Product Manager, Naomi Jackson, has just returned from South Africa. Below are her thoughts of Cape Town’s water crisis and how it will affect you.
I’ve just returned from a 10 day trip to South Africa, staying in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Swellendam, Tsitsikamma National Park, Kenton-on-Sea and Port Elizabeth. I have been fortunate to spend time with our South African team members, meeting both suppliers and hotels along the way.
We’re aware that the Cape Town water crisis may be concerning you and I wanted to share my experience to explain how this will affect your trip. There is currently a drought situation in areas of both the Western and Eastern Capes, however, at this time it is the Cape Town region which is most severely affected. ‘Day Zero’ is the date on which the government will turn off a majority of running water into all residential and business properties, with a few exceptions. The ‘Day Zero’ date has been changing continuously but most recently due to water conservation efforts from everyone in the area the date has been pushed back to 4th June 2018. Based on this, we do not expect any of our customers to be within this area on this date.
If this date should change and come forward, I have been assured by our Cape Town and Stellenbosch hotels that they are within the exclusions zones and will still have running water, albeit tourists will still be requested to conserve as much water as possible during their stay.
During my time over there I saw plenty of signage both in public areas and within hotels explaining the water situation and giving advice on how to reduce water usage. I was still able to shower and easily buy water from the stores without any hassle. Many hotels pools are now closed and the Cape is certainly not as lush and green as I have previously seen it but in terms of direct negative impact on my stay, there was none.
Cape Town and Stellenbosch hotels have or soon will be closing their swimming pools. You may also find that drinking water will be supplied in communal areas or each room. Water saving devices will be added to shower heads, many bath plugs have been removed from bathrooms and buckets have been put in each bathroom to catch cold water from the shower before you jump in.
Below are my recommendations for during your trip;
- Don’t drink tap water. To reduce plastic usage, please take a reusable water bottle. At this time buying water is still easy and affordable and depending on each trip our teams and some hotels will be supplying drinking water for you to decant into your personal bottles.
- Take short showers (not baths!) – 2 minutes is being advised by the government and catch any cold water in the buckets provided.
- Turn off taps whenever possible ie when brushing your teeth, washing your face, shampooing your hair
- Reuse your towel throughout your stay to reduce laundry and the usage of water
- Please just ask your Explore leader if you have any queries whilst on your trip.
Whilst the water shortage cannot be denied and is very serious, I want to assure you a lot of thought and consideration has gone into the running of our trips over this time. We believe that still visiting these areas is more important than ever for the local people and businesses, and along with our local crew we will aim to run the trips as responsibly as possible.
Since writing this blog, we have been monitoring the water crisis news very closely. Depending on this year’s rainfall, the latest estimations are that Day 0 will not occur until 2019 thanks to the huge conservation efforts of both locals and tourists. Explore will continue to liaise regularly with our local teams, monitor customer feedback and follow both news and governing body advice. All Explorers will still be briefed by the leader on how to save water during the trip and the importance of doing so, and we kindly ask for your support in being water conscious on the Cape, but for now things look more positive!