Well done! If you are reading this, it means that you are planning to travel to Cape Town? Right?
Well, I am going to tell you a little secret: it's the best decision you have ever made! I can still remember the day I have made this decision... I was so excited and something warm inside me was telling me that this trip will change my life...And it did! Big time!
So beware and ready to have no desire to leave Cape Town once you have been here! And, as a result you might do everything you can to stay...and live here! This is the risk you take when you travel to Cape Town! :-)
Now, once you've made the decision to 'just' visit Cape Town, you need to organize your trip. I'm going to try to help you with that, based on my experience! And also, I am going to give you all advice and useful tips that I can think of to make your travel to Cape Town...a lifetime experience! ;-)
Do You Need to Fly Internationally?
You can fly with
South African Airways
who offers affordable fares for good service. And there are other reliable airlines, my favourite one is Emirates (excellent service, good food, comfort, 30kg allowed for the check-in baggage+ 7kg for your cabin bag...).
For more info on international flights to Cape Town, click on
Do You Want to Fly Nationally?
There are up to 900 domestic flights per week! Not too bad for an African country! ;-)
There are several national airlines which offer great fares such as
, which is my favourite. Just listen to what they say! The hostesses and the pilot love to have fun and make jokes before taking off and landing...
If you want more information on national flights and South African airlines, click
The great news is you'll always find millions of amazing things to do in Cape Town in winter or in summer!
However, if I were you I would organise my trip for October because the tourism season hasn't started yet. The prices for accommodation are still reasonable as high season starts in November.
October is then not that crowdy and above all it is the peak of the
Have you ever dreamed to see this amazing animals? Well make your dream come true and book your next holiday in October to Cape Town! Also, the weather starts to clear up, it's spring time!
Another great month to travel to Cape Town is March, because most tourists have left and the weather is bliss! Again, the prices are better than in high season!
When Is The Best Time to Go to an African Safari wildlife park?
In the Western Cape including Cape Town, the best time would be the summer months, from November to March, as winter tends to be rainy.
For more info on Safaris in the Western Cape, click
And Weather Wise?
November to March: summer (14-30°C/57-77°F)
April to June: Autumn (11-22°C/51-72°F)
July to mid Sept: Winter(06-18°C/43-63°F)
Mid Sept to October: Spring(13-20°C/55-68°F)
You can check the weather on
which is quite an accurate website.
This will give you a fair idea of the kind of climate you're going to experience.
Now, it's important to know, when you travel to Cape Town in autumn(from April to June) or in winter (from June to September), you can sometimes experience the four seasons within the same day!
For the anecdote... When I arrived in Cape Town, I used to smile when people were saying to me that rain is so beautiful and romantic. I thought it was a joke even though they seemed rather serious!
I grew up in Cherbourg in the North West of France where the rain is part of your life, 280 days a year! Here it is the reverse! Now, after 9 years of living in Cape Town, I understand what they mean and I actually agree! Crazy me! Who would have ever thought that?!
Eh oui! It is so seldom to see, feel and smell the rain, that when it falls, it gives a good reason to stay indoors for once! Light a fire, prepare a nice cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine and enjoy your book! You feel so guilty to do that when the sun is shining outside that you hardly do it!
And, have you ever noticed how bright the colours are and how fresh it's smelling when it has just rained?!
If you are planning to come during winter (from June to September) in Cape Town, you can enjoy a different side of Cape Town and still have fantastic holidays. Ah! And by the way, one of the best time of the year to see magnificent sunsets is in winter because the clouds turn into dramatic red colours...Amazing!
Ah! J'oubliais!...the wind! Do you know how we know that summer is around the corner? With the wind! Eh oui! The wind in Cape Town blows only in summer. It's one of the reasons why Cape Town is THE paradise for kitesurfers and windsurfers. If you have access to the internet during your trip, you can check the wind on
to plan your day accordingly. There are beautiful sheltered
, that will enable you to have a wonderful sun bath even with the strong South East wind.
Thanks to the wind we're never too hot in Cape Town! I told you it's just a perfect place!
Alors, you can travel to Cape Town by plane, by boat, by car and for winter holidays or for sunniest days, you'll always have a memorable holiday...
What is the currency and where to get ZAR?
