Time: The local time in Cape Town is GMT + 2 hours. No daylight savings adjustments are made.
Electricity: Cape Town’s electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round, three-pin plugs are used, however European and US adaptors are easily available in supermarkets, luggage shops and hardware stores.
Money: The Rand (ZAR), divided into 100 cents, is the South African currency. It is easy to change money at banks, bureau de change and any of the big hotels. There are abundant ATMs around the city and major international credit cards are commonly accepted, although not in petrol stations. American Express is increasingly hard to use. Be careful when drawing money from ATMs as scams and snatch and grab crimes are common.
Language: South Africa has 11 official languages, the majority being Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho. English is spoken by most Capetonians, although statistically Afrikaans is the most common language.
Health: Expats flying into Cape Town from infected areas must have a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Cape Town has good quality tap water and it is safe to drink, possessed of a zesty tang of which expats grown quite fond.
Tipping: Waitering is the very lifeblood of the many Cape Town communities. A 10% tip is standard for good service. One should also tip a few rands for petrol attendants and newspaper vendors. Golf caddies should be tipped accordingly. Informal 'car guards' work the parking lots and open bays of the city and will presume to look after your parked car. You are expected to tip a few rands on your return.
Safety: Cape Town might be the safest of South Africa’s big cities but remains a dangerous place compared to most popular international destinations. Opportunistic crime is the biggest threat so expats should take appropriate precautions by locking doors when driving and walking along on isolated beaches or remote areas. Expats should contract private security and armed response for their homes as the police service is unreliable though improving.
The biggest security providers are ADT and Chubb. Larger apartment blocks will have their own front-desk security, but smaller units will only have security if provided by the body corporate.
Emergency Numbers: 10111 (Police); 10177 (Ambulance)
Communications: The international dialling code for South Africa is +27, followed by 21 for Cape Town. The outgoing code is 00. GSM mobile phone networks providing 900 and 1800 frequencies are available in Cape Town and throughout the country. Mobile phone uptake is massive here and service providers offer very cheap 'pay-as-you-go' SIM cards, and good value contracts. Under the new RICA law all SIM cards must be registered with the authorities. Internet service is widespread though relatively expensive and slow.
Climate: Cape Town is located close to the tip of the African continent on the Cape Peninsula, and has a largely Mediterranean climate, but with warm, dry summers and chilly, wet winters. Cape Town's weather is strongly affected by winds and pressure systems from the Atlantic Ocean.
Summer weather is frequently characterised by strong south-easterly winds known as the Cape Doctor. Winters, on the other hand, get plenty of cold fronts, storms with lashing rain and powerful north-westerly winds. The mountains of the Winelands are dusted with snow in mid-winter.