Before you arrive
Climate and lifestyle
In South Africa, lifestyle is dictated by our temperate climate, and with Cape Town’s beautiful landscapes you are likely to find yourself spending a lot of time outdoors, from soaking up the sun on Jammie Steps on the upper campus or our world class beaches, to climbing mountain peaks above the city or dancing in a forest at an outdoor music festival. Find out more about things to do in Cape Town
Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and wet winters. Summers get very hot (temperatures vary between 15°C and 43°C (59°F and 110°F) so be sure not to leave the house without a protective layer of sunscreen, a hat and a water bottle. Never underestimate the power of the African sun. Winter is rainfall season and temperatures drop to between 3°C and 15°C (38°F and 59°F). If you are coming in winter be sure to pack a good raincoat (umbrellas can be rendered useless by the fierce Cape winds). While Cape Town winters are not as severe as those in the US or Europe, most buildings don’t have central heating. Bring clothing that can be layered for the cold – both indoors and out. Come rain or shine, the Mother City is famous for its four seasons in a day, so always take a jumper when you head outdoors, or be ready to remove a layer when the sun comes out.
Keep in mind that, because we are in the southern hemisphere, seasons are reversed here. December and January are the height of the summer months, while our coldest months tend to be July and August.
- Medication: if you take a prescription drug on a regular basis, bring the prescription and the original drug packaging with you (the same drug may have a different brand in South Africa).
- Electrical equipment: the standard voltage in South Africa is 230 volts. Most plugs are 15amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong plugs with round pins. Adaptors are readily available in South Africa, or bring one from home. US-made appliances may need a voltage converter (transformer).
- We suggest you consider buying a South African cellphone (mobile) or, at very least, purchase a local sim card when you get here. Cellphones can be purchased from a number of retail outlets close to the university, and you will usually have the opportunity to do so during orientation.
Getting to and from the airport
There are a number of options available to get you from the airport to your accommodation (find out more about transport in Cape Town here)
- Uber is available and widely used in Cape Town
- MyCiti bus services offers a shuttle from the airport to central Cape Town. From there you can get a MyCiti bus card and, if your accommodation is on one of the bus routes you can connect to the relevant bus. See the routes here. Alternatively take a taxi or Uber from the station.
- A number of private taxi companies have stations at the airport and can be arranged on arrival.