What did you wish you'd known before arriving in South Africa?

Game Drive Kapama - Carrie Hampton

Game Drive Kapama - Carrie Hampton

There’s been an interesting discussion on Trip Advisor’s Travel Forum when GJ in Hong Kong posed the question; “What did you wish you'd known before arriving in SA?”

Let me share some of the answers...

  • Take your passport and hotel reservation to a cellphone store (to prove identity and address) and buy a cheap local SIM card and air time. Ensure your phone is unlocked.
  • Buy a 3-pin round-prong South African adaptor plug so you can charge your devices.
  • Be prepared for cold early morning game drives in open Land Rovers. Carrie says “bring a woolie hat and even gloves!”

I feel well qualified to offer a few more suggestions, since I came to South Africa on holiday from London, England in 1995 and stayed! After travelling the world searching for my place, I found it in Cape Town and never left. I am still amused by some of the quirks of South Africa, but remain appalled at the terrible driving.

Here are my Top 6 Driving Tips:

  1. Roundabouts are called circles and many people don’t know how to use them; some people give way but other’s don’t!
  2. South Africans call traffic lights “robots”
  3. Red robots are not considered sacred and drivers run red lights all the time 
  4. A crossroads is known as a 4-way stop and the first car goes first, after which you give way to the right. It’s a bit confusing.
  5. Taxis (minibuses crammed full of commuters) stop and start wherever they like at any time, even in the middle of the road or at a junction. Beware!
  6. Don’t forget to drive on the left.
SA Flag Faces - Cape Town Tourism 

SA Flag Faces - Cape Town Tourism 

Africa has its own way of doing things – don’t try and compare it with your ways and your country. Just embrace the wonder of Africa and you may feel just like these people who added their voice to the forum…

“I wish I had known how addictive it was!!!”

“I wish I had known that I would be bitten thoroughly by the safari bug before my "once-in-a-lifetime" trip. Now it's all I dream about and I'm plotting a return!”

“Africa gets under your skin and you just have to keep going back. It's so addictive!!”

What advice would you give to someone coming on vacation to South Africa?  

You may also have suggestions for travelling to other African countries, so add a comment and we’ll compile a list of ‘What did you wish you knew before travelling’ to: Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique.

This blog post was written by Carrie Hampton, travel writer for Fair Trade Safaris.