Traveling To

South Africa: Health Guide

A health guide to the sun-drenched beaches, jagged mountains, and untouched national parks. Everything you need to know to have the adventure-filled trip you’ve always imagined.

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Your South Africa Travel Checklist

If you’re traveling directly from the US, South Africa does not require any vaccines to enter.

This changes if your itinerary includes a visit to or a 12+ hour layover in another country before you make it to South Africa. A Yellow Fever vaccine and proof of vaccination may be required to enter. Check here to see if you are traveling from a Yellow Fever endemic area.

Always recommended:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria – Tetanus – Pertussis
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Measles – Mumps – Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Covid-19

Excluding COVID-19, these vaccines are all recommended during childhood. If you received them as a child, you are all set.

Conditionally recommended:

    • Yellow Fever – Only required if you are entering South Africa from a Yellow Fever endemic country check here.
    • Typhoid – Recommended if you are visiting rural or remote areas or enjoying an extended stay with ones. Learn more.
    • Rabies – Recommended if you are planning activities that may involve contact with domestic animals or wildlife (e.g. camping, farm visits). Learn more.

South Africa has too many adventures and places to explore for sickness to ruin your plans. Runway can prescribe these trip-saving medications in minutes:

Malaria Medication

is recommended if you are traveling to transmission areas, such as Kruger National Park and surrounding private game reserves (including Sabi Sands Reserve, Timbavati Game Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve and more).

Traveler’s Diarrhea Antibiotics

help alleviate an intestinal infection that occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Traveler’s Diarrhea is common, so it’s a good idea to pack medication just in case.

Motion Sickness Medication

is recommended for all the bumps and curves along your journey. Whether traveling by land or sea, your road trip, boat cruise, safari excursion, or train ride will be more enjoyable without nausea and dizziness tagging along.

Sleep Aid

is a great addition to your packing list if you struggle with jet lag or sleeplessness due to travel stress.

Add medication to your treatment plan in the section below.

(Required to enter country)

Medical Entry Requirements For South Africa

If you’re traveling directly from the US, South Africa does not require any vaccines to enter.

This changes if your itinerary includes a visit to or a 12+ hour layover in another country before you make it to South Africa. A Yellow Fever vaccine and proof of vaccination may be required to enter. Check here to see if you are traveling from a Yellow Fever endemic area.

Recommended Medications For South Africa

South Africa has too many adventures and places to explore for sickness to ruin your plans. Runway can prescribe these trip-saving medications in minutes:

Malaria Medication

is recommended if you are traveling to transmission areas, such as Kruger National Park and surrounding private game reserves (including Sabi Sands Reserve, Timbavati Game Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve and more).

Traveler’s Diarrhea Antibiotics

help alleviate an intestinal infection that occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Traveler’s Diarrhea is common, so it’s a good idea to pack medication just in case.

Motion Sickness Medication

is recommended for all the bumps and curves along your journey. Whether traveling by land or sea, your road trip, boat cruise, safari excursion, or train ride will be more enjoyable without nausea and dizziness tagging along.

Sleep Aid

is a great addition to your packing list if you struggle with jet lag or sleeplessness due to travel stress.

Add medication to your treatment plan in the section below.

Recommended Vaccines For South Africa

Always recommended:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria – Tetanus – Pertussis
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Measles – Mumps – Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Covid-19

Excluding COVID-19, these vaccines are all recommended during childhood. If you received them as a child, you are all set.

Conditionally recommended:

    • Yellow Fever – Only required if you are entering South Africa from a Yellow Fever endemic country check here.
    • Typhoid – Recommended if you are visiting rural or remote areas or enjoying an extended stay with ones. Learn more.
    • Rabies – Recommended if you are planning activities that may involve contact with domestic animals or wildlife (e.g. camping, farm visits). Learn more.

Medical Entry Requirements

Medications To Bring

Vaccinations For South Africa

Healthcare In South Africa

Medical Entry Requirements

Medications To Bring

Vaccinations For South Africa

Healthcare In South Africa

Explore more

Build your plan

Everything You Need To Know

From vaccination requirements to best health practices, all your South Africa travel questions answered.

