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Area Codes -- The country code for South Africa is 27, for Zambia 260, for Zimbabwe 263, for Botswana 267. Regional codes in South Africa: Cape Town/Western Cape is 021, Johannesburg is 011, Pretoria is 012, Durban/Kwa-Zulu Natal is 031, Eastern Cape is 041.

Automobile Organizations -- For South African road conditions and route planning, call the Travel Information Centre (tel. 27/11/799-14 00; aasa@aasa.co.za; Mon-Fri 8am-5pm). For breakdowns, dial tel. 083-843-22.

Electricity -- Electricity in South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia is 230 volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. Electrical sockets in Zimbabwe usually supply at between 220 and 240 volts AC.

Embassies & Consulates -- South Africa in the U.S.: 3051 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/232-4400; http://usaembassy.southafrica.net). In Canada: 15 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON, K1M 1M8 (tel. 613/744-0330; fax 613/741-1639; www.DocuWeb.ca/SouthAfrica). In the U.K.: South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DP (tel. 020/7451-7299; fax 020/7451-7284; www.southafricahouse.com). In Australia: Corner State Circle and Rhodes Place, Yarralumla ACT 2600 (tel. 02/6273-2424, -25, -26, -27; fax 02/6273-3543; www.rsa.emb.gov.au).

Zambia in the U.S.: 2419 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC (tel. 202/265-9717). In the U.K.: 2 Palace Gate, Kensington, London W8 5NG (tel. 020/7589-6655; fax 020/7581-1353).

Zimbabwe in the U.S.: 1608 New Hampshire NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202/332-7100). In Canada: 332 Somerset St. West, Ottawa, ON, K2P 0J9 (tel. 613/237-4388; fax 613/563-8269; www.DocuWeb.ca/Zimbabwe). In the U.K.: 429 Strand, London WC2R 0QE (tel. 020/7836-7755; fax 020/7379-1167; http://ukinzimbabwe.fco.gov.uk/en/). In Australia: 11 Culgoa Circuit, O'Malley ACT 2606 (tel. 02/6286-2281; fax 02/6290-1680).

Botswana in the U.S.: 1531-1533 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202/244-4990, -91; fax 202/244-4164). In the U.K.: 6 Stratford Place, London W1C 1AY (tel. 020/7499-0031; fax 020/7495-8595). In Australia: 52 Culgoa Circuit, O'Malley ACT 2606 (tel. 02/6290-7500; fax 02/6286-2566).

Embassies or Consulates in South Africa: U.S. Embassy: 877 Pretorius Street Arcadia, in Pretoria (tel. 27/12/342-1048; fax 27/12/342-5504; http://southafrica.usembassy.gov). Consulates: No. 1 River St. (corner of River and Riviera roads), Killarney, Johannesburg (tel. 27/11/644-8000; fax 27/11/646-6916); Broadway Industries Center, Heerengracht, Foreshore (tel. 27/21/421-4280; fax 27/21/425-3014); Old Mutual Building, 31st floor, 303 West St. (tel. 27/31/305-7600; fax 27/31/305-7691). Canadian Embassy: 1103 Arcadia St., Hatfield, Pretoria 0083 (tel. 27/12/422-3000; fax 27/12/422-3052; U.K. Embassy: 255 Hill St., Arcadia 0002, Pretoria (tel. 27/12/483-1200; fax 27/12/483-1302; http://ukinsouthafrica.fco.gov.uk/en/). Australian Embassy: 292 Orient St., Arcadia, Pretoria 0083 (tel. 27/12/342-3740; www.australia.co.za).

Emergencies -- South Africa: tel. 10177 ambulance, tel. 10111 police and fire, tel. 112 cellphone.

In Zambia: tel. 999 police, tel. 991 medical, tel. 993 fire; tel. 112 from mobiles.

In Zimbabwe: tel. 999 for police, medical emergency, and fire.

Holidays -- Banks, government offices, post offices, and most museums are closed on the following legal national holidays: January 1 (New Year's Day); March 21 (Human Rights Day); Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Monday; April 27 (Founders/Freedom Day); May 1 (Workers Day); June 16 (Soweto/Youth Day); August 9 (Women's Day); September 24 (Heritage Day); December 16 (Day of Reconciliation); Christmas Day; and December 26 (Boxing Day).

