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FAQ's about visiting Cape Town!

6 min read
· Posted on
November 20, 2020
by Lucie Hett

How do I get to Cape Town?

We can help you arrange and book your flights to Cape Town.  All Bridging Gaps interns and volunteers are required to purchase a return flight to Cape Town international airport.  Most flights will have a layover in Johannesburg before going on to Cape Town, and once you arrive, we will meet you at the airport.

How will I get around once I am in Cape Town?


It is safe to walk around most areas of the city during the day.  We will advise you on any areas to avoid but generally in day light hours please feel free to explore the city by foot, on your own or in groups.

Car Hire:

As we drive on the left hand side of the road here in Cape Town, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get used to driving.   It is however important to be aware that there is more of an ‘African’ style of driving here so it is necessary to be extremely vigilant at all times.

Public Transport:

  • Buses: There are three main types which operate in and around the city. The My City Bus system is the newest and in general the most preferable option to take.  The buses are modern and for the most part arrive on time!  It is perfectly safe for you to take a My City Bus during the day on your own, but please note not all routes are open yet so some suburbs of Cape Town are not accessible yet.
  • Golden Arrow buses are your next best bet. Although they look very ‘African’ they are very safe and operate on all routes.
  • Trains: It is safe to take the train on your own during the day, however they can be unreliable in terms of timings.
  • Private Taxis: Uber is now an established service in Cape Town and will probably be your most convenient way of getting around the city during the day, if you have a smart phone with you.
  • As well as Uber, we recommend you use Excite Taxi’s or Rickki’s Taxi’s. They are both well established Taxi companies and all their vehicles are clearly marked.
For more information on this topic please check out our Bridging Gaps blog on the best ways of travelling around Cape Town. Please click here.

When is the best time of year to visit Cape Town?

Time of
the year
Weather conditionsPurpose of visitDec -
AprilHot and dry Ave temperatures:
25 – 30°c  Relaxing beach days, visiting nature reserves,
outdoor festivals, enjoying a variety of cultural
experiences.April -
JulyCold, crisp and sometimes wet Ave
temperatures: 15 – 20°cSeeking adventure and thrilling outdoor
activities, hiking, discovering wildlife.July -
OctPleasant, mild and dry Ave
temperatures: 20 – 25°cWhale watching, outdoor activities,
enjoying the stunning wildflowers.

Are there any health concerns?

Although there are no required vaccinations to come to Cape Town, it is important that you consult your doctor before you travel because Hepatitis A, B and Typhoid are often recommended.  Cape Town is not a malaria zone so there is no need to take any precautions against it.

Although Cape Town has one of the lowest AIDS statistics in the whole country, it is important to be aware that South Africa has the largest number of HIV+ people in the world.  The virus is not airborne and can only be transmitted through certain bodily fluids so you are at no risk of being infected if you take the correct precautions.

The medical facilitates in Cape Town are excellent and there are 38 medical centres in total, both private and public.  As a visitor to Cape Town it is advisable you always use private facilities where possible.

As part of your orientation we will provide you with a comprehensive health and safety briefing and health concerns will be covered in much greater details.  In general though there are no real health concerns you need to be worried about when visiting Cape Town.

What currency do they use in South Africa?

The currency used in South Africa is Rand.  For the most up to date exchange rates please check: http://www.xe.com

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How much money should I budget for my living expenses during the duration of my placement in Cape Town?

The amount you should budget for your trip to Cape Town really depends on you.  Your budget will vary depending on how much you will eat out instead of cook in your accommodation, how often you will get taxis rather than walk and how many activities and tours you want to do.

Please check out our Bridging Gaps blog about the cost of our programmes as this will give you an idea of the price of different items and activities in Cape Town. Please click here

Is there high-speed internet in Cape Town?

Yes! There is wifi in all of our accommodation options as well as free internet access in a lot of cafes, bars and restaurants around Cape Town.

Will I be safe in Cape Town?

At Bridging Gaps the safety and happiness of our interns and volunteers is our number one priority.   We want to ensure that throughout your adventure you feel comfortable, confident and at home so that you can enjoy all the incredible things Cape Town has to offer.  Here are some of the measures we have in place to ensure you have the most fulfilling and safe trip possible:

