Useful Info


When visiting the Western Cape, please take the same precautions you would in any other city or town, such as avoiding the unnecessary display of valuables and refraining from walking in deserted areas or going out alone at night. Because your safety and security are of the utmost importance to us, we've put together a few basic precautions of which we urge you to take heed.

Safety at your Hotel

  • Never leave your baggage unattended - even when on a guided tour.
  • Keep all valuables - such as large amounts of money, expensive jewellery and cameras - in the hotel safe.
  • Carry your passport and travelling documents only when necessary - rather use certified copies.
  • Keep your door locked at all times.
  • When someone knocks, ask who it is before opening the door.
  • Be aware when entering or leaving parking areas.
  • Hand in your keys at reception whenever you leave the hotel.
  • Safety in the Streets
  • You may well feel at your most vulnerable while walking the streets. Fortunately, there is quite a lot you can do to identify potential danger.

    • A camera around your neck advertises that you are a tourist. Rather carry it in a shoulder bag.
    • Avoid dark, isolated areas.
    • Do not walk alone. Keep to groups and well-lit, busy streets.
    • If you get lost, a stranger may not be your best source of information or directions. Ask a police or traffic officer.
    • Don't carry large sums of money. Carry small change in your wallet or purse, and bank notes and credit cards in an inside-pocket.
    • Never carry your wallet in the back-pocket of your trousers.
    • Carry your bag close to your body.
    • Don't be fooled by con artists or strangers who offer you the opportunity to get rich quickly.
    • Your hotel or nearest tourist information office can recommend the most reliable taxi services.
    • Alert and give the police as much information as possible when the situation calls for it.
  • Safety in your Car
  • You may feel safer in a car, but you could be vulnerable in unfamiliar surroundings.

    • Make sure that your car is in good working order and has sufficient petrol, oil and water.
    • Consider an automatic latex puncture aerosol to get you to the nearest garage.
    • Keep a map handy so that you don't have to stop to ask directions.
    • Keep all doors locked and windows closed while driving.
    • Keep bags out of sight. It is an open invitation for a snatch thief when you stop at traffic lights or are held up in traffic.
    • If you're not using a cellphone, have change or a phone card for a pay-phone on you in case of an emergency.
  • Safety at the Beach
  • These safety tips will enhance your visit to the beautiful Cape Town beaches.

    • Deserted beaches make you an easy target - rather enjoy the beach with other sun-worshippers.
    • Keep valuable items such as clothes and keys in a locker at the beach when you go for a swim.
    • Leave at least one person behind to watch over your belongings while you swim and remember to glance in the direction of your belongings every so often.
    • An open bag displays the contents to unwelcome eyes.
    • Remain on the lookout for suspicious-looking persons or groups who wander around aimlessly on the beach.
    • Make a note of the emergency numbers for the area, including the NSRI, police and the John Rolfe Rescue helicopter.
  • Your Car at the Beach
  • Summer, Cape Town's busiest time of the year, is often when most emergencies occur. To keep yourself as safe as possible, remember the following points:

    • Park your vehicle in demarcated areas only.
    • While angling, always make sure that your vehicle is within sight and that there are people in the area.
    • Ensure that your hired vehicle shows no advertisement of the hire company to avoid being recognised as a tourist.
    • Lock valuable possessions in the trunk.
    • If possible, remove the CD/cassette player.
  • Safety in the water
    • Swim only in areas that have been marked safe by the lifeguards.
    • Make sure that a lifeguard is covering the area where you are swimming.
    • Never let children swim alone.
    • Stay near other swimmers who can come to your rescue in case an emergency occurs.
    • Constantly be aware of jet skis and boats in the immediate area.
  • When you suspect you might be attacked
    • Your voice is a valuable defence tool. When confronted, shout or scream! Attackers dislike noise and may make a quick exit.
    • If you need help, shout a positive instruction, like "Call the police!", because people are more likely to respond when they are called to action.
    • Be prepared to let your bag or packages go if someone tries to snatch them - it's better to lose your goods than lose your life!
  • General
    • Keep a list of emergency numbers close at hand so that you have them available in case of an emergency.
    • Be alert at all times, and be aware of the fact that a criminal might be lurking around the corner.
    • When using an elevator, always make sure that you are at ease with fellow users before entering.
    • Avoid displays of expensive jewellery and don't flash huge sums of money around.
    • Should you possess a firearm, hand it in at your bank for safe keeping, unless you plan on carrying it on your person the whole time.
  • If you need help
  • In an emergency contact the Police Tourist Unit at (021) 419-9564 during office hours and after hours the Police 24-hour emergency number, 10111 or contact your nearest tourism office, or your host at the hotel.

