Believe it or not, South Africa is more than just a safari destination. You’ve got pristine powdered beaches and captivating cosmopolitan cities to explore, not to mention an endless array of gnarly surf breaks and fascinating marine life galore.
But let’s face it, you’re really here for the big five. And we don’t blame you, for South Africa is a safari superstar par excellence. Of course, you’ll need a fully charged device to capture the splendor of the animal kingdom. Here’s everything you need to know about travel adapters in South Africa.
See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.
Which power outlets do they use in South Africa?
South Africa uses a hodgepodge array of different outlets, which varies randomly from place to place. Expect to find Type D (Commonly used in the Indian subcontinent, with three round pins), Type M (similar to D, but with larger pins), and Type N (Commonly used in Brazil) in use throughout the country.
What kind of power adapter do I need for South Africa?
If you’ve never traveled there before, you’re probably wondering, “What plug do I need for South Africa?” To charge your US devices in South Africa, you’ll need an adapter or two. Type N is only found in Brazil and South Africa and is the most frequently used outlet type in South Africa. Luckily, it’s compatible with Type C plugs that are common throughout Europe and are usually included in universal adapters like this one. If you had to buy just one adapter, we’d recommend the universal adapter because of its versatility and ability to use it beyond South Africa.
Unfortunately, for South Africa, there is not a single adapter with all three plug types, so you will have to buy three separate adapters to be sure you will be covered throughout the country.
For Type N we recommend this adapter.
For Type D we recommend this adapter.
For Type M we recommend this adapter.
What’s the electricity and power supply like in South Africa?
South Africa runs on 230V and 50Hz, which differs from the United States (120V/60Hz). Therefore, you may need a voltage converter to charge some American electronic appliances in South Africa. South Africa’s electrical system is less reliable than the US. Therefore, expect blackouts and power surges to occasionally occur, especially in rural regions.
Do I need a voltage converter in South Africa?
Even though South Africa runs on a different voltage and frequency to the United States, most travelers won’t need to purchase a voltage converter. These days, the vast majority of personal electronics are dual-voltage, which enables them to run on either system. A common exception is a portable hairdryer, which often uses a fixed 120V. Always check the label should you have any doubts.
Other South Africa Packing List Items
In addition to your US to South Africa power adapter, these items will help you pack with intention and expand the possibilities of your getaway. Also, check out our South Africa packing list for more inspiration and ideas.
1. Neck Wallet / Passport Pouch
Sadly, South Africa hasn’t yet managed to shake off its reputation for robbery and violent crime. As a result, tourists are strongly advised to take extra care of their safety. The best way to safeguard your passport and cash in South Africa–and anywhere else, for that matter– is by wearing a discreet neck wallet under your shirt. These comfortable and lightweight accessories hide your valuables out of sight, keeping them safe from pickpockets and muggers alike.
Gone are the days where you had to empty the contents of your luggage all over the hotel room to find your last clean pair of underwear. With the rise of the packing cube, it’s now easier than ever to stay organized on the road. Simply use one cube to stow a specific article of clothing together, which allows you to fetch and retrieve whatever you need with the utmost ease.
Whether you’re snapping pics of the big five in Kruger or navigating your way to the most happening Cape Town watering hole, you’ll need a fully charged battery to make the most of your time in South Africa. The easiest way to ensure you never run out of juice is by carrying a lipstick-sized charger on your person.
South Africa is not the rainiest of countries, but large and unpredictable variations are common, so best to be prepared. An umbrella can also be a great reprieve from the sweltering sun. This compact travel umbrella is one we recommend because of its quality build and convenient automatic open/close function.
A flight from New York to Johannesburg takes an exhausting 15 hours, and then there’s a six-hour time difference to consider as well. Consequently, you’ll be completely stonkered by the time you finally arrive. Luckily, you can mitigate the issue by taking the prescribed dose of jet lag relief pills.
These days, cybercriminals have begun hanging around public Wi-Fi hotspots to steal personal information–including sensitive bank details–off other users. The best way to protect yourself is by installing a VPN, which encrypts your web traffic to keep it safe from prying eyes.
