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Southern Africa Travel Advice:
General Tips


General tips and advice for travelers and visitors to Southern Africa.

Visa & Passport Information
The Project Visa and VisaHQ provide valuable information and are excellent places to check whether you need a visa or not.

Arrival
In many places any obvious tourist or newcomer will be swamped with offers of guides, hotels, and taxi services. It's important to look like you know what you're doing, and not be forced into accepting an offer just because you arrived unprepared.

In many places, it is better to avoid the people yelling "taxi?" inside the airport or train station; they are often touting for or driving unlicensed taxis without meters. You are better off taking the airport bus or going outside and looking for a real taxi with a license and often a meter.

Language
In almost all countries in the region you can often get by with just English. However, try acquiring some knowledge of the local language.

Tipping
Tipping is common practice for a range of services. In restaurants the accepted standard is around 10% of the bill, although sometimes a gratuity will be included (often in the case of a large party). Barmen are tipped a similar percentage.

Petrol stations are manned by attendants who will expect a small tip for filling up with petrol, checking oil, water and tyre pressure and cleaning windscreens. Hotel porters should be tipped and it is also appropriate to tip taxi drivers, tour guides and even hairdressers.

In South Africa if you park a car in a populated area such as near a shopping centre, street security guards will usually ask whether they can watch over your car and in return should be paid a small fee - anything from two rands upwards.

Seasons
Summer - mid-October to mid-February
Autumn - February to April
Winter - May to July
Spring - August to October

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