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Cape Town is the chief town of the Western Cape Province. Before 1994, this region formed part of the Cape Province. Cape Town is the seat of the Parliament (the Parliamentary Capital). The capital of South Africa is Pretoria.
 
Location:
On the South-West headland of South Africa.
 
Surface area of the Western Cape:
129’370 km2, approximately 11% of the surface area of South Africa (1’219’912 km2)
 
Population:
Approximately 3,1 million inhabitants in Cape Town.
Approximately 4,5 million inhabitants in the Western Cape of which 54% are halfcastes, 27% blacks and 18% whites, 1% Asians.
Approximately 48 million inhabitants in South Africa
 
Religions:
The Cape: Christians 77%, Muslims 10%, Indigenous and animists beliefs 13%.
South Africa: Christians 68%, Muslims 2%, Hindu 1.5%, Indigenous and animists beliefs 28.5%.
 
Climate:
The Cape region benefits from a Mediterranean climate. Summer (mid-October to February) is hot and dry, with the temperatures nearing 27°C. Winter (May to July) is temperate, around 15°C, but sometimes, the temperatures can fall down till 5°C.
 
Best season:
During summer, from the month of October to March.
To observe the whales at Hermanus: from June to October (best month: September)
To observe the great white sharks at Gaansbaai: all year round but the best month is June (better underwater visibility).
 
Culminating peak at Western Cape:
2’325 m
 
Official local languages:
Afrikaans 59%, English 22% and Xhosa 19%.
South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Sesotho, Setswana, Sotho, Swati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Xhosa, Zoulou
 
National Day:
4th of October
  
Time difference:
GMT+1 hour in summer
GMT+2 hours in winter
 
How to get there:
The international airport of the Cape (code CPT) is easily accessible from Europe (sometimes necessitating a transit through Johannesburg); it is served by all big European airline companies as well as the local airline company, South African Airways.
 
Passport/Visa:
No visa is required for citizens possessing a European, Swiss or Canadian passport.  (Passport currently in validity, valid 6 months after the return date).
 
Vaccines:
No obligatory vaccine to visit the Western Cape. Malaria is not present in the region.
 
Money:
Rand (ZAR)
1 Euro = approx 10 rands
1$ = approx 7 rands
1 Swiss Franc = approx 6 rands
1£ = 14 rands
 
Electric:
220 volts
 
Food and drink:
A variety of restaurants and dishes. The prices are generally lower than those in Europe. Taste the South African wines. By precautionary measures, prefer water bottles even though tap water is potable in the big agglomerations.
 
Security:
Concerning security, the province of the Western Cape is quite calm. Cape Town, compared to Johannesburg or Durban, is quite a safe city. Clearly, you should refrain from visiting townships without being accompanied by a native person. In addition, you need to be cautious at night, particularly in the towns.
 
The houses are often linked to security societies and advertise the sign "Armed Response” on their facades.  A warm and reassuring welcome!
 
Traffic:
Hiring a car is the best way to visit the region. The road network is very good. Cars travel on the left hand side of the road, but priority is given to those coming from the right. Be careful, there exists numerous 4-stops crossroad: all the cars stop, the first come goes first, the second follows and so on. When a car wants to overtake you, it is advised to fall back on the stop band while the overtaking is happening; the driver will then thank you with a few flashes of his distress signals. Be careful of the many persons who travel on foot on the emergency stopping bands, which is particularly dangerous at night.
 
For security reasons, it is advised to lock your car while traveling in the towns.
 
Most of the filling stations do not generally accept credit cards (cash payment).
 
The parking is often watched over by young blacks. They will show you where to park. Many derive a livelihood from this practice, a small remuneration of 2 to 5 rands for the safekeeping of a car.
 
If you are traveling by train, be careful of the thefts occurring in the compartments and avoid having to travel at night, it is absolutely dangerous.
 
Most popular attractions in Cape Town:
 
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront with its numerous shops, restaurants and its “Two Oceans” aquarium. The peak of Table Mountain, accessible by cable car, Kirstenbosch botanical garden, Robben Island, "Table View" beach.
 
Most popular attractions in the Cape Region:
Cape of Good Hope, the wine route (Stellenbosch, Franshhoek, Paarl), the “Chapman’s Peak Drive” road, the Gardens’ route, Cape Agulhas (the headland of Africa), the penguins at Simon’s Town and Betty’s Bay (Stony Point), Muizenberg, the southern right whales at Hermanus and the great white sharks at Gansbaai or False Bay.

Text & photos: © Fabrice Bettex / Mysterra




 
       
         
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