23 July 2014 by Stuart Buchanan

Travelling to SA for business or holiday? Try these apps …

So, you’re heading to South Africa for a meeting or a conference, perhaps on short notice, and are unsure about what to expect when you get here, or how to get around? Well, luckily, there’s a piece of technology you probably have already that can help you – your smartphone.

Image courtesy of Monash University

Armed with a set of handy apps and other useful resources, you'll find your stay in South Africa to be nothing short of lekker (Afrikaans for nice/great). 

Below is a list of useful technologies to take advantage of on your next business trip or holiday to South Africa:

Getting here

Seat Guru is a website that'll help you find out what seats are available for your flight, and help you choose the best one. It works for a number of international airlines, including South African Airways.

If you have a domestic flight lined up on one of South Africa's low-cost airlines, make life easier and check in on your phone. Mango has a dedicated app, while Kulula has a mobisite.

A glimpse of the Mango Airlines app

Getting around

You've landed! If you find yourself in Joburg, take the Gautrain: it's the fastest and most efficient way to get to Joburg's main centres, and to Pretoria.

Need a driver? No sweat. Uber, the app-based driver service is up and running in Joburg, Cape Town and Durban. Sign up, add your payment details, request a car and let the Uber app do the rest for you.

Waze, on the other hand, is essential if you are driving yourself around any big city. Its real-time traffic information is updated by a dedicated community, and it'll help you avoid road blocks, traffic jams and being late for your meeting.

Got some time to see the sights, but still need to be reachable via email or phone? Escape to the Cape has got you covered. Their tours of the Mother City and surrounds are done from a luxury air-conditioned vehicle equipped with satellite tracking, an on-board fridge, multiple cellphone and laptop charging facilities, 3G internet access and a laptop at your disposal.

The Gautrain. Image courtesy of Andrew Ashton

Speak the language

English is the most widely spoken language in South Africa, but is usually the second or third language spoken by its inhabitants. To get to grips with some basic Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho or other indigenous languages, check out the uTalk series of apps, or these phrasebook apps from the University of Cape Town's Information Systems Department.

With TripLingo, another translation app, you can get live, human-powered translations to help facilitate your meetings and conversations with potential business partners. The app offers this service for Afrikaans, the mother tongue of some seven million South Africans.

The TripLingo app offers live translations

Meeting time

Sometimes, you just need a place that has good coffee and decent Wi-Fi, and you have the perfect meeting venue. Luckily enough, this map of free Wi-Fi around South Africa should help.

While these are not South Africa-specific, two other handy apps for meetings are the Refresh app, which provides useful tidbits of info about the people you are about to sit down with, and Evernote, which scans business cards and automatically saves them as contacts in your phone. No need to carry a whole wad of loose cards home with you!

A handy map of free Wi-Fi spots in South Africa

Rest your head

TripAdvisor is a global review platform for hotels, attractions and restaurants, and a huge number of South African businesses can be found here. Check it out before choosing your hotel, leisure activity or evening meal!

CNN's Richard Quest and Helena Egan, head of destination marketing and sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa with the global travel site TripAdvisor, at South African Tourism's INDABA 2014

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