Money & costs
South Africa’s currency is the rand (R), which is divided into 100 cents. There is no black market. The coins are one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and R1, R2 and R5. The notes are R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. There have been forgeries of the R200 note, and some businesses are reluctant to accept them.
The best currencies to bring are US dollars, euros or British pounds in a mixture of travellers cheques and cash, plus a Visa or MasterCard for withdrawing money from ATMs.
There are ATMs in all cities in South Africa, most of which give cash advances against cards belonging to the Cirrus network.
Credit cards are widely accepted in South Africa, especially MasterCard and Visa. Nedbank is an official Visa agent, and Standard Bank is a MasterCard agent – both have branches across the country.
Budgeting for your trip
Travelling in South Africa is not as cheap as in many less-developed African countries. However, it usually works out to be less expensive than travelling in Europe or North America, and the quality of facilities and infrastructure is generally high. Among the best deals are national parks and reserves, which offer excellent and accessible wildlife-watching at significantly less cost than you would pay in parts of East Africa.
At the budget level, it’s quite possible to get by on about R250 (US$25) per day with a bit of effort, by camping or staying in hostels or self-catering accommodation, and using public transport.
For midrange travel – where the best value and most choice are found in South Africa – plan on about R450 (US$45) per person per day; more if you hire a vehicle and less if you stay in self-catering places (many of which are quite comfortable).
Life in the luxury lane starts at about R1400 (US$140) per person per day, and can climb to more than five times this if you decide to ensconce yourself in some of the continent’s top wildlife lodges.