Guide to Cape Town and South Africa

Your Safety in the City

Cape Town's Central Business District and major malls have taken considerable pains to safeguard tourists against crime. Surveillance cameras monitor activities in the central business district, and security guards watch over major shopping centres. Nonetheless, tourists should take the precautions as they would in any major city. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, having cameras or video-cameras loose, leaving belongings unattended, and in general take advice on where to go after dark. Take special precautions on lonely lookout points at dusk or after dark.


Telephones and Communication

If you're visiting from abroad, you can hire a cell-phone (mobile phone) at the airport. This convenience will cost about R12 per day and R2.85 per minute of a call. You'll need to leave a substantial credit card deposit. Some international mobiles will work here if you have them add a local SimCard.

We do hire GPS navigation devices at R 40 per day with a R 1500 deposit.

Weather and Seasons

Most tourists visit Cape Town during our long summer from November to February. A Mediterranean climate with little rain, 11 hours a day sunshine or more and long sunny evenings sets a party mood. The Californian weather explains why Cape Town has become a favoured site for foreign film and TV crews escaping from the Northern Hemisphere winter.

In recent years, the normally prevailing summer south-easter wind, the famous Cape Doctor, seems to have abated. Maybe El Nino or global warming is to blame. If the wind does blow and you're after a tan on the beach, remember that mornings are usually much less windy, and that certain beaches (Clifton, Boulders) are much more protected than others.

Open for Business

Cape Town has in many cases shed its British and Calvinist habit of closing businesses from Friday or Saturday lunch to Monday morning. Shopping and business hours: Most shops in the city centre and suburbs open between 08h00 and 17h00 to 17h30. Shops in some major malls may open at 09h00 and close at 21h00 or later (specially at the V&A Waterfront), even on Sundays and most public holidays. Government agencies still keep to traditional weekday only hours. Most banks close at 15h30, and have limited Saturday morning opening times. Moslem-owned businesses close at noon on Fridays and re-open at 13h00. (If someone says they're opening just now, it may mean any time from five minutes to never.)

To be (here) or not to be (here)

Conventional local wisdom used to be that spring (September and October) and autumn (April and May) are the smart times to visit Cape Town. They are usually balmy in-between seasons, with little wind, when nature is at its showiest. If you're into flowers or whale-watching, or seeing the vineyards at their best, these are great seasons to be in the Cape.

Although Cape Town winters have a reputation for rain and wind, they often produce perfect days or even weeks. Some climatic change seems to have reduced winter rainfall, and when it's not raining, winter becomes a perfect green season, when temperatures can reach a summery 26C (80F) or higher. Capetonians watching the World Cricket Cup being played in England in June regularly enjoyed temperatures and weather much more suitable for cricket here than they were there. This time is known in Cape Town as the "Secret Season" - because of all the secret pleasures to be experienced!


Car Mania is associated with Cape Town Tourism