CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Planning Your Trip
So, you want to travel to South Africa…
If you’re a first-time visitor, you’ve probably got a LOT of questions, and we’re here to help answer them! First, take some comfort in knowing that Cape Town is a modern city that offers all of the on-demand services and creature comforts that you might expect when travelling to any world-class city. We may not have Amazon Prime with same or next-day delivery, but we’ve got Uber, Starbucks, and shopping centres with everything and anything you could want!
You may have heard about water shortages and load shedding (scheduled power outages), and these are a reality here in South Africa, but you can plan around these possible service interruptions. In fact, more and more holiday accommodations are going off the grid, and our accommodation, The Point has a battery backup system that guarantees power and wifi 24/7.
So, what are you waiting for?! Let’s start planning!
Before Your Trip
To enter South Africa, you will need a valid passport or travel document and, in some cases, a valid visa. Your passport should have a minimum of 30 days of validity remaining after your intended date of departure, so check your expiry date!</p[>
According to the Department of Home Affairs website, the following documents are required for all visitors to South Africa:
- A valid and acceptable passport or travel document for your intended stay
- At least one blank page in your passport for endorsements
- A valid visa, if required
- Sufficient funds to pay for your day-to-day expenses during your stay
- A return or onward ticket
- Yellow fever certificates if your journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.
How do you know if you need a visa to enter South Africa? The best way is to check the current Visa Exemption List. Visitors from more than 100 countries can travel to South Africa without first obtaining a visa. As long as you are able to meet the other requirements listed above, you’ll get your passport stamped at your point of entry. Depending on which of the exempt passports you carry, you will have between 30-90 days to explore South Africa.
COVID & Health Restrictions
There are currently no restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa. As of June 22, 2022, the Health Minister has repealed all remaining COVID-19 regulations and restrictions. To make a long story short, you do not need to produce a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or negative PCR test to enter the country, and you do not need to wear masks indoors or in public places. However, the global health situation is always changing, and we recommend that you have travel insurance in place in case of a last-minute cancellation due to illness. We also suggest that if you are feeling unwell during your travels that you limit contact with others and consider wearing a mask in public, whether the government requires it or not.
Booking Your Flight
We always use Google Flights when booking travel, as they aggregate search data from most airlines and other travel booking sites. From their search results, you can choose if you’d like to book directly with the airline or with an agent or other service provider. We recommend booking directly with the airline whenever possible. You may find that their prices are a little bit higher, but they often have lower change fees and better cancellation policies. There is also less chance of booking a discounted fare only to realise that it includes NO checked baggage!
Oversized Baggage Fees
If you’re planning a kiteboarding or windsurfing trip to Cape Town, don’t forget to check the cost of oversized baggage before you fly, so that you don’t have any unwelcome surprises at the airport. If you are travelling with an airline like United Airlines that has excessive oversized baggage fees (USD $200 for a kiteboard bag!), you may want to consider renting or purchasing a board during your trip.
At The Point, we have FLYSURFER twin tips, directional kitesurf boards and wing boards from Appletree, and surfboards that are available for rent. However, supplies are limited so please specify if you need a board during your stay so that we may reserve one for you. We can also connect you with other providers for equipment rental if we do not have what you need.
Booking Your Accommodation
The high season for travel to South Africa’s Western Cape is from December to February. With the recent change to the Red Bull King of the Air competition schedule, the Blouberg season is now starting even earlier, in mid/late November. We strongly recommend booking accommodation for that time as early as possible, as supply is limited. Well-priced, well-equipped accommodation is hard to come by as you get closer to those high season dates.
AirBNB is a great platform for booking holiday accommodation, with clear booking and cancellation policies, and some protection for the booking party if there are any issues with your trip. There are also the usual suspects like Booking.com, Hotels.com, and the local favourite, LekkeSlaap.co.za.
Please be cautious when booking private accommodation that you are not familiar with, as there are many active holiday accommodation scams going around our area. Do extra research and due diligence when booking privately to verify that your booking is truly legitimate.
With a high risk of load shedding (scheduled power outages), be sure to look for properties that offer protection against power outages if being plugged in and online is a priority for you. More and more holiday accommodations, including us at The Point, are installing backup power systems which guarantee internet and power 24/7. Be wary of properties that do not have fibre WiFi (especially those with 3G or 4G internet), as mobile networks are not reliable during load shedding, even with a backup power source.
Most visitors to Cape Town will want to consider booking a car, especially if you’re here on a kiting trip! Please note that most rental cars in South Africa are manual transmission. If you need an automatic transmission vehicle, make sure you double-check the details before booking! The rental car companies that are based at the airport are a great option, as collecting your car on arrival is a fast and easy process and you can book with international brands like Avis, Hertz, Thrifty, and Europcar. You can check their availability and rates through RentalCars.com.
