In comparison to many of other countries South Africa is less safe. There is a lot of poverty and a huge difference between the rich and the poor which results in high crime rates. The era of Apartheid and the big diffrences between different racial groups has not made things easier.
However, in the last couple of years the fight against crime has improved, but you have to be careful at all times.Think of it as a visit to New York or Barcelona; you can’t go everywhere and you are aware of your surroundings and behaviour. With the right attitude and being aware you can minimalize the risks. Therefore Khaya will help you to find safe and good accommodation and give you some safety tips to minimize your chances of becoming a victim of crime.
Depending on your country of origin there are different procedures for visa applications. If you are from any Schengen country (The Netherlands included) you don’t need to apply for a visa before you leave. When you arrive in South Africa, you will get a visitors permit for 3 months at customs.
Shorter than 3 months
When you stay in South Africa for a shorter period than 3 months you do NOT have to apply for a visa (depending on the country of origin). You will come to South Africa on a temporary visitors permit for 3 months which you will receive on arrival at customs. You will have to show the custom’s authorities a letter or declaration from your receiving company or institute and clearly state that you are here for practical training.
Longer than 3 months, but shorter than 6 months (total stay)
After 2 months in South Africa you must go to Home Affairs with the following information:
- Letter of invitation from you internship placement
- Retour flight ticket
- Copy of travel insurance policy
- Proof of sufficient funds (copy of savings bank account, copy of funds approved by parents, and/or copy of study funds provided by government)
At Home Affairs you have to complete a form and pay approximately 450 ZAR. After a week you can pick up your extended visa.
Longer than 6 months
If you stay longer than 6 months in South Africa, you will have to apply for your visa in your country of origin. In general you will only be given such a visa if you can present a letterin which it is clearly stated you’ll work as a volunteer and do not receive any compensation. Khaya will provide this letter for you.
Local officials can make the process of extending your visa very complicated. Note that sometimes it will take some time to process your documentation. A lot of patience will be needed!
South Africa is located in the Southern hemisphere and the seasons are reversed as opposed to those in the northern hemisphere.
In summer (our winter) it is hot up north and in the east, hot and dry in the interior and sometimes tropically hot in the south. After a drought it can rain for long periods of time especially in areas along the coastline. There can be big thunderstorms, floods and rain, in particularly up north.
In winter (our summer) it can be cold at night and it can freeze up north or in the highveld. Remember to take some warm clothing as well.
The climate in the Eastern Cape is a fairly mild climate, in summer it can be very hot and humid, while in winter it can cool down quite a bit. Though temperatures rarely get below 14 degrees Celsius so it isn’t necessary for you to bring any winter jackets. A couple of sweaters and a wind jacket will be sufficient to keep you warm. Port Elizabeth is also known as the Windy City, as the wind can blow quite strongly some days. Ideal for surfing and other water sports!
South Africa is a very big country with a diversity of climates and circumstances. There are various diseases and illnesses present that are no longer common in Europe. Check with your doctor or other institutions to make sure you have the right vaccinations and make sure you have received all necessary shots before you leave.
The general advice at the moment is to get vaccinations for:
- Hepatitis A
The costs of these vaccinations are in many cases covered by your medical insurance. Please check so you can claim back these expenses.
Protection against mosquitoes is always important. The Eastern Cape is Malaria-free, so if you are not going to travel outside the province, do not worry about any anti-Malaria medication.
Kwazulu Natal: from October until May
Kruger Park: the whole year round
We are no physicians or doctors and therefore are not able to give any medical advise. Above mentioned comments are general recommendations. Visit your doctor or physician for professional personal advice.
Because you will be away for a certain period of time you will have to check your insurance. It is best to contact your present insurance broker for advise. Check and compare different insurance possibilities to see what suits you best. Find out from the various insurance companies what the procedure will be if an emergency occurs in South Africa and you would need medical assistance.
