Monday, February 17

Cape Town

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Cape Town is the second-largest city in South Africa and is the capital of the Western Cape Province, as well as being the legislative capital of South Africa (the Houses of Parliament are here). It is located in the south-west corner of the country near the Cape of Good Hope and is the most southern city in Africa. It is a stone’s throw from South Africa’s world-famous Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek.

About

Cape Town is also known as the Mother City in South Africa. It is also one of the most iconic cities See Online in the world. See Online

Geography

The Cape Town metropolitan area covers a large area, from Durbanville and Somerset West in the east to Cape Point in the south and Atlantis in the north. The city centre is located in a relatively small area between Table Mountain and Table Bay.

History

For thousands of years, Cape Town was inhabited by the Strandloper (ancestors of Kalahari Bushmen). Cape Town’s European history began in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck established a trading post there on behalf of the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company). The first European settlers were mainly Dutch, with some French Huguenots that had to flee from religious persecution in their home country. The first settlers soon explored the adjacent hinterland and founded the cities of Stellenbosch and Paarl in today’s Cape Winelands. The Voortrekkers (Pioneers of European descent) started from here to explore and settle the rest of South Africa. Today Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa. It is a world-class cosmopolitan city with numerous sites of historical significance, and a lively night-life, as well as a large gay community.

Climate

The summer months are from December to February. Days are usually hot, but the humidity is low, so it is not uncomfortable. You should stay inside or in the shade during the midday heat and use sufficient sunblock. You will fight for space on the beach around New Year’s with all the local tourists but it is still a great time to visit as there are a lot of events happening. The winter months of June to August tend to be rather wet, which does not mean rain every day although it can rain for two weeks straight on occasion. It can also get very cold at night, with temperatures as low as 2 or 3°C (this is the temperature of the ocean so it will not get colder unless you go far inland) but 5-7°C normal. It will become warmer during the day, with temperatures between 9-15°C typical. It is often very cloudy with far fewer hours of sunshine. Best times to visit are October and November: The weather is getting warmer. Spring is in the air, but it is not as hot as mid-summer yet. These months can be windy months. The South-Easter is known as the Cape Doctor as it blows away a great deal

of pollution! December to February: These are the prime summer months of long hot days. The sunsets late in the evening (it stays light up until about 8:30 PM in December) and there is generally a lot going on. February is the most reliable month for weather, with week after week of hot days. March to May: This can change from year to year, but generally it starts raining and the temperature begins to become cooler. There are far fewer visitors around, and you can get excellent deals on accommodation, food and most tourism services.

Fire

During the dry summer months (”even more so when there is strong wind”) fire poses a serious threat to the flora and fauna of the region, especially the National Parks. The fynbos, in particular, can become very dry and burn easily. Over the last couple of years, a number of fires have almost devastated the slopes of Table Mountain. Please take care not to be the cause of any runaway fire and report any fires that you might see to ”Table Mountain National Park Fire Management” on ”+27” (0)21 689-7438 or ”+27” (0)21 957-4700 outside office hours”.

Airport

Cape Town International Airport is the second largest airport in South Africa (the largest being the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg). There are multiple flights daily to Johannesburg, Durban and all other major South African cities, as well as the Namibian cities of Windhoek, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay and other destinations, including Gaborone, Maun and Nairobi. The most used airlines for international flights from Europe, the US and Asia include South African Airways, Lufthansa See Online, British Airways See Online, KLM See Online, Singapore Airlines See Online, Malaysian See Online and Emirates See Online. Further international flights arrive from Dubai, Doha, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur, London, and Singapore. Formerly, nonstop service to/from the United States existed, but now, you must use OR Tambo in Johannesburg as a gateway city from/to New York City, Washington DC, or Atlanta. In the summer, (October-March) several charter airlines operate direct flights from all over Europe to Cape Town. Spare seats are sold with substantial discounts but during Christmas time and New Year prices rise significantly. Major local airlines include South African Airways See Online, British Airways (Comair) See Online and low-cost airlines Kulula.com See Online and 1Time See Online.

There are MyCiti buses from the airport to the city centre at 20-minute intervals. One way costs R65.

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