View from Table Mountain over Lions Head and CBD in Cape Town, South Africa

10 MUST READ TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST VISIT TO CAPE TOWN

After visiting Cape Town for a couple of months each year for the past five years, it’s really beginning to feel like our second home. Aside from the fantastic landscape and weather, it’s the people that make the difference. South Africans are just an overall happy crowd and super inclusive!

Cape Town – and South Africa in general – is one of the most diverse destinations and offers all kinds of travel experiences. To ensure your first trip here is hassle-free, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to keep in mind:

Health & Safety

More than ever, health & safety are a top priority when travelling in these times – and it’s the most asked question we get. Is it safe to travel to South Africa?

As applicable to any big city, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. We feel very safe here, but we are also very careful about where and when we go. Common sense has taught us the following: Leave flashy jewelry at home, take Uber no matter how close your destination is (don’t walk around alone or at night!), and stay away from dangerous neighborhoods (if unsure, always ask a local if an area is safe!).

COVID-19 update: Since December 28, South Africa is on Level 3 Lockdown. Since then, all indoor and outdoor gatherings will be prohibited, except for funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums, gyms and casinos. The nationwide curfew has been extended from 9pm to 6am. Apart from permitted workers and for medical and security emergencies, nobody is allowed outside their place of residence during curfew. The President further announced that non-essential establishments – including shops, restaurants, bars and all cultural venues – must close at 8pm. rom now on it is compulsory for every person to wear a mask in a public space. A person who does not wear a cloth mask covering over the nose and mouth in a public place will be committing an offence. The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol is not permitted.

Stay Connected

Aside from renting a car or scooter, you will mostly be using Uber to get around. To make sure you’re always online to track the Uber’s whereabouts and to make a phone call if ever necessary, it’s important to stay connected.That’s why we always purchase a local sim card upon arrival at the airport. You can buy a sim card at any mobile store (Vodacom for example) and load it up with data there or at local supermarkets.

Learn the Slang

Aside from the many languages spoken in South Africa, English is the most commonly used one and will get you around just fine. The South Africans have some very own English terms though, and you will want to know them to make sure you really feal like a local:

Braai – equivalent to a BBQ or grill party, South Africans love their braais (National Braai Day is on September 24!). And it’s so much more than a barbecue, it’s a whole cultural experience. With the amazing quality of meat and food in general, you will most definitely want to attend one.

Lekker – an Afrikaans word that you will surely hear at the Braai. It can be used for just about anything from tasty, good, fun, great and always has a positive connotation.

Just now – this does not mean they’ll do it immediately, but rather a bit later. As opposed to now now, which means shortly or soon (so sooner than just now) and also more immediate than now, which means eventually or maybe (so might never actually happen). Makes sense right?

Biltong – South Africa’s version of beef jerky, but so much better.

Tipping & Cash

As in the United Stated, it’s common to tip 10-15% on a bill in a restaurant or bar. We also tip our Uber drivers, car attendants (guys that watch your car or scooter while it’s parked to make sure nobody damages it), gas station clerks (they fill up your car for you so you don’t even have to get out!) and generally anybody who is lending a helping hand. Poverty is a real deal in South Africa and even the smallest gratuity can go a long way.

So even though cashless payments can be made pretty much anywhere, we always carry a bit of cash on us for these occasions.

On the question of helping those less fortunate: we never hand out cash, but always give food if we have any on us. I’ve gone into supermarkets on many occasions to buy food and water to hand out and always have left-overs from our table at restaurants packaged to give away.

Tap Water

We’re always a bit unsure on this question. Technically tap water is deemed safe to drink, especially since most of the water is coming from Springs from the surrounding mountains. However, if you’re unsure, a water filter will do the trick (especially to save plastic!).

Stay tuned for our complete Travel Guide to Cape Town and South Africa!

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