Bank, Currency, ATM’s

The unit of currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR) and is indicated with a capital R so that, for example, three Rand and fifty cents would be written R3.50. South Africa has a decimal currency system with one Rand equaling 100 cents. Denomination of Rand notes are R200, R100, R50, R20, and R10 and of the coins are R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. Facilities for cashing traveler’s cheques are available at banks (operating hours are Monday – Friday 09:00 – 15:30, Saturdays 08:30 – 11:00) and at most  hotels. Banks are closed on Sundays. Foreign exchange agencies are open during the week and on Saturdays.  Automatic teller machines (ATM) are open 24 hours and are located at many locations around the city and at The University of the Western Cape. International credit cards (Visa, Diners Club, MasterCard and American Express) are accepted at the majority of hotels, restaurants and shops.  Please note that no banks or foreign exchange facilities are located on the premises of the university.

Climate

The Cape boasts a typical Mediterranean climate – warm summer and mild and cool wet winters. Summer temperatures range between 15°C (59°F) and 27°C (80.6°F). Winter temperatures range between 7°C (44.6°F) at night and 18°C (64.4°F) by day. August is the end of Cape Town’s winter months. Max temperatures of 18°C (64.4°F) and some rain can be expected.

Electricity

sa_plug The electricity supply in South Africa is 220/230 volts AC 50Hz. Appliances of lesser voltage require a transformer (especially those with a heating element like a hairdryer or flat iron). Adapters are obtainable locally and at airports. Most hotel rooms have 110-volt outlets for electric shavers and small appliances.  As shown in the picture, this plug is unique to South Africa.

Smoking

Smoking is prohibited by law in public buildings in South Africa (these include airports, shopping malls and restaurants), except in those that have specially designated smoking areas.

Water

South African tap water is extremely palatable and perfectly safe to drink. Bottled water is also available at most retail outlets.

Tipping / Gratuities

In restaurants, 10% gratuity on the bill generally applies depending on the standard of service. Restaurants usually do not include the tip in the bill unless the table is 10 or more people.
Provided the service is satisfactory, it is usual to tip porters, waiters, waitresses, room attendants, golf caddies and petrol attendants.

Value Added Tax

Value added tax (VAT) is included in the price of most goods and services. Visitors are required to pay VAT on purchased goods. VAT refunds may be claimed at airports, harbours and custom offices on items taken out of the country when the total value exceeds R250.00. Customs officials will ask to see the items as well as their purchase slips when applying for a refund.

Time

South Africa is GMT+2 (2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time).
For example, when it is 12h00 midday in South Africa, it is:

  • 06:00am in New York, USA
  • 11:00am in London, UK
  • 12:00 midday in Paris, France
  • 20:00pm (8pm) in Sydney, Australia

Safety / Security

As in most of the countries of the world, travellers are advised to take the necessary safety precautions. Do not walk alone in unpopulated streets after dark. Use a taxi at night and only those booked by a reputable taxi company.

Try not to attract attention by carrying expensive cameras and wearing expensive jewellery. Lock valuables in the hotel safety deposit box or your in room safe.

Health

There are no compulsory vaccination requirements for persons entering South Africa although a certificate for yellow fever may be required if you are entering from certain South American or sub-Saharan African countries. Certain parts of the country have been designated as malaria risk areas. If you intend travelling to one of these areas, it is essential that you take prophylaxis before arrival and whilst in the area. Protective clothing and insect repellents should also be used. Cape Town is a malaria risk free area. South African doctors and dentists are highly trained professionals and hospitals are well equipped. Participants are requested to make their own arrangements with respect to health insurance prior to departure and consult their local general practitioner for personal expert advice. For international travel and health advisories please visit the WHO website at www.who.int/ith or www.cdc.org . It is safe to drink tap water throughout South Africa. However, for those who prefer bottled mineral water, this is readily available in various stores.