Cape Town is one of the leading cities in Africa, the second most populated city in South Africa and the legislative capital of the country.
It is an economic powerhouse with a good climate, spectacular natural beauty, a fine academic legacy and an impressive portfolio of history-makers. Professor Chris Barnard performed the world’s first successful heart transplant in Cape Town and Nelson Mandela made his first public appearance here after being released from prison. It is inspiring leaders like this that have helped to carve out the knowledge economy that has made Cape Town an ideas centre for Africa and beyond.
Here, at the crossroad of the most important trade routes, situated at the gateways to Africa, an innovative local government initiative to slash red tape and fast-track logistics, is positioning Cape Town as the business hub that consistently outperforms the rest of the country in terms of economic growth.
The city is set within the unique Cape floral kingdom and is surrounded by the historic winelands of the Western Cape that have earned the city its reputation as a gastronomic destination. Iconic Table Mountain forms the backdrop of the Central Business District that runs down to its famous harbour and Table Bay.
This natural beauty, interesting cultural diversity and a creative spirit are among the hundreds of reasons why Cape Town was voted as the #1 Convention City in Africa and the Middle East and why it was voted by the Daily Telegraph as their Favourite World City. With all the charm and ingenuity of a developing nation, yet underscored by sophistication and technological prowess to rival a modern city in the world, Cape Town just may be the best-kept secret of experienced travellers.
Every year Cape Town hosts two mega international events that attract over 35000 participants each – the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the world’s largest timed cycle race, and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the 4th largest jazz festival in Africa.
Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) is Africa’s most award-winning airport. As Africa’s 3rd largest airport, it processes over 8 million passengers annually with over 50% of the country’s air passengers passing through the airport. Located approximately 20 kilometres from the city centre, the airport has domestic and international terminals, linked by a common central terminal.
A range of transport options are available to get you wherever you want to be. These include:
Integrated Rapid Transport System The new Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) System offers international visitors a scheduled bus service between the city centre, the airport and selected suburbs in Cape Town.
MyCiTi Shuttles These shuttles offer efficient and safe public transport across the city. The CTICC is conveniently located on one of the MyCiti routes, which runs from the airport to the city.
Taxi, Bus or Coach Metered taxis, luxury air-conditioned coaches and shuttle buses regularly run between the airport, hotels, the city centre and most major tourist destinations.
Train Cape Town Central Station is situated in the heart of the city, while an extensive rail system connects the city centre with the rest of the region and the greater Western Cape.
By Canal The unique Roggebaai canal offers a relaxed, charming journey via water taxi between the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and the CTICC.
On Foot The centralised and compact nature of the city means that walking is often the transport mode of choice for visitors.
On Two Wheels Given the temperate climate and abundance of safe routes around the city, bicycles are fast becoming a very popular form of transport for visitors. As part of its commitment to minimising its carbon footprint, the CTICC encourages the use of this mode of transport and the proposed expansion will even include a dedicated bicycle hiring facility.
Passports and Visas All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country, and in some cases, a visa. However, it is important to note that under South Africa's Immigration Act in force since 7 April 2003, the passport shall contain at least THREE unused pages when presenting the passport for endorsements. Failure to have a clear page can result in entry being refused.
To determine whether you require a visa to enter South Africa, visit the comprehensive South African Home Affairs Department website: Click here
For South African missions abroad: Click here
Due to its coastal position, Cape Town enjoys a temperate Mediterranean type climate for most of the year. Summers can be very hot, although often moderated with a cool sea breeze and mid-winter can be very cold with snow falling in the surrounding mountains. However, whichever time of year you choose to visit Cape Town, expect a surprise or two - Cape Town is known to have four seasons all in one day.
Many visitors choose to visit the Cape in its 'off-season' during spring in September and autumn in April. Days are a pleasant temperature, cooling towards evening, but often more enjoyable for visitors not accustomed to the heat. In Spring (September) the famous West coast flowers put on a dazzling display of colour and whale watching is at its best.
The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are directly opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere. For summer months, lightweight (cottons and linens), short-sleeved clothes are best, although a light jersey/jumper might be needed for the cooler evenings. Umbrellas and raincoats are essential for the summers and the Western Cape’s winters.
Warmer clothes are needed for the winter months, and summer evenings can get unexpectedly cool.
South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, making it an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time and seven hours behind Australian Central Time.
The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1 (one Rand). R is denoted as ZAR on currency converters. Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Changes. Most major international credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates are widely accepted, but not all merchants accept American Express and Diners Club. Click here for a currency converter.
The electricity supply in South Africa is 220/230 volts, AC 50 Hz. Please ensure that you bring the correct converter for your electrical equipment.
Most restaurants do not add a service charge to bills - thus it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip. Parking and petrol station attendants should be given whatever small change you have available. This is always appreciated, even though it may seem a small amount.
Value-added-tax (VAT) is charged on most items. Foreign tourists to South Africa can have their 14% VAT refunded provided that the value of the items purchased exceeds R250.00. VAT is refunded at the point of departure provided receipts are produced.
An increasing number of accommodation establishments have wheelchair ramps and bathroom facilities for the disabled. Almost every national park has at least one accessible chalet and many accommodation establishments have one or two wheelchair-friendly rooms. Most of our sports stadiums have accessible suites, stands or areas for wheelchairs near accessible parking as well as special toilet facilities. Most public buildings also cater for wheelchair access.
Many foreigners are unaware that South Africa has a well-developed infrastructure, high standards of water treatment and medical facilities equal to the best in the world. Below we address any health and safety questions you may have.
In a great many medical disciplines, South Africa is a global leader. In fact, South African trained doctors are sought after all over the world, so this should give an indication of the standard of medical care available. There is a large network of public and private hospitals countrywide, offering excellent service. However, clients must have adequate health insurance to cover the fees private hospitals charge.
Malaria is found only in the far north-east of the country – Cape Town is NOT a malaria area. Malaria is not much of a risk in the winter months from May to July. Although the incidence of malaria is rare, it would be best to take adequate precautions if you choose to visit these areas. The cheapest, safest and most effective measures against malaria are physical barriers such as a mosquito net, and the use of a good insect repellent. If you decide to take malaria prophylaxis, it is essential that you take the medication according to the directions on the package insert. It is advisable to consult a medical professional before embarking on a course of malaria prophylaxis. Note that expectant mothers should avoid malaria medications.
For tourists, South Africa is as safe as any other destination in the world. South Africa boasts a vast array of cultures, communities, sites and attractions. Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists provided they take basic common-sense precautions (for example not walking alone in deserted areas at night and being circumspect about how much photographic equipment or flashy jewellery you carry).
As a rule, tap water in South Africa is safe to drink as it is treated and is free of harmful micro-organisms. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation is top-notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks - a good thing, too, after a day on the beach or in the bush.
We have very strict drinking and driving laws - with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. Translated that means about one glass of wine for the average woman and perhaps 1.5 or two for the average or large man. Our speed limits are 120kmph on the open road, 100kmph on smaller roads and between 60 and 80kmph in towns.
All visitors intending to drive are required to obtain an international driver’s permit - visitors found driving without a permit will be fined and not permitted to continue on their journey. Visitors will also not be able to rent a car without a valid driver's permit. The wearing of seatbelts is compulsory and strictly enforced by law. Speaking on mobile phones whilst driving is only allowed via a hands-free kit. South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road.
Visitors who are entering South Africa from a yellow fever zone must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Only infants under the age of one year are exempt. Immunisation against cholera and small pox are not required and no other vaccinations are required when visiting South Africa.