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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Cape Town Getting Around
Getting Around Cape Town - TravelPuppy.com
Public Transport

Cape Town is a frustrating city to navigate, purely because there is hardly any efficient public transport to speak of. That and the fact that there is a huge mountain right in the middle of the city can make getting around quite a overwhelming task for the tourist. Cape Town is, nevertheless, equipped with some trains and buses. Metro Transport Info (telephone: (0800) 656 463) provides centralised information on all buses, trains and taxis.

Cape Metrorail (telephone: (021) 449 4210 or (083) 123 7245) runs the suburban network of trains, consisting of 5 routes, which serve 4 defined areas, Area South (including the Cape Flats and the Simon’s Town line via Wynberg, Newlands, Claremont and Rondebosch), Area Ikapa (Cape Town and city destinations), Area Central (including Langa and Khayelitsha) and Area North (including Bellville, Wellington, Stellenbosch and Strand).

The Cape Town Simon’s Town route, which traverses the coastline, just metres from the ocean, is predominantly spectacular. Tourists are recommended to keep a watchful eye on their belongings, as pick pocketing is rife, and they should also never travel after dark. Trains generally run from Cape Town station daily 4.30 am to 7.30 pm (depending on the route travelled), with regular departures, although there is a more limited service at weekends, some Area North routes do not offer a weekend service.

There are 2 fare types, Metro (standard) and Metro Plus (1st class), tourists are recommended to travel on the Metro Plus service. Tickets also vary in price depending to distance travelled, a single city centre ticket costs R 4.20 (Metro) or R 5.50 (Metro Plus). Weekly and monthly passes are also accessible at R20 (Metro) or R39 (Metro Plus) and R70 (Metro) or R128 (Metro Plus) respectively. Tickets can be purchased at Cape Town Station, Adderley Street.

Although very chaotic, public buses still run regular and safe services to most destinations, including Camps Bay, Kloof Nek, Hout Bay, Claremont, Kirstenbosch, Sea Point and the Waterfront. However, tourists should probably avoid taking buses to the remote areas.

Golden Arrow (telephone: (021) 937 8800, facsimile: (021) 934 4885, email address: information@gabs.co.za) has the monopoly on Cape Town’s bus services, which run out of the main bus terminal on Strand Street, just opposite Cape Town Station. Buses run daily roughly from 6.00 am to 8.00 pm (depending on the route), with a restricted service at the weekend, some routes do not have a weekend service.

Bus fares are based on the kilometres travelled and prices differ accordingly. For example, a ticket from the city centre toward the southern suburbs (Mowbray) costs R 3.30. Tickets can be purchased upon boarding or from the main terminal (Monday to Friday from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm, Saturday from 6.00 am to 12.30 am). Clip cards or passes are also accessible at the Strand Street terminal. Based on travel between the city centre toward the southern suburbs (Mowbray), these cost R 31 for a weekly clip card.

The Waterfront Boat Co. (telephone: (021) 418 5806) operate a daily water taxi service from 8.00 am to sunset, departing from the Arabella Sheraton, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, to the Cape Grace hotel.

Taxis

Metered taxis can be ordered at any time of night or day and can also be hired for day trips. Although the meters are usually accurate, visitors should ask the driver for an estimated price before setting out, as several of the taxi drivers choose to ignore the meter. Taxi rates are approximately R 8 to R 10 per kilometre travelled, with a R 50 to R 60 per hour waiting fee.

There are taxi ranks at the chief railway station and at the top of Adderley Street, just below Company Gardens. Visitors should note that the practice of hailing a taxi on the street is practically unheard of in Cape Town. Besides finding 1 at the ranks, visitors can call Marine Taxis (telephone: (021) 434 0434) or Unicab (telephone: (021) 448 8823). Rikki’s Taxis (telephone: (021) 423 4888 or 786 2136) provides a more tourist orientated taxi service in an open rickshaw type vehicle, they only run in the city centre and Simon’s Town. Tipping is not ordinary practice in Cape Town, although an extra R 10 to R 20 is always appreciated.

Minibus taxis

A familiar sight in any South African city, including Cape Town, the 10 to 12 seater minibus taxis are the favoured transport option of many a car less local. These can be called for anywhere on the streets and are by far the cheapest transport option at about R 2.50 a ride from the city centre to the southern suburbs or Atlantic seaboard.

However, the minibus taxis are not really advised to tourists. Although they are getting more organised, especially on the inner city routes, they still have a awful reputation and safety record. Tourists who do choose to use this service should apply caution and use common sense at all times. Passengers, predominantly women but men as well, should not board an empty bus, nor should they travel alone, at night or beyond the city centre and the direct suburbs. You should completely avoid the minibus taxis that are in dreadful shape, with flat or smooth tyres, alarming dents or just a common state of disrepair.

Additionally, tourists should absolutely avoid minibuses where co pilots lean out of the door or window to shout the destinations, tourists should only board the minibuses that have the destinations and related route numbers printed on the back of the bus. A ride in a minibus taxi is also a white knuckle encounter, not for the faint hearted, as the drivers do not pay much attention to the regulations of the road.

Limousines

Limousines are a novelty in Cape Town and would definitely be stared at in the street. But for an generous day of sightseeing (particularly wine tasting) a chauffeured limousine is ideal. Cape Cars (telephone: (021) 433 0467, facsimile: (021) 433 0118) hires out 8 seater limousines for R 1,000 per hour (R 350 per hour thereafter) or R 3,000 for 8 hours. The price includes a chauffeur, mini bar and 250 kilometre free mileage (R 5 per kilometre thereafter).

