USEFUL TOURIST INFO
South Africa is in the central African Time Zone, this is GMT +2:00. So from Europe there is little time difference or jet lag. USA is from 6-9 hours behind.
Although South Africa has 11 official languages English is widely spoken and is used as the language of record.
South Africa operates on the GSM system which covers the majority of the country and has 3G coverage in the main centers. If you do not have international roaming is it possible to either rent a cell phone from the airport or buy a local SIM card at most shops.
The local currency is the South African Rand (ZAR). The exchange rate is variable, there are exchange facilities located throughout the cities and major towns
South Africa has modern and sophisticated banking systems. ATM’s will accept many international bank and credit cards
Most shops, hotels and restaurants will accept major credit cards. You must always be present for entire transaction.
South Africa has a Vat system. The rate is 14% on purchases and services. Prices include the Vat amount. Foreign visitors can claim back Vat from purchases of more than R250 when leaving the country at the airport.
Cape Town Tourism has a large visitor center located at the corner of Burg and Castle streets in the commercial district. There is a large amount of information available and reservation facilities for different organisations.
Internet facilities are available in all hotels and most other accommodation establishments. Inter cafes are located in all cities and towns throughout South Africa.
Cape Town has a variety of top class photographic stores with a comprehensive range of product availability. There are also camera repair shops in case the unthinkable happens. The large malls also provide ideal places to develop your images or save them to disk.
At the airport and hotels a tip of R10 per luggage is acceptable, although you are not obliged to use the porters. Parking attendants, some official, some not, usually receive between R5 and R10 depending on the parking duration. In restaurants customary to tip 10% if the service is good and more if you feel the service was excellent. For guides anything from R150 and up is appreciated depending on the level of service and expertise.
South African as a whole has a very clean and healthy potable water system. Drinking water from the taps is safe but if you prefer there is bottled mineral water available in all shops.
As with any country in the world, there are sensible precautions you should take concerning your safety. You should never carry large amounts of cash with you. Try not to have cameras hanging loose and obvious and if you do have lots of equipment it is best to have someone to help you carry them.
In general take advice from locals about where it is safe after dark. At night, park in well-lit secure areas only. Be vigilant of your surroundings and be aware of anything that looks suspicious or out of place. Do not allow strangers to help you with ATM transactions. Try not to walk around alone, especially on mountain walks and at night in the city. Keep photocopies of all valuable documentation in a safe place.
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No photo trip to Cape Town would be complete without an beautiful image of Table Mountain which was inaugurated in 2012 as one of the Worlds 7 New Wonders. This FREE 16 page PDF document is an indispensable guide to helping you photographing this true wonder of the world!