All manner of things could go wrong in South Africa. And without adequate travel insurance, you could be faced with an eye-watering bill for medical or evacuation expenses. Don’t risk it. Grab yourself a comprehensive travel insurance policy to safeguard your trip. We recommend TravelInsurance.com because it lets you compare policies from top companies to find the one that best fits you and your travel plans.
Unlike equatorial Africa, South Africa is a land of four distinct seasons. It’s also a year-round destination, but that’s not to say all seasons are created equally. Summer (December to February) is the best time to visit Cape Town thanks to the warm weather and a distinct lack of rain. The summer does bring plenty of rainfall to the north of the country, however, so you might think twice before booking a safari this time of year.
Whale-watchers will want to arrive between July and November, while safaris are best in the cooler months from May to September. As for the best time to visit? Try September, which is not too hot nor too cold, and there’ll be plenty of wildlife on land and in the ocean to admire. Be sure to check current South Africa travel advisories before you go.
2. What is the weather like in South Africa?
The weather in South Africa varies considerably depending on the climatic zone.
On the whole, the country is relatively temperate, especially in the coastal regions where the climate is not unlike Europe. Expect highs of around 77 F (25 Celsius) in Cape Town and Durban. Winters get chillier than many might imagine, with the temperature occasionally dipping below freezing point in Johannesburg.
3. What to do in South Africa?
Although it won’t win any beauty contests and has an unfortunate reputation for crime, Johannesburg is still worth a few days of your time. Learn about the country’s checkered past at the Apartheid Museum, then pay your respects to the man who put a stop to it all at the Nelson Mandela Square. If you’ve got kids in toe, then the Gold Reef City amusement park is fun for its kitsch gold rush theme. If not, then head to the glitzy Montecasino for adults-only debauchery. Cape Town is the country’s most pleasant city, a pretty metropolis that’s best appreciated from the cable car going up Table Mountain. Although a little nippy, the Clifton, Camps Bay, and Llandudno beaches are all stunning stretches of sand and are particularly photogenic come sunset. Culinary delights and buzzing bars abound in the CBD, while the Waterfront is the best spot to go for shopping. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens offers a serene city escape amid lush natural surrounds, although oenophiles would surely prefer the vineyards of the Boland Basin. As for wildlife, few critters on Earth are as cute as the cuddly penguins that inhabit Boulder Beach. If you’re in season, jump on a whale-watching cruise or catch a glimpse of the majestic creatures at the nearby town of Hermanus.
Indian, African, and colonial influences define Durban, a vibrant port city with a buzzing ocean-facing promenade. If possible, catch a game at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium, a unique basket-shaped construction that personifies the 2010 World Cup. The uShaka Marine World boasts an epic aquarium and loads of fun rides for the kids, while the Durban Botanic Gardens is a horticulturist’s dream. Now that the cities are done and dusted, it’s time to don a silly straw hat and get your safari on. Kruger is by far the country’s most popular reserve, and rightly so as this vast savanna is rich in exotic wildlife, particularly the coveted big five. Kruger’s extensive network of paved roads makes self-driving safari trips a breeze.
If you’d rather stray a little off the beaten track, then head north to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the Botswana border. Packed full of wildebeest, Springbok, and all manner of wild cats, it’s an exciting spot to safari away from the Kruger crowds. Another excellent option is the Addo Elephant National Park, where lions, hyenas, ostriches, and antelopes thrive alongside their giant grey counterparts.
4. How to Get Around in South Africa
Because South Africa is such a vast country, air travel is the transportation method of choice. Low-cost carriers such as Mango and Kulula serve major destinations, although national carrier South African Airways has the most extensive network.
Bus travel is viable, especially for budget travelers and those on shorter routes. Try and Intercape for point to point fares, or Baz Bus if you’d like a multi-destination hop-on, hop-off pass.
The Shosholoza Meyl train network is another excellent option: comfortable, safe, and surprisingly cheap. Long-distance routes include sleeper carriages and serve all major cities. Although shared taxis are popular with the locals, foreigners should be aware they’ll face serious security concerns. Stick with any of the above options on longer routes and use Uber for short trips around town.