Cape Town

by Peter Baxter  

Global Jet Set capital and most visited city in Southern Africa

Cape Town Tourism Office: Cnr. Castle & Burg Streets, City Bowl. Tel: (021) 487 6800

  • A Brief History
  • Hiking & Walking Trails
  • Cultural Sites & Museums
  • Beaches
  • Golf Courses
  • Health & Wellness
  • Adrenalin Sports
  • Festivals & Venues
  • Food & Wine
  • Known also as The Mother City, Kaapstad, or iKapa, Cape Town is one of the world’s principal cultural centres, one of the global jet set capitals, and is indisputably among the top five most beautiful cities in the world. It is the most visited destination on the South African tourist map, with much to see within the city limits itself, and even more in the hinterland. The Cape Region spreads east, north and west into some of the most interesting and celebrated countryside in the region.

    Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa, is currently the nation’s legislative capital, and is the provincial capital of the Western Cape Province. It has a fascinating history and cultural heritage, with an extraordinary racial mix and diversity that gives it its uniquely cosmopolitan appeal. It is a centre for South African and regional music, arts and culture, and enjoys perhaps the most liberal social conventions on the continent. All of this tends to confirm Cape Town as one of the principal global cultural crossroads, easily on a par with cities like Rio, Sidney, London, Paris, New York and Buenos Aires.

    Climate

    To add to the list of Utopian attributes that make Cape Town such a pleasant destination is the climate. Far enough south of the tropics to enjoy mild and temperate conditions all year, Cape Town can be cold and windy in the winter (from the end of May to the middle of September), but rarely frigid, and hot and occasionally humid in summer (November to the middle of February), but seldom oppressive. Expect an average summer high to peak at a very agreeable 28ºC (83ºF), and an average winter low to drop to 7ºC (45ºF). Rainfall can vary dramatically from place to place on the peninsular, but for the most part the annual rainfall occurs in winter, and can be between 20 to 60 inches per annum. Summer temperatures are eased often by a regular and brisk south-easterly wind known locally as the Cape Doctor, thanks to it’s long being responsible for clearing Cape Town of pollution and ‘pestilence’.

    More information about South African weather

    When to Go

    There are no particular months or seasons to visit South Africa, although certain sights and preferences may have a seasonal aspect, and it is worthwhile checking in advance what these are. Climatic conditions in Cape Town are acceptable year round, as is generally the case throughout South Africa. Check prices on airfare to South Africa.

    Travel Warnings

    Crime: Cape Town shares the same general dangers of street crime and muggings as the rest of South Africa. Don’t be fooled by the atmosphere. Keep your wits about you and remember that South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Seek and follow local advice on the matter of crime and general safety wherever and with whomever you go.

  • Leave important documents in a safe place. All hotels, lodges and hostels offer safe lock up facilities
  • Seek safety advice from you hospitality establishment wherever you are
  • Avoid walking anywhere after dark, particularly in urban areas, and particularly in the CBD of any of the larger cities and towns
  • Don’t leave anything of value in your car overnight
  • Incidences of car hijackings in South Africa are high Always be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night
  • Don’t stop on any of the freeways for more than a few minutes, and in the instance of a breakdown, call for help
  • Health

    AIDS: Any kind of casual sexual encounter in South Africa, as with anywhere in the world these days, is to be discouraged. South Africa has one of the highest infection rates on the planet, about 1 in 4 of the population, so obviously extra caution is necessary when visiting any destination on the sub-continent.

    In most of South Africa tropical diseases are rare. Cape Town enjoys a temperate climate so malaria is seldom an issue.

    Travel Doctor clinics are to be found in all the major centres where you can get health advice on malaria, yellow-fever, AIDS and any other tropical diseases, and acquire all the vaccinations and prophylactics necessary for your extended journey.

    Tap water is usually safe to drink.

    Sunburn risks are high in most places in South Africa, so hats, long sleeved T-shirts and sun screen are a must.


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