The following information is designed to be useful to those travelling to Komatipoort,South Africa and Swaziland, it is not comprehensive and travellers should ensure that they are advised correctly on all matters pertaining to their trip.
It is likely that your arrival in South Africa will be through the international airports at Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban. Internal flights can be booked between the major airports and local airports of which the closest to Komatipoort in Nelspruit (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport-KMIA). We are around 1 hour 15 mins drive from Nelspruit and 5 hours from Johannesburg.
For an ‘exotic’ location South Africa enjoys a great advantage for most European travellers in being just two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. This really banishes the spectre of jet lag. For those from the Americas or Australasia, some jet lag as we are seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and seven hours behind Australian Central Time. But, it's still worth it.
We very strongly recommend that anyone visiting South Africa, particularly rural areas such as Komatipoort, hires a car. The roads are very good, the public transport infrastructure is very limited. South Africans (like all civilised countries) drive on the left hand side of the road: for mainland Europeans or visitors from North America this may mean some initial glancing the wrong way for the mirror and waving your right hand where the gear lever isn’t – but hey, you get your revenge when we visit you. Distances in South Africa are sometimes large, particularly on a European scale, but can usually be accomplished at a steady speed. Adhering to speed limits is important because of the numbers of pedestrians by roadsides, poor lighting in some areas, the occasionally erratic behaviour of your fellow drivers and the increasing numbers of speed traps. Seat belt wearing is obligatory. Travel with your driving licence and passport at all times. There are no on-the-spot speeding fines in South Africa so always insist that you will pay any fines at the appropriate office and insist on appropriate official paperwork. Please do NOT bribe our traffic officers..it's the wrong thing to do and is of course illegal! Report instances of corruption to www.corruptionwatch.org.za . Drinking and driving is as much a crime in South Africa as anywhere else. Also carry with you in large letters on a piece of paper containing your embassy/consulate contact telephone number (www.embassygoabroad.com)and say politely to the traffic cops that you just want to check facts with your country representative. They will quickly move on.
Don't forget to ask for a 'letter of authority' from your car hire company if you are also visiting/passing through Swaziland and/or Mozambique.
The local currency is the South African Rand (ZAR), with 100 cents equaling R1.00. Exchange rates fluctuate so we would recommend www.xe.com as a useful currency converter. Exchanges of foreign currency can be made at most banks and most banks ATMs will pay out on transactions involving foreign credit or debit cards. Most major credit cards are accepted widely although cash is often preferred because of South Africa’s high bank charges. Whilst the Rand is accepted in Swaziland, Swaziland also has it's own currency, the lilangeni which is pegged exactly to the Rand..but is not accepted in South Africa. When shopping in Swaziland, try to have small rand notes to pay with to avoid receiving change in lilangeni.
As a subject, tipping can be a controversial one. In restaurants a tip of 10 -15% is becoming increasingly normal although South Africans themselves are not habitual tippers. Parking Attendants will usually expect around R5.00 for watching your car and petrol pump attendants can be given a few cents or rand in change. At Trees Too we pool all tips and divide them between all our staff at the end of June and at Christmas. Should you wish to tip (and only do so if our service merits it) we suggest that you apply an amount that would seem appropriate in your own country.
South Africa still has some way to go in providing fully adequate facilities for disabled travellers. Wheelchair ramps and toilet facilities are becoming more common and, at Trees Too, we have on room that has been particluarly modified for wheelchairs, with grab rails in the bathroom (which has a bath with shower over it) and wider doors and easy bed access.
In general South Africa operates an electrical supply of 220/230 volts AC 50 z. Plugs are either three round pinned or two pin. Trees Too can lend a range of adaptors, but please don’t be offended if we ask for them back. Please be aware of your usage of electricity as it is still a treasured resource in SA...so turn off lights/air con etc when you leave a room.
For tourists applying common sense precautions South Africa can be as safe a travel destination as anywhere else in the World. Sensible precautions include, locking valuable away in the boot/trunk of your vehicle, taking local advice on security issues, avoiding too obvious displays of money, jewelry or expensive equipment and not walking alone after dark are as applicable in South Africa as London, New York or Rome. By taking these obvious precautions you will generally be opening yourself up to an experience of friendly people and diverse and fascinating cultures. Apart from a perceived risk of crime, travellers are often concerned about the risk of Malaria. Lowveld Mpumalanga (including Komatipoort) and Limpopo provinces and northern Kwa-Zulu Natal are areas where the disease can be contracted. This can only occur through being bitten by an infected mosquito, which obtains the virus by previously biting an infected person. Most mosquitoes are not carrying the malarial virus and are largely absent in winter between April and October. Modern sprays greatly reduce your risk of being bitten: wearing long sleeves and trousers after dusk even more so. The decision to take anti-malarial prophylactics should be discussed with your own physician. Of roughly one million annual visitors to the greater Kruger Park area, around 200 will contract malaria – which can then be treated, if caught early. Surely a risk worth taking precautions against, but worth taking to enjoy the splendours of the area. At Trees Too, most, but not all beds have mossie nets...we do not have them in our own home.