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Essential Information

Climate:
The climate is genrally Mediterranean with warm, dry summers, and mild, moist winters, except in the Karoo region, which has dry winters and low summer rainfall.

Languages:
South Africa has 11 official languages, English , Afrikaans and Xhosa are the most common in the Western Cape. Many Tourism Establishments have staff fluent in German, French or Italian.

Currency:
South African Rand (ZAR) 100c = R1.00
R7.50 is equivalent to US$1.
VAT of 14% is charged on a range of goods and services.

Communication:
Public telephones accept coins (blue boxes) or phone cards (green boxes) Coins accepted 10c, 20c,50c, R1. R2, & R5. Phone cards are available at most shops, post offices and accomodation establishments, in denominations of R15, R20, R50, R100 & R200 and are only valid in South Africa.
Mobile phones (called cell phones locally) can be hired at the airport and from most retail cell phone outlets.

Internet Cafes are widely available in most towns, as well as wireless hotspots in some of the major cities.

Credit Cards:
Most international credit cards are accepted locally especially American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard & Visa.

Customs:
Duty free allowance for adult visitors:
Spirits = 1L
Wine = 2L
Cigars = 50
Eau de Parfum = 50ml
Eau de Toilet = 250ml
Cigarettes = 400
Gifts/Souvenirs = max value of R500

Note: firearms require permits which are availble at the entry points. Best to check with your local South African Embassy first.
Customs office (mon - fri)
Tel: (021) 413-5000

Distance and Temperature Conversions:
1km = 0,6214 miles
10 Celsius = 50 F
20 C = 68 F
30 C = 86 F

Tipping
( Standard practice for satisfactory service)
Restaurants: 10 - 15% of the total Bill
Taxi Drivers: 10 - 15% of the total bill
Porters: R2 per bag

Safety Tips:
Avoid the unneccessary dislay of valuables and keep to well lit areas after dark. Ask the locals about areas that should be avoided. In crowded areas be aware of street children, pick pockets and bag snatchers. Use a map to plan your route beforehand.
Armed security is availble to escort you around town, for the additional peace of mind.

Emergency numbers:
SA Police: 10111
General Emergency: 107

Children:
Daycare & babysitting facilities are available at most establishments.

Electricity:
Power:220/230 volts AC
Plug Points: 15-Amp, Round pin, 3 point (European plugs require an additional adaptor plug). Many hotels have 100 volt sockets for electric shavers.

Public Holidays:
If a public holiday falls on a sunday the Monday will generally be a public holiday.
1 January - New years Day
21 march - Human Rights day
14 April - Good Friday
17 April - family Day
27 April - Freedom Day
1 May - Workers Day
16 June - Youth Day
9 August - National Womens Day
24 September - National Heritage Day
16 December - Day of reconciliation
25 December - Christmass day
26 December - Day of Goodwill
27 December - Public Holiday

Religion:
Most religious denominations are represented in the major cities.

Road regulations.
Foreign visitors require an international driving license (or a valid drivers license printed in English with a recent photograph, ).
Driving is done on the left side of the road and seat belts are compulsory for both drivers and passengers.

Speed limits (unless otherwise indicated)
Urban areas: 60km/h
Rural Areas: 100km/h
Freeways: 120km/h

Petrol:
Petrol (gasoline) is available 24 hours a day in most areas. It is advisable to have cash as payment as international petrol cards and credit cards are not accepted. The average petrol price is R7.50p/l.
It should cost you about R450.00 to refill your tank. With Petrol prices being adjusted on the 1st wednesday of every month

Tax refunds:
Value Added tax (VAT) is 14% . Visitors qualify for a VAT refund if their total purchase exceeds R250.00.
This can be claimed back at airports, harbours and customs offices. An original tax invoice,
a VAT-refund control sheet and a foreign passport is required. The items purchased must also be presented.

Electricity:
The voltage of local current is 220/230 volts AC.
Plug Points: 15-Amp, Round pin, 3 point (European plugs require an additional adaptor plug). Many hotels have 100 volt sockets for electric shavers.

Beaches and Bays

The Cape Peninsula's coastline is surrounded by the warm Indian Ocean on the south coast side and the cold Atlantic Ocean on the west coast side. The point where the warm Agulhas Current and the cold Benguela Current meet is not fixed and shifts depending on the season, winds, tides, or water depth. It is cartographically fixed at 20° east.

False Bay Coast: The beaches have warmer water as a result of the Agulhas Current, but are often exposed to the strong South Easter. includes beaches like Muizenberg and Fish Hoek Beach.

Atlantic Coast: The beaches on this side of the coast have ice cold water supplied by the Benguela Current, but the sand is soft and comfortable and the sunsets are breathtaking. The beaches and bays include the popular Clifton Beach, Camps Bay, Llandudno and Sandy Bay to name a few.

West Coast: The water here is cold but the views are beautiful and these beaches are a bit more sheltered from the wind: Melkbosstrand, Bloubergstrand.

Flora
The Cape Province is one of the six Floral Kingdoms of the World and is known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. It is probably the smallest of the floral kingdoms - only 470km² - but has the highest known concentration of plant species : 1 300 per 10 000km². Conservation of the Cape Floral Kingdom with its distinctive vegetation, known as fynbos, is therefore of utmost importance. The word fynbos is derived from the Dutch word for fine-leaved plants (fine bush), that are characterised by small, thin, drought-resisting leaves, and have three main components, namely proteas, ericas, and restios (or reeds). Fynbos plants include South Africa's national flower, the King Protea, as well as the symbol of the Cape Province, the Red Disa. Fynbos is rich in orchids, gladioli, irises, geraniums, and many other colorful and beautiful plants, despite the fact that the Cape's soils are sandy and dry. In fact, over 7 700 plant species are found in fynbos, and approximately 70% are endemic to the area, and they are found nowhere else in the world.

Fauna
Herds of large mammals cannot live off fynbos as the soils are nutrient-deficient and do not provide enough nitrogen for the protein which is required by large mammals. However, smaller mammals are supported by fynbos, and some of those common to fynbos are chacma baboons, grysbok, klipspringers, dassies, mongooses, and the striped mouse.
All of the six bird species endemic to the south-west Cape are supported by fynbos, and these include the Cape sugarbird, the orangebreasted sunbird, and the doublecollared sunbird. The former two species are found only in the fynbos area and play an essential role in pollinating flowers by drinking the nectar from the flowers, especially the ericas and proteas.
A large number of butterfly species are also supported by fynbos.
One of the world's rarest species of tortoise, the geometric tortoise, is endemic to the Cape and is also supported by fynbos.
62 Different types of frogs are found in the Cape (more than half of South Africa's frog species), 29 of which are endemic to the area. Some of these include the Table Mountain ghost frog, the tiny micro frog, and the Cape platanna.
A high concentration of threatened fish species are found in fynbos, especially in the Olifants River system. Found in the southern Cape is 1 rare fresh water endemic and 3 rare estuarine endemic fish, and 3 endangered and 3 vulnerable fresh water endemic fish. Some of these include the Berg River redfin, the fiery redfin, and the Cape whitefish.