    If you see any suspect activity, or experience an emergency please call the police emergency number: 10111

    • If you're not using a cellphone, have change or a phone card for a pay-phone on you in case of an emergency.
  • Safety on the road
  • Arrive Alive is an initiative of the Department of Transport to promote road safety in South Africa. Visit for more information on your safety on the roads.


    • Information Office
      Western Cape Tourism Board
      Pinnacle Building
      Cnr Castle and Burg Streets
      Private Bag X9108
      Cape Town, 8000
      South Africa
      Tel: +27 (0)21 426 5647/39
      Fax: +27 (0)21 426 5640
    • Administration Office
      Western Cape Tourism Board
      7th Floor, NBS/Waldorf Building
      80 St. George's Mall
      Cape Town, 8001
      South Africa
      Tel: +27 (0)21 483 9181
      Fax: +27 (0)21 483 9182
    • Accommodation
      A wide variety of accommodation establishments are available in most towns. Your Tour Operator will advise you according to your needs.
    • Banking
      Most towns do have branches of the major national banks and their ATM's (Automatic Teller Machines). Most commercial banks are open from 09:00 - 15:30 on weekdays and 08:30 - 11:00 on Saturdays.
    • Customer Services
      • ABSA, 0800 414141
      • BoE Bank, 0800 220 339
      • Nedbank, 0800 110 929
      • Standard Bank, 0800 020 600
    • Children
      Most places do allow children. At gambling casino's/resorts there are usually baby-sitting facilities. Some private game reserves do not allow children under a certain age for the game drives.
    • Climate
      The climate is in general Mediterranean; with warm, dry summers and mild, moist winters. In the arid semi-desert of the Karoo this differs, with dry winters and low summer rainfall. On the coast during summer the temperature ranges from 15C up to 27C. Inland it increases with 3 - 5C. During winter it ranges between 7C and 18C. Inland the mornings are 5C and the midday around 22C.
      Just beware the forceful "Cape Doctor" that appears as if from nowhere. This south-easterly wind helps to clear the air of the Fairest Cape for your enjoyment, and drapes Table Mountain with a snow-white tablecloth of clouds that lay the "table" for a wonderful stay.
    • Communication Services
      The international dialling code for South Africa is: (27) followed by the area code (minus the 1st zero of the area code) and then the subscriber's number. When in South Africa, the international code is dropped and the area code is used with the zero in front.

