Andrea Mooney, Site Editor of Cheapflights.com spent a couple of weeks in Cape Town, South Africa, recently and these are her top tips for fellow visitors.
1. Know that few things will be exact. Things in Cape Town are very relaxed, so if you have precise questions, expect blurry answers. When someone says they will do something “just now” it doesn’t mean “immediately,” it means “some time in the near future.”
In the same light, taxi drivers rarely use meters, so before you get in, negotiate a price to avoid getting overcharged.
2. Trains are cheap, but slow. Taking a train to the Fish Hoek or Simonstown beaches cost less than R70 (about £6), but can take up to three hours with late start times and extended waits at stops along the way.
Hiring a car will take around 40 minutes and cost R300 (£26 or so). Sharing the car with others will bring down the price, save two hours of your sun time, and get your gear to the beach easily.
3. Be strategic about visits to the ATM. Theft at ATMs is common, so some banks are protected by armed guards. Use ATMs in the daytime, in open places. It helps to be with a friend, or to choose an ATM that has a guard next to it.
Take out as much as you can, R2000 (approximately £180), and stash it in a few different safe places at your accommodation. Don’t carry all of it with you outside.
4. Drink up! Wine tours are essential in the Cape Town area, especially to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Pinotage (a red combination of Pinot Noir and Hermitage) is unique to South Africa, and commonly served at restaurants.
An entire day-long tour can last nine hours, visit four wineries, include lunch and food pairing, and only cost around R450 (around £40).
5. Tipping: tipping in Cape Town isn’t always expected, but it is usually earned. A reliable taxi driver or bartender might get 10 per cent, and 10-20 per cent can be given to waiters and waitresses at restaurants, largely depending on the quality of service.