The South African currency is the
. You can get it at banks in your own country even though some countries don't stock it or the easiest if to withdraw it with your credit card at any ATM machines in South Africa. There are ATM machines at almsot every corners and at the airport.
Note: Banks normally charge a fixed fee per withdrawal so I advise you to rather witdraw big amounts to avoid paying too much fees.
What to Pack in Your Suitcase when you travel to Cape Town
Well, it all depends when you come and what for!
It should at least include:
- your passport (validity date must be over 6 months after the end of your stay in South Africa)
- A warm jersey. You never know when the wind will blow and even in summer the evenings can be quite chilly. The last thing you want is to spoil a romantic sunset because of goose bumps!
- your camera and I can promise you, you will use it a lot!
- your international driving license which will be required if you are planning to drive around. You can apply for it at your city hall / mairie. It is usually valid for 10 years and it is free.
- walking shoes, as there are
amazing hikes to do in and around Cape Town,
- sunglasses because the sun is awake nearly every day...
- swimming costume, a must to enjoy
all beautiful beaches
. Although, I'll be surprised that you actually get to swim! Cape Town is a city of 2 oceans: Atlantic and Indian! On the Atlantic side the water never goes above 14°C (57.2°F) while the Indian ocean heats up in summer and can reach up to 23°C (73.4°F).
- don't bring any fancy clothes if you don't want to, because you won't have to! Even in very fancy and luxurious restaurants, you won't have to wear a tie or a jacket. Nice shoes and shirt and you'll be perfect!
- a top with long sleeves and a pair of trousers against mosquitoes if you are planning to go on safari.
- sun lotion because the South African sun is naughty and can burn you badly.
-a good guide about Cape Town if you haven't find everything you need in my website! ;-)
- If you bring any electrical items with you, remember that South Africa, like in the UK, use a 240v system. However, the plugs are not the same. The South African variety is round, and nearly about the same size as the British plugs. Fortunately, there are adapters available at the airport and in most chemist shops (drug stores) and I can definitely recommend this one:
Are you planning to travel to Cape Town with your baby? Don't worry about bringing all the equipment with you, you can hire whatever you need with
Safety while you travel to Cape Town
It's on purpose that I've chosen to talk about the safety, specifically at the very end of this section as most media talk only about that and it always upsets me as this is the last thing which should be said about Cape Town!
Yes there is crime but mostly in townships and no it's not going to affect your holidays if you apply the same rules that you normally apply in any other big cities in the world. These rules are... don't go around flashing your wallet or camera, etc., and don't put yourself in unnecessary danger.
During 2010 Soccer World cup which happened in South Africa, I actually read an article which made me smiled because unfortunately so many people missed this great event because they were too scared to come..??!!
"Dear World Cup visitors,
Now that you are safely in our country you are no doubt happily realizing you are not in a war zone. This may be in stark contrast to what you have been bracing yourself for should you have listened to Uli Hoeness or are an avid reader of English tabloids, which as we all know are only good for wrapping fish 'n chips and advancing the careers of large-chested teens on page three.
As you emerge blinking from your luxury hotel room into our big blue winter skies, you will surely realize you are far more likely to be killed by kindness than by a stray bullet. Remember that most of the media reports you have read, which have informed your views on South Africa, will have been penned by your colleagues. And you know what journos are like, what with their earnest two thousand word opuses on the op-ed pages designed to fix this country's ills in a heartbeat. Based on exhaustive research over a three-day visit.
Funnily enough, we are well aware of the challenges we face as a nation and you will find that 95% of the population is singing from the same song-sheet in order to ensure we can live up to our own exacting expectations. We are also here to look after you and show you a good time. Prepare to have your preconceived notions well and truly shattered.
For instance, you will find precious few rhinos loitering on street corners, we don't know a guy in Cairo named Dave just because we live in Johannesburg, and our stadiums are magnificent, world-class works of art. Which is obviously news to the Sky TV sports anchor who this week remarked that Soccer City looked ' a bit of a mess'. She didn't realize the gaps in the calabash exterior are to allow in natural light and for illumination at night, and not the result of vandalism or negligence.
The fact that England, the nation which safely delivered Wembley Stadium two years past its due date, is prepared to offer us South Africans advice on stadium-readiness should not be surprising. The steadiest stream of World Cup misinformation has emanated from our mates the Brits over the past couple of years.
