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South Africa

MedicalTourism South Africa

South Africa Medical Tourism

South Africa Medical Tourism offers the health traveler world class medical institutions and unparalleled tourism opportunities

Located on the southern tip of Africa, South Africa has a rich and, at times, a tumultuous history. But despite its past, South Africa still draws more tourists than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa. What makes the country a popular tourist destination are its geographical extremes. You can go wildlife watching, see stunning panoramic views from Table Mountain National Park, visit the arid semi-desert of Karro, chill out on the lush subtropical coast of KwaZulu-Natal, wander (not too far) into the Kalahari desert, see the snow-capped peaks of the Drakensberg Range, and journey to the vineyards of the Western Cape; not to mention dance the night away in the pulsating cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg. Culturally, the country is as diverse as its terrain, with significant populations of Portuguese, Greek, Irish, Italian, Scottish, English, Dutch, Flemish, German, and French, as well as indigenous Xhosa and Zulu ethnic groups. Also, smaller populations of East Indians, Chinese, and Vietnamese make up the cultural landscape of South Africa.

Although South Africa has made great strides in the last 20 years, there is still abject poverty, racial stratification, high occurrences of HIV/AIDS, and crime. Despite what news reports say, the majority of tourists leave the country with no problems, however if you are traveling to South Africa (especially Johannesburg) stay alert and use your common sense. Note that scams are usually performed by friendly, well-dressed men and the most popular scam is the ATM hoax, which involves the thief tampering with the machine so that your card gets jammed. Once you have realized this, you have already entered your pin number in which the thief has taken note of. When you enter the bank to report that your card has been eaten by the machine, the thief will take your card along with the money in your account. So choose the ATM that you will use carefully and avoid using them at night or in desolate locations.

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South Africa Medical Tourism Fame

Described as a place to get sun, safari, and surgery, South Africa has for some time been a popular medical tourism destination for Europeans because of its proximity to the continent. Although hospitals in South Africa aren’t as competitively priced as hospitals in other destinations (it is still 50% cheaper than in the U.S.) medical tourists flock to the country’s health facilities because of its world-class medical institutions, tranquil vacation settings, and highly skilled doctors; many of whom not only have certification in South Africa, but also in the United States and the United Kingdom as well. Note that the first heart transplant was performed in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967, putting the country on the map as place for world-class medicine. Other reasons why many Westerners seek medical treatment in South Africa are that English is an official language of the country, South Africa has advanced private and public medical infrastructures, and private hospitals are in competition with one another and thus offer luxurious accommodations in order to lure patients. There are also many top-notch spas and resorts that cater to the recovery process.

Popular procedures sought in South Africa are cosmetic, dental, eye, laser, and fertility treatments, however hospitals offer a wide range of world-class procedures. Note that if you are unsure about a doctor or a hospital you can check with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.


South Africa has many official languages; one of which is English.


Note that because South Africa lies on the southern hemisphere, its seasons are the opposite of North America and Europe. Winter is from June to September, Summer is from late November to March, Spring is from mid-September to November, and Fall is April and May. The climate of South Africa is temperate in the interior plateau, subtropical in the northeast, and Mediterranean in the southwestern corner. Weather is generally comfortable throughout the year, however sometimes the summer brings very hot days, and along the Indian Ocean, the air is humid. Also, at high altitudes, temperatures can drop below freezing. In Cape Town, the average temperature in the summer is 70oF (21oC), and in the winter is 55oF (13oC). Johannesburg is about the same, except it is a little colder than Cape Town.

Visa / Entrance Requirements

U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require a visa in order to enter South Africa, however a passport (valid for at least 30 days after the date of departure) with at least two blank pages for the entry stamp (not including the ‘endorsement’ page in the back) is required.

Airlines Servicing this Destination

South Africa has many airports, but the ones most pertinent for medical tourists are:

  • Cape Town International (CPT)
  • Durban International (DUR)
  • Johannesburg Tambo International (JNB)
  • Pretoria Wonderboom Airport (PRY)
  • Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ)

The following airlines have flights to South Africa:

  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Air France
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • South African Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Emirates
  • LTU International Airways
  • Delta


A room in a budget hostel or a guesthouse in Cape Town ranges from $15 to $30 USD per person per night, with rooms in Johannesburg being slightly cheaper. A room in a 3 star hotel or guesthouse costs between $50 and $130 USD per night for a double occupancy room. On the luxurious end of the spectrum, South Africa is home to many world class, 5 star accommodations including beach resorts, stately villas and guesthouses located in prestigious suburbs, and posh hotels. Luxury hotels and resorts range from $200 to $700 USD per night, and villas can be as high as $18,000 USD per week (during the high peak season of Christmas/Hanukkah and New Years).