South Africa does not currently require any vaccines for travel from the United States.

A Yellow Fever vaccination is required at least 10 days prior to arrival in South Africa if traveling (including passing through an airport for greater than 12 hours) from a Yellow Fever risk country designated by the World Health Organization (WHO):

    • African Continent: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Cono, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, SIerra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda.
    • South & Central America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Travel with your proof of vaccination card to enter South Africa.

Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/SouthAfrica.html

There are several common health conditions to consider when traveling to South Africa. Runway can help you prepare by prescribing the medication you need before you depart, so you can worry less and explore more while you’re away.

  • Malaria Medication: Malaria in South Africa is only present in specific areas. The regions of South Africa along the Zimbabwe and Mozambique border, certain regions of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces, as well as Kruger National Park and surrounding private game reserves (Sabi Sands Reserve, Timbavati Game Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve) are considered transmission areas. If you’re planning on visiting these areas, add Malaria medication to your plan in the Build Your Plan section above.
  • Traveler’s Diarrhea Antibiotics: Traveler’s diarrhea is an intestinal infection that occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It’s best to avoid non-bottled water as much as possible. Runway can prescribe anti-diarrhea antibiotics, listed in the medication options above, to pack with you in case you find yourself experiencing discomfort.
  • Motion Sickness Medication: Whether cruising by boat or traveling by car, motion sickness can ruin the journey with dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. Runway can prescribe motion sickness patches or anti-nausea medication, listed in the medication options above, to alleviate queasiness during your trip and allow you to soak in the scenery.
  • Sleep Aid: We’re no strangers to the perils of jet lag. This common condition, due to a disruption of the body’s natural circadian rhythm, can lead to symptoms like sleeplessness, fatigue, and digestive issues. While we recommend working to sync up your sleep-wake time to your current destination as soon as possible, Runway can also prescribe a non-habit-forming antihistamine jet lag medication to help maintain a healthy sleep routine while you travel.

Can I carry medicines on international flights?

Medications in pill or solid form are approved for international flights. Keep them in your carry-on for convenient access. For liquid medications that exceed 3.4 ounces, you’ll want to pack them in your checked bags.

Medications you procure in South Africa may not always be manufactured in an FDA approved facility. Planning in advance with Runway allows you peace of mind of having the medications you need so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Make sure you’re up to date on any routine and recommended vaccinations weeks in advance of your trip to South Africa.

What shots should I have when traveling to South Africa?
While there are no required vaccines for South Africa for those traveling from the US, the lists below include recommended vaccines that you might need based on your personal history and trip activities.

Recommended Vaccines for Traveling to South Africa
The list below includes the routine childhood vaccinations that are recommended for traveling to South Africa. If you received vaccines as a child, you likely received the following and are ready to go:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria – Tetanus – Pertussis
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Measles – Mumps – Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B

Other Vaccine Considerations for Travel To South Africa
Here is a list of additional vaccines for preventable diseases that you may want to consider based on your trip itinerary:

Yellow Fever: Only required if traveling from a country considered high risk for yellow fever in South Africa as designated by WHO. This includes airport layovers greater than 12 hours in the listed areas throughout Africa and Central and South America. Check here.

COVID-19: Highly recommended for all travelers over the age of 5 headed to South Africa.

Rabies: Recommended for travelers planning to be around dogs or wildlife–as rabid dogs are common in South Africa and local rabies treatment may be limited. Most travelers will not need a Rabies vaccination unless they plan to do any of the following: wild camping, cave exploring, handling animals (veterinary work, field biology, handling specimens in a lab), and visiting rural areas.

Typhoid: Recommended for travelers visiting rural or remote areas, enjoying an extended stay with loved ones, or traveling extensively in the interior of South Africa (e.g. hikers or trekkers). Travelers who use antacid therapy should also consider Typhoid vaccination.

