South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, making it an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time and seven hours behind Australian Central Time.
Johannesburg International Airport (currently known as the OR Tambo International Airport) is the major airport in South Africa and is the hub for 45 airlines from all five continents. Flights from Europe are generally overnight and just a sleep away - an aperitif, dinner, sound sleep, and a good breakfast - and voila, you're in South Africa! The direct flights between the USA and Johannesburg are about 15 hours, and flights between London and Johannesburg take about 12 hours. From Johannesburg you will need to fly to Durban (King Shaka International Airport) and it is a 1 hour and 5 minute flight.
There are limited direct international flights into Durban. Please check whether your airline flies direct to Durban.
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country, and in some cases, a visa. However, it is important to note that under South Africa's Immigration Act of 2002 (Act. 13 of 2002) in force since 7 April 2003, (a) Immigration Act, 2002 the passport shall contain at least THREE unused page when presenting the passport for endorsements. Failure to have a clear page can result in entry being refused.
Passports need to be valid for a minimum of 6 months after your departure date from South Africa.
To determine whether you require a visa to enter South Africa, visit the comprehensive South African Home Affairs Department website at: http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/
For South African missions abroad, visit http://www.dfa.gov.za/foreign/sa_abroad/index.htm.
The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are directly opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere. For summer months, lightweight (cottons and linens), short-sleeved clothes are best, although a light jersey/jumper might be needed for the cooler evenings. Umbrellas and raincoats are essential for the summers and the Kwazulu Natal winters. Warmer clothes are needed for the winter months.
BANKS AND MONEY
The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1 (one Rand). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Changes. Most major international credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates are widely accepted. CLICK HERE for currency converter.
The electricity supply in South Africa is 220/230 volts, AC 50 Hz. Please ensure that you bring the correct converter for your electrical equipment.
Most restaurants do not add a service charge to bills - thus it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip. Parking and petrol station attendants should be given whatever small change you have available. This is always appreciated, even though it may seem a small amount.
Value-added-tax (VAT) is charged on most items. Foreign tourists to South Africa can have their 14% VAT refunded provided that the value of the items purchased exceeds R250.00. VAT is refunded at the point of departure provided receipts are produced.
An increasing number of accommodation establishments have wheelchair ramps and bathroom facilities for the disabled. Almost every national park has at least one accessible chalet and many accommodation establishments have one or two wheelchair-friendly rooms. Most of our sports stadiums have accessible suites, stands or areas for wheelchairs near accessible parking as well as special toilet facilities. Most public buildings also caters for wheelchair access.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Many foreigners are unaware that South Africa has a well-developed infrastructure, high standards of water treatment and medical facilities equal to the best in the world. Here we address any health and safety questions you may have:
Hospitals and Medical Care:
In a great many medical disciplines, South Africa is a global leader. In fact, South African trained doctors are sought after all over the world, so this should give an indication of the standard of medical care available. There is a large network of public and private hospitals countrywide, offering excellent service. However, clients must have adequate health insurance to cover the fees private hospitals charge.
Malaria: There is no malaria in the Durban area
Malaria is found only in the far north-east of the country. Malaria is not much of a risk in the winter months from May to July. Although the incidence of malaria is rare, it would be best to take adequate precautions if you choose to visit these areas. The cheapest, safest and most effective measures against malaria are physical barriers such as a mosquito net, and the use of a good insect repellent. If you decide to take malaria prophylaxis, it is essential that you take the medication according to the directions on the package insert. It is advisable to consult a medical professional before embarking on a course of malaria prophylaxis. Note that expectant mothers should avoid malaria medications.
For tourists, South Africa is as safe as any other destination in the world. South Africa boasts a vast array of cultures, communities, sites and attractions. Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists provided they take basic common-sense precautions (for example not walking alone in deserted areas at night and being circumspect about how much photographic equipment or flashy jewellery you carry).
Food and Water
As a rule, tap water in South Africa is safe to drink as it is treated and is free of harmful micro-organisms. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation is top-notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks - a good thing, too, after a day on the beach or in the bush.
Our transport infrastructure is excellent and our roads are in good condition.
We have very strict drinking and driving laws - with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. Translated that means about one glass of wine for the average woman and perhaps 1.5 or two for the average or large man. Our speed limits are 120kmph on the open road, 100kmph on smaller roads and between 60 and 80kmph in towns.
All visitors intending to drive are required to obtain an international drivers permit, visitors found driving without a permit will be fined and not permitted to continue on their journey. Visitors will also not be able to rent a car without a valid driver's permit. The wearing of seatbelts is compulsory and strictly enforced by law. Speaking on mobile phones whilst driving is only allowed via a hands-free kit. South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road.
Visitors who are entering South Africa from a yellow fever zone must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Only infants under the age of one year are exempt. Immunisation against cholera and small pox are not required and no other vaccinations are required when visiting South Africa.
The Congress Organisers have taken all reasonable care in making arrangements for the Congress, including accommodation. In the event of unforeseen disruptions, neither the Congress Organisers nor the Society can be held responsible for any losses incurred by delegates. The Congress organisers act as agents only in securing hotels, transport and travel services, and shall in no event be liable for acts or omissions in the event of injury, damage, loss, accident delay or irregularity of any kind whatsoever during arrangements organised through contractors or by the employees of such contractors. Hotel and transportation services are subject to the terms and conditions under which they are offered to the general public. Delegates should make their own arrangements with respect to personal insurance. The Congress organisers reserve the right to make changes as and when deemed necessary, without prior notice to the parties concerned. All disputes are subject to resolution under South African Law.