Tourist Information

Cape Town , the mother city, situated at the gateway of South Africa, is currently one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Warmed by the African sun, bustling and beautiful, the cosmopolitan nature of Cape Town means that one never tires of the multitude of tourist attractions, entertainment, restaurants and adventures. Hop on the new revolving cable car to the top of Table Mountain, visit the V&A Waterfront - situated in the heart of a working harbour, take a ferry to Robben Island - most famous for having been the isolated prison of former South African president Nelson Mandela, tour the Cape Winelands or stroll through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Cape Town has a rich cultural history as is represented by its Rainbow Nation.

Adventure Sports:

Airport Transfers:

We can organise an airport transfer in a mini bus. To book e-mail janet@balfour-place.com

Banking:

Banks are open from 09:00 to 15:30 on weekdays and 08:30 to 11:00 on Saturdays. Automated Teller Machines (ATM's) are readily available in cities and towns.

Beaches:

What do you want to get out of your trip to the beach?

Boat trips and Charters:

The Cape Peninsula provides a wide range of yachting and boating choices.

Cape Town International Airport :

Situated conveniently only 20km's from Cape Town center, Cape Town International Airport is the main gateway to the Western Cape. Tel: 021 934 0407.

Car Rental:

All major car hire companies operate from the airport and have city depots. Several small car hire companies offer competitive rates. For car rental rates please e-mail janet@balfour-place.com

Communications:

Public phones are either coin or card operated. Only green public telephones use telephone cards. The cards can be bought at post offices, airports, bookshops and supermarkets.

Mobile phones, known as cell phones, are widely used. Cellular phones can be hired from the airport and various other outlets e.g. Cellucity, situated in the V&A Waterfront. Contact them at rentals@cellucity.co.za or tel. 021 419 0429 or visit their website at www.hire4lower.co.za

Internet Cafés are springing up like mushrooms in the city. Charges are reasonable.

Conversions - distances and temperatures:

Distances are given in kilometers (1 mile = 1.62 kilometres)

Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius (Centigrade) (20°C = 68°F)

Credit Cards:

Major international credit cards such as American Express, Bank of America, Diners, MasterCard, Standard Bank Card, Visa and their affiliates are accepted.

Currency:

One Rand (R) = 100 cents (c). Notes issued R200, R100, R50, R20, R10; coins R5, R2, R1, 50c 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, & 1c. Currency exchange rates are available at banks and published daily in the press.

De-stress:

Travellers who want to unwind between tours or simply get away from the effects of stress can have aromatherapy, reflexology, wraps, massages, hydro-therapy and expert beauty treatments. What better way to de-stress than a week at a retreat or spa? For more info please e-mail janet@balfour-place.com

Driving:

Drive on the left and give way to traffic approaching from the right. The general speed limit is 120km/h on open roads and 60km/h in urban areas. An international driver's license is required in SA as the license must include a photograph as well as the signature of the holder.

Duty Free Shops:

Duty-free shops are situated at Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban International Airports.

Electricity:

Current is 220/230 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adaptor is required, so take an adapter. Most hotel rooms have 110-volt outlets for electric shavers and small appliances.

Events:

Visit www.capetownevents.co.za for a calendar and guide to events in Cape Town, from sport and cultural to fun and extreme.

Golf:

Golf deserves a special mention as the Cape has some of the world's most striking and challenging courses. Many of them have been designed by leading players like South African champion Gary Player. The Arabella Country Estate near Hermanus features one of the world's top courses, a luxury hotel and a sybaritic spar. At last count there were 55 golf clubs in the greater Cape Town area! Your choice starts practically in the city centre with the 9 hole Metropolitan Golf Course adjacent to the V&A Waterfront. Contact Western Province Golf Union, tel. 021 686 1668 or e-mail: wpga@global.co.za or visit www.southafricangolf.com

Gym:

Cape Town has excellent gyms. For more information visit: www.virginactive.co.za or www.planetfitness.co.za

Health/Medical:

Vaccinations for cholera and small pox are not required, but travellers from a yellow fever zone must have a valid certificate. Visitors to game parks must take anti malarial tablets, available at pharmacies (drugstores).

There are first-rate medical and dental facilities in Cape Town. As a result, many foreign visitors combine tourism with dental procedures, laser eye surgery, or cosmetic surgery that cost much less here because of the favourable exchange rate.