There are also two companies that are not based at the airport that are well regarded within the watersports community. Kenings Car Van and Truck Hire offer airport assistance, where a member of their team will bring your vehicle to the airport, and meet you at the door to help you with the check-in process. Rent A Cheapie is based about halfway between the airport and Bloubergstrand, and they offer good rates on long-term rentals. However, you will need to make an arrangement to travel to their facility to collect and return your car, and if you are arriving after hours, you may need to make a next-day collection plan.
Uber is a reliable transportation option, and one that we use frequently, especially for travel to and from the airport. There is free WiFi at the Cape Town International Airport, so you can arrange an Uber when you land. For safety reasons, be sure to check that your driver’s license plate number and name match what the app says before entering the vehicle.
If you are travelling alone and arriving late at night, you may want to consider the added comfort that a private shuttle offers. While they often cost more than an Uber, the service they offer is certainly worth the cost. If you are not renting a car at the airport, your hotel or accommodation will likely help you arrange for an airport transfer or private shuttle at an additional cost, and this takes the stress out of researching and planning this leg of your trip.
What To Pack
While we can’t give you a packing list, we can give you some tips based on personal experience! Please keep in mind that these suggestions are specifically for those that are planning a beach holiday in Blouberg, and you may have some different needs if you’re planning a holiday in the city.
- Pack clothes you can layer – even if you are likely to encounter some weather above 30°C, once the sun goes down or the wind picks up, you’ll be very chilly, indeed! Be sure to bring, at the very least, a solid windbreaker and a warm sweater. Don’t be afraid to bring a jacket or a thermal layer if you plan to be enjoying windy evenings outside by the braai!
- Bring an international travel adapter – you won’t regret it, and it will save you a trip to the shopping mall when you get here. South Africa uses 230V power and C, D, M, and N plug types, pictured below. Be sure that your power adapter is compatible with these plug types!
- High heels – you probably don’t need them! There aren’t many establishments in Blouberg that are high heel friendly, but there are a few in Cape Town. If you’re travelling light, a nice pair of sandals should do the trick. If you’re definitely bringing heels, consider wedges, so you don’t get stuck in the sand, grass, or decking. On the topic of fashion, if you are planning to bring dresses and skirts, be sure you have options that can handle some wind!! It is hard to have a good time when you’re holding your skirt down the whole time.
- Valuables – leave them at home! With petty theft being quite common in South Africa, it’s best to leave your luxury goods at home. Of course, if you are planning a luxury city or safari stay, you may want to bring them. However, if it’s a beach break in Blouberg, the latest fashions from Patagonia will go a lot further than the latest Louis Vuitton handbag!
If you forget anything at home, you can get just about anything you need here. The Point is only 500m away from Bayside Mall, and 5km away from the more modern and spacious Table Bay Mall. The massive Canal Walk Shopping Centre is only 10km away, and V&A Waterfront with its luxury boutiques is 18km away.
Don’t forget to get a tax receipt with your name and address on it for any large purchases, as you can claim your 15% VAT back on departure at the airport, as long as your purchase was within the last 90 days. If you plan to do this, allow extra time for check-in as you will have to go through a separate line, and present the goods that you will be claiming VAT back on at the counter. If they are not in your hand baggage, this must be done before you drop off your baggage.
Many countries have travel advisories to South Africa due to a high level of crime. However, with a few street smarts and common sense, you won’t have a worry in the world. Some tips to keep in mind at all times:
- Avoid walking after dark.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when walking and keep your phone out of sight.
- Avoid using public transportation.
- Don’t be afraid to take an Uber, even for a short distance. Walking between the downtown and waterfront is not recommended, nor is walking between downtown and Woodstock.
- Do not engage with panhandlers or beggars on the street or at traffic lights.
- When driving, always keep your doors and windows locked.
- Keep your valuables out of sight, on foot and in your vehicle.
- Look for signs of tampering when using ATMs or card machines, and always protect your pin.
The Government of Canada website shares some detailed tips on avoiding crime in South Africa, a worthwhile read even if you’re not Canadian!
Most of all, plan ahead so that you can spend more time having fun during your stay in South Africa. If you are a guest of The Point, do not hesitate to ask your hosts, Crystal and Luke, for any advice or help planning. You can try asking Cola, but we’re pretty sure the only good advice he can give is “Avoid everything except going to the fridge and getting me some cheese!”
Good luck, and we’ll see you in Blouberg!
For more information on wind conditions and kiteboarding in Cape Town, check out these helpful resources: