About Cape Town

Results of a recent BBC television programme "50 Places To See Before You Die" proved Cape Town's leading position internationally. Cape Town was the only city in the world featured in the top five on the list of 50, beaten only by World Heritage sights and attractions such as, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and Walt Disney World. Cape Town was placed at No. 5 on the list, ahead of Sydney, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Barcelona. Cape Town is further considered to be the world's best value for money city.

The Waterfront

Cape Town Language CoursesThe Waterfront is centred on the Alfred and Victoria Basins, which are both still working harbours. This nautical atmosphere together with the excellent tourist facilities makes the Waterfront such an interesting place to visit. Highlights are an undercover craft market, a brewery, an elegant shopping centre, a theatre, an aquarium, two floating museums, guided walks, boat trips, live entertainment, luxury hotels and many fine restaurants and pubs.

City Center

Skyscrapers and freeways have dramatically changed the face of Cape Town over the past fifty years, yet the city remains full of history. Its gracious buildings, old stone streets and monuments provide a fascinating insight into the romantic history of the city and the cultures that have shaped it. The city centre has become a very safe place for visitors thanks to the 24h surveillance cameras. In the city center you will find:

  • The Company Gardens, which cover six hectares, contain more than 8000 different tree and plant species, museums, the South African library, the National Gallery and the Houses of Parliament

  • Green Market Square, a vibrant African flea market, where hundreds of traders sell everything from teaspoons to T-shirts

  • Long Street and Adderley Street - lined with dozens of clubs, bars and restaurants form the centre of the city's nightlife. Antique shops, the flower market, the original slave lodge and much more make these streets favourite tourist destinations

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Cape Town Language CoursesCape Town is well known for is its breathtaking beaches, which are scattered all around the city. Closest to our English language school is the hip Clifton Beach where the "who is who of Cape Town" gather to bronze and show off their beautiful bodies. Near-by you will find Camps Bay beach, a family friendly beach right by the shops, cafés and restaurants that make Camps Bay a popular spot. While in Camps Bay make sure to stay for delicious cocktail sundowners in one of the many buzzing bars. A further drive will take you to untouched beaches and surfer havens. It is not for nothing that Cape Town is the host of the Big Wave Africa international surfing competition.

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There is lots to do in the Cape, here are some examples...

  • Go up Table Mountain and get a spectacular panoramic view of the Cape
  • Walk up Lions Head and Signal Hill
  • Go to Cape Point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.
  • Take a walk through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, one of the largest botanical gardens in the world.
  • Visit South Africa's parliament.
  • Enjoy the fine restaurants and bars.
  • Go shopping at Century City, the biggest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere.
  • Walk through the cages of the World of Birds, where you can also play with monkeys.
  • Take a boat trip to seal island and see thousands of seals.
  • Visit the world heritage site of Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.
  • Enjoy African shopping experience at one of our outdoor flea markets.
  • Taste our world famous wine in the magestic areas of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschoek.
  • Have a thrilling experience on the cobra rollercoaster at Ratanga Junction. A large amusement park just outside the city.
  • Go up the west coast and see the stunning Namaqualand flowers and if you are lucky you can buy crayfish for 2 Euro.
  • Go clubbing in one of the various clubs that Cape Town is famous for, you might even be lucky enough to spot one of the many celebrities or super stars that visit us each year.

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More info about Cape Town:

Transportation

Public Transport

The large government busses operate from early morning to late evening between Sea Point and the V&A Waterfront.

Minibuses

To Sea Point, Camps Bay, Green Point or the city centre, they can be found on Sea Point Main Road/Regent Street. This is a frequent service during the day. The average price to town is R 5.

Meter Taxi

This is a convenient door-to-door service. It is R12-00 per km and we advise students to make use of it at night when public transport is not as frequent.

Driving

South Africa has a good road network, mostly tarred and well signposted. The speed limit is 120km/h on highways and 60-80km/h within the city. If students intend on hiring a car, they should remember to keep to the LEFT hand side of the road. We recommend having an international driver's license with you. Often divers under 21 have difficulties hiring a car.

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Flight Information

For domestic flights, please check in at least 1 ˝ hours before departure. For national and international flights, please check in at least 2 hours before departure.

Baggage allowance for flights within South Africa - scheduled flights:

  • Economy class: 20 kgs plus 1 small piece of hand luggage per person.
  • Business class: 30 kgs plus 1 small piece of hand luggage per person.
  • Children aged 2-11 years inclusive are entitled to the same allowance.
  • Infants under 2 years of age do not have any baggage allowance.
  • If you exceed these weights you will be charged for excess baggage.

Do not pack any valuables into your checked-in luggage i.e. cameras, music equipment, money, jewellery and especially medication. We do advise "shrink wrapping" your suitcase, for added security. This is available at most large airports within South Africa.

