The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.” Mark Russell (US Comedian and satirist)
canada/ USA to south africa From Canada and the US there are three options - via Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Looking to fly direct? Direct flights are available on some routes, but don't expect a discount on the fare. The limited number of direct options ensures that flights carry fuller loads than flights via Europe and the Middle East. The two airlines flying direct are South African Airways and Delta.
South African Airways fly direct to Johannesburg, from New York (JFK) and Washington DC (IAD). Daily flights from New York (JFK) leave in the late morning, arriving in Johannesburg at around 8 am the next morning (which is great for recovering from jet lag and gives you a full day of sunshine!) The flight takes around 17 hours. Return flights leave Johannesburg in the early evening, arriving in the early morning the following day in New York. A daily flight from Washington DC leaves in the late afternoon, arriving in Johannesburg in the late afternoon the following day. This flight also takes around 17 hours and stops in Dakar Senegal en-route for an hour. A return flight leaves Johannesburg in the evening, arriving in the early morning the next day in Washington DC.
Delta Airlines have the shortest direct flights and fly direct to Johannesburg from Atlanta (ATL) leaving daily from Atlanta in the early evening and arriving late afternoon in Johannesburg the following day. The flight takes around 16 hours. Return flights leave Johannesburg in the evening and arrive in Atlanta early the next morning.
Flying via the Middle East Emirates has an excellent reputation for service and the stopovers are minimal in Dubai. Qatar Airways is another option with short layovers in Doha. Etihad has layovers in Abu Dhabi.
Flying via North Africa Ethiopian Airlines fly direct from Washington DC to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) four times a week. You fly via Rome and briefly refuel, but you don't get off the plane.
mexico to south africa No direct flights that we know of, but on the Mexico City to Johannesburg route you can choose between Delta, KLM, Air France, South African Airways, Lufthansa and Alitalia, connecting through Atlanta, Amsterdam, Paris, New York or Frankfurt.
latin america to south africa From South America Airlines flying out of South America to South Africa include Emirates, Etihad, British Airways, KLM, SAA, United, Delta and Lufthansa. Generally, the rule is that major cities on the East coast offer direct connections to Johannesburg with South African Airways. Inland destinations will have connecting flights in the Middle East or Europe. Some flights may be routed via the US before flying onward to Europe or the Middle East, or straight on to Johannesburg. Some examples of routes are the following: Buenos Aires to São Paulo to Johannesburg Bogota to Istanbul to Johannesburg São Paulo direct to Johannesburg Santiago - São Paulo - Johannesburg Lima - São Paulo - Johannesburg
australasia to south africa Australia/ New Zealand Qantas, Air New Zealand, Emirates and South African Airways service this route. There are fewer choices compared to what is offered in North America and Europe. Flights average around 28-33 hours for New Zealand flights. Qantas offers direct flights to Johannesburg in just 12 to 14 hours.
Japan/ Korea Etihad, Qatar and Emirates fly this route with stopovers in the Middle East. Average flying time is between 25 and 30 hours. Ethiopian airlines provide an option for a stopover in Addis Ababa. Singapore Airlines is also an alternative with a stopover in Singapore. Cathay Pacific has a stopover in Hong Kong. All Nippon Airlines and Japan Airlines offer stopovers in Singapore and Hong Kong. Qantas and South African Airways fly out of Tokyo and flights vary between 19 and 25 hours. Most European airlines fly this route too, although in most instances the flights are considerably longer. Korean volunteers for some reason have an edge on most countries - for some reason they can fly for as little as US $800!
asia to south africa Beijing and Moscow Much like Japan and Korea, volunteers from China and Russia can expect airfares between US $800-$900. Carriers are generally South African Airways, Cathay Pacific and Etihad. Stopovers are in the Middle East or Hong Kong and flights are also around 17 hours in duration.
europe to south africa This is probably the easiest and fastest one! London, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, Brussels and Amsterdam. Airfares can be quite reasonable at around US $700 for a return ticket. Some direct flights are available on airlines such as KLM and Air France as well as South African Airways. Most flights have at least one stop at one of the hubs in Europe before departing for Johannesburg. (Saudi airlines such as Etihad also fly this route and stopover in Abu Dhabi). The Skyteam Alliance really dominates the Europe - South Africa routes. There is a very useful tool to show what flights are available on the days you wish to fly and which airlines fly the route. Just routes and schedules, no prices. The other Alliance to consider includes British Airways and all it's partners. Their link is included for you as well.
You will discover that the cheapest fare is not always the best fare! Check how many stop-overs there are and how long they are. Having to pay for a hotel can negate any price advantage on a cheap fare!
