The country’s geographical borders are the Mediterranean to the west, Jordan and Syria in the east, and the mountains of Lebanon to the north with Eilat marking the country’s southern tip.
Israel is in a subtropical region with two seasons, a hot and dry summer and a cold, semi-wet to wet winter. Israel enjoys a long summer (April – October) and temperatures range from 18’C to 32’C. Winter (November – March) is generally mild with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem with an average temperature of 14’C.
New Shekel (ILS)
Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel. English is widely spoken and understood.
South African permanent passport holders do not require a visa for Israel. Temporary South African passport holders require a visa.
WHAT THINGS COST *
Bottled Water USD 3.00
Can of Coke USD 3.00
Bottle of local beer USD 4.00
Take-away lunch USD 9.00
Dinner in restaurant USD 20.00
20 minute taxi journey USD 25.00
* Purchase price will vary depending on point of sale.
Below are a few hints that may help you when planning for your trip to Israel:
Shabbat and Jewish Holidays
Sabbath is observed from just before sunset on Friday to just after dark on Saturday – a total of around 25 hours. Shabbat is considered one the most sacred of all Jewish holy days. On Shabbat and Jewish Holidays, Jews do not work, travel or even use electricity. Public transportation might not run, particularly in Jerusalem and rural towns, and many tourist attractions and restaurants are closed. Travel by non-Jews is not forbidden, but tourists should familiarise themselves with Jewish customs and laws and take special precautions to avoid being offensive.
South African passport holders do not need a visa to enter Israel. Please note, however, that passengers travelling on a temporary South African passport will need a visa, which must be obtained prior to departure from South Africa.
Late March – May, September – October:
As a norm the weather is sunny and pleasantly warm. Lightweight skirts /slacks, and shorts are required. The evenings, particularly in Jerusalem, may be cool, so bring a warm jacket.
June – end August:
This is the hottest part of the year and cool summer clothing is required.
November – mid March:
Being winter, this the rainy season. Remember to bring some warm clothing and a light raincoat. (Although it is the rainy season, most days are still sunny and pleasant.) Occasionally, Israel experiences a cold spell so be prepared for this!
Throughout the year you should bring a swimming costume, as the Dead Sea remains warm all year around. Do also bring with you a beach towel; this leaves you free from relying on hotel towels when wanting to swim. (e.g. in transit from one hotel to another)
Israelis are casual with regard to dress, and fancy ultra – smart clothing will not be used. The men do not need a jacket or tie; although most travellers change for dinner a “smart – casual” style is the norm. Ladies should leave all expensive jewellery at home.
Please note that in certain holy places, you are required to wear clothing that covers knees (slacks/ jeans are fine) and shoulders. Please keep in mind when planning your wardrobe.
Comfortable shoes are a must and you should also bring one pair of rubber soled takkies/ running shoes. We also suggest that you bring rubber sandals or similar beach shoes. The shores of the Dead Sea are rough and it would be a pity to spoil your enjoyment of the Dead Sea by having cuts on your feet.
All passengers on group tours are restricted to 1 suitcase each, in addition to hand luggage. Please pack all medication in your hand luggage, as well as a change of clothing in the event of delays.
We recommend that you bring some kind of washing soap to do your hand – washing of clothes. It is also a good idea to bring a blow –up hanger, as not all hotel hangers can be removed from the cupboards for hanging wet washing on. Remember to bring suntan lotion, and if you normally use a hat in summer bring it along. Mosquito repellent might come in handy.
Israel has the same voltage as South Africa (220v). The majority of electrical sockets take a two – pronged plug. An adaptor – set (available at better stocked pharmacies) is recommended.
Tipping to guides, drivers and hotel staff is customary. Hotel porters should receive a small tip (approximately US$ 1-) for carrying your luggage (unless you are travelling in a group, in which case this may be included in your tour cost.) Guides and drivers should receive gratuity. Recommended average rates for passengers are:
Passengers on group tours:
Guide: US$ 5-7.- per passenger per day for a full day’s services
Driver: US$ 3-5.- per passenger per day for full day’s services.
Hotel staff: US$ 3.- per passenger per day, shared between dining room and reception staff.
Restaurants: US$ 4-6 per person or 10%
Please note that the cost of tipping must be collected before departure and distributed accordingly in Israel.
Passengers not on group tours:
For passengers not travelling as part of a group but rather with individual services – please increase your tipping accordingly – we suggest doubling above rates for Guide and Driver. For private car tours, we recommend tips for the guide at $40-50 total per touring day, depending upon satisfaction.
The security check carried out at the airport by airline staff is time consuming and very thorough. You will be asked questions such as: Who packed the suitcase? Do you know everything that is in it? Did anyone give you anything to take to Israel? This check is done for your own safety, and you should not worry about this. Give them your co – operation, answer all questions fully and you will have no problem.
The Israeli currency is shekels, with 100 Agorot to 1 Shekel (NIS). You will probably have difficulty in purchasing Shekels in South Africa before you travel. If you manage to locate Shekels, please be careful that you are not given “old” notes that are no longer accepted in Israel. It has been brought to our attention that some South African banks and foreign exchange offices still give out these old, invalid notes!
Your travel allowance should be taken in US Dollars. Please ensure that you have some small US dollar notes available ( e.g. $ 1 – $ 5 – $ 10). Please note that you are not likely to be able to sell your Israeli Shekels once back in South Africa, so keep this in mind when changing money close to your return date.
Some passengers have reported difficulties using American Express and Diners Cards to pay for their meals etc. in their hotels. These credit cards are not as widely accepted as Visa and Master cards.
IF FLYING EGYPT AIR TO ISRAEL
If you are flying Egypt Air, please note that it is a “dry” airline, i.e. no alcohol is served on board.
Please remember that it is essential to re-confirm your return flight latest 72 hours prior to departure. Failure to do so may result on your booking being cancelled, and all costs relating to this will be for your own account.