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Practical information for international travelers

<typohead type="3">Getting to Cape Town</typohead>

If you are flying to the World Congress from outside of South Africa, your first stop is likely to be Johannesburg International Airport. Some "direct" flights to Cape Town will stop in Johannesburg to offload passengers and then continue directly to Cape Town. Other flights may require passengers to disembark and catch a connecting flight to Cape Town. Please consult with your travel agent or airline to confirm the status of your flight.


Our preferred carrier, South African Airways are offering delegates special fares over the period of the event on a first come, first serve basis. Early booking is strongly suggested as flights to, from and within South Africa are generally in heavy demand. These fares are available for flights booked directly with SAA on their International, Regional and Domestic services subject to the relevant class availability. Conditions will apply. Any flights undertaken on foreign carriers will be for the delegate’s own account. Enquiries can be made immediately by contacting your nearest SAA office. Contact details for all the SAA offices can be obtained from the website www.flysaa.com. South African residents should contact Victoria Ndaba on telephone 011 978-1100. In all instances please quote reference number AIR.GC.05.000155. Should you encounter any difficulties in contacting SAA, email world.congress(at)iclei.org and your email will be forwarded to our contact in South African Airways head office.



Johannesburg International Airport is about 12 miles east of Johannesburg and can be reached in approximately 35 minutes via the M2 or R24 roads east out of the city.

Click here for:

Johannesburg International Airport map and directions

Information on arriving at Johannesburg International Airport


Cape Town International Airport is South Africa's second largest airport and all terminals are within walking distance of each other. Taxis are available from the airport to the city centre (journey time is approximately 20 minutes) in addition shuttle bus services are available on demand or by pre-booking in Arrivals (International and Domestic), or may be arranged through your hotel. Schedules vary according to flight arrival times; passengers can also pre-book their return trip to the airport. Information desks are located in Arrivals in both the International and Domestic Terminals.


Click here for:

Directions to and from the congress venue

<typohead type="3">Local Transport</typohead>

Transport will only be provided for social evenings and not between the congress hotels as they are all within walking distance of the conference venue. Public transport (taxis) is available and it is advisable to arrange these through the hotels. Taxis are generally available within the city centre, in front of hotels and the congress venue.

To view a list of the taxi transfer/services at the different hotels if delegates prefer not to book through our offices, click here.

In South Africa motor vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road.

<typohead type="3">Bicycle Hire</typohead>

Bicycles-for-hire will be available for World Congress participants for the duration of the congress.

The bicycles-for-hire are the "California Bike"– a utility bike designed for African conditions and distributed in many African countries to promote personal mobility.

The cost of bicycle hire is not included in the congress registration fee. At the end of the conference, participants will be able buy their bicycle for R 750.00 and donate it to the Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) for distribution through their programmes.

Helmets and locks will also be available for a nominal fee. World Congress participants interested in making use of the bicycles-for-hire service are strongly advised to hire helmets and locks, and to use them.   

<typohead type="3">Currency</typohead>

The monetary unit is the South African Rand (R). R1.00 = 100 cents, with the international symbol being ZAR. Bank notes are issued in denominations of R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10. Coins are 5c, 10c, 20c 50c, R1, R2, and R5. Assistance with currency conversions can be found on the following website: http://www.xe.com/ucc/

Local currency may be purchased with foreign currency at most banks, certain travel agencies, certain hotels and international airports. A levy will be charged on daily bank rates. Foreign exchange facilities can be found at the Cape Town Tourism Visitor Information Centre, the airport and the Bureau de Change at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and most of the hotels.

We would advise you to exchange money at the Johannesburg or Cape Town International Airports.

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) will accept many international bank and credit cards.

<typohead type="3">Time</typohead>

Standard time in South Africa is two hours ahead of GMT. There are no time differences within South Africa

<typohead type="3">Banks & Business Hours</typohead>

All banks are open from 09h00 – 15h30 weekdays and between 08h30 and 11h00 on Saturdays. All banks are closed on Sundays.

Most shops in the City Centre and suburbs are open between 09h00 and 17h00/17h30 on weekdays and Saturdays till 13h00. Major malls may open at 09h00 and close at 18h00 (or even 21h00 – especially at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and Century City). Often on Sundays and public holidays the opening hours are from 10h00. Government agencies still keep to traditional weekday only hours. Muslim-owned businesses close between noon and 13h00 on Fridays.

