Health and safety

Many visitors 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

There are many first-class medical facilities in the Kruger Lowveld region. Photo courtesy of Medi-Clinic

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 

Malaria is found occasionally, only in the Lowveld region of Kruger Lowveld. Malaria is a very low risk in the winter months. Although the incidence of malaria is extremely rare, it might be best to take adequate precautions if you choose to visit these areas.

Our government has embarked on an extensive anti-malaria programme (in co-operation with Swaziland and Mozambique) and the incidence of malaria is decreasing. One reassuring thing about malaria is that there is absolutely no way at all that you can contract it unless you are bitten by an infected mosquito. And with modern insect repellents and some common sense, you can reduce the chances of being bitten to almost zero.

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 drugs in accordance with the directions on the package insert. You will need to start a week or two before entering a malaria-endemic area and should continue taking the drugs for four weeks after leaving the malaria risk area. It is advisable to consult a medical professional before embarking on a course of malaria prophylaxis. Note that expectant mothers should avoid malaria medications.

Personal safety

For tourists, the Kruger Lowveld region is as safe as any other destination in the world. While the region boasts a vast array of cultures, communities, sites and attractions, most parts of the region can be safely visited by tourists provided you 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). Most of the crime that takes place in South Africa is between people who know each other and random acts of violence make up a very small minority of cases.  Basic safety tip guidelines are available at hotels and tourism information offices.

Food and water

As a rule, tap water in the Kruger Lowveld region 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 are top-notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks.

Road safety

Our transport infrastructure is excellent and our roads are generally in good condition. However, the distances between towns are significant. If you're planning to self-drive, it is a good idea to plan your itinerary to ensure you don't drive long distances as fatigue is a major cause of road accidents. Avoid long car journeys that necessitate driving at night as it always carries more risk. Also, in some of the more remote rural areas, the roads are not fenced so there may be stray animals on the road.

South Africa has 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 120km/h on the open road, 100km/h on smaller roads and between 60 and 80km/h in towns. Be aware that even major national roads cut through residential areas so there may be a speed limit of 80 or 60km/h on a road that looks like an autobahn.

If you are pulled over for a traffic law infringement, it is not advisable or permissible to pay cash to traffic officers on the scene. Rather accept the fine given to you with a good grace. Corruption only leads to more corruption.

Vaccinations

More and more establishments are become wheelchair-friendly

Visitors 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 old are exempt. No other immunisation or vaccinations are required.

People with disabilities

Generally speaking, our facilities for disabled visitors are improving. 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 cater for wheelchair access.

Emergency Numbers

National Tourism information and Safety Line +27 (0) 83 123 2345
Tourism and Travel Information +27 (0)83 123 6789
Police 10111
Emergency Services/Rescue 10177 (or 112 from a mobile phone)
Travel Doctor 0861 300 911
Tourism Safety and Support Reporting 086 187 4911
Road and Traffic Information +27 (0)84 303 0345
Directory information 1023

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