Cape Town, on the Cape Peninsula, has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry, sunny summers and cold, wet winters. Seasons are well defined, with winter, between June and September, being influenced by a series of cold fronts that cross the peninsula from the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are characterised by heavy rain, strong northwesterly winds, and low temperatures. In summer Cape Town is warm and dry, but the idyllic sunny weather is often punctuated with strong southeasterly winds. The average temperatures in Cape Town in the summer range between 61°F (16°C) and 79°F (26°C), and in winter average between 47°F (8°C) and 64°F (18°C). Summer temperatures can reach well above 86°F (30°C) and nighttime temperatures in winter occasionally drop below freezing, but this is rare. The most popular time to visit is summer and early autumn (November to March).
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round, three-pin plugs are standard.
South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted. Visitors should be vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to operate there. All commercial banks will exchange foreign currency.
The international access code for South Africa is +27. GSM mobile phone networks providing 900 and 1800 frequencies serve the country, and there are roaming agreements with most international mobile operators. Mobile service providers offer very cheap 'pay-as-you-go' SIM cards, which are a good option for visitors staying for some time. Internet cafes are available. Card and coin operated pay phones are also widespread.
Emergencies: 10111 (Police); 10177 (Ambulance)
Cape Town is a very pleasant city and not at all difficult to get around. The public transport system is limited, but satisfactory. In addition, there is very little traffic congestion and drivers respect traffic rules
Most medical facilities in South Africa offer a good quality of care, but costs are high. Even under emergency circumstances, you may be refused medical care if you are unable to provide a guarantee of payment. It is therefore recommended that you obtain insurance covering health care expenses as well as medical evacuation or repatriation before you leave home
There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to South Africa.
However, the following vaccines are recommended:
• booster doses for protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio
• typhoid, hepatitis A and B, rabies (depending on the length of your stay)
As a general rule, foreign nationals must be in possession of a visa to enter South Africa. However, South Africa has entered into visa exemption agreements with a number of countries.
To find out if you will need a visa for travel to South Africa, visit the website of the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs: http://www.dfa.gov.za/consular/current_issues.html
In Cape Town and throughout South Africa, tipping is not necessarily required, although always appreciated if you are satisfied with the service. It is customary to tip between 10 and 15 percent of the bill in restaurants and bars. Parking facilities are usually monitored by attendants. The latter often ask if you would like them to keep an eye on your car. If you accept, be sure to leave a few rand as a tip, depending on how long your vehicle has been parked.