With Cape Town coming to the forefront as one of the best tourist destinations in the world, I’m sure by now you’ve heard your fair share of stories about the Mother City from those people you know who have visited before. While each person’s trip here is sure to go differently, there are still a few basics that you can stick to, to ensure the smoothest and most memorable internship experience in the oldest city in South Africa. Like any other popular tourist destination in the world right now, there are times when innocent individuals fall prey to petty crime such as theft, but we assure you that if you stick to the following tips, you will be able to keep those unfortunate incidents at bay and allow you to absorb Cape Town in whichever way you choose to.
- Documents and Cash – Always try and separate your credit cards from your cash so that if anything happens to either of them you aren’t in a tough spot. Never carry large amounts of money with you and try and find out how much money you will need for the basics when getting around the city, such as train fair and taxi fair. Try not to carry more than what is required for any given excursion. Do not accept any help from strangers at an ATM and always report any lost or stolen documentation to the authorities immediately.
- Insurance – It’s always a good idea to take out some sort of travel insurance. Whether it be for your property or for medical care, insurance will stand you in good stead should anything go wrong. South Africa has excellent medical care and any hospital will be able to take good care of you should you get injured while hiking or during other similar activities.
- Know the numbers that count – A few relatively simple numbers to jot down and keep close by just in case you should fall victim to any petty crime. You can call the police from any public phone or landline using 10111 or if you are using a cellphone you can reach them on 112 (both free calls). Being voted as one of the top tourist destinations in the world, most of our reputable tour guides have excellent first aid skills, but should you find yourself needing emergency medical attention you can reach the National Ambulance Service by dialing 10177.
- Staying at your accommodation – During your flights, make sure to never leave your luggage unattended and always keep your bags within arms reach. Careless tourists make for soft targets to opportunistic thieves anywhere in the world. Avoid allowing strangers into your room and never disclose any of your passwords with people. Additionally, most places have some sort of security deposit box so that should keep important valuables safe for the duration of your stay.
- Considering driving? – Always remember when driving in Cape Town to keep to your left! Another important thing to consider is that most cars in South Africa are of the manual or ‘stick shift’ variety and the automatic cars are usually the more expensive option when looking to hire. Cape Town drivers are generally laid back and are for the most part courteous drivers. Just remember to not panic, stick to the basics and always try and be mindful of jaywalkers as people down here have the tendency to not use pedestrian crossings.
- For outings – Try and get your hands on a map of the city as soon as possible. The geography of the city can be confusing to many, as essentially Cape Town is a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides with a massive mountain range running through the middle. We have quite a straight forward street layout, so you should be able to get the hang of finding your way around in next to no time.
- When swimming – With so many beautiful beaches littered all over Cape Town, you will more than likely find yourself venturing out for a swim or a tan at some point or another. When using any of the beaches, always make sure that you swim only if there is a lifeguard on duty, always try to swim in a group or with someone else and never alone. Make sure you have a good sunscreen as the African sun does pelt down some powerful rays, so protecting your skin is of utmost importance as temperatures in summer often exceed the 30 degree Celsius mark most of the time.
- For hiking – With one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature taking center stage in Cape Town, Table Mountain alone offers you a variety of different trails of varying difficulty that caters to all sorts of fitness levels. When exploring the great outdoors, always try and stay in a small group of about 4 people, keep your mobile phone fully charged and with you at all times should you get stuck or lost. The weather is known to change on the drop of a dime, so even if it appears to be hot and sunny outside always take along something warm just in case the weather decides to take a turn for the worst. Again, a map will come in handy when trying to get around here too.
Simple enough to remember right? While these may sound like the downright basics of travelling to anywhere in the world, it’s usually only when these relatively simple things to keep in mind get overlooked that things go wrong, so be sure to always be aware. Otherwise make the most of your time in this wonderfully rich and diverse city and submerge yourself into our fabulous culture while you spend your time interning.
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(images in this post are sourced from the internet)