As we discussed in the last post, South Africa really is a dream destination, no matter what you're looking for in a surf trip. The people are mellow, the weather is mild to warm and as far as waves go, there is something for everybody. This time we'll look at climate, currency, and some South African words which may have you scrambling for your English - Afrikaans pocket dictionary (don't bother, these words won't be in there) ...
South Africa is subtropical in the north (meaning hot, humid weather), becoming more temperate towards the south, and mostly enjoys warm, sunny weather with summer rains. The exception to this is Cape Town, which has more of a Mediterranean climate and is dry in summer and rainy in winter. The coastal temperatures vary from fairly mild to scorching hot (with highs in the 30s celsius) in summer, but can get a bit chilly in winter, especially towards Cape Town, with lows around 10 degrees or less and highs in the low 20's. Most of the year you can get by in shorts and a t-shirt.
Remember that South Africa is in the southern hemisphere and, therefore, our summer is between November and February and winter is between June and August.
South Africa is divided into 9 provinces, 4 of which are coastal - namely: Kwazulu Natal (east coast), Eastern Cape (east coast), Western Cape (east & west coasts) and Northern Cape (west coast). The best times of year for surf will differ, depending on which province you find yourself, but generally speaking, you can't go wrong between April and July. These are the winter months in South africa, but it's also when you'll score the best waves.
The water is warm enough for boardies in Kwazulu Natal for a large portion of the year and you can get away with a spring suit in winter. The Eastern Cape waters are a little more chilly and you'll need a fullsuit in winter. It's even colder on the East coast of the Western Cape and a fullsuit is needed (4/3) all year. On the west coast it's colder still and you can easily use a 5/4 and maybe even booties and a hood in winter (depending on how tough you are).
If, by some bizarre twist, you find yourself in Gauteng, you've taken a wrong turn, turn back seaward and drive for approximately 5 hours.
The South African Rand is the currency you'll be using during your stay here and, thankfully for American, European and British visitors, it is not nearly as strong as the Dollar, Euro or Pound. At the time of writing this, the exchange is sitting at roughly R7 to the Dollar, R10 to the Euro and R11 to the Pound.
YOUR CASH & FOOD
All things considered, your currency is likely to go a long way. Compared to places like the UK, food, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, is fairly cheap. Although it's the third world you don't have to buy bottled water, the tap water is safe. You can get a decent cup of coffee for around R16 and a good meal out will cost you between R30 and R300, depending on how rich your tastes are.
Let's put it this way - a roti (filling and tasty, but by no means 'gourmet') will cost you R30, a great burger will cost you about R45, a plate of ribs will cost you about R100, and a swanky restaurant will charge you R200 upwards for a nice meal.
YOUR CASH & BOARDS
It's probably easier just to organize a board when you get here - airlines are notorious for mangling surfboards. Unless you're really on a tight budget, you could probably afford to get yourself a new board while you're here - you can get one custom made at anywhere between R2,500 to R5,000 and there are plenty of world-class board shapers to choose from. If you fly it back with you, you could probably sell it for more second-hand than you bought it for new.
YOUR CASH & ACCOMMODATION
Of course, your cash is going to stretch further depending on where you stay. You can stay in a tent at a caravan park at around R80 a night, a backpackers or self catering cottage anywhere from R120 a night, a guest house anywhere from R250 upwards, per night, and a hotel room from roughly R700 upwards per night.
Most coastal towns have plenty of camp sites backpackers, guest houses and hotels to choose from, many of them with insane views of the surf.
YOUR CASH & TRANSPORT
You can rent a car from R250 - R300 a day. Public transport isn't all that reliable, but generally speaking, it is cheap. Taxis are pretty costly - they'll come and fetch you, but you can expect to pay between R10 and R40 per kilometer (ouch!).
SOUTH AFRICAN SLANG - TALK THE TALK
South African slang is a weird mix of English, Afrikaans and sometimes Zulu. The following is a very stripped down guide to some words you may encounter:
Boet: translation - brother, bro, dude
Bru: pronounced - brew; translation - brother, bro, dude
Boerie Roll: pronounced - boorie roll; translation - type of hot dog, made from traditional Afrikaans sausage.
Braai: pronounced - bry(rrrrrroll the 'r'); translation - BBQ
Bunny: translation - curry inside a hollowed-out quarter loaf of bread. Great post surf chow.
Chow: translation - eat, food.
Cherry: translation - girl, girlfriend.
Eish: pronounced - aish; translation - an exclamation of disbelief or pleasure / displeasure.
Howzit: translation - hello
Kiff: translation - nice, agreeable
Klap: pronounced - klup; translation - smack, hit, punch
Lekker: pronounced - lakka; translation - nice, agreeable
Robot: translation - traffic light
Schweet: pronounced - shweet; translation - nice, agreeable
Shot: translation - thanks, cheers
Tune: translation - tell, talk, rile, chat up
Wettie: translation - this can mean either a beverage, or a wetsuit, depending on the context
Here is an example of some South African slang as used in a text message between two mates:
Surfer # 1: "Howzit boet, we're having a braai at my place tonight - just bring some boerie and a wettie or two. Shot.
Surfer # 2: "Eish! schweet bru, can I tune you later? I've just got to talk to my cherry first otherwise she'll klap me - but I haven't had a lekker braai for ages, it would be kiff to chow a good boerie again. Chat later.
These tips should stand you in good stead when you're visiting sunny South Africa. Next time we'll look at some top quality South African waves you must surf before going home ...