Survival Tips for Cape Town Summer

Clear, blue skies and long, warm evenings is a standard feature of Cape Town’s long summer that stretches from as early as October and into March. It’s the sort of summer that you’d think wouldn’t require much preparation at all, save an extra pair of flip flops and perhaps, a fancy swimsuit. But, there’s plenty more to know about summer in the Mother City. Such as that the average daytime spans a glorious 15 hours and that the South Easter – the prevailing summer wind – can sometimes gust at 60 kilometres per hour at its strongest. Here are a few ways you can truly prepare for your visit:

Your checklist

The temperature

Cape Town’s summer is something akin to Mediterranean, meaning it’s dry and often fairly windy with breathtakingly blue skies to admire and which lasts from November through to March. The average day temperature during summer is a balmy 23 degrees Celsius, but it can often get as high as 35 degrees Celsius and if a Berg wind blows (from the inland Karoo desert), you’ll see temperatures soar closer to 40 degrees Celsius.

On your checklist: Pack summer clothes and that swimsuit

The wind

Wind is certainly a feature of summer in Cape Town. The prevailing wind direction comes from the the south east, blowing off the cool ocean and making the hotter days in Cape Town more bearable. Known as the Cape Doctor, it blows most during January and February and is well-loved by wind sports enthusiasts, such as kitesurfers. The Cape Doctor can have you reaching for a cardigan or light jacket, even when temperatures are on the hot side, so be sure to keep one handy when you head out. If you’re looking to spend time outdoors out of the wind, then head over to Hout Bay beach, or one of the Clifton beaches.

On your checklist: Pack a light jacket or two

Hout Bay Beach

The sun

It’s no secret that the African sun can be harsh, so don’t forget to apply a layer of sun block before spending any amount of time outdoors and be sure to reapply half way through the day. A hat and of course, keeping well hydrated, will also help those unaccustomed to the persistent heat to cope more effectively.

On your checklist: Buy sun block, a hat and some water

Water scarce

Unfortunately, the last few rainy seasons have yielded insufficient rain to catchment areas around the Western Cape, which means that water restrictions are on the cards. Be mindful of this and use water sparingly.

On your checklist: Stay waterwise

The outdoors

One of the best things about Cape Town is its range of amazing natural spots in which to picnic, enjoy the glorious views and explore. Whether it be on one of the many pristine beaches or at a mountainside stop, be aware that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited.

On your checklist: Follow these City of Cape Town beach safety tips

Boyes Drive hiker

Giving tips

Every city has its own rules. Luckily in Cape Town, these are straightforward. When tipping your waiter at a restaurant, a tip of about 10% of the bill is considered fair. Official car guards in the CBD will charge R3.40 for the first 15 minutes, and a flat hourly rate thereafter. Tipping car guards outside of the city centre is also acceptable, and usually at your discretion.

On your checklist: Carry loose change and smaller notes

Getting from A to B

If you’re moving around in the CBD, take in the sights and vibe of Cape Town’s city bowl by setting out on foot. This will mean a fair amount of walking, so make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes packed. And when it comes to longer distances, there are several transport options including  Uber, MyCiti Bus, railway services and bus systems.

On your checklist: A pair of comfortable walking shoes

Safety first

We know that Table Mountain looks easy to scale and who could resist taking advantage of an easy hike on a beautiful day? However, it’s important to take heed that the climb up – and down – calls for proper planning especially as the temperature is always a few degrees colder and that weather is prone to sudden changes at the top.

On your checklist: Good hiking shoes, plenty of water and a jacket.

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