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Cape Town travel Information and Tips
Deciding when to travel
Cape Town is an incredibly popular travel destination with thousands of people visiting the city every month. When visiting any capital city, it is always good to have a list of travel information and tips at hand for whenever you might need them.
Arguably, the most important decision to be made before travelling to Cape Town is choosing what time of year to travel.
South African summers run from November to February and the warm weather means many visitors both local and international flock to Cape Town at that time. December and January are peak tourist season but if you are keen to experience the warm weather, late February and March are good options.
Cape Town does experience a wet winter season during June and July so bear this in mind if planning a trip then.
Cape Town hosts a number of internationally renowned events throughout the year. The Cape Town Cycle Tour occurs annually around mid-march, Two Oceans marathon occurs near or during Easter weekend. The city will be busier than usual during these times.
From August to late September, the Western Cape becomes a riot of colour; flower season arrives. Visitors will once again descend on the area to experience the cape floral kingdom in bloom.
September is also a popular month in Cape Town for tourists due to the southern right whale migration. The small town of Hermanus, an hour and a half from Cape Town, brims with people hoping to watch the natural phenomenon take place.
Cape Town water is safe to drink (and quite refreshing). Remember to stay hydrated especially when visiting during the hot, dry months of summer.
Another one to remember for summer: remember to wear sunscreen. Even while taking in the sights of town or savoring some world-class vintages during a wine farm tour. The African sun is beautiful but it can also be unforgiving.
Just like any other major city across the globe, there is crime in Cape Town. The best way to counter this is to always be aware of your surroundings. Keep your valuables close (alternatively, place what you can in a safe at the hotel); try not to have too many valuables (for example, expensive watches or jewelry) on display, and try not to carry large amounts of cash on your person. When out exploring the town at night, travel with a group of people and try not to venture off alone.
Lastly for staying safe, keep a list of emergency numbers on hand and Carry some form of ID around at all times
Vaccines and medication
- Visitors to South Africa do not need yellow fever inoculations unless they are from yellow fever endemic areas (Yellow fever belt of Africa or South America).
- Cape Town is a malaria free zone, so no need to take any malaria medication.
Tipping differs from country to country. In South Africa there is a set standard for leaving tips.
At restaurants and bars:
- Its standard practice to leave a 10% tip after a meal.
- Bartenders are usually given a similar amount as at restaurants if there is a large tab running. If rounds are being ordered then leftover small change is usually given to servers.
- When using taxis, it is standard practice to round up to the nearest 10 in rands. For longer distance trips out of the city R20 or more should be fine. Please note: always use metered taxis and it’s a good idea to get the information of a reputable agency from the hotel you are staying at.
- Uber operates in South Africa via the app. Tipping uber drivers is to be done at your discretion.
Hotel staff and safari guides:
- Porter’s usually receive about R10 for assisting with bags during a stay.
- For staff at smaller lodges and camps, if guests want to leave a tip, pooling tips for the staff is an option.
- When tourists hire cars while in South Africa, they will notice a uniquely South African phenomenon: car guards. Car guards are usually present in parking areas and undertake the task of watching parked cars. Its commonplace to tip between R2- R5.
- For the uninitiated, petrol attendants are around to assist at petrol stations. They will usually fill up tanks, check oil and water and give dirty windscreens a quick scrub. Most people leave between R5-R10 as a tip.
Overall, tipping is standard practice in South Africa but it is up to the individual as to how much they want to spend.
With the development of technology, staying online and in contact while on vacation is becoming easier as it is becoming more desirable. Most hotels will have wifi and many public areas in Cape Town such as shopping malls and restaurants offer complimentary wifi to patrons. It is just a case of having a device to connect to the internet with.
As a side note, some hotels offer complimentary computer and internet services.
For those wanting to use a cell phone while on holiday, there are options. Turning on roaming is one but this can incur high costs. An alternative is to buy a south African sim card while in the country. This is cheaper as data and cell phone call credits are reasonably priced. The only challenge is that when buying a sim card in South Africa, people have to RICA (Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act) whereby proof of ID and residence are required upon purchase. For visitors to the country this would require a passport and proof of where you are staying at the time (a confirmation of reservation on a hotels letterhead will do).