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Climate

Known to some as 'sunny South Africa', the country has a warm to hot climate, making it one of the best year-round destinations in the world. Most provinces enjoy a summer rainfall with occasional afternoon thunderstorms, which are spectacular to see. The Cape Town area, however, has winter rainfall and a Mediterranean climate. Winters, May to August, is cool with the minimum temperature averaging 7 C, but the average temperature for the whole of winter is 19 C. Cape Town has such mild winters that visitors will never guess it's winter at all. This is why it has come to be known as the Green Season, as there are so many beautiful days during the Cape Town winter. The summer months, November to February, are warm and dry with comfortable average maximum temperatures of 25 C. The sun can be very hot and sunscreen is a vital for those not used to the harsh African sun.

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Money Matters

Banks

Banks in South Africa are generally open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. Most banks change all travellers' cheques in major currencies, but commission can differ greatly. Rennies Travel is an agent for Thomas Cook. American Express has branches in Cape Town Garden Centre, and Nedbank is associated with American Express. First National Bank is the Visa agent. Most ATM machines will support your card if it bears the Cirrus logo.

Credit cards

All major credit cards are accepted in Southern Africa in hotels, restaurants and shops. However, please note that fuel stations do not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash for your fuel requirements.

Currency

The unit of currency is the South African RAND (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Notes are in R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10. Coins are in denominations of R5, R2, R1 and 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c and 2c.

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Tax

Value Added Tax (VAT) of 14% is levied in South Africa. Overseas visitors taking goods out of South Africa are able to reclaim the VAT which they paid on these goods. Reclaiming VAT is only applicable for goods above R250 and that you are able to produce at the airport. When purchasing your products you should request a tax invoice. The shop's VAT number must appear on this invoice. Before you check in at the airport ready to depart from South Africa, you should approach the customs official who will compare your invoices with the goods purchased. Once your invoices have been approved and stamped, the VAT Reclaim Office will refund you the appropriate amount. VAT Reclaim Offices are found at Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town Airports.

An estimate of what items cost in South Africa:

  • Big Mac (McDonalds Burger): R 17.95
  • A local beer in a restaurant: R12.00
  • A can of Coca Cola in a restaurant: R 8.50
  • Fuel sells at approx.: R 5.61 per litre

VAT at 14% included in above costs.

Electricity

The electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs have 3-pin or 2-pin (round). Adaptors can be purchased at local supermarkets. US-made appliances will need a transformer.

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Food & water

South Africa's tap water is drinkable and possibly the safest and cleanest in the world. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation is generally top-notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks - a good thing, too, after a day on the beach or in the bush. Restaurants cover a wide variety of cuisines and visitors are normally very impressed with the food. The country's many cultures makes for varied traditional fare, which is worth exploring.

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Medical Care/ Hospitals

Private medical facilities are equal to the best in the world and in many medical disciplines. Medical services in South Africa are good in urban areas and limited elsewhere. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate cash payment, but usually accept major credit cards. It is advisable to secure medical cover on your medical insurance before arriving in the country. Visitors are advised to bring along supplies of specialised medication they may require. Otherwise, medicine may be purchased at pharmacies and emergency pharmacies are open all night. If any students have any health problems, please ask them to inform us at reception and we can recommend the relevant doctors.

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People and Language

Diverse people and cultures combine to make the Rainbow Nation so colourful. This is why most South Africans are multi-lingual where English is the most-spoken language. There are 11 official languages, including English, Xhosa, Afrikaans and Zulu. The majority religion is Christian, but freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Constitution.

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Safety

Crimes against people and property, particularly in cities are a regrettable fact of life throughout the world. Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists, provided they take basic common-sense precautions as you would apply in any major city e.g.

  • Obtain a map and plan your routes before you set out.
  • Don't carry all your essential documents and travellers cheques with you.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money with you.
  • Leave valuable jewellery, spare money and your passport in the safe at our school
  • Try not to leave anything in your car when it is parked, except in the boot.
  • Don't leave handbags, even in the boot.
  • Do not give lifts to hitch-hikers.
  • Do not walk alone in deserted areas at night.
  • Do not flash photographic equipment in the streets.
  • Make sure you have a copy of your passport with you at all times

Most major cities run organized crime prevention programmes and "Basic Safety Tip" guidelines are available at tourism information offices. If you are in doubt as to the safety of a particular area or attraction, contact the 24hrs operational National Tourism Information and Safety Line at +27 (0) 83 123 2345. This number may also be used for assistance in replacing lost documents or reporting incidents.

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Learn to speak English in Cape Town, South Africa! Quick Links.

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English Language Courses in Cape Town, South Africa: Course Guide.

Cape Town Language Courses At our English Language school in Cape Town we offer a variety of exciting English courses. Whether you are looking for a just a couple of weeks or a long-stay program, business courses, exam preparation, private tuition or english plus surfing - we have just the right class for you!

The teachers are all qualified with university degrees or diplomas and relevant training in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. The friendly staff is always available to offer assistance with any student queries and are dedicated to making your stay and enjoyable and memorable experience.

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