflecting both parents full names and surnames. Children traveling with one parent, or other person/s, or where parent/s are deceased, must be in possession of an affidavit from the remaining parent/s or guardian permitting the child to travel.
- American passport holders do not need to apply for an entry visa to Zimbabwe at the border. The cost is about USD30 for a 30-day single entry visa.
- No entry visa is required to Botswana.
Health & Medical Matters
- Ritz Tours suggests all passengers to purchase your own travel insurance.
- Health requirements for entry into South Africa may depend on the country of origin and countries visited en route. These requirements may change from time to time. Further Information on vaccinations and other health precautions for travelers may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) website http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/ or the World Health Organization's (WHO) website http://www.who.int/countries/zaf/en/
- It is strongly recommended that you consult your doctor for existing medical conditions four to six weeks before you leave. Vaccination is one of the best ways to reduce the infectious risk. Ensure your routine childhood vaccinations are up to date. Some vaccinations may require booster doses. Ask your doctor and get the boosters.
- If you are taking prescription medication, please pack in your hand luggage sufficient quantity for the duration of the trip and make sure it is fully labeled.
- Malaria is a serious concern in many parts of Africa, but luckily Victoria Falls is located in a low-risk area. However, it’s still important to take precautions against mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net, which most lodges will provide for you.
- If you’re coming from a high-risk area, you may also want to consider getting malaria prophylaxis before your trip. These are easy enough to get from your doctor or a travel clinic, and they can help offer additional peace of mind while you’re traveling.
- In South Africa malaria is found in some areas of the north-eastern part. If you travel to a malaria-risk area you must take prevention drugs and avoid mosquito bites:
- wear long sleeves, long trousers and socks
- apply insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin
- spray your room with aerosol insecticide
- use mosquito-proof bed net
- stay indoors between dusk and dawn
- close doors and windows or protect them with screens
- switch on fans or air conditioners
- use mosquito mats or coils during the night
- In case of illness during your trip, please notify your tour guide for immediate assistance.
South Africa Customs Procedures
- Drugs, firearms, weapons, counterfeit goods, meats, vegetables, fruits or foods are prohibited.
- Duty-free allowance for visitor over 18 years of age: 200 cigarettes, 250g Cigar, 20 cigars, 2 liters of wine, 50ml perfume
- The currency in SA is Rand (ZAR). One South African Rand equals 100 cents. As of Mar 2023, the exchange rate is: USD 1 = ZAR 18.58.
- South African bank notes in excess of R10,000, gold coins and stamp collections and unprocessed gold have to be declared.
- Most international credit cards are accepted, mainly Mastercard or Visa card. Foreign currency may be exchanged at the international airports, commercial banks and hotels. It is advisable to carry cash with you for small payments.
- The local currency in Zimbabwe are the Zambian kwacha and the Zimbabwean dollar. If you’ll be staying in Zimbabwe, many tourist establishments also accept US dollars, which can make things easier for visitors from the US.
- The local currency in Botswana is Pula (BWP). As of Mar 2023, the exchange rate is USD1=BWP 13.40. The US dollars are widely accepted.
- It’s a good idea to have some cash on hand when you arrive, as not all places accept credit cards.
- Baggage allowance for international flights may vary by airline and is subject to change at any time.
- South African Airways (SA): Piece concept now applies on all SA Airways operating and services. Economy Class customers for international flights can check in two pieces of luggage free, up to 50 lbs (23 kg) each. Total dimensions (length + width + height) of each piece must not exceed 62 inches (158 cm). Additional charges will apply for overweight. If exceeding 32kg (70lb), the piece of baggage will be not accepted as baggage. It must be checked as Cargo at specified cargo rated. Carry-on baggage is restricted to one piece of luggage, up to 18 lbs (8 kg), and the dimensions of 56 x 36 x 23cm=115cm (45 inches). For up to date baggage allowance of South African Airways, please check its official website before traveling: www.flysaa.com.
