What You Should Know Before Traveling To Africa

Africa Essentials

The Basics

Timezone: UTC -1 to UTC +4. Johannesburg is 8 hours behind Sydney (during non-daylight saving time)

Electricity: Most South African countries operate on 22/240 volts AC. This is the British three square pin system.

Area: 30,221,532 km2 (11,668,599 sq miles)

Population: (2011) 1,032,532,975

No. of countries: 56

Calling Africa from Australia

  • 0011 – Australian exit code must be dialled first for all international calls made from Australia
  • Dial the Country Code (2 or 3 digits)
  • Dial the Area Code
African Country Codes
Algeria 213 Mali 223
Angola 244 Mauritania 222
Benin 229 Mauritius 230
Botswana 267 Morocco 212
Burkina Faso 226 Mozambique 258
Burundi 257 Namibia 264
Cameroon 237 Niger 227
Cape Verde Islands 238 Nigeria 234
Central African Republic 236 Reunion Island 262
Chad 235 Rwanda 250
Comoros Islands 269 Senegal 221
Democratic Republic of Congo 243 Seychelles 248
Dijibouti 253 Sierra Leone 232
Egypt 20 Somalia 252
Equatorial Guinea 240 South Africa 27
Eritrea 291 Sudan 249
Ethiopia 251 Swaziland 268
Gabon 241 Tanzania 255
Gambia 220 Togo 228
Ghana 233 Tunisia 216
Guinea Bissau 245 Uganda 256
Guinea 224 Zambia 260
Ivory Coast 225 Zimbabwe 263
Kenya 254
Lesotho 266
Liberia 231
Libya 218
Madagascar 261
Malawi 265

Specifically, for South Africa dial the Country Code 27 and then the area code, followed by the phone number.

South African Area Codes
Benoni 11 Kimberley 53 Potchefstroom 18
Bloemfontein 51 King William’s Town 43 Pretoria 12
Botshabelo 51 Klerksdorp 18 Rustenburg 14
Cape Town 21 Nelspruit 13 Soweto 11
Caletonville 18 Newcastle 34 Vallkraal 51
Durba 31 Nigel 11 Ventersburg 51
East London 43 Pietermaritzburg 33 Vereeniging 16
George 44 Pietersburg 15 Welkom 57
Johannesburg 11 Port Elizabeth 41 Witibank 13

For example, to call a landline number located in Johannesburg, South Africa dial: 0011 27 11 ??? ????

Mobile Phones in Africa

To call a South African cellular phone from Australia: 0011 27 7? ??? ???? or 8? ??? ????)

Calling From Africa

Cheapest ways to communicate from Africa
  • Get an unlocked GSM mobile phone with flexible bandwidth (check with your local carrier to get the right phone).
  • Buy a local SIM card when you arrive at your African destination. This will allow you to pay local rates for calls you make but be careful to check out all the charges, including what it costs to receive calls and to make international calls.
  • Rent a phone once you are in Africa and buy a SIM card or join a local plan. This is a good option if you are staying in one country for a long time. As usual, be careful to check for all hidden costs and fees.
  • Pre-paid cell phone cards, regular phone cards (you can use from a pay phone), pre-paid SIM chips.
  • Web-based phone calls such as Skype.
  • Travel blogs or Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Leave your phone at home.

Passports and Visas

Passport Requirements

Please note that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your trip finishes and you should have at least 6 blank pages contained within and at least one page for each Country.

When making a booking with our office you will be asked to provide the following information:

  • Your exact name as per your passport
  • Passport Number
  • Place of Issue
  • Date of Issue
  • Date of Expiry

Visa Requirements for Australian Passport Holders

Australians do NOT require a Visa for the following countries:  Botswana, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

Australian Passport Holders DO require a Visa for the following countries:  Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Madagascar and Togo

A Visa or entry permit is given on arrival: Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Mozambique, Oman, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey, UAE, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

New Zealanders have the same Visa requirements except for Turkey where no Visa or entry permit is required.

