Currency: South Africa Rand (R or ZAR).
Telephone code: Country code of South Africa is +27.
SIM Card: One can buy a local SIM card at any retail shop in the city. You will have to submit a copy of your passport and will be allowed to select from among a range of data plans in return. The telecom networks with good connectivity are MTC, Vodacom etc.
Internet Connectivity: Most of the hotels and hostels provide with good wi-fi connectivity. You might need to struggle a bit to find coffee shops with wi-fi hotspots but the numbers are increasing day by day and wi-fi is slowly becoming a major USP in cafes. Other than that, the mobile data speed is usually good so if you can find a good sim with a good data plan it should do the work.
Transport: The South African public transport system is not the best in the world especially if you are travelling from Europe. This is something you might need to worry about as it’s not that straight forward. If you can drive, then hiring a car will be the best possible mode of transportation. Otherwise I would suggest you to book Uber rides since they are the most used and secure travel option. Uber does not accept cash payment in South Africa so make sure that your card is working properly before travelling to the country.
Most people had warned me about the security concerns before the trip. Yes, every big city throughout world has high crime rates and people get mugged all the time. All you have to do is to make sure to be careful and you will be fine. Do not believe in stereotypes and such disheartening concerns should definitely not affect your decision on whether visit the city or not. Unlike in other cities, most crimes in Cape Town happen away from the tourist areas so you can enjoy the city without getting into any trouble just by applying some common sense. Safety precautions like not flashing your wealth, not wearing expensive jewellery on the streets, and not going to the areas you are not familiar with should keep you safe.
Most of the mugging cases I had heard of, had taken place at or near ATMs. Victims had had their cards cloned within a fraction of seconds. Many tourists struggle with their cards while using them in public ATMs. Some local guys might come pretending to help you and clone the card within a fraction of a second. So do avoid using public ATMs and try to use it within your hotel/hostel or inside the bank.
The tip is usually 10% of the total bill and it’s not mandatory but recommended.
When to Visit:
You can visit Cape Town any time of the year. Summer is generally the most popular tourist season, with the tourist season peak falling in between mid-December and early January. The local holidays are in December and so people from the nearby cities like Johannesburg often come to Cape Town to enjoy the holidays. The city gets flooded with locals and tourists at that point so you might want to avoid December.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewellery, or carrying cameras and other valuables in public areas.
- Do not carry large sums of money. But do keep some money with you just in case an event of actual mugging happens.
- Keep some coins in your pocket to hand out to the valet/car guards without having to open your wallet.
- Steer clear of isolated areas, building sites and isolated beaches at any given time of the day.
- Swim only at beaches where there are lifeguards present and obey the safety instructions of the lifeguards. Many beaches are beautiful for sunbathing and walking but are not safe for swimming due to riptides, backwash and sidewash or shark activity.
- Avoid being near parked cash transit vans. Armed robberies and heists are a sad but almost regular occurrence in South Africa.
- Keep a list of local emergency numbers and contacts in your bag/wallet or on your cell phone.
- Never pick up strangers. Should you get lost, do not accept help from people who want to show you the way while accompanying you in your car.
- Plan your route in advance to avoid getting too close to townships
- Emergency Services: Dial 082 911 or 084 911 (ambulance), 10111 (police and fire).
- To contact any emergency service from a mobile phone, dial 112.
- Medical care: To find the nearest private clinic, or to contact a specialist, see netcare.co.za.
- For travel-specific queries, visit travelclinic.co.za.
- Tourism offices and information: The biggest and best-staffed is the centrally located Cape Town Tourism (00 27 21 487 6800; capetown.travel) on the corner of Burg and Castle Streets. (Open: Mon-Fri, 8.30am-5.30pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-1pm)
- For any itinerary queries in and around Cape Town, or how best to combine Cape Town with a suitable safari and/or Victoria Falls, please feel free to contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org.