Driving in the City

Due to the lack of efficient and safe public transport, several visitors choose to drive. Driving in the city is generally unstressful, as there are good feeder highways, brilliant signage and efficient traffic lights. The scenic routes and winding country roads are particularly beautiful. However, the characteristic Cape Town relaxation seems to dissapear once the locals are behind the wheel and driving can be hair raising at times. Drivers are almost always approached at stop streets and traffic lights, by beggars or entrepreneurs flogging everything from roses and newspapers to bin liners. (Although it can be a treat for hot and bothered motorists to buy a box of sweet Hanepoot grapes, when in season, late summer).

Rush hour is generally from 7.00 am to 8.30 am and 4.30 pm to 6.00 pm, when some routes heading out of the city, particularly De Waal Drive, become quite congested. Getting into the city from the southern suburbs can be quite a venture for the amateur. On what is known as ‘University Bend’, where De Waal Drive rounds the mountain towards feeder roads to the N2 and the Eastern Boulevard, there are several tricky lane changes to tackle, primarily because the exits are to the right of the road despite the fact that driving in South Africa is on the left. A favoured route into the city centre is via Main Road, which feeds into the city centre all the way from Wynberg, through Observatory, Woodstock and Salt River into Cape Town. Although moderately straightforward, here drivers have to keep an eye out for minibus taxis, whose Mad antics can be quite disturbing at times. It is not recommended for drivers to attempt to challenge the minibus taxi drivers, as this can be very hazardous.

Parking is abundant around the city, with almost every mall equipped with indoor parking. Central car parks are situated on Strand Street, the Grand Parade and Plein Street. Indoor parking costs approximately R 8 per hour. Other parking lots suggest a pay and display service. In several free open parking lots, uniformed parking security guards will look after cars for a tip. Tipping is not vital, however, as this is, in most cases, the sole means of support for these security guards, a tiny tip of around R 1 is not much for the average visitor to spare.

The street parking meters are operated by a prepaid swipe card system, operated by ADO CashCard (telephone: (021) 712 0307, facsimile: (021) 712 0022, email address: adyo@ado.co.za). Cards cost R 35 plus R 10 of parking credit, which can be topped up, they are available at newsagents, cafés and several other outlets. Street parking usually costs R 3 per hour. Parking marshals on the streets of the city centre are on hand to offer assistance with operating the meters and to visitors without parking cards. Tipping is not vital but is appreciated. The system is in operation Monday to Saturday during office hours, and parking is free of charge after 6.00 pm. There are also some pay and display parking lots in the suburbs.

Car Hire

Hiring a car is often the visitor’s preferred mode of transport in Cape Town, especially for ventures to outlying areas. Hotels can organise car hire for their guests, while all major car hire companies have booths at the airport. Cape Town Tourism (telephone: (021) 426 4260, facsimile: (021) 426 4266) will also arrange car hire for tourists at no extra charge.

Some of the several major car hire companies include:

Budget
Telephone: (086) 101 6622
Email address: reservations@budget.co.za
Website address: www.budget.co.za

Hertz
Telephone: (021) 400 9650
Facsimile: (021) 425 8270
Email address: res@hertz.co.za
Website address: www.hertz.co.za

Tempest/Sixt
Telephone: (086) 003 1666 or (021) 424 5000
Facsimile: (021) 424 4190
Website address: www.tempestcarhire.co.za

Local providers include:

Global
Telephone: (021) 423 5211
Facsimile: (021) 423 5280
Email address: info@globalcarrental.co.za
Website address: www.globalcarrental.co.za

Cape Car Hire
Telephone: (021) 385 0445
Facsimile: (021) 385 0446
Email address: info@capecarhire.co.za
Website address: www.capecarhire.co.za

Rates start at around R 150 per day for a budget vehicle (excluding mileage, which is priced at around R 0.95 to R 4 per kilometre). Insurance is sometimes included in the rates but is generally offered as an optional extra (some companies make this obligatory, unless proof of individual insurance is provided) and is highly recommended, predominantly against theft. Drivers must be at least 23 years old and have a credit card and an International Driving Permit (except for those carrying a national driving licence which is printed in English and holds a photograph of the holder).

Bicycle Hire and Scooter Hire

Cycling in the city centre requires nerves of steel and remarkable good luck. It is therefore not advised. However, country and suburban excursions can be very rewarding, especially through the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and the Winelands.

Downhill Adventures hires out bicycles for R 100 per day, which includes a pump, helmet, spare tube and lock, as well as free delivery in the City Bowl area.

Address: Shop 10 Overbeek Building, corner of Kloof, Long and Orange Streets
Telephone: (021) 422 0388
Facsimile: (021) 423 0127
Website address: www.downhilladventures.com

To avoid difficult beach parking, especially in the crowded summer months, adventurous tourists often choose to hire out Kymco scooters from African Buzz, for R 175 to R 195 per day (24 hours), depending on the season. A deposit of R 2,500 and a full motorcycle licence is necessary.

Address: 202 Long Street
Telephone: (021) 423 0052
Facsimile: (021) 423 0056
Email address: skootaz@intekom.co.za