Proper preventative and proactive care can reduce the need to find healthcare in South Africa. However, we recommend making a list of local doctors and hospitals near the destination you’re staying, in advance of your trip.

It’s also strongly advised to purchase travel health insurance, as most traditional healthcare coverage doesn’t extend internationally. Fill all prescriptions prior to embarking on your trip to ensure you have enough with you for the duration of your travels plus a few extra days in case of delays.

How do I search for South Africa hospitals? Large cities in the country boast high standards of healthcare, making it easier to research and find accredited South Africa hospitals. Also, check with where you’re staying in South Africa as they often have hospital recommendations and information already in place. The Joint Commission International website and the U.S. Embassy can also be resources to locate healthcare organizations in or near the city where you’re staying.

What should I know about South Africa healthcare for tourists? Travel health insurance is highly recommended and can provide you with additional information and support about costs of services, coverage, and areas of available care.

What is the average cost of hospital stay in South Africa? A hospital stay in South Africa can vary in costs, especially as economic environments change. At one point, an average inpatient stay per day was under $100 USD. However, there is no set intake fee, so it’s best to confirm costs in advance to avoid unexpected expenses. Keep in mind, there are several factors that will contribute to the hospital cost, such as emergency services, x-rays, hospital location, and the duration of the stay.

Prevention is key. Be aware of certain high-risk areas and environments and take proper precautions for each. Take heed of destination updates with regards to weather, vaccination recommendations, and other safety advisories. If you are prone to jet lag, motion sickness, or traveler’s diarrhea get preventative medication from Runway to help keep symptoms at bay.

Are there common conditions I’m susceptible to when traveling to South Africa?

Drastic weather changes, time zone differences, and varying levels of activity can all result in health conditions when traveling to South Africa. Here are common ones to be aware of and prepare for to ensure an optimal trip experience.

  • Heat Exhaustion: During the summer months in South Africa (November-March), temperatures can soar in the desert and subtropical climates. Pack loose, lightweight clothing that provides breathable coverage on the arms and legs. Also, stay hydrated with sealed filtered water bottles and well-nourished with salty snacks. Since the body’s salt content can be quickly depleted from excessive sweating, you may also want to take salt pills and/or electrolyte-based drinks with you along on your adventures.
  • Hyperthermia: Higher humidity levels can be found in the subtropical climate of the eastern coast of South Africa, Though temperatures may not be as high as the desert regions, dense humidity can lead to the body overheating (hyperthermia) and result in muscle cramps, dizziness, and fatigue, and other symptoms. Consider the climate and level of activity day to day to prevent overexertion and carry enough supplies to stay hydrated and cool.

Here are a few other things to be mindful of as you plan your trip.

  • Avoid tap water: Drinking tap water in South Africa may result in travelers’ diarrhea and other illnesses due to bacteria found in the source. Stick with sealed, filtered water for hydration and be cautious of fresh produce that may have been affected by contaminated water as well.
  • Take precautions with ticks: In addition to preventing bug bites, especially Malaria and Zika in South Africa, certain areas of the country have a prominent tick population. When exploring the landscape of your destination, check your head and neck for ticks at the end of each day. Prevent African Tick-Bite Fever and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, as well as mosquito-carrying diseases, by using bug repellents with active ingredients, such as DEET and Picaridin, in high percentages for extended protection.
  • Steer clear of raw foods: As far as what not to eat in South Africa, dining out is largely considered safe and sanitary. However, avoid eating raw meats, fish, and eggs, as well as unwashed, raw fruits and vegetables. Try not to visit any food markets with live animals. Also, consider ordering drinks without ice to prevent possible contaminated water.
  • Keep wild animals wild: While touching, petting, and feeding wild animals is exciting, remember that most wild animals are not comfortable interacting with humans or have been habituated into doing so for food. No matter if they are domestic pets or wild creatures, animal licks, bites, and scratches can lead to bacterial infections. Be aware of animals being used for financial gain and look into the animal welfare of any wildlife related activity. Protect these animals and yourself by keeping wild animals wild!

