What travelers should know before going to Cape Town

After watching the news and learning about the water crisis taking place in Cape Town, it’s only natural for travelers to be wary of taking a trip to the city.

For several months, citizens of Cape Town “have been urged to consume less, but more than half of residents ignored those volunteer restrictions” (National Geographic). With factors, such as population growth and an El Nino-triggered drought, water levels in the South African city have been at a record low. Levels have been so low that in late January, officials announced that the city would likely run out of water by this month.

While this is a major crisis for the citizens, there are still areas in South Africa that volunteers, NGOs and travelers frequent, which have been affected by the water crisis. Before going, however, it’s important for travelers to be mindful of a couple factors that may impact their trip.

AFP / Ziniyange Auntony

AFP / Ziniyange Auntony

Hotel Restrictions
In efforts to conserve water, hotels have enforced several restrictions to ensure they are not wasting water. Oftentimes, you will see hotels doing laundry less often and changing out towels every 3 to 5 days, depending on the length of stay. Hotels encourage visitors to be “good tourists” and do their part as well. This includes flushing the toilet less often and overall, being more mindful of the amount of water they use.

Sing in the Shower
As mentioned before, the city of Cape Town is hoping for visitors to be mindful of their water consumption. This includes how long one is in the shower. They are trying to limit everyone’s shower length to around 90 seconds. Try singing a quick song to keep track of how long you’re under the water.

Remember Hand Sanitizer
Many health-related issues can arise during a drought. Thankfully, Cape Town has not seen any outbreaks of diseases thus far. Regardless of this, travelers should take the necessary precautions to prevent any viruses or diseases. Pack extra bottles of hand sanitizer and wet wipes to keep your hands clean.

Expect Paper Plates
Much like hotels, restaurants are doing their part to conserve water. To do so, they are cutting back in their dish washing, so don’t be surprised if your orange juice is brought to you in a paper cup.

Day Zero Pushed to 2019
During the beginning of the year, officials announced the city of Cape Town would likely run out of water by April. Fortunately, with many efforts to conserve water, it seems like Cape Town has saved itself some time. Day Zero — the term coined for the day taps run out — has been pushed back until 2019. While this is very good news for the citizens and visitors, the city is still far from the clear and still be mindful of their conservation efforts.

Katlyn Pierre