Living with water restrictions in Cape Town and what it means for Tourists


It’s been a busy month of February for South Africans – with plenty to talk about besides the weather (which has been glorious in case you’re wondering). For one, we got a new President! And even if you’re not into politics, there’s a sense of elation and newfound hope residing in the hearts of everyone. As a result, the rand is looking good…and the hopes of another destination holiday seems a little bit more realistic than before. But, lurking underneath all that elation and hope, there’s also been a sense of helplessness and doom with the Cape Town drought, extensive water restriction and the impending  “day zero” which has now thankfully been pushed back to July!

At the end of January, the only thing on everyone’s lips was the dreaded drought, and the possibility of day zero was all to real; so much so that a 50litres of water per person limit was allocated at the beginning of February. I’m not going to lie; the thought of this was frightening! But a mere 28 days later, we’ve adjusted to a new kind of normal that I think has been a real eye opener as to how we’ve been wasting and abusing our resources.

And while these restrictions have been quite an adjustment for Cape Townians, and everyone is collectively contributing to reducing water consumption; foreigners may be wondering how exactly all of this will affect them if they’re keen (but slightly frightened) to visit our beautiful city while in the midst of this chronic drought. With tourism still a huge contributor to the South African economy, we’re certainly not close to considering closing our doors/borders to tourists, and the City of Cape Town is open for business as usual – albeit with a few points to take into consideration should you be visiting our shores. Here’s  what you can expect from your stay:

  • The city is operating as per normal : Households and businesses are greatly impacted and have had to make huge adjustments…but from a tourists perspective, everything is functioning as normal (or as close to it as possible) and all top tourist spots are fully operational. And with day zero pushed back further than originally expected, the panic we had at the beginning of February has somewhat dissipated.
  • Some swimming pools may not be operational: The decision was made to close public swimming pools as they require a lot of water to maintain and keep it looking it’s best. This means that your hotel pool may not be operational – but on the plus side, there are plenty of lush beaches and tidal pools that are perfect for swimming and waiting for you to explore!
  • The landscape may look a little dry : Us locals pride ourselves on our beautiful landscape! The mountains, the ocean, the Winelands – you name it! Cape Town is breathtakingly beautiful. Just don’t expect to see everything as green and lush as Google images. Despite that, you will still be wowed – I promise.
  • Drinking water : Restaurants and hotels may only offer and provide bottled spring water to patrons and residents instead of tap water. I feel like this is standard