The currency of South Africa is the Rand (ZAR).

The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to South African rands is $1 USD to 8.24 ZAR (exchange rate subject to change).

Communicating Home

The international access code for South Africa is 27.

Area codes in South Africa include:









King William's Town










Cape Town


















East London














Port Elizabeth




In order to call South Africa from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code), then 27 (country code for South Africa), then the area code (two digits), and then the phone number (seven digits). 

To call a cell phone in South Africa from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 + 27 + area code (begins with the number 7 or 8) + phone number (7 digits).

In order to call the U.S. or Canada from South Africa you must dial 00 + 1 + area code + phone number

Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns.  Many hotels and private hospitals throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.

Emergency Telephone Numbers

U.S. Embassy in Pretoria: (12)431-4000

U.S. Consulate in Durban: (31)305-7600

U.S. Consulate in Cape Town: (21)702-7300

U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg: (11)290-3000


Home of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa has a plethora of activities that will satisfy everyone from the adventure seeker to the tranquil traveler. One popular activity is dune or sand boarding (not to be confused with snow boarding), which is an activity that has grown exponentially in popularity over the recent years. South Africa has some of the tallest beach dunes, but don’t be afraid of wipe outs because sand is soft and forgiving. For those who seek even more thrills than hurtling down a sand dune can participate in cage diving with crocodiles at the Cango Wildlife Ranch located in Oudtshoorn. Also, you can go bungee jumping off of the Bloukrans Bridge on the Garden Route, which is the highest commerically operated bungee jump in the world or you can go paragliding in the towns of De Aar and Kuruman. For you non-thrill seekers, there are many safaris and animal sanctuaries in which you can view wild animals from behind glass or a fence. For a mix of activities, check out the Garden Route, which is a stretch of coastal highway that takes you through golf courses, ancient forests, secluded artists’ communities, malls, craft centers, mountain hideaways, beaches, and retirement estates. For tree lovers, a trip to the largest Baobab tree in the world, located in Sunland, is a must as well as a stop at the world famous Baobab Tree Bar located inside of an actual Baobab tree!

This section really does not do justice to the plethora of activities that South Africa has to offer, but at least you will know that no matter what, you will not be bored.


South Africans love to both shop and sell. You can find a variety of stores throughout cities and the countryside to fit any budget or taste.  For a wide variety of shops, go to Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which has over 400 stores and the Gateway Shopping Center just outside of Durban spans over 37 acres. Popular handicrafts include wire sculptures of airplanes and windmills, embroidery, beadwork, basketware, pots, and carvings. Such crafts can be bought at flea markets (or even purchased from hawkers on the street) such as Rosebank African Craft Market in Johannesburg and Greenmarket Square in Cape Town, just to name a few. Since gold, platinum and diamonds are mined in South Africa, it would be a shame not to get a piece of fine jewelry designed specifically for you. For other exclusive shopping venues, head to Johannesburg’s Nelson Mandela Square, Hyde Park, or Sandton City.

Nightlife and the Arts

Cape Town is described as a fun city with many live music venues, discos, and bars. Long Street is THE place to be and is lined with a variety of pubs, restaurants, and discos. The biggest nightclub in Africa is located in Cape Town and is called Dockside, which can hold up to 5,000 people. There are clubs (including comedy clubs), casinos, and bars scattered throughout South Africa’s major cities. Note that you will not be able to get into most pubs and clubs wearing shorts and a tank top, so dress accordingly.

South Africa has over 300 museums that reflect the country’s rich culture and history. Some of the more popular museums include the South African Museum, the Jewish Museum, the South African Airforce Museum, the South African National Gallery, and the Robben Island Museum (where Nelson Mandela was held as prisoner), all located in Cape Town. In Johannesburg, popular museums include the Aparthied Museum, the Adler Museum of Medicine, the Bernberg Fashion Museum, the Zoology Museum, and the South African National Museum of Military History. Art galleries are scattered throughout the major cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, and universities such as Wits University and the University of South Africa house substantial collections of art pieces.

There are over 100 theaters in South Africa including the Johannesburg Civic Theater, the State Theater in Pretoria, and the Off Broadway Theater in Cape Town; which feature ballet, traditional African dance, opera, cabarets, cultural dramas, and much, much more.

Most Newspapers in South Africa are in English.

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