Travel Information for
South Africa and Hluhluwe
Traveling to a new country is always exciting and it is also always important to be prepared. Below are some useful travel tips and information for your stay in South Africa and Thornwood in Hluhluwe.
Area and Population
South Africa is 1,2 million square kilometers in size (the size of Germany, France and Italy combined or slightly less than twice the size of Texas )
Over 55 million people live in South Africa.
South Africa has a diverse landscape. Generally summer is the rainfall months (November-February) except in the Western Cape which has winter rainfall.
The Elephant Coast/ Hluhluwe has a sub-tropical climate with mild winters and hot summers. Summer temperatures are usually between 25°C and 30°C. December to February are the hottest months.
Winters are never cold – temperatures rarely drop below 15°C during the day and 10°C at night.
The Elephant Coast/Zululand is the warmest area in South Africa during winter.
Distances are given in kilometers (1 mile = 1,62km).
Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius (centigrade) (20°C = 68°F).
Major credit cards (Visa/Master/American Express/Diners) are accepted at most shops, hotels etc.
Currency, banking and foreign exchange
The currency in South Africa is the Rand (R) and cents (c).
Notes used are: R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200.
Coins are found for: 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5.
Banking hours are between 09h00 and 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are readily available in cities and towns.
Banks in Hluhluwe are: Capitec, Nedbank, ABSA and FNB.
Foreign exchange can be converted into Rands at commercial banks and bureaux de change’s. We suggest changing your currency before traveling to South Africa or at the airport before heading to Hluhluwe as you probably won’t be able to change your currency in Hluhluwe.
Tap water is safe to drink in most areas however bottled water is available at supermarkets.
Bottled water (500ml) costs ±R9 or more.
The legal drinking age for alcohol is 18 years and older.
Drinking and driving is regarded as a serious offence.
South Africans drive on the left and give way to the right.
Drivers must have a valid drivers license or an international driving permit.
It is a legal requirement to wear a seat belt when driving on a public road.
The speed limit on most highways is 120 km/hour and 60km/hour in built up areas.
Car hire, Roads and Petrol/Fuel Stations
Given the lack of public transport in the Elephant Coast, and the widely dispersed attractions in the area, the hiring of a vehicle is strongly recommended. Vehicles of all types may be rented from the major car hire companies (who have offices at all the major airports). Avis, Budget and Tempest car hires are recommended.
Petrol stations (together with toilets and convenience stores) occur regularly along main routes and are open 24 hours a day. Service is provided by a petrol attendant and is not self-service (tipping is discretionary). On the road to Hluhluwe you will find 4 petrol stations. Hluhluwe town itself has two petrol stations.
The roads to Thornwood are tarred and well kept. When you get to the park there are graded dirt roads.
Type C and Type M plugs. For more information see: http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/
Current is 200/240 volts AC.
Plugs are usually 3-round pins – an adapter is needed for non-local appliances.
Vaccinations for cholera and small pox are not required.
Travelers from a yellow fever zone must have a valid certificate.
Malaria occurs in some parts of the north-east region of South Africa and visitors to these areas should take necessary precautions.
The Hluhluhwe area is known to be malaria free and therefore you do not need to take malaria medication unless you want to.
Medical and hospital charges must be paid for immediately and travel insurance is recommended.
There are 3 doctors in the town of Hluhluwe as well as a pharmacy.
A top class private hospital is in Richards Bay – an hour’s drive from Thornwood/Hluhluwe. They have a specialised snake bite unit.
South Africa has 11 official languages and 26 languages in total. The most common of which are English, Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans. English is spoken almost everywhere. Hluhluhwe is found in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal where the most common African language spoken is Zulu. Hlulhuwe also has many Afrikaans and English speakers.
Mobile phones are available for hire at international airports and most of the country has coverage. If you would like a local SIM card it is recommended to get one while you are at the airport.
The three main networks are Vodacom, MTN and Cell C. Data is quite expensive compared to other countries.
Many parts of Hlhluwe have bad cell phone reception.
Passports and visas
Visitors must have a full passport, valid for at least 6 months beyond their intended stay.
Visas are not required by citizens of: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.
Postal service and telephones
All towns and cities have post offices and public telephones. Some even have courier services such as PostNet.
Business hours are usually 08h00 to 16h00 on weekdays and 08h00 to 12h00 on Saturdays.
For international calls to South Africa dial 27 + the area code + the number (leave off the 0 in the area code when dialing into South Africa). For example, dialing Thornwood Lodge in South Africa would be 082 888 2540 while dialing from outside South Africa would be +27 82 888 2540
Most shops operate from 08h00 to 17h00 daily and to 13h00 on Saturdays. There are a few supermarkets in Hluhluwe. We suggest Spar or Checkers for your general groceries. Allen’s Butchery for your meat- it is fantastic. Boxer store sell many different things. On Saturday Hluhluwe Town is lined with street sellers. You can buy trinkets from Ilala Weavers or Tonga or Thornwood / Kuleni.
Smoking is not permitted in enclosed public areas – most restaurants have designated smoking areas. Smoking is not permitted only in designated areas at Thornwood. Please do not throw your cigarette butts into the bush- it is a fire hazard.
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, 1 hour ahead of Central European Winter Time.
Value added tax (VAT), currently at 14%, is levied on most goods and services. At stores and restaurants prices are given with VAT already included, so the price you see is what you pay. At restaurants a 10% tip is generally given but tipping is at ones own discretion.
Visitors may reclaim VAT on purchases over R250 at international points of departure.
What to bring
Bearing in mind which season you come in, the Elephant Coast has generally a very warm climate, though the odd cool snap (10°C – 15°C) can occur in winter. Therefore, light, cool clothing is recommended with a warm jacket for the odd cool morning or evening.
In addition, we suggest the following:
Takkies / closed hiking or walking shoes