South Africa does not currently require any vaccines for travel from the United States.

A Yellow Fever vaccination is required at least 10 days prior to arrival in South Africa if traveling (including passing through an airport for greater than 12 hours) from a Yellow Fever risk country designated by the World Health Organization (WHO):

    • African Continent: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Cono, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, SIerra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda.
    • South & Central America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Travel with your proof of vaccination card to enter South Africa.

Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/SouthAfrica.html

There are several common health conditions to consider when traveling to South Africa. Runway can help you prepare by prescribing the medication you need before you depart, so you can worry less and explore more while you’re away.

  • Malaria Medication: Malaria in South Africa is only present in specific areas. The regions of South Africa along the Zimbabwe and Mozambique border, certain regions of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces, as well as Kruger National Park and surrounding private game reserves (Sabi Sands Reserve, Timbavati Game Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve) are considered transmission areas. If you’re planning on visiting these areas, add Malaria medication to your plan in the Build Your Plan section above.
  • Traveler’s Diarrhea Antibiotics: Traveler’s diarrhea is an intestinal infection that occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It’s best to avoid non-bottled water as much as possible. Runway can prescribe anti-diarrhea antibiotics, listed in the medication options above, to pack with you in case you find yourself experiencing discomfort.
  • Motion Sickness Medication: Whether cruising by boat or traveling by car, motion sickness can ruin the journey with dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. Runway can prescribe motion sickness patches or anti-nausea medication, listed in the medication options above, to alleviate queasiness during your trip and allow you to soak in the scenery.
  • Sleep Aid: We’re no strangers to the perils of jet lag. This common condition, due to a disruption of the body’s natural circadian rhythm, can lead to symptoms like sleeplessness, fatigue, and digestive issues. While we recommend working to sync up your sleep-wake time to your current destination as soon as possible, Runway can also prescribe a non-habit-forming antihistamine jet lag medication to help maintain a healthy sleep routine while you travel.

Can I carry medicines on international flights?

Medications in pill or solid form are approved for international flights. Keep them in your carry-on for convenient access. For liquid medications that exceed 3.4 ounces, you’ll want to pack them in your checked bags.

Medications you procure in South Africa may not always be manufactured in an FDA approved facility. Planning in advance with Runway allows you peace of mind of having the medications you need so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Make sure you’re up to date on any routine and recommended vaccinations weeks in advance of your trip to South Africa.

What shots should I have when traveling to South Africa?
While there are no required vaccines for South Africa for those traveling from the US, the lists below include recommended vaccines that you might need based on your personal history and trip activities.

Recommended Vaccines for Traveling to South Africa
The list below includes the routine childhood vaccinations that are recommended for traveling to South Africa. If you received vaccines as a child, you likely received the following and are ready to go:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria – Tetanus – Pertussis
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Measles – Mumps – Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B

Other Vaccine Considerations for Travel To South Africa
Here is a list of additional vaccines for preventable diseases that you may want to consider based on your trip itinerary:

Yellow Fever: Only required if traveling from a country considered high risk for yellow fever in South Africa as designated by WHO. This includes airport layovers greater than 12 hours in the listed areas throughout Africa and Central and South America. Check here.

COVID-19: Highly recommended for all travelers over the age of 5 headed to South Africa.

Rabies: Recommended for travelers planning to be around dogs or wildlife–as rabid dogs are common in South Africa and local rabies treatment may be limited. Most travelers will not need a Rabies vaccination unless they plan to do any of the following: wild camping, cave exploring, handling animals (veterinary work, field biology, handling specimens in a lab), and visiting rural areas.

Typhoid: Recommended for travelers visiting rural or remote areas, enjoying an extended stay with loved ones, or traveling extensively in the interior of South Africa (e.g. hikers or trekkers). Travelers who use antacid therapy should also consider Typhoid vaccination.

Proper preventative and proactive care can reduce the need to find healthcare in South Africa. However, we recommend making a list of local doctors and hospitals near the destination you’re staying, in advance of your trip.