  • We guide you through all your pre-trip preparations and provide you with a detailed information pack which contains everything you need to know about visiting Cape Town.
  • Julian and Lucie will meet you at the airport when you first arrive in Cape Town. We will be standing in the arrivals hall holding a board with your name on it and once we have welcomed you to the Mother City, we will take you back to your accommodation and make sure you have everything you need to settle in for your first night in Cape Town.
  • Upon arrival you will receive a phone with a local sim card to ensure you are able to contact your family back home as soon as you arrive.
  • You will also be provided with both Lucie and Julian’s personal cell phone numbers, as well as the Bridging Gaps emergency phone number. We are your 24 hour on the ground contacts throughout your time in Cape Town and we are happy to help with anything you need.  We also both live very centrally so are never more than a short walk away from anywhere our interns or volunteers are staying.
  • You will also be provided with an emergency contact card which we advise you carry on you at all times. This includes the contact details of the emergency services, all the reputable tour companies we have partnerships with, and the taxi and public transport companies we recommend.
  • In the first few days of you being in Cape Town we will arrange a comprehensive orientation with you. This will include a walking tour of the city, visits to the main shopping malls and a demonstration of how everything works!  It will also involve an extensive health and safety briefing.
  • Either Julian or Lucie will take you to your first day of your internship or volunteer placement to introduce you to your supervisor and colleagues. We will then accompany you each day until you are 100% happy either walking or taking the public transport route on your own.
  • We stay in regular contact with you to not only make sure that you are enjoying and learning from your placement, but to ensure you are happy with every other aspect of your Cape Town adventure. If you are unsure about how to do anything, where to go or how to get anywhere, we are always available to assist you!
  • During our weekly social events we will take you to some of the best markets, restaurants, festivals and events that Cape Town has to offer! We have no doubt that you will make some amazing friends whilst you are here, but if you are ever nervous about doing anything or going anywhere on your own, our social events are the perfect time to explore this incredibly city with like minded people.

For more information on this topic please look at our blog on staying safe in Cape Town. Please click here.

Do I need any vaccinations or medical check-ups before I come to Cape Town?

Although there are no required vaccinations to come to Cape Town, it is important that you consult your doctor before you travel because Hepatitis A, B and Typhoid are often recommended.  Cape Town is not a malaria zone so there is no need to take any precautions against it.

What can I do in Cape Town?

Other than indulging in the delectable food culture, visitors can also explore the un-paralleled number of leisure activities for which the Cape is famous: vibrant markets exhibiting gorgeous locally made goods, compelling museums, idyllic outdoor concerts, exciting international sporting contests and thrilling adventure activities.  There are many stunning beaches to lie on, hiking trails to explore, mountains to climb and wine farms to enjoy- Cape Town has it all!

Do people speak English in Cape Town?

Yes, although South Africa is home to 11 official languages, most people you will meet during your stay in Cape Town will speak English.  The second most widely spoken language is Afrikaans.  You do not need to know any other language in order to participate in an internship or volunteer placement in Cape Town.

What happens if I get sick during my time in Cape Town?

When you arrive in Cape Town we will provide you with the contact details of the best doctors surgeries in the area in which you are staying.  If anything should happen to you during your trip, please let us know immediately and we will assist you in getting to the doctor and getting your medication.  You will be provided with the Bridging Gaps emergency phone number as soon as you arrive in Cape Town.

The medical facilitates in Cape Town are excellent and there are 38 medical centres in total, both private and public.  As a visitor to Cape Town it is advisable you always use private facilities where possible.

Is it easy to travel outside of Cape Town once I am there?

Yes it is very easy and we encourage all our participants to explore more of South Africa during their time here.  The Garden route is one of the best backpacking journeys in the world and there are endless places to see and activities to take part in.  If you would like to do some travelling during your placement, it is necessary to ask for time off directly from your supervisor and it is at their discretion to approve your leave.

We would be delighted to assist you in planning and booking your travels so if you have any questions before you arrive, please let us know.  Once you are in Cape Town we will discuss your options with you and provide you with information about the discounted rates we can offer on many of the exciting outdoor activities and wonderful backpacking hostels the Garden Route is home to.

Can I use my home phone in Cape Town?

In Cape Town mobile phones are known as Cell phones and ‘credit’ is called ‘airtime’.  We advise that you bring your normal cell phone with you and then when you arrive, we can provide you with a South African SIM card loaded with a small amount of airtime.  It is your responsibility to ensure your phone is unlocked to your network.  Alternatively, you can bring your normal phone and leave your home SIM card in it, to use it for internet access and messaging services such as whatsapp.  We can then provide you with a simple non smart phone with a South African SIM card, which you can use to make local calls or send local text messages.

Do I need a visa to go to Cape Town?

If you are looking to come to Cape Town for 90 days or less, you do not need to obtain a visa.  You will be granted with a visitors or tourist visa upon arrival into the country, and this is valid for up to 90 days.  For those wanting to do a placement for 3 months or more, you will need to obtain a volunteer visa from your local South African embassy in your home country.  We will assist you with this and can provide you with all the documents you need for the application process.

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What should you do next?

Easy - there's only one thing for it - download this free 37-page PDF guide we wrote just for you. It'll give you an overview of everything you need to know and do to have a rewarding and unforgettable learning experience abroad.

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