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A practical guide to South Africa

National holidays and celebrations

The majority of the South African population is Christian, so they celebrate many of the same festivals as we do in the UK. In addition there are a number of national holidays of cultural and historical significance.

If you're not sure when is the best time to travel, have a chat with one of our travel advisers who can help you make the most of South Africa's many and varied cultural experiences.

Non religious public holidays

  • New Year's Day: 1st January
  • Human Rights Day: 21st March
  • Family Day: Last day of Easter break
  • Freedom Day: 27th April
  • Workers' Day: 1st May
  • Youth Day: 16th June
  • National Women's Day: August bank holiday
  • Heritage Day: 24th September
  • Day of Reconciliation: 16th December
  • Day of Goodwill: 26th December

Religious public holidays

  • Good Friday: Friday before Easter
  • Easter Sunday: Varies each year
  • Christmas Day: 25th December

Money and currency

The official currency in South Africa is the rand (R), which comes in easily identifiable notes and coins. The rate with the British pound fluctuates constantly so it's a good idea to check before you travel. Nevertheless, the exchange rate is usually favourable, making South Africa a relatively cheap destination for UK travellers.

You should have very little trouble changing British pounds at most banks upon arrival. ATMs are also widely available in most towns and cities but check with your bank that your card will work beforehand.

In all inclusive resorts you won't need as much cash but it's always a good idea to take some for tipping and emergencies.

Eating out

As with everything in South Africa, the food varies depending on where you are in the country. Most cities, like Cape Town and Durban, will have a huge choice of fine dining eateries and local delicacies to choose from, including some excellent seafood.

Sample the 'biltong', a traditional dried meat similar to jerky in the U.S. The local 'bobotie' is often described as South African moussaka and made with mince and spices topped with baked egg. And don't forget to try some of the delicious domestic wines.

Climate

As diverse as the people and wildlife it is home to, in South Africa the weather depends on where you are located and what time of year you visit. It can range from sunshine-filled skies in the south west to sub-tropical storms in the north west plateau. The weather in South Africa is always exciting, but you can usually expect a healthy dose of sunshine whenever you visit.

  • Summer season is from October through to February and winter is May to July, due to its southern hemisphere location.
  • It's a relatively dry country, with the Western Cape region receiving the least rainfall each year.

  • UK autumn is considered the best time to go as most of South Africa experiences virtually no rainfall and warmer temperatures during this period.

Meterological information

J F M A M J J A S O N D
Average °C 242424222016131316202223
Minimum °C 17181816138558121516
Maximum °C 303030282624212124282929
Sunshine (hours) 7767799101012119
Rain (cm) 1010118410002710

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