In previous blog posts, we set out to answer common FAQs from travellers to South Africa. In this blog post, we’ve tackled a few of the more unusual questions that we’ve stumbled across from guests prior to their arrival in this country. It’s always important to have a vague understanding of local customs, rules and what to expect upon arrival. But it’s equally important to relax, roll with the punches and not stress too much about your upcoming holiday to South Africa, a world-in-one.
What is the public bathroom/toilet situation like in South Africa?
You’re in a new country sampling strange foods and your body clock is out of whack, which is why this is a perfectly valid question. In short, there aren’t many public bathrooms in South Africa. The public toilet situation is generally clean and safe in coastal areas where facilities tend to spill out from the beach area.
Restaurants will quite happily let you use their facilities, and malls have very good bathroom facilities. Even small shopping centres will have facilities, and most gas stations will have secure bathrooms for public use. Public toilets are normally free and sometimes have a security guard outside. Toilets are clean, and they’re flush, raised toilets one would expect in most western countries.
If you do use a public toilet that seems remote, please approach with caution and remember – “safety in numbers”!
We’ve heard about the high crime rate in South Africa. Do we need to be vigilant while at our private safari lodge?
Not really, no. It’s always important to exercise common sense, and that goes without saying for any travel destination. Keep your valuables in your suitcase, or lock them in a safe. Lodges are slightly more relaxed than city hotels, which makes sense given that they’re generally upmarket establishments located in exclusive reserves. When entering these private reserves, there is a warden and tight security – only guests staying at lodges are allowed into reserves. At lodges you can’t walk around – you are surrounded by untamed bushveld and hectares of wild terrain, which means no opportunistic thieves wandering about. The only thing you should worry about? Having fun!
Is public transport reliable?
No. And it’s not particularly safe for tourists. The train lines in Cape Town are okay, and the main route from Cape Town to Simon’s Town is incredibly scenic. If you do decide to do this journey, travel at peak hours and don’t board an empty carriage. For a hair raising experience, you could catch a short journey on a local taxi, or grab a bus. Do these methods of transport come recommended for first-time tourists? Not really – but that’s for you to suss out. Your safest and most reliable bet is to book private transfers, city tours and scheduled transfers to and from places. A number of hotels have their own in house transfer vehicles to take you from A to B. Locals tend to rely heavily on Uber taxis to get them around – especially at night.
What is the nature of most South Africans?
It varies from province to province! Overall, South Africans are proud, friendly, laid back people who have the ability to laugh at themselves. South Africans will welcome you with open arms and are only to keen to teach you about their country and various customs. Depending on the area, locals can either be conservative or liberal.
I’m a vegan. What is the diet of most South Africans?
South Africa is a melting pot of cultures, which means there are a variety of diets in the mix. Overall South Africans are generally quite healthy. They love their fruit, biltong and sweet things. There’s plenty of access to fresh fruit which is grown all over the country, and the coastal areas have an ample supply of seafood.
Fresh produce, traditional cooking and locally farmed meat make up most diets. Local chefs won’t hesitate to combine traditional fare with trendy international cuisine, and overall South Africans are massive foodies open to experimenting with food.
There are plenty of vegan restaurants in major areas and a host of local cafes serving vegetarian fare.