- Emirates (EK): First class or business class can check in two pieces of luggage free, up to 70 lbs (32kg) each. Economy class check bag allowance is up to 50 lbs (23kg) each. Please visit its official website: www.emirates.com.
- SA Airlink (4Z) The general free baggage allowance on Airlink flights is 20 kg in Economy Class and 30 kg in Business Class per adult passenger. please check its official website: https://www.flyairlink.com/en/za/baggage/checked-or-hold-baggage
- Kenya Airways (KQ), Economy class between African countries : 2 PC 23kg/50lbs max each , Business class 2PC 32kg/70lbs max each. please check its official website: https://www.kenya-airways.com/prepare-for-travel/baggage-information/baggage-allowance/en/
- Children & Infants paying at least 75% of the adult fare are entitled to the same baggage allowance as adults.
- It is recommended that all checked luggage has a lock (combination locks are recommended) and a luggage tag showing the name and contact information of the owner. (Use Ritz Tours tags for easy identification)
- DO NOT pack medicine, valuables or other personal necessities in checked luggage. Keep them in a carry-on bag.
- Consider packing one change of clothing, one set of underwear and toiletry in your carry-on bag to avoid inconvenience caused by delayed or lost luggage.
- Important note: Ritz Tours representatives cannot enter the baggage claim area. Baggage carts are available at all airports. Collect your luggage and exit, our local representatives will be waiting for you outside.
- All baggage from the group will be collected for transport between the airport and hotel in a separate vehicle. Baggage service is limited to two bags per customer.
- Consult www.tsa.gov for USA restrictions on baggage.
- Although the tour guides will be happy to assist you with any shopping requirements, Ritz Tours does not assume responsibility for any items purchased at shops while on tour. You are never required to purchase any items while on tour and must be responsible for your own purchases. Any after sales correspondence must be between the passenger and the shop in question. It is travelers’ responsibility to observe US Customs restrictions when bringing in any goods from a tour.
- Foreign visitors may reclaim VAT (Value-Added Tax) on purchases taken out of South Africa with a total value exceeding R250, retain all invoices. VAT is levied at 14%.
Drinking Water/FoodMeals are provided as per itinerary. It is advisable to drink plenty of water in the heat and drink only sealed bottled mineral water which is available almost everywhere and is to be paid for. Take special precautions in rural areas.
Language11 official languages, English, Afrikaans, Sotho, Xhosa and Zulu are the most commonly spoken.
Clothing / Things to Bring
Dress should be informal and comfortable throughout the trip.
- Be prepared to dress smart/casual in the better hotels and lodges. Bring a collar or tie with you.
- It's best to wear good walking shoes throughout the trip.
- On Safari, you will require casual, neutral colored, cotton clothing (no bright colors or whites), lightweight trousers, slacks, and shirts are ideal.
- A warm jacket is recommended for the early morning, morning, and evening game drives.
- Bring a sun-hat, plenty of sunblock lotion with high protection factor, swimwear (in summer), comfortable sandals, binoculars and malaria tablets (if applicable).
- A light waterproof jacket is necessary for the summer shower months.
Time DifferentialsSouth Africa does not utilize Daylight Saving Time. In Daylight Saving Time, South Africa is 9 hours ahead of Los Angeles (PST) and 6 hours ahead of New York (EST).
Electrical RequirementDomestic supply is 220/230 volts 50Hz. Plugs: 3-pin large round. It is advisable to buy a cheap local adapter on arrival in South Africa, rather than buy an international adapter.
International Call & Emergency Info
- South Africa: International access code is 09, country code is 27
- USA: International access code is 011, country code is 1
- Dial to USA from S. Africa: 09 + 1 + City code + Local No.
- Dial to S. Africa from the USA: 011 +27 + City code + Local No.
