1.Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate. Hot in summer and wet in winter. Average summer temperatures are around 20’C and winter temperatures average around 15’C. Daytime temperatures are warm to hot. Winter rainfall is around nine days a month. Summer days are usually dry.
2. Tipping is expected. A tip of 10% on the total bill is customary. If a 10% “service charge” is added to the bill for a party of six or more, then an additional tip is not required. We once had a “service charge” added to a light breakfast for two at a well known vegetarian eatery in Long Street. That was really cheeky. Keep an eye open for this “service charge” so you don’t end up double tipping.
3. The five traditional MUST SEES are Table Mountain; Robben Island and the V and A Waterfront; Cape Point and Chapman’s Peak Drive; The Winelands and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
|Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town
4. Since everyone is trying to see the same attractions they do get crowded. You can buy a ticket in advance from – Webtickets to avoid queuing up on the day.
5. Table Mountain and Robben Island are weather dependant attractions so make sure you get them done early in your stay in case you have to come back due to bad weather.
6. The MiCiti bus from the airport to town is an absolute bargain at just over R50 a head. It takes you to the Civic Centre in the heart of Cape Town. From there you can catch either a train, another bus or a taxi to your accommodation. MiCiti are also worth considering for getting about Cape Town. A trip from the city to Blouberg costs around R10 and covers more or less 20 kilometres.
7. I recommend Rikkis taxis for getting about. They are London style cabs. You can ride a “share cab” from one end of the city to the other for approximately R40. Find them on-line at Rikki Or you can phone them at 0861 745 547.
8. Search through this Cape Town oriented travel blog for loads of ideas about where to go and what to do. There are photos accompanying each post. Fancy a train ride to Simonstown right alongside the sea; or a bike ride to Blouberg passing Milnerton lighthouse and Flamingo Vlei? It’s all there in older posts.
9. While most locals use mini bus taxis, and they are without doubt the most cost effective way to get around, I don’t recommend them. They are inclined to be a law unto themselves and have the highest stats when it comes to vehicle accidents. They should definitely be avoided at night.
10. Hiring a car is easy in South Africa and most airports have the usual companies well represented. Do be aware that is illegal to park on a yellow or red line anywhere in South Africa. It is also an offence to park on a pavement or facing oncoming traffic. You must park facing the direction you were driving. South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road. Roads in South Africa, particularly in the urban areas are good. Be aware that some regions have an abundance of toll roads.
|Milnerton Beach, Cape Town
11. Although South Africans have not done enough to counteract driving under the influence of alcohol, authorities are committed to cracking down hard. Roadblocks are becoming more and more common. Stop and searches for drugs are increasing. Just say no.
12. The sale of alcohol is forbidden on Sundays in South Africa. It is possible to find the odd place with a special alcohol license if you are stuck on a Sunday. Ask around. And you can’t buy beer or spirits in supermarkets. Only wine.
13. Tap water is perfectly safe to drink in the major cities in South Africa. Avoid drinking water in rural areas, unless you know that it is safe.
14. Not all petrol vendors accept credit cards. They have only recently been introduced and some places have catching up to do.
15. It’s illegal to consume alcohol on the beach or public places. But, you can take a basket of snacks and a bottle of wine up Table Mountain or to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. I can’t explain this discrepancy.
16. People forget or don’t realise that South Africa has 50 million people. Cape Town alone has close on 4 million people. We get asked if our guesthouse is close to the beach or the mountain. There are lots of beaches and mountains in Cape Town. I suggest that people allow at least 3 – 5 days in Cape Town. It’s best to be centrally located as most of the attractions are in and around the city.
|Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town
17. South Africa has self-appointed car guards all over the place who “guard” your car. Some of these people are desperate refugees from Africa with no status in South Africa. Being a guard is the only source of income for them. Others are common criminals or drunkards who wouldn’t be able to tell a car from a rock. Do you tip them? It’s your call. If they can stand on their feet and speak coherently, I tip. If not, I don’t.
18. Cape Town has some excellent Blue Flag beaches but the seawater is cold. The Indian Ocean is warmer and is on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula. Muizenberg and Gordon’s Bay will have warmer sea. On the Camps Bay side of the peninsula is the Atlantic Ocean and it is definitely cold.
19. The standard of accommodation and restaurants in South Africa is generally high and usually great value. You should find South Africans are a friendly and helpful nation. You can expect good service.
20. Cape Town International Airport is approximately a 20 to 30 minute ride from the city centre. If you are driving, make sure you budget extra time during peak hour traffic. The N2 highway to the airport can get very congested and traffic stands still.