Hospitals -- See www.netcare.co.za, a collection of top private clinics throughout South Africa.

Insurance -- For information on traveler's insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and medical insurance while traveling, visit www.frommers.com/planning.

Legal Aid -- If you are pulled over for a minor infraction (such as speeding), never attempt to pay the fine directly to a police officer; this could be construed as attempted bribery, a much more serious crime. Pay fines by mail or directly into the hands of the clerk of the court. If you're accused of a more serious offense, say and do nothing before consulting a lawyer. Once arrested, a person can make one telephone call to a party of his or her choice. International visitors should call your embassy or consulate.

Mail -- You can post postcards and letters through your hotel, and they will invariably reach their destination. If you wish to post a parcel however, it is worth registering it (thereby getting a tracking number) at any local post office, or sending it with FedEx or UPS. Include zip codes when mailing items.

Newspapers & Magazines -- The weekly Mail & Guardian (www.mg.co.za) is one of the most intelligent papers and comes out every Friday, with a comprehensive entertainment section. Local papers include the Star and the Sowetan, in Johannesburg; the Cape Times and Argus, in Cape Town; the Natal Mercury, in Durban; and the Eastern Province Herald, in Port Elizabeth. Business Day is South Africa's (very slim) version of the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times. Getaway (www.getawaytoafrica.com) is an excellent monthly travel magazine that covers destinations throughout Africa.

Police -- South Africa: tel. 10111 or tel. 112 from mobile phones (soon also from fixed line phones).

Smoking -- Smoking is not permitted in public enclosed places. Some restaurants have partitioned areas for smokers.

Taxes -- South Africa levies a 14% value-added tax (VAT) on most goods and services -- make sure this is included in any quoted price (by law, items must be marked as clearly excluding VAT or having VAT included). Foreign visitors are not exempt for paying VAT on purchased goods. They may, however, claim back VAT paid on items taken out of the country when the total value exceeds R250. The refund may be lodged by presenting the tax invoice (make sure it has a VAT registration number on it) together with their passport to the VAT Refund Administrator's offices, which are situated at Johannesburg and Cape Town International Airports, as well as at visitor bureaus. Call tel. 021/934-8675 to find locations and hours.

Useful Telephone Numbers -- In South Africa, call directory assistance at tel. 1023 for numbers in South Africa and tel. 0903 for international numbers. Computicket (tel. 27/11/340-8000 in Johannesburg; tel. 27/83/915-8000 in Cape Town and Durban) is a free national booking service that covers cinema and concert seats, as well as intercity bus tickets; payment can be made over the phone by credit card.

Time -- Southern Africa is 2 hours ahead of GMT (that is, 7 hr. ahead of Eastern Standard Time).

Tipping -- Add 10% to 20% to your restaurant bill, 10% to your taxi. Porters get around R5 per bag. There are no self-serve garages or gas stations; when filling up with fuel, tip the person around R2 to R5; this is also what you tip informal car guards (identified by their neon bib) who look after cars on the street. It's also worth leaving some money for the person cleaning your hotel room. Be generous if you feel the service warrants it -- this is one of the best ways to alleviate the poverty you may find distressing.

Visitor Information -- South Africa -- South African Tourism (www.southafrica.net or www.southafrica.info).

In the U.S. -- 500 Fifth Ave., 20th Floor, Ste. 2040, New York, NY 10110 (tel. 212/730-2929; info.us@southafrica.net). Brochure line tel. 800/593-1318. Los Angeles office tel. 310/407-8642.

In Canada -- 4117 Lawrence Ave. E., Ste. 2, Ontario M1E 2S2 (tel. 0416/966-4059).

In the U.K. -- 6 Alt Grove, London SW19 4DZ (tel. 020/8971-9350; info.uk@southafrica.net). Brochure line tel. 0870/1550044.

In Australia -- 117 York St., Ste. 301, Level 3, Sydney, NSW 2000 (tel. 02-9261-5000; info.au@southafrica.net). Brochure line tel. 800/238-643.

Useful websites include www.southafrica.net, www.southafrica.org, www.getawaytoafrica.co.za, and www.mg.co.za, the home page for the Mail & Guardian, South Africa's best national weekly newspaper.

Water -- South African tap water is safe to drink in all cities and most rural areas. Always ask in game reserves.

Weather -- See www.weathersa.co.za or call tel. 082-162.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.