If it's not man-eating snakes lurking in Rooney's closet at the team's (allegedly half-built) Royal Bafokeng training base, then it's machete-wielding gangs roaming the suburbs in search of tattooed, overweight Dagenham dole-queuers to ransack and leave gurgling on the pavement.
In fact what you are entering is the world's most fascinating country, in my opinion. I'm pretty sure you will find that it functions far more smoothly, is heaps more friendly and offers plenty more diversions than you could possibly have imagined. In addition to which, the population actually acts like human beings, and not like they are being controlled by sinister forces from above which turns them into bureaucratically-manipulated robots.
Plus we have world's most beautiful women. The best weather. Eight channels of SuperSport. Food and wine from the gods themselves. Wildlife galore. (Love the Dutch team's bus slogan: "Don't fear the Big 5; fear the Orange 11").
Having said all that, Jo'burg is undoubtedly one of the world's most dangerous cities. Just ask those Taiwanese tourists who got out of their hire car to take close-up snaps of tawny beasts at the Lion Park a few years back. Actually, ask what's left of them. And did you know the chances of being felled by cardiac arrest from devouring a mountain of meat at one of our world class restaurants has been statistically proven to be 33.3% higher in Jozi than in any other major urban centre not built upon a significant waterway? It's true. I swear. I read it in a British tabloid.
Having recently spent two years comfortably cocooned in small town America, I'm only too aware of how little much of the outside world knows about this country. The American channel I used to work for has a massive battalion of employees descending on World Cup country. It has also apparently issued a recommendation to its staff to stay in their hotels when not working. Given that said corporation is headquartered in a small town which many say is "best viewed through the rear-view mirror", I find the recommendation, if it's true, to be utterly astounding. In fact I don't believe it is true. Contrary to the global stereotype, the best Americans are some of the sharpest people in the world. The fact they have bought most tickets in this World Cup proves the point.
Of course I have only lived in Johannesburg, city of terror and dread, virtually all my life, so don't have the in-depth knowledge of say, an English broadsheet journalist who has been in the country for the weekend, but nevertheless I will share some of my observations gleaned over the years.
Any foreign tourist or media representative who is worried about his safety in South Africa should have a word with the Lions rugby fans from last year, or the Barmy Army cricket supporters (lilywhite hecklers by day, slurring, lager-fuelled lobsters by night). They managed just fine, just like the hundreds of thousands of fans who have streamed into the country over the past fifteen years for various World Cups, Super 14 matches, TriNations tests and other international events. Negligible crime incidents involving said fans over said period of time.
Trivia question: which country has hosted the most global sporting events over the past decade and a half? You don't need me to answer that, do you?
In addition. Don't fret when you see a gaggle of freelance salesmen converge on your car at the traffic lights (or robots as we like to call them) festooned with products. You are not about to be hijacked. Here in Mzansi (nickname for SA) we do a lot of our purchasing at robots. Here you can stock up on flags, coat hangers, batteries, roses for the wife you forgot to kiss goodbye this morning and a whole host of useful merchandise.
Similarly, that guy who runs up as you park the rental car outside the pub intends no malice. He's your car guard. Give him a buck or two and your vehicle will be safe while you refuel for hours on our cheap, splendid beer. Unless someone breaks into it, of course.
We drive on the left in this country. Exercise caution when crossing the road at a jog-trot with 15 kilograms of camera gear on your back. Exercise common sense full stop. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you want to leave wads of cash in your hotel room like our Colombian friends, don't be surprised if it grows wings.
Bottomline. Get out there and breathe in great lusty lungfuls of this amazing nation. Tuck into our world-class food and wines. Disprove the adage that white men can't dance at our throbbing, vibrant night-clubs. Learn to say hello in all eleven official languages. Watch at least one game in a township. You will not be robbed and shot. You will be welcomed like a lost family member and looked after as if you are royalty. Ask those Bulls rugby fans who journeyed to Soweto recently.
With a dollop of the right attitude, this country will change your life.
It's Africa's time. Vacate your hotel room. Join the party.
Waka waka eh eh."
Written by Peter Davies
Frequently Asked Questions
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frequently asked questions
to get more information about the budget you should plan while you travel to Cape Town, the safety and vaccinations...
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