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South Africa Travel Tips

South Africa travel tips on money saving, personal safety, sightseeing, and enjoying your trip to the fullest from InfoHub suppliers and community members.

Tips on Wildlife Photography # 3
Submitted by M19118
3. Format. Use RAW. Many amateur photographers are unfamiliar with RAW format, and stick to Jpeg as a result. If you are at all serious about photography, forget about taking Jpegs and switch to RAW. The basic advantages are that a RAW file has far more ‘information’ in it than a Jpeg, and as a result means that you can do a lot more with it in the processing phase, such as pulling back an overexposed sky. Secondly, a RAW file can be worked on without losing any data, and the editing can be undone at any stage, ... view more so the original can be kept as the master copy, and Jpegs or TIFFs created whenever they are needed. Of course this means that you’ll need a software program to be able to edit and convert the RAW files (such as Adobe Photoshop or Elements, or the Digital Photo Professional bundle that comes with Canon cameras), but a program like this is absolutely essential anyway. With RAW you'll be able to save photographs that, if taken in Jpeg format, would have been headed for the recycle bin!
Tips on Wildlife Photography #2
Submitted by M19118
2. Preparation. Action often comes unexpectedly on a safari, and even if we’re not talking about a Cheetah taking down an Impala at 60 miles an hour, an animal you want to photograph may only look up at the vehicle for a few seconds as you arrive and then put its head down again to carry on resting or feeding. Having your lens cap on and your camera switched off in between taking shots will mean that you may miss out on the best opportunities of the trip. Dust is just something you have to live with on a safari, ... view more though the effects can be mitigated by regular cleaning of your gear and by keeping it covered with a cloth while you are not using it (camera on lap covered by cloth), and by not changing lenses while out in the field (see point 4). And batteries can be charged, and you should have a spare with you anyway, so there’s no reason to turn your camera off during any given drive. Cap off and camera on! In the photo below, there were only a few seconds available to catch the action – pick up camera, point and shoot! No time for removing lens caps and turning cameras on…
Tips on Wildlife Photography #1
Submitted by M19118
1. Light. Many people might assume that the bright African sunshine makes for easy photographic conditions. Wrong! Big predators are most active early and late in the day, when light levels are low. Overcast mornings are also common in summer, when light levels remain low long after the sun has risen. Bean bags for support, fast lenses and high ISO settings are the ways to make sure that you can get sharp shots despite the low light levels at these times of the day. Later in the day the shadows become harsh, which ... view more presents its own problems as the contrast in a scene can be extreme. This is where taking photos in RAW format will help tremendously (see point 3), and using spot metering to avoid clipping the highlights and shadows will also help. In such conditions you may also need to think carefully about composition, for example rather zooming in close to avoid large areas of bright sky, which is especially prone to clipping. In the photograph below the shade and the sunlight created harsh contrasts. Spot metering on a more ‘in between’ region such as the trunk of a tree helped, but working in RAW allowed me to reduce the contrast to create a usable image.
Eating and Drinking in South Africa.
Submitted by M19118
Food: In South Africa you can eat salad, unpeeled fruit, eggs and so forth in a restaurant without worrying about stomach upsets, diarrhea and other health issues. This of course applies to mainstream restaurants.
Water: Tap water is generally potable all across South Africa. In certain areas however, such as the Kruger National Park, the mineral content is different enough to cause mild upsets in those with more sensitive constitutions, so bottled water may be a good idea in such cases.
Eating in South Africa
Submitted by M18395
South Africa has very good drinking water which makes it one of the few destinations in Africa where it is safe to drink tap water. Restaurants are often of a very high quality. You can go really wild around Cape Town and in the wine lands and wine and dine at TOP restaurants. Prices are still very reasonable, unlike most European restaurants.
Malaria free safaris South Africa
Submitted by M18395
Unlike any other safari destination in Africa, in South Africa it's possible to choose a malaria area to enjoy your safari. The Madikwe area as well as the Addo Elephant area are both malaria free. This makes it very convenient to bring your kids as you don't need to give them (or yourselves) any medication.
Best travel season for South Africa
Submitted by M18395
Although a lot of guide books will tell you September - December are the best months, it has been a bit different the last few years. October and November have had quite a lot of rain and March and April have become much better months to travel here. South Africa is a yearround destination with still very little rain no matter which season you decide to come.
Traveling with kids to South Africa
Submitted by M18395
South Africa is a great country to travel with kids. Lots of accommodations offer family units
Self-catering options are plenty. Malaria free safaris are possible in quite a few parks. Kids' activities are great and there's lots on offer. The food is very good and a lot of variety so kids will always find something they like.

South Africans LOVE kids!
Car rental direct or through operator?
Submitted by M18395
I've just helped out a client who wasn't able to rent a car with unlimited mileage and no liability. Tour operators in South Africa get preferential rates with car rental companies and are often offered better terms & conditions than clients booking directly. So it does make sense to contact an operator in South Africa (can be us :) to organize your car rental for you. I highly recommmend to take an option with 0 liability but you'll have to read the small letters to make sure it REALLY is 0 in ... view more all instances. We only work with car rental companies that can ensure that...
Save on accommodation
Submitted by M15084
Our Language School students receive 10% discount on accommodation at Island Vibe backpackers in Knysna and Lungile Lodge in Port Elizabeth.
How to Choose the Right Train for You
Submitted by M09457
How do you choose the right train for you? It's not as simple as it sounds, but we like to ask these questions:
1. Do you like fine dining?
2. Do you require an en-suite shower, sink and toilet?
3. Are you a single traveler or will you be traveling with a companion?
4. Do you like to "cruise" on a train with little or no sightseeing? OR, are sightseeing stops important to you?

When you call The Society of International Railway Travelers, we like to learn the above so we can find just the right trip for you.
Travel with Friends and Save!
Submitted by M06827
When minimum 4 friends/ family members book a departure together we offer 20% off the regular price!
Claim your VAT back in South Africa
Submitted by M18395
From all purchases made in South Africa, you can claim 14% VAT back before your return to your home country. Always ask for a VAT invoice when you buy souvenirs, clothes etc. At the airport you can fill out a list and show your products and you'll get 14% of purchase price back!
Behaviour tips
Submitted by M17574
1. Go nowhere before asking local advice or take a reliable guide or local person with you.
2. Seriously avoid dark streets if walking and even better, avoid walking at all.
3. Tipping in restaurants etc. is adequate at a basis of about 10% on Bill Value with extra service worth a small % more.
4. Use a tour guide so you know what you are looking at especially in Game Reserves.
5. Never flash your wallet or money in public, avoid carrying large amounts of cash and keep cameras discreetly out of obvious sight to avoid looking like a tourist.
South African passport control
Submitted by M15338
Please be aware that:
- Visitors to South Africa are required to have at least three blank Visa pages (not endorsement pages) in their passports in order to receive an entry visa.
- Passports must also be valid for at least six months from the guests’ return home date.
- We recommend a validity of nine months to prevent any problems in this regard.
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