Medical assistance in South Africa can be compared to European standards. You can find a doctor (GP) in the Yellow Pages or Phone book under Medical/Medies. In the bigger cities there are 24 hour Pharmacies available. You can find these in the Yellow Pages under Chemist/Apteek.
Usually you have to pay in advance for medical assistance or settle the bill immediately after. You can claim this back from insurance. Do not wait until you’re back home again, but send all documents to your family or friends who can submit the claim in your behalf straight away. Make sure you are aware of the procedures and conditions concerning your insurance, would you find yourself in a situation where medical assistance is needed.
There are several Airlines available flying domestic flights. We advise you to book a ticket to Cape Town or Johannesburg and book the connecting flight to Port Elizabeth yourself.
One way tickets to Port Elizabeth will cost about 500 ZAR.
South Africa has 11 official languages. The two most widely spoken languages in South Africa are English and Afrikaans. These languages will give you the opportunity to converse with the locals.
These are the languages used by traffic signs and other communal services.
Afrikaans is a language that developed in the 16th and 17th century and derived from Dutch. With the influence of other languages such as Malay and English, Afrikaans became an official language on its own.
The black population speaks English and/or Afrikaans beside their mothertongue e.g. Xhosa or Zulu.
If you are interested, we also offer language courses e.g. Xhosa or Afrikaans to further develop the possibilities for you to communicate with the locals. It will make quite an impression if you are able to greet people in their own language.
Society in South Africa can be called conservative. Due to the many English habits which has been adopted e.g. the school uniforms all children wear to school or the more formal way people dress to work or even when going out.
It is important to be aware of the different habits and ways of dressing. As a volunteer you will represent the project you work for. Find out from your superiors what the dress code is for your particular job.
Having dreadlocks, piercings other than the ears or visible tattoos will not be acceptable at most volunteer projects.
Take care of your personal hygiene, especially when it is hot (be sure to deodorize).
South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation because of its variety of cultures and people. Due to this fact the South African kitchen doesn’t really have a specific national dish but boasts with a diversity of dishes. Some of the typical South African dishes are boerewors, stywe pap, mielie pap, vetkoek, rotis and samoosas. South Africans love meat, you will be amazed by the quantity and size of the meat portions. Typical braai meats are steaks, Boerewors (sausage rolled in a spiral) and chops (lamb or pork meat).
Other dishes typical South African are curries, due to Indian and Malay influences. Curies come in many varieties; fish, shrimp, goat meat, beef and chicken are a favourite.
A typical African dish, mostly eaten by the black people is Umngqusho or ‘samp and beans’ and ‘papâ’. Both dishes are made from corn and come with gravy, vegetables and/or meat.
On the streets you’ll see people selling fruit and vegetables, there’s nothing wrong with these products. Most of the times it’s cheaper to buy fruit and vegetables on the street and in this way you support the local community.
These are just some examples of traditional South African dishes, the South African kitchen has a lot of different flavours and dishes to offer, and we recommend trying them all if you can.
South Africa is a huge country and distances are far greater then we Europeans are used to. Also the public transport system in the cities is not as good or safe as in Europe. Having a car makes it much easier to travel around. For those working for example in areas outside the city centre it is a necessity to have a car.
Buying a car in South Africa is relatively expensive. Most (old) cars cost quite a bit of money, you’ll pay approximately 20.000 ZAR. But as the overall trade-in value is relatively high, you won’t experience a big loss when you resell your car when you leave South Africa.
There are a lot of rent-a-car possibilities. Khaya can help you to find the safest and cheapest options. Remember you need a credit card if you want to rent a car and need to be in possession of an International Drivers license.
In South Africa people drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle. It is possible to get in contact with other volunteers to share a car, which will lower the costs.
Traveling through SA is a lot easier by car, but you can do it without. Go to www.bazbus.co.za for the hop-on-hop-off possibilities, they travel to the most beautiful places in SA.