- South Africa Emergency Call: 10111
- American Consulate in South Africa:
- Cape Town (27) 21-702-7300 or 0800-980-444
- Johannesburg (27) 11-290-3000
TippingGratuities are not included in your tour cost. They are customary, and their purpose is to encourage and reward quality service. Our tour guides, drivers, hotel porters and other service personnel do their utmost to make your trip smooth and pleasant. Gratuities are a way of showing your appreciation and also constitute a large part of their monthly income. However, tips are NEVER mandatory. Ritz Tours suggests tipping in the following manner (per person per day in USD):
- Tour Guide: US$5; Driver: US$3
- Game Ranger: US$10; Tracker: US$5
WeatherSouth Africa has two climatic systems. The south-western Cape has a Mediterranean climate with winter rainfall (May-August) and a dry hot summer (September to April), whilst the rest of the country has exceptionally sunny weather throughout the year, broken only by spells of rain in the summer months. The long spring and summer months – late August to mid May make South Africa a holiday-maker's paradise, whilst in the winter months the weather is still beautiful, with generally warm sunny days and cool nights (except in the South-Western Cape where this is the green season).
Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Victoria Falls are considered as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The falls are 1,708 meters (5,604 feet) wide and 108 meters (354 feet) high.During the peak season (April to May), the Zambezi River flows at an average of 1,086 cubic meters per second! The spray from the waterfalls can reach up to 400 meters (1,300 feet) into the air.Victoria Falls is home to a variety of wildlife, including hippos, elephants, and buffalo. This makes it a great destination for those who’d like to enjoy an authentic African safari as well as see the Falls themselves.In the local Kololo and Lozi languages, Victoria Falls is called Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means the “smoke that thunders”.The roar of the falling water is so loud, that it can occasionally be heard from up to 25 miles (40 kilometers) away! Victoria Falls tends to have hot summers from September through to April, with temperatures getting as high as 32 degrees Celsius (about 90 degrees Fahrenheit), and pleasantly mild winters from May through to August, with afternoon temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit).
Botswana’s Chobe and Savuti regions constitute a rich diversity of habitats that fall mostly within the boundaries of Chobe National Park, Botswana’s oldest wildlife reserve. The park was proclaimed in 1968 and protects an area of 11,700km2 that at the time of its formation was largely being ravaged by big game hunters and commercial logging. Chobe National Park is located in the north-east of Botswana, falling within the convergence of two major biomes: Kalahari savanna meets broad-leaved and acacia woodland as well as Zambezi Teak forest. Running through these beautiful ecosystems is the illustrious Chobe River with its yawning floodplains and surrounding riparian forest.
Safety on Safari
- All reserves have a set of rules that you need to follow to ensure your safety. Many of the animals you'll come across, particularly lion, hippo, elephant and buffalo, are dangerous. Stay in your car and keep a reasonable distance. Never get off the jeep without permission. Never feed the wild animals.
- Africa has its fair share of poisonous snakes–though they are rarely encountered. If you plan on doing any walking, take along boots, socks and long trousers as a precautionary measure (which also helps with ticks) – and always look where you're going.
- For the Game Lodges, neutral colored cotton-wear clothing, lightweight trousers, slacks, and shirts are recommended.
- Avoid swimming in rivers that have hippos and crocodiles.
- In South Africa, driving is on the left-hand side of the road.
- Keep your eyes on your personal belongings and valuables at all times.
- Respect other group members, your tour guides and drivers. Refrain from talking when the tour guide is speaking.
- Safety of travelers has always been our number one concern. For your safety, you should notify the tour guide ahead of time if you plan to go out at night or roam in your free time alone.
- Always be cautious when staying at a hotel. Never allow strangers into your room. Keep doors locked at all times.
- For the protection of your own interests, read carefully your itinerary and hotel information prior to the tour. Leave a copy to your family.
- A nice and smooth trip counts on every group member's high cooperation. It is important to follow the indicated meeting time and meeting point. Use the red round name badge provided by Ritz Tours for easy identification. To make your trip as enjoyable as possible, allow enough time for flight check-in, security screening and boarding: 2 hours for US domestic travel, 3 hours for international travel. For flight delay, cancellation, or any emergency, please contact Ritz Tours immediately: Headquarters: (626)289-7777, 1-888-345-7489, Emergency contact: 626-677-3415