<typohead type="3">Business Services</typohead>

There is a Business Centre at the Cape Town International Convention Centre as well as some of the hotels. Please consult the front desk of your hotel to make the necessary arrangements. 

<typohead type="3">Cell Phones</typohead>

There are three major cell phone service providers in South Africa. Visitors who will be using their personal cell phones can buy a prepaid "Starter Pack", which consists of a SIM card and airtime in order to make and receive calls both locally and internationally. All incoming calls to a cell phone in South Africa are free and phones must be switched to the GSM 900 frequency.

Cell phones can also be hired from the different service providers either at the airport or simply by visiting one of their relevant branches. Arrangements can be made with Cellucity who are based at the International and Domestic Arrivals at the Airport.

To rent in advance you can download the following form and email it back at the email address below.


Cell phone rental form


Rental - R6.50  (0.88 Euro) per day

Theft damage protection waiver - Free

Local calls - R2.40 (0.34 Euro) per min

International calls - R9.95 (1.35 Euro) per min


Their contact details are:


Tel: +27 21 418 1313 or  +27 (0) 21 934 4951

Fax: +27 21 419 2427 or +27 (0) 21 934 4953 


Email: Janine [at] cellucity.co.za

<typohead type="3">Telephones</typohead>

All hotel rooms have telephones with direct calling facilities. The hotels also have public card phones and telephone cards are available from the Hotel Shops.

<typohead type="3">Customs</typohead>

Customs officials may inspect baggage at the first airport of arrival in South Africa. There is no restriction on the items which are carried for personal use and which are not intended for gifts or sale in South Africa. No duty is payable on such items. Visitors are allowed to bring in a camera, video camera, binoculars, portable computer, cellular phone and similar devices for personal use.

<typohead type="3">Electricity</typohead>

City and town electricity systems are 200/230 volts, 50hz AC. Plugs have three cylindrical pins and it is essential to have an adaptor or a transformer for foreign appliances.

For further information regarding electrical requirements click here

<typohead type="3">Safety & Secruity</typohead>

Visitors to Cape Town are urged to take sensible precautions, as in all other large cities, to ensure their safety. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, do not keep cameras and other valuables loose and not to leave belongings unattended. The city centre is active and busy during the day; well patrolled by law enforcement, covered by CCTV, well sign posted and easy to navigate. Congress participants should use only the main pedestrian routes and avoid walking alone after dark. While every effort will be made to ensure an incident free stay in Cape Town, ICLEI reminds World Congress participants and visitors to Cape Town that their safety is their own responsibility.

Further information regarding safety in Cape Town is available here

<typohead type="3">Smoking</typohead>

All in-door public areas in South Africa are smoke-free areas. You will find smoking areas in certain restaurants.

<typohead type="3">Drinking Water</typohead>

Tap water in Cape Town is of a good quality and safe to drink. Bottled water is available in shops and restaurants.  

<typohead type="3">VAT (Value Added Tax)</typohead>

South Africa has adopted a Value Added Tax system of 14% on purchases and services. If you are a foreign visitor to South Africa you can reclaim your VAT on certain purchases if you’ve spent more than R250 on items you are taking out of the country. VAT charged on congress fees and accommodation is not refundable.

Go to the VAT office at the International Departure Hall at the airport, leaving yourself some time. You will need your original tax invoices, and your passport, fill in a form and have the goods you bought available for inspection. The banks in the Departure Lounge will give you your refund in your home currency.

<typohead type="3">Weather & Climate</typohead>

Summer in South Africa is from October until March. Despite regional differences, South Africa’s climate is generally mild throughout the year. Snowfall is limited to the highest mountain peaks. South Africa is on the whole a dry country with a mean annual rainfall of 502mm. South Africa ranks high in the world as far as sunshine days are concerned.

Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and cold, wet winters.

Weather conditions in South Africa can be checked at: http://www.weathersa.co.za

February is peak summer period in Cape Town with temperatures in the late twenties during the day and dropping to around 15 degrees Celsius in the evenings. Visitors are advised to bring cool clothing, although a light jacket may be required for the evenings.

Page last updated: 10.May.2012

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