Languages:

There are 11 official languages in SA. English is the language of administration and is widely spoken. Other languages are: Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

Passports/Visas:

Passports must be valid fro six months after date of departure from SA. Visitors must have a return ticket.

Public Holidays:

Fixed: 1 January, 21 March, 27 April, 1 May, 16 June, 9 August, 24 September, 16 December, 25 & 26 December. Variable: Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Restaurants:

The nicest surprise about Cape Town's Restaurants is how affordable they are in world terms. Enjoy an award-winning South African wine. In Cape Town you can eat and drink exceptionally well for R150 per head. Even on a tight budget there are delicious affordable alternatives. Please visit www.eatingout.co.za the restaurant guide of South Africa

Safety Tips:

Cape Town 's Business District and major malls have been made considerable efforts to safeguard tourists and residents against crime. Surveillance cameras monitor activities in the central business district and security guards watch over major shopping centers. Nonetheless, tourists should take the sensible precautions they would in any major city. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, displays of jewellery, cameras or video cameras, leaving belongings unattended, and in general take advise from locals on where to park after dark. Take special precautions at lonely lookout points, especially at dust or after dark. Keep the car doors locked at all times and wind the windows up, lock valuable items in the trunk.

Street children and beggars may approach you for a handout. Many social workers counsel against giving money to the children as it is usually gets handed over to an older figure or is used for sniffing glue. If you wish to do good, rather give food.

Shopping:

Cape Town has several world-class shopping malls. They are well designed, beautifully merchandised, atmospherically controlled retail outlets selling brands as familiar to shoppers in Milan, Paris, London and New York as they are to shoppers in Cape Town. The major centers include The V&A Waterfront (www.waterfront.co.za), Cavendish Square in Claremont, Tyger Valley (www.tygervalley.co.za) in the Northern Suburbs and Canal Walk (www.canalwalk.co.za) at Century City (the largest in the Southern hemisphere, rivalling any in the world for its variety of merchandise).

Cape Town is a treasure house for some of the best craft markets in the country. On weekends, open air markets such as the ones in Green Point, Hout Bay, Kommetjie, Rondebosch and Constantia offer hours of browsing and are the source of the best original hand-made crafts.

Standard Time:

Two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time.

Tipping:

It is customary to tip waiters, waitresses, wine stewards, taxi drivers, porters and caddies. Depending on service, the amount should be around 10%. Porters expect R2 per bag. Petrol station attendants often anticipate a tip if they have gone beyond just filling your tank.

Theatre:

Watch out for excellent home-grown productions.

Visit Artscape at www.artscape.co.za or contact Theatre on the Bay tel: 021 438 3301 or e-mail: toerien@netactive.co.za

Top Tourist Attractions:

Junior Cool - Cape Town for kids:

Tours :

To book tours, please e-mail janet@balfour-place.com

Transport:

Traveller's Cheques:

Most international traveller's checks are accepted provided they are in an acceptable currency and may be cashed at most banks. Many hotels and shops also provide this service.

VAT Refunds:

Foreign tourists visiting South Africa can have their value-added tax (VAT) refunded provided the value of each invoice for goods purchased exceeds R50 the value of the total items purchased exceeds R250. VAT is refunded on departure at the point of departure.

VAT of 14% is levied on nearly all goods and services.

Water:

Tap water throughout the Cape Metropolitan Area is safe for human consumption.

Weather:

The Four Seasons:
Whatever season you have chosen to visit Cape Town, be warned of the old joke: Cape Town has four seasons - sometimes in the same day. This is especially true if you plan to go hiking or be outdoors.

Summertime
Most tourists visit Cape Town during our long summer from October to March. A Mediterranean climate with little rain and 11 hours or more of sunshine a day. The wind does blow and if you're after a tan or the beach, remember that mornings are usually much less windy, and that certain beaches ( Clifton, Boulders and Bikini Beach) are more protected than others. And if you're tanning, remember to take sensible precautions, where a hat or cap and lather in sun block.

Between Seasons
Conventional local wisdom informs that spring (September) and autumn (April/May) are the smart times to visit Cape Town. They are usually balmy in-between seasons, when nature is at its showiest. If you're into flowers (August - September) or whale watching (June - November), or seeing the vineyards at their best, these are great seasons to be in the Cape.

Winter - the Secret Season<
Although Cape Town winters have days of rain and wind, they often produce perfect temperate days or even weeks. When it's not raining, winter becomes the perfect 'secret season'. Accommodation rates are usually lower at this time.