It’s also strongly advised to purchase travel health insurance, as most traditional healthcare coverage doesn’t extend internationally. Fill all prescriptions prior to embarking on your trip to ensure you have enough with you for the duration of your travels plus a few extra days in case of delays.

How do I search for South Africa hospitals? Large cities in the country boast high standards of healthcare, making it easier to research and find accredited South Africa hospitals. Also, check with where you’re staying in South Africa as they often have hospital recommendations and information already in place. The Joint Commission International website and the U.S. Embassy can also be resources to locate healthcare organizations in or near the city where you’re staying.

What should I know about South Africa healthcare for tourists? Travel health insurance is highly recommended and can provide you with additional information and support about costs of services, coverage, and areas of available care.

What is the average cost of hospital stay in South Africa? A hospital stay in South Africa can vary in costs, especially as economic environments change. At one point, an average inpatient stay per day was under $100 USD. However, there is no set intake fee, so it’s best to confirm costs in advance to avoid unexpected expenses. Keep in mind, there are several factors that will contribute to the hospital cost, such as emergency services, x-rays, hospital location, and the duration of the stay.

Prevention is key. Be aware of certain high-risk areas and environments and take proper precautions for each. Take heed of destination updates with regards to weather, vaccination recommendations, and other safety advisories. If you are prone to jet lag, motion sickness, or traveler’s diarrhea get preventative medication from Runway to help keep symptoms at bay.

Are there common conditions I’m susceptible to when traveling to South Africa?

Drastic weather changes, time zone differences, and varying levels of activity can all result in health conditions when traveling to South Africa. Here are common ones to be aware of and prepare for to ensure an optimal trip experience.

  • Heat Exhaustion: During the summer months in South Africa (November-March), temperatures can soar in the desert and subtropical climates. Pack loose, lightweight clothing that provides breathable coverage on the arms and legs. Also, stay hydrated with sealed filtered water bottles and well-nourished with salty snacks. Since the body’s salt content can be quickly depleted from excessive sweating, you may also want to take salt pills and/or electrolyte-based drinks with you along on your adventures.
  • Hyperthermia: Higher humidity levels can be found in the subtropical climate of the eastern coast of South Africa, Though temperatures may not be as high as the desert regions, dense humidity can lead to the body overheating (hyperthermia) and result in muscle cramps, dizziness, and fatigue, and other symptoms. Consider the climate and level of activity day to day to prevent overexertion and carry enough supplies to stay hydrated and cool.

Here are a few other things to be mindful of as you plan your trip.

  • Avoid tap water: Drinking tap water in South Africa may result in travelers’ diarrhea and other illnesses due to bacteria found in the source. Stick with sealed, filtered water for hydration and be cautious of fresh produce that may have been affected by contaminated water as well.
  • Take precautions with ticks: In addition to preventing bug bites, especially Malaria and Zika in South Africa, certain areas of the country have a prominent tick population. When exploring the landscape of your destination, check your head and neck for ticks at the end of each day. Prevent African Tick-Bite Fever and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, as well as mosquito-carrying diseases, by using bug repellents with active ingredients, such as DEET and Picaridin, in high percentages for extended protection.
  • Steer clear of raw foods: As far as what not to eat in South Africa, dining out is largely considered safe and sanitary. However, avoid eating raw meats, fish, and eggs, as well as unwashed, raw fruits and vegetables. Try not to visit any food markets with live animals. Also, consider ordering drinks without ice to prevent possible contaminated water.
  • Keep wild animals wild: While touching, petting, and feeding wild animals is exciting, remember that most wild animals are not comfortable interacting with humans or have been habituated into doing so for food. No matter if they are domestic pets or wild creatures, animal licks, bites, and scratches can lead to bacterial infections. Be aware of animals being used for financial gain and look into the animal welfare of any wildlife related activity. Protect these animals and yourself by keeping wild animals wild!

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    Runway offers travelers like you, the medications you may need before you go.