However, it is your responsibility to check the Visa requirements with the Consular office of each country you will be visiting or contact our office for the latest information or if you are travelling on a non-Australian passport.  You should allow plenty of time to obtain the necessary visa/s.

Immunisation Advice

Finding Out Which Vaccinations You Need

When traveling in Africa, it is important to be current with all of the typical childhood vaccines, namely: Hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. If you are travelling with children make sure that they have had all their shots and boosters. If it’s been a while since your shots for tetanus, diphtheria, and measles, you may also require a booster.

In addition, the following vaccinations are also highly recommended for travel to every African country:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid

Please note that the best source of information will be a doctor at a traveller’s clinic. They may ask to review your travel itinerary to determine which shots are recommended for you.

Recommended Vaccinations/Immunisations per Country

Sometimes a country may have as part of an official entry requirement that you must carry proof of vaccination against certain diseases. Always check with the embassy or consulate of the country or countries you will be visiting (including transiting) and your doctor for the most current information.

The most often mentioned by name immunization will be yellow fever, though it’s usually only a concern if you travel from a country where the disease is prevalent. If you will be overlanding, this is a smart shot to get before you go to Africa. You should then carry the paperwork in hand.

At present time, the following countries (per the World Health Organization) require yellow fever immunization as an entry requirement or it is highly recommended: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Swaziland, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. South Africa recently began to require proof of vaccinatoin from those who had been to Zambia, even for simply an airport transit. Always check with the appropriate embassies for the latest requirements, as countries are frequently added to or removed from these lists.

Cholera is no longer a common entry requirement and many doctors feel the shot is not effective. Prevalence of diseases varies by country and seasonality and which vaccinations are recommended will depend on your specific itinerary. That is why we cannot suggest enough that you consult with a professional at a traveller’s clinic for the most accurate advice.

While not a shot, malaria precautions are another important matter to discuss with a medical professional. Depending on your destination and season, malaria may or may not be a significant risk to you. If it is a high risk when and where you travelling, it is strongly recommended that you undertake one of the possible courses of medications to ensure that you are protected. These medications must all be started in advance of travel, so it is important not to delay in seeking the advice of a physician.

For further information on requirements for individual countries, you may refer to this health and travel website.  Note that these are recommendations only and not a substitute for expert advice from your doctor and from the relevant consulate(s).

Tipping and Gratuities

It is customary to tip in Africa. The following is a guideline:

  • Porters $1 per bag
  • Taxi Drivers and Waiters approx. 10%
  • Guides and game rangers approx.. $5 per day

Also, local African people appreciate gifts that you would normally dispose of at the end of your safari. These may include such items as batteries, film, food, clothing, towels, pens, paper, pencils and hats.

Drinking Water

Use bottled water at all times. It is not safe to drink local water in most parts of Africa.

Travel Insurance

Personal Travel Insurance is compulsory for all safaris. This should include a comprehensive medical cover including repatriation, personal effects and luggage, as well as cancellation and curtailment insurance. Most travel insurance offered free of charge by your credit card company is not adequate. Check out our online travel insurance policies or speak to one of our expert Africa consultants.

Luggage Restrictions

Some safaris have a luggage restriction of 20 kg per person on standard economy class flights. Most charter flights will only allow 12 kg maximum. Try to keep luggage at a minimum.


Bring both cash and travellers cheques, in either pounds sterling or US dollars. Travellers cheques should a well-known brand like American Express and cash should be in a variety of denominations. Credit cards are available in some destinations, but should not be relied upon in the more remote areas, especially for cash advances.

Departure Taxes: Flying out of some destinations, you may be required to pay departure tax (usually around US$20 per person). Some taxes are included on your pre-paid tickets but we suggest you carry extra cash in case of an emergency.

Local Payments: These payments are applicable on most overland/camping safaris and these are normally required in US collars. These payments will be detailed on your voucher and in your itinerary.

Airport Transfers:  If you have not pre-arranged for airport transfers then you should budget around US$20 plus for taxis or airport shuttle services.  Our pre-arranged transfers normallyinclude a meet and greet service by our representatives.