Travel insurance for holidays in South Africa

Cheap South Africa travel insurance? We've got you covered.

South Africa is a magical place. It can be both exhilarating and sophisticated, with a marked contrast between Cape Town's European feel and the wildness of the bush – where you'll get to feel a part of the ‘real' Africa. Then there is the coast and South Africa's plethora of beautiful beaches.

There are so many options in South Africa: driving the Garden Route, going on safari, surfing off Durban or beach-going in Cape Town. You can even go shark diving if you have the nerve!

Whatever you decide to see in South Africa, don't leave home without a policy from World First.

We offer a choice of policies to give you all the benefits and cover you'll need for your trip, whether going for a family holiday or a gap year. Longstay policies offer a choice of benefits and levels of cover with emergency medical expenses available up to £5 million and cancellation cover up to £2500 whilst our Single Trip policies offer emergency medical expenses up to £10 million as well as all the essentials – cancellation, public liability and personal luggage – at a fraction of the cost of other insurers. And, of course, all our policies give you access to 24/7 emergency assistance wherever you are in South Africa.

We'll even cover you for that scuba diving trip.

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Your quick guide to travelling in South Africa

With around 8 million visitors a year, South Africa is Africa's third most visited country. It is an emerging market with a well developed financial sector and stock market and has been democratic since 1994. Currently is it governed by the ANC, the Africa National Congress.

Tourism is big business and continues to be one of the country's fastest growing sectors, with a focus on responsible tourism especially prevalent.

Official language(s):
South Africa has 11 official languages although English is the most commonly spoken language in official and commercial life.

Currency:
the ZAR or South African Rand.

Capital:
Cape Town (Legislative), Pretoria (administrative), Bloemfontein (judicial)

Emergency Services:
Ambulance: 10177, Fire: 10111, Police: 10111

Dialling code:
+27

Getting in

UK citizens do not need a visa to enter South Africa for up to 90 days although you should have a blank page available in your passport, an onward ticket (if travelling by air) and proof that you can support yourself for the duration of your stay.

If you intend to work or stay longer you should contact the South African High Commission.

See their website here.

Weather: the perfect climate!

Africa enjoys a subtropical location. However, because it has ocean on three sides and an interior plateau it tends to be cooler than many countries on the same latitude. But don't think that it's going to be chilly. South Africa is beautifully warm and dry with an average of just 450mm of rain falling mainly in summer almost everywhere except the Western Cape.

On the interior plateau average summer temperatures rarely rise above 30 degrees, making it a very pleasant place to travel. In winter the night time temperature can drop to freezing point or below due to the altitude. Down at the coast however, the weather can be affected more by the oceans. The Indian Ocean on the eastern coast is warm whilst the Atlantic on the western coast is cooler. Both have an effect on coastal temperatures and weather.

The best time to come to South Africa depends a lot on what you want to do. The surfing is best in the winter (which is the UK's summer), as is diving and game watching. In winter there is less rain so safaris have more success by visiting watering holes than at other times of the year when they have to search harder for game. If you want to go whale watching then June to October is the time to come.

Currency: making your money go further

South Africa's currency is the Rand.

Money can be withdrawn from ATMs with a Mastercard or Visa card all over South Africa and those cards can also be used to purchase goods or services in lots of places.

At the time of writing the GB pound was the equivalent to around 16 Rand. To put this into perspective, fuel is around 13 Rand per litre and beers cost around R20 for a 500 ml bottle. Expect to pay around R120 for a decent bottle of wine.

In general travelling in South Africa is cheaper than travelling in the US or Europe but can still be expensive if you think that travelling well means staying in the most expensive hotels or eating in the costliest restaurants. As with anywhere the high end can be VERY high end - and with that comes a price tag.

Crime: good sense pays

Crime levels in South Africa are high and include murder and rape. However, according to the foreign office, the risk of violent crime to visitors travelling to the main tourist areas is generally low.

They also advise that car-jacking and robbery are common, with the biggest risk being in out of the way places or at night. The solution to this is to keep to well lit areas and main roads. Another warning is to avoid having valuables and jewellery on view, whether in the car or on your person. Large amounts of cash, expensive gadgets, cameras and phones – as well as the more obvious jewellery – should be kept out of sight. Avoid taking large amounts of cash from cash machines in busy public areas.

Having said that, most visits to South Africa are trouble free – especially for people who stay in tourist areas, don't go to out of the way places or townships without guides and who are sensible about displays of wealth.

The South African Police take crimes against tourists very seriously and most tourist centres will have tourist police to help prevent problems.

World First's Superior policy will cover you for gadgets and personal possessions up to £1000, unauthorised use of mobiles up to £50 and clothes and footwear up to £1200 if you are unlucky enough to be involved in a robbery.

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Smoking: don't light up!

South Africa was one of the first countries in the world to ban smoking in public places. In 2000 its Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act prohibited smoking in restaurants, pubs, shopping centres and offices where there was no separate, enclosed smoking room.

Laws were tightened further in 2009 when the government banned smoking in partially enclosed public places such as covered patios, verandas, balconies, walkways and parking areas, as well as smoking in cars with passengers under the age of 12.

Smoking is banned in all airport terminals, in restaurants, pubs and offices with no designated smoking areas, on all public transport, and in cinemas and shopping malls.

Penalties are harsh for smokers flouting the ban so only light up if you are sure the area has been designated specially for smoking.

Electricity: time to adapt.

The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ.

Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins so you'll need an adaptor for your UK devices, although you won't need a transformer.

Drugs: just say no.

As with most countries, drug use, possession and trafficking are illegal in South Africa. However, drug taking is still prevalent, with new ‘trendy' drugs coming into fashion regularly. Often these can be extremely unpleasant and may often be cut with unpleasant chemicals such as rat poison and heroin.

The simple advice is to avoid all contact with drugs.

If you need to take prescription drugs with you when you visit South Africa, remember to take a copy of your prescription with you in case you are stopped at customs or by police during your visit. And don't forget that your medication will be covered in case you lose it when you have a World First travel insurance policy.

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Healthcare: don't go without us!

Compared to the rest of Africa, South Africa has a well developed health care system that includes both state-funded and private facilities. Emergency healthcare is good, particularly in the cities, but primary care is also widely available in rural areas. In recent years private 'rapid response' medical practitioners have begun to fill the gap in emergency provision.

Either way, if you have to go to a private or public clinic, doctor or hospital, expect to pay. How much depends on the service and the type of healthcare provider that has picked you up or you have gone to. It may be as little as a 50 or so Rand for a simple consultation but if things are serious it will work out much, much more.

The upshot? Don't ever travel without proper travel insurance from World First. Our policies are designed for all kinds of travellers, whether back packing, going on a gap year or just taking a family holiday.

South Africa: Know Before You Go

For up to the minute travel news, check out the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's website. Their Know Before You Go site has information on all risks to all travellers in more than 255 countries and territories around the world, including South Africa.

See the latest information at Know Before You Go HERE.

Follow the FCO on twitter HERE.

Of course, if you have any questions about our South Africa travel insurance, please call us on 0345 90 80 161 or email info@world-first.co.uk.

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