Soccer City in Johannesburg will see the kick-off of the first Group A match between the home nation and Mexico on the 11th June, and its fair to say that this game will likely get the event off to a suitably vibrant start. So if you’ve already got tickets to any of the games during June and July, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are eager to get packed and onto the plane as soon as possible. Anyway, we decided to put together this handy resource for those travelling to South Africa this summer for the World Cup.
Before you go…
The old adage, safety first, is certainly the case when it comes to travelling beyond our shores, and a trip to South Africa means that you should factor vaccines into the equation too. It is recommended that you visit your local doctor or clinic 4-8 weeks before departure (so aiming to have this done by April 8th is a safe bet), where it is likely you’ll be advised to get vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Typhoid as well as taking medicine to protect you from the risk of Malaria.
South Africa has witnessed considerable inflation over the past few years. As I write this, looking at foreign currency you can get almost 12 Rand to 1 Pound Sterling which is pretty good for UK visitors. It is certainly worth getting your travel money before you catch your flight out, and even better to do so before you get to the airport. Again, research online can help you get the best deals and it may also be worth getting a travel money card for extra security.
Now is also a good time to consider travel insurance. Research carefully to ensure you are covered for specifics such as cancelled flights or expensive items such as mp3 players and cameras, as well as general medical costs and repatriation. Compare travel insurance online using a comparison website such as Confused.com to get the best deal and if you are planning a trip later in the year too it might be a good idea to purchase annual cover instead of single trip.
Forgive me for stating the obvious a moment, but booking your accommodation early is vital – and I expect you already have. If not, many hotels will be filling up fast and if you are considering camping during your trip you should probably bear in mind that June and July are the coldest months in the country with an average low of 8°C, it could freeze in some places. You’ve heard about the Penguins at Boulders Beach, right?
Is your passport in date? Remember that it must be valid for 30 days after you plan to leave the country, and it can be a massive hassle to sort out if left to the last minute. Be sure to take warm clothes and any medication you might need, as well as any other travel documents for hire cars, travel insurance etc. And tickets!
Before you get on the plane
If you are driving to your flight out, Gatwick and Heathrow airport parking can be booked online at a competitive cost, with some even offering a valet service while you are away. Remember any public transport such as rail and coach travel is likely to be cheaper if you book in advance.
After you arrive
Travel in South Africa might need a little more planning. Despite significant investment in the infrastructure of the country, hire car services are few and far between and many will have been booked-up already. If you are thinking about driving, cars keep to the left like the UK, but be aware of the different South African road rules – especially when it comes to junctions! Public transport may be a better idea, and in many areas will get you to your destination quicker. However, remember to take into account the size of the country, and that it can take around a day to travel from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
When you’re there…
And now for the important information. South Africa is known for its party atmosphere and as long as you aren’t completely inebriated before a game, you should be set for a memorable (or not) trip. The really good news is the beer prices, according to pintprice.com a beer will rarely set you back more than £1 per pint with Johannesburg being the most expensive at £1.04 and smaller towns being around 60p a drink. The country is also well known for its wine – so those who don’t like beer should still be satisfied.
The cost of food is a little closer to home. Despite this, eating out is very popular in South Africa and the cuisine is extremely diverse and worth a try. While the country itself is well-known for its barbecue culture and meats such as biltong and Boerewors, many European and Indian influences will mean there is enough recognizable food for the less-adventurous, and plenty of stuff for those who like it spicy.
In between games, the country is ripe for exploration. South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg is home to a vast selection of social and historical attractions to keep you busy. Alternatively, Cape Town is known for its beaches, Table Mountain and its surrounding wine regions. The country’s diverse landscape and bustling major cities will undoubtedly make you want to stay long after the final!