Packing for a city with four seasons in a day
We often get asked: “What should I pack for an internship in Cape Town?” To a large extent, this depends on the weather. When you look up the weather, Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate. This means long summers, and mild, short winters. However, the South-Western Cape and in particular the Cape Peninsula differ from the other regions. The weather is notoriously unpredictable!
It’s not a joke that Cape Town can have four seasons in a day. One moment, you are longing for some shade and a cool breeze, and the next moment it’s 19 degrees with overcast skies and a fierce wind. On average, the coolest month is August, June is the wettest, and January the driest and warmest. When you ask the locals, fall (March-May) is considered the perfect season. The weather is still mild, there is less wind, and fewer vacationers, who mostly come from December until February.
But how do you prepare for your stay in Cape Town? And how do you dress up for the day when the weather can change drastically in 30 minutes? You can check Google, or just do what the locals do and check their own reliable weather station! Weather station? Yes – it’s called Lion’s Head, and it overlooks Camps Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard. When there is a cloud on Lion’s Head and nowhere else, rain is guaranteed within the next 12 hours. It’s that simple!
This means rain within the next 12 hours according to Capetonians – photo credits Cloud Appreciation Society
Our advice on what to pack for an internship in Cape Town
- In wintertime, it can get cold. Pack warm clothes as most buildings (e.g. houses, offices) don’t have central heating. Even inside you probably will want to dress up warm, so stuff that beanie and scarf in your bag as well.
- Make sure to pack a raincoat, especially in the winter time.
- When going for a hike never underestimate the weather! You start climbing Table Mountain under clear blue skies and balmy weather, only to come down a few hours later in pouring rain accompanied by a chilling wind. Weather can change dramatically in just half an hour, so always take rain gear and warm clothes.
- In the summertime, it can get really hot (35 degrees in February / March) so when spending time outdoor be sure to bring a hat and sunblock (besides plenty of water and food). Even on cloudy days, you can burn easily! When hiking Table Mountain in summer remember there is often no drinking water to be found on large parts of the mountain, so make sure you stock. NB. You can drink Cape Town’s tap water, so bring your own water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
- Cape Town has plenty of beautiful blue flag beaches (meaning beaches excelling in safety, cleanliness, provision of amenities and environmental information and management), so don’t forget to pack your swimwear.
- Since you will probably go on some walks or hikes, bring a pair of ‘takkies’ (South African for sneakers or running shoes…read our blog if you want to learn more typical words) as well as flip-flops for your beach trips.
- Check the office culture of the organization you are doing an internship with. Most of our partners have a very informal office culture, so no need for ties or a suit and in summer you can even wear shorts to the office (just make sure you dress ‘decently’).
- Many non-profits don’t have extra workspaces with a computer, so be sure to check if you need to bring your own laptop.
NB. Other practical things to pack: head torch (if you plan a sunset hike on Lion’s Head or want to camp outdoor), adapter for your phone/camera/laptop chargers, any personal medication, and a positive attitude.