Getting there & around
Flights, tours and rail tickets can all be booked online at www.lonelyplanet.com/travelservices.
Consider taking a nonshared taxi at night or if you're in a group. Rates are about R10 per kilometre. There's a taxi rank at the Adderley St end of the Grand Pde in the city, or call Marine Taxi (021-434 0434), SA Cab (0861 172 222; www.sacab.co.za) or Unicab Taxis (021-447 4402).
Shared taxis cover most of the city with an informal network of routes. They're a cheap and efficient way of getting around. Useful routes are from Adderley St, opposite the Golden Acre Centre, to Sea Point along Main Rd (R3) and up Long St to Kloof Nek (R2).
The main rank is on the upper deck of Cape Town Train Station and is accessible from a walkway in the Golden Acre Centre or from stairways on Strand St. It's well organised, and finding the right rank is easy. Anywhere else, you just hail shared taxis from the side of the road and ask the driver where they're going.
Interstate buses arrive at the bus terminus at Cape Town Train Station, where you'll find the booking offices for the following bus companies:
Greyhound (021-505 6363; www.greyhound.co.za)
Intercape Mainliner (021-380 4400; www.intercape.co.za)
SA Roadlink (021-425 0203; www.saroadlink.co.za)
Translux (021-449 3333; www.translux.co.za)
Baz Bus (021-439 2323; www.bazbus.com) is aimed at backpackers and travellers, offering hop-on, hop-off fares and door-to-door service between Cape Town and Jo'burg via the Northern Drakensberg, Durban and the Garden Route.
For local bus services the main station is the Golden Acre Terminal (Grand Parade, City Bowl). From this station Golden Arrow (0800 656 463; www.gabs.co.za) buses run, with most services stopping early in the evening. Buses are most useful for getting along the Atlantic coast from the city centre to Hout Bay (trains service the suburbs to the east of Table Mountain).
When travelling short distances, most people wait at the bus stop and take either a bus or a shared taxi, whichever arrives first. A tourist-friendly alternative is the City Sightseeing Cape Town bus service.
Cheap Flights (www.cheapflights.co.uk)
STA Travel (www.statravel.com)
Air Mauritius (021-671 5225; www.airmauritius.com; Sanclaire Bldg, 21 Dreyer St, Claremont)
Air Namibia (021-936 2755; www.airnamibia.com.na; Cape Town International Airport)
KLM (0860 247 747; www.klm.co.za; Slade House, Boundary Terraces, 1 Mariendahl Lane, Newlands)
Lufthansa (0861 842 538; Cape Town International Airport)
Malaysia Airlines (021-419 8010; fax 021-419 7017; 8th fl, Safmarine House, 22 Riebeeck St, City Bowl)
SAA (021-936 1111; www.flysaa.com; Cape Town International Airport)
Singapore Airlines (021-674 0601; 3rd fl, Sanclaire Bldg, 21 Dreyer St, Claremont)
Virgin Atlantic (021-934 9000; Cape Town International Airport)
Cape Town International Airport (021-937 1200; www.airports.co.za) is located 20km east of the city centre. There is a tourist information office and Internet access in both the international and domestic departure/arrival halls.
Be prepared for the sometimes-erratic breaking of road rules by fellow drivers, and drive with caution. Breath testing for alcohol exists but given the lack of police resources and the high blood-alcohol level permitted (0.08%), drunk drivers remain a danger. It's highly unlikely that the police will bother you for petty breaches of the law, such as breaking the speed limit. This might sound like a pleasant state of affairs, but after you've encountered a few dangerous drivers, strict cops seem more attractive.
Major local and international car-hire companies in Cape Town include the following:
Avis (086 102 1111; www.avis.co.za; 123 Strand St, City Bowl)
Budget (086 001 6622; www.budget.co.za; 120 Strand St, City Bowl)
Hertz (021-400 9650; www.hertz.co.za; cnr Loop & Strand Sts, City Bowl)
CABS Car Rental (021 386 5500; www.cabs.co.za; 14 Montreal Drive, Airport Industria)
A friendly local firm is Around About Cars (021-422 4022; www.aroundaboutcars.com; 20 Bloem St, City Bowl; 7.30am-5pm Mon-Fri, 7.30am-noon Sat & Sun). This company offers one of the best independent deals in town with rates starting at R169 per day for a Mazda 323 with a R4000 excess on any claims (R210 for no excess). Many backpacker hostels can also arrange deals from around R200 per day or less.
