The South African currency (R) or (ZAR) is denominated in rands and cents. R1 = 100 cents. Bank notes are issued in R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200 denominations and coins come in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5.
Please note that debit and credit cards are widely accepted, particularly MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Diners Club. However, it will be useful to have cash in rands on hand for things like cab fares and tips and if you are visiting the local trading markets. The ATMs located in the vicinity of the university campus are spread out so it’s advisable to do your currency exchange at the airport on your arrival.
English is widely spoken in South Africa and you should have no trouble being understood in Johannesburg. But you’re likely to also hear Afrikaans (similar to Dutch) and some of nine other official languages that include Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
If your home cellphone network does not provide international roaming, we suggest that you pick up a sim card for local cell phone access during your stay. There are four primary network providers (Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell C) in South Africa and you can find designated stores at the airport upon arrival. You will need your travel documentation to validate your sim card.
The cost of a sim card varies but does not exceed R30. Sim cards can be activated in the store. You will also need to purchase airtime and this varies from R10 to R50, or more. Should you require a second handset, please ask in the store about hire or purchase. The cost for this ranges widely depends on the make and model you desire.
Useful information on dialing codes:
- For outgoing international calls, dial 00 plus the country and area codes of the destination concerned. Refer to telephone directories for international dialing codes, or obtain 24-hour assistance by calling 10903.
- For incoming international calls, the country code is +27 followed by the city code or cellphone code, dropping the first 0.
- Important local city dialing codes: 011 – Johannesburg; 012 – Pretoria; 021 – Cape Town; 031 – Durban; 041 – Port Elizabeth.
In the hotel and at the conference venue there will be complimentary wi-fi for the duration of the conference. Complimentary wi-fi is also available at the airport and most public spaces for a limited period. The most common wi-fi access is provided through ALWAYS ON and generally free for the first 30min to 60 min or 50MB to 100MB. Thereafter you are required to purchase a voucher.
In South Africa the power sockets are of type D (most common), M and N. The standard voltage is 220 V to 240 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Please remember your travel adapter to ensure compatibility with South African round pin plugs. See below power sockets which are compatible to the general plug points.
Please bring a laptop, including your charger, and pick up an adapter plug at the airport if you do not have one as all the plug points at the conference venue are 3 pin points (standard SA power plugs). If you are an Apple Mac user, be sure to bring the adapters you need for projection. And remember to charge your mobile phone or laptop overnight in your hotel, as there are limited power points at the conference venue.
November marks the spring season in Johannesburg and the weather is generally in the range of 20 to 25 degrees Celsius by midday, and drops to about 16 degrees at night (low 60’s F.). Please ensure you have adequate sun protection. The evenings can still be slightly chilly so a light jacket is recommended. Johannesburg weather can be tricky and traditionally we also experience rainy weather on at least one day during conferences so please also ensure you have packed suitable protective clothing.
What to Wear
Dress code for the GIJC is casual. Jeans, shoes or sneakers, shirts or t-shirts are all okay. You might want to dress up for the award ceremony dinner on Saturday evening. Pack a warm, waterproof jacket, just in case. If you are going on safari, then it’s wise to pack khaki clothing, especially if you are planning to do any hiking, as this blends into the bush better.
As of 1 October 2011, South Africa requires all travelers journeying from yellow fever risk countries to show proof of yellow fever vaccination by means of a valid yellow fever certificate. This also applies to those who have transited through a yellow fever risk country.
The certificates, which are valid for 10 years, must be approved by the World Health Organisation, and should be administered at a yellow fever-approved vaccination centre at least 10 days before departure to South Africa, as the vaccine only offers protection 10 days after administration. Failure to produce a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate at a South African port of entry could lead to refusal of entry, or quarantine until the traveler’s certificate becomes valid. Quarantine will not be longer than 6 six days.
Those who have an exemption certificate due to medical reasons will be allowed entry, but will be required to report any fever or other symptoms to the health authorities, and will be placed under surveillance.
Countries for which a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into South Africa are Angola, Argentina, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, French Guyana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Suriname, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, and Venezuela.