A strategy for North and South America that sometimes works is to start your search by looking for flights from Europe to Africa (especially Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfurt, Zurich and Paris) and then add to the US leg of the flight. This can be particularly effective during the off-season (November to mid-December and January to March) when flights between Europe and the US are very inexpensive. The only possible disadvantage you may have is flight time, as the stop-over in Europe can make the trip quite long. On the other hand, you may be quite excited to get some time in Europe to explore as a bonus! Airlines to be considered are KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines. As mentioned above, Delta, Air France and KLM have formed a route sharing alliance, opening up many more cities in the US and Canada.
London was traditionally the common hub for flights into South Africa, but unfortunately recent airport and security tax increases have impacted the competitiveness of British Airways. It is still possible to find some special offers, but they are harder to find.
Oh, and that theory of last minute cheap prices? It doesn't normally work with international flights. Generally, the best time to purchase a ticket is between two and six months before the departure date, but with the competitive nature of Internet offers, you may just get lucky with an earlier booking. Just remember, if you are planning to book around peak times such as Christmas, New Years or summer holidays, it could throw all these rules out the window! In these cases it may be better to book long in advance. Just don't get caught like the writer by waiting for an even better fare than a "too-good-to-be-true" fare! Rather grab it - those fares rarely get any cheaper, only much more expensive!
Is there a specific day of the week when you can get the best value in fares? Apparently research has proven that Tuesday is the optimum day and the best time is after 3 pm eastern time (North America). We haven't tested it, but apparently it is fact. Days like Tuesday work because it seems this is one of the days when people least want to fly - Wednesdaysand Saturdaysalso work that way.
We have tried numerous online flight search engines and found that the following are very useful (Tip: you may want to use a VPN - Virtual Private Network when you begin searching - sometimes the internet service provider will block sites outside of your geographical area with you possibly losing out on much better deals):
Google Flights. (clicking on the orange words will take you to the website) Google has developed a powerful tool for finding flights. A calendar search gives a quick visual of the cheapest days to fly. Highly recommended. If you are not quite ready to book your flight, you can receive notifications from Google when the price for a flight you are tracking changes significantly.
Kayak. This company is highly competitive and some claim that Kayak almost always comes up with the cheapest flights. The great thing about the advanced search features is that you are able to filter searches to your exact specifications and even find so-called "hacker fares" - which are industry slang for flights consisting of two one-way flights on different airlines that are cheaper than a return airfare.
Hipmunk. This search engine provides you with a very useful filter for reducing your total travel time through short lay-overs. Cheap flights sometimes aren't just about getting there and back, but sometimes long layovers too!
Skyscanner. This search engine started out in Europe and found a niche in exclusively listing budget fares from European airlines. As a result it is very popular in Europe. Having expanded internationally, Skyscanner, like Kayak allows you to save money by using the filter for "indirect" routes as well as providing a "flexible" search tool.
Momondo. Momondo is what is known as a travel aggregator, providing comparative prices based on over 700 different travel sites.
Remember to adjust the search engines for your desired currency when hunting for cheap flights!
Make sure you check your passport well in advance of your travel for the following two very important items:
Expiry date. For South Africa, your passport should be valid for a minimum of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa.
Blank pages. If you do a lot of travelling, you may run out of blank pages in your current passport. Many immigration officials around the world refuse to issue visas, entry or exit stamps on anything other than crisp, clean, pages. Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages when you present it at immigration to enter or leave South Africa. If you have less pages left, you should apply for a new passport. You can do this at any time during the life of your current passport.
For the current visa requirements, the best place to look is the South African Department of Home Affairs. The listing information can change, however, the link provided was updated during December of 2015.
Generally speaking, no vaccinations are required to visit Ukutula, BUT you may need to have a Yellow Fever vaccination proof to enter South Africa if you are from South America and some other countries. This requirement is also valid if you have travelled through a country that has Yellow Fever risk. Clicking on the button below will provide you with a list of countries requiring proof of vaccination.
What about Malaria? It is prevalent in some parts of South Africa, but not in North West Province. If you are planning some travel to other parts of the country, you should make sure.
What is highly recommended is that you make sure your Tetanus inoculations are up-to-date. The reason for this is that Tetanus is caused by an infection with a bacterium commonly found in soil, dust and manure, things you will be exposed to while you volunteer. The bacteria generally enters through a break in the skin such as a cut or puncture wound caused by a contaminated object.
Because you will be handling animals, it is also highly recommended that you receive a Rabies vaccination.
All of these services are available in the town of Brits, just about thirty minutes’ drive from Ukutula.
A private hospital, Medi-Clinic, offers most fields of treatment. The writer has seen the facilities and was impressed with the cleanliness and efficiency of the facility.
South African medical doctors are world renowned for their high standards. The standard of dentistry is also superior in most cases.
Should you be required to take prescription medication, it is important to come adequately supplied - South African pharmacists are unable to dispense Schedule 3 and higher drugs without a prescription, so unless you have a doctor’s prescription you will have a problem.
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