Useful tips I didn’t know before coming to South Africa

A few tips below that have been learning points for me not picked up from research prior to the trip.

Uber and taxis: the most common advice we had from locals and travellers alike was don’t walk around off the main streets and not at all after dusk. My Uber app which I’d previously only used in London worked just the same! All the main hotels and bars can call taxis but use the ones on the street ranks too.  All of them are good value.

Clothing: most places we went to (esp. restaurants) are casual yet stylish. I found a pair of loafers, some smart shorts and a short sleeve shirt the most versatile outfit for walking around and not feeling out of place in restaurants.  Add sunglasses and a ball cap/brim hat as required. Rach had a number of dresses, shorts and blouses but it is much easier for girls.  I think.

Rach and I dressed for the Grand Africa Café & Beach, Cape Town

Driving: most junctions without traffic lights have stop signs on one or more entry roads. The key thing to know is that right of way between multiple stop signs is given to the person who stopped first. So on a four way junction where each entry is controlled by a stop sign – you may have to give way to cars on the left, right or straight ahead.  Make sure you come to a complete stop yourself and proceed carefully keeping an eye on all the other cars!

More driving: the roads are good with speed limits up to 120kph.  However vehicles travel both very fast and very slow on these roads.  Since my VW Polo hire car struggled with acceleration and only reached 120 on a downhill – I had many vehicles filling my back window trying to overtake. The temptation as many vehicles do is to drive in the hard shoulder to give them room – treat with caution since the shoulder can end abruptly and people walk in the shoulder. I’m sure I made no friends but I waited until I had a clear straight view of the shoulder before I encouraged any overtaking.

Power Plugs: all the plugs are 240v so work fine with UK appliances but you’ll need an adaptor.  I look at the cost of these in UK (about £12) but in SA, Click (which is a common store a bit like Boots) sells them for less.  I had brought a cheap light 4 way strip socket from UK – so just bought one adaptor for this to plug into and then everything else was easy.

Driving Music: the car radio is not great! Bring a portable speaker and download a playlist onto your phone if you want to listen to your favourite tunes on the long journeys!

Booking Ahead: I am not comfortable when booking ahead – especially not restaurants and the likes in South Africa when we are still in the UK!  However, luckily Rach is a booker and I am glad she did for many of the restaurants we wanted to go to had long waiting lists.  Of course – you can always get good food – but there isn’t a large number of the really good restaurants and these get busy quickly.  One more tip: with beautiful views and the warm sun – lunch is the big meal of the day as opposed to an evening meal.

IMG_1605 (web).jpg
Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek was a great restaurant but you will likely need to book!

Sun cream and bug repellent: this is probably obvious but it is easy to underestimate the sun here and the mosquitoes here are clever little suckers. In the western Cape it is a dry heat often with a cooling breeze so easy to underestimate the power of the sun. I accept I will be pasty pale for most of my life and a few days in the sun isn’t going to change that – so I covered up with factor 30!  I mention the mozzies since I got bitten many times wherever we went but never saw a single one of the suckers.  They obviously have SAS training so find some good repellent and apply liberally!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s