      City/town codes
      • Beaufort West (0)23
      • Bloemfontein (0)51
      • George (0)44
      • Caledon (0)28
      • Cape Town (0)21
      • Durban (0)31
      • Johannesburg (0)11
      • Kimberley (0)53
      • Langebaan (0)22
      • Oudtshoorn (0)44
      • Pietersburg (0)15
      • Port Elizabeth (0)41
      • Pretoria (0)12
      • Upington (0)54
      • Worcester (0)23
    • Public phones are usable with coins (blue boxes) or telephone cards (green boxes). The following coins can be used: 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, R5. Cards are available at shops , post offices & accommodation establishments in denominations of R15, R20, R50, R100 & R200. Cards can only be used in South Africa. Cellular phones can be hired daily, weekly or on a monthly basis from the airport or cellular shops.
    • Computicket
      Computicket provides a booking service with branches all over South Africa. Bookings for events, theatres, cinemas, accommodation, etc are done through them.
    • Booking Service
    • Conversions (Distances and Temperatures)
      South Africa uses kilometers (km):
      • 1 mile = 1,621km
    • South Africa uses degrees Celsius (C):
      • 50F = 10C
      • 68F = 20C
      • 86F = 30C
    • Credit Cards/Currency
      International credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa and their affiliates are accepted in South Africa. In small country areas the use of cards might be restricted. Standard credit cards cannot be used to pay for petrol (gas)). Only special "garage cards" or cash are accepted.
    • Customer Services
      • Diners Club, +27 (0)21 6861990
      • MasterCard, 0800 990 418
      • Visa International, 0800 990 475
    • The currency used in South Africa is the South African Rand (R). R1 = 100 cents.
    • Coins in circulation: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, R5.
    • Banknotes in circulation: R10, R20, R50, R100, R200.
    • Foreign currency can be exchanged at commercial banks, Rennies Travel and American Express.
    • Customs
      Personal effects (used) are admitted duty free. The allowance for visitors to South Africa is as follows (free of duty per adult)
    • 1 litre of spirits
    • 2 litres of wine
    • 400 cigarettes
    • 50 cigars
    • 50ml perfume
    • 250ml eau de toilette
    • Gifts & souvenirs to the value of R500
    • Permits are required for firearms and are available at the entry points. It is valid for 180 days, after which it can be renewed at any South African police station. For further details contact
    • Customs Dept
      Tel: +27 (0)21 413 5000
      Fax: +27 (0)21 413 6512
    • Disabled Facilities
      Most attractions and hotels (Cape Town) are disabled friendly. For details on the outlying areas, contact the relevant tourism bureaux. SAA provides Passenger Aid Units (PAU) at all major airports. Larger car rental companies can provide vehicles with hand controls.
    • Electricity
      The power supply is 220/230 volts AC. The standard plug in South Africa is the 15 amp round pin (3 prong plug). The European type two pin plug is required, with an additional adaptor plug (can be bought at shops) for use in South Africa. Remember to bring transformers along, where necessary. Most hotels have 110 volt outlets for electric shavers.
    • Foreign Exchange
      Foreign currencies can be exchanged at any commercial bank, Rennies Travel or American Express. Most of the upmarket hotels do provide exchange facilities for their guests. Commission on exchanging does vary.
    • Thomas Cook/Rennies Travel, Tel: 0800 111 177
    • American Express, Tel: +27 (0)21 4215586/0860 003 768
    • Health Requirements
      No vaccinations are required for cholera or smallpox. If arriving from a yellow fever zone, you must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Due to the threat of malaria contamination, preventative medication is necessary for the Northern Province, Mpumalanga and the north of KwaZulu-Natal. It is obtainable from all pharmacies in South Africa. Consult the pharmacist for the best drug combination to use. Please visit the Travel Clinic for up-to-the-minute information on all your travel health requirements.
    • Holidays
    • Public Holidays in South Africa:
      • 1 January New Year's Day
      • 21 March - Human Rights Day
      • 8 April - Good Friday (Friday before Easter Sunday)
      • 21 April - Family Day (Monday after Easter Sunday)
      • 27 April - Freedom Day
      • 1 May - Workers Day
      • 16 June - Youth Day
      • 9 August - National Women's Day
      • 24 September - Heritage Day
      • 16 December - Day of Reconciliation
      • 25 December - Christmas Day
      • 26 December - Day of Goodwill
    • School Holidays 2003 (Only for the Western Cape - the rest of the country differs with a few days)
    • Commences:


      22 January

      28 March

      28 April

      27 June

      22 July

      26 September

      6 October

      5 December

      NOTE: If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday (next day) is a public holiday.

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