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Sharon de Bruyn

Electricity, Plugs and Adaptors for Travel in Africa

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Greetings Fellow Travellers.

So you are travelling to Africa.  Below you will find some useful information with regard to organising your appliances while you travel.

We are leaving for Africa today and some of our family are joining us along the way.  So I thought I would share with you some of the information we have shared amongst ourselves as we prepared for our trip.

The good news is that both South Africa and Namibia use 220v, which means it is compatible with all Australian electrical gear.  The problem is that their plug points and sockets have 3 rounded pins, so they are not compatible with Australian equipment unless you have an adaptor.  There is a photo below to give you an idea of what it looks like.

You can buy an array of adaptors at luggage shops or at the airport on departure.  However, the most versatile adaptor I have come accross is the “Skross” adaptor which can be bought from the Qantas Inflight store in flight or online.  This is very useful if you intend to travel a lot as it covers almost all countries in the world and even has a USB charger for iPhones, iPads and other 5v devices.  The problem is, now having had a look at mine, I can’t see a South African adaptor on it!  Nevertheless, if you are interested, you can purchase it through Qantas for AU$30 in flight or online at:

A cheaper standard SA adaptor from a kiosk at an Australian airport will be just fine, however.  One good piece of advice I can give is that it may do you well to buy a standard Australian double adaptor from Bunnings. (Preferably the type that has bevelled ends – I’ll include it in the photo because I’m not too sure how to describe it accurately. The bevelled ends actually allow 2 plugs to fit in it – you’d be surprised how many double adaptors they sell that only allows one plug to fit although it can accommodate two!)  You can plug it into your SA adaptor, and you get 2 sockets for one, which will allow you to charge your phone and and camera at the same time, or you could use your hairdryer whilst charging your phone.  Very useful.

The photo attached shows three adaptors, bottom left shows the South African plugs, bottom right shows the reverse of that plug and how it adapts the usual Australian plug, and the top middle is the double adaptor from Bunnings.  Remember, the Bunnings one must be the standard Australian plug – as it fits into your adaptor.

Back to electronics – If your iPhone/iPad drains very quickly and you want to use your device listening to music on long haul flights or journeys, or you are going to a country where electrical supply is unreliable, you could purchase a digital charger, which is a device that stores power that you can use to top up your device.  They are a bit pricey, but you can get them at most electronic shops.  My suggestion is that if you do buy one for Africa, look at getting one that uses AA batteries which you can replace at will, and not one that needs a USB port, or a charger and electrical outlet – because again, you are dependent on a reliable supply of electricity.    I hasten to add that you should not need this in South Africa.  Zimbabwe, perhaps, but not South Africa, so really this is not a necessary purchase.  I just mention it if you feel you may need the extra power.

Zip-Lock bags – a GREAT invention.  You can get these by the hundred at the local Coles or Woolworths stores.  They are see-through, and this is important because you can see what’s in them without opening them – VERY handy, they are watertight, great for putting your phone or Passport in if it starts to rain, (or you are on a dubious boat or canoe) and also they are airtight, which can allow for a protective air bubble if you have something slightly fragile in your luggage.  (Or if you want your Passport to float – heaven forbid!)  And above all, great to store those pesky little earphones in so that the cables don’t tangle up with every other recharger, USB cable, power pack or piece of jewellery you may want to take with you. Just pop your earphones in the Zip-Lock, chuck them in your bag somewhere, and when you pull them out, they are just how you left them.  Perfect!  (By the way, the iPhone touch screen and microphones work well inside the plastic bag.)

I try to take 2 sizes of Zip-Lock bags with me, small and medium.  I use small to put earphones, cables, and loose change from countries I have just visited, which I won’t need again, so that I don’t confuse the coins with the new currency.  (It’s a real pain if you need glasses to read what is embossed on the coins, as I have now discovered to my dismay.)  I also place spare AA and AAA batteries in a Zip-Lock bag.  It keeps them together so you don’t have to go digging for a spare battery amongst your sox and undies.  In medium size bags I put rechargers, adaptors and other small but chunky items I would need to use almost on a daily basis.  At each new destination all I need to do is pull out 2 or 3 Zip-Lock bags on my bedside table and I am set.  All up I normally find I only need 3 small bags and 3 medium bags.  I would suggest that you pack 3 or 4 of each size into a side pocket somewhere as spares, should one fail, or if you find other good uses for them along the way.

That’s all for now on the handy hints.

Next blog post will be on luggage – what size bag to use, and what to pack.

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We have a big trip organised for Africa.  Today we fly out and as soon as I can, I will try to upload pics and videos of what we are experiencing over there.  I can’t tell you how excited I am feeling!!

Take good care and best wishes,

Sharon 🙂