The currency in South Africa is the South Africa Rand (R) which is made up of 100 cents.
Credit Cards are widely accepted (except at gas stations which only accept cash payment) and ATM machines are widely available in the main cities and towns.
Tipping is standard in South Africa. The following amounts are basic guidelines and you can always reward excellent service with a larger gratuity.
Accommodation: A standard 10% of the total bill can be paid on check-out and this should usually be distributed among the various staff members.
Airport, train station and hotel porters: Porters are given a tip of R3 – R5 per item of luggage, paid directly at the time of checking in or out.
Restaurants: A tip of 10% – 15% is standard but do check with the manager as some restaurants in South Africa add on a standard service charge.
Private Tour guide: R100-R150 for a full day tour or R50-R100 for a half-day tour.
Private Game Lodges: Your lodge will often leave out three envelopes for tips: one for your ranger, one for your tracker and one for general staff. This may lead you to feel under some pressure but please remember tipping is entirely discretionary, depending on how well you feel the team have performed. The following is only a guideline:
- Ranger / Guide: R50-R75 per person per day
- Tracker: R25-R30 per person per day
- General staff: R30-R50 per person per day
Generally speaking South Africa is a safe place to visit. The country does has a very high level of crime, although most cases of violent crime occur in the townships. Ensure you are with a reliable tour guide if you visit a township. The risk of violent crime to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations is generally low. The South African authorities give high priority to protecting tourists.
There is a known to be a problem with theft from baggage at O.R. Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International airports. Travelers are encouraged to secure their luggage with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, use an airport plastic wrapping service and avoid placing any items of value in checked luggage. Make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur.
For up to date advice we recommend you refer to your own governmental travel advisories:
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice South Africa: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/south-africa
US Department of State International Travel Information South Africa: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1008.html