South Africa is a big country but, unless you're a travel writer on a tight schedule, you probably don't need to pay higher rates for unlimited kilometres. For meandering around, 400km a day should be more than enough, and if you plan to stop for a day here and there, 200km a day might be sufficient.
However, if you're hiring with an international company and you book through the branch in your home country, you'll probably get unlimited kilometres at no extra cost. At peak times in South Africa (mainly in summer), even your local branch might tell you that unlimited-kilometre deals aren't available. Your travel agency may be able to get around this.
When you're getting quotes make sure that they include value-added tax (VAT), as that 14% slug makes a big difference.
One problem with nearly all car-hire deals is the excess: the amount you are liable for before the insurance takes over. Even with a small car you can be liable for up to R5000 (although there's usually the choice of lowering or cancelling the excess for a higher insurance premium). A few companies offer 100% damage and theft insurance at a more expensive rate. You may also be charged extra if you nominate more than one driver. If a non-nominated driver has an accident, then you won't be covered by insurance. Always make sure you read the contract carefully before you sign.
The following places hire out motorcycles or scooters:
Café Vespa (083 448 2626, 083 646 6616; www.cafevespa.com; 108 Kloof St, Tamboerskloof; 9am-midnight) New 150cc Vespas from R110 per day, including insurance and helmet, depending on how long you hire it for.
Harley-Davidson Cape Town (021-424 3990; www.harley-davidson-capetown.com; 45 Buitengracht St, City Bowl; 9am-5pm Mon-Sat) Hires out a Harley 1340cc Big Twins or an MG-B convertible sports car for R1150 per day.
Le Cap Motorcycle Hire (021-423 0823; www.lecapmotorcyclehire.co.za; 43 New Church St, Tamboerskloof; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat) Motorcycle hire from R360 per day.
It costs R22 to drive along Chapman's Peak Dr.
Metro commuter trains are a handy way to get around, although there are few (or no) trains after 6pm on weekdays and after noon on Saturday. For more information contact Cape MetroRail (0800 656 463; www.capemetrorail.co.za).
Metro trains have first- and economy-class carriages only. The difference in price and comfort is negligible, though you'll find the first-class compartments to be safer on the whole. The most important line for visitors is the Simon's Town line, which runs through Observatory and around the back of Table Mountain through upper- income white suburbs such as Newlands, on to Muizenberg and the False Bay coast.
These trains run at least every hour from 5am to 7.30pm Monday to Friday (to 6pm on Saturday), and from 7.30am to 6.30pm on Sunday. (Rikkis meet all trains and go to Boulders.) Some trains have Biggsy's, a restaurant carriage and rolling wine bar. There's a small extra charge to use it.
Metro trains run some way out of Cape Town, to Strand on the eastern side of False Bay, and into the Winelands to Stellenbosch and Paarl. They are the cheapest and easiest means of transport to these areas; security is best at peak times.
Some economy/first-class fares are Ob- servatory (R4.20/5.50), Muizenberg (R5.50/8.50), Simon's Town (R7.30/12), Paarl (R8.50/14.50) and Stellenbosch (R7.50/12).
The African Vintage Rail Tours (021-419 5222; www.vintagetrains.co.za) runs occasional trips to the Spier wine estate using a steam locomotive, as well as two-hour sunset train trips to Milnerton.
The Cape Peninsula is a terrific place to explore by bicycle, but there are many hills, and distances can be deceptively large - it is nearly 70km from the centre to Cape Point. Unfortunately, you are not supposed to take bicycles on suburban trains.
The following places in Cape Town offer bicycle hire:
Atlantic Tourist Information Centre (021-434 2382; 243 Main Rd, Sea Point; bicycle/scooter per day R85/195)
Downhill Adventures (021-422 0388; www.downhilladventures.com; Orange St, Gardens; per day R100)
Homeland Shuttle & Tours (021-426 0294, 083 265 6661; www.homeland.co.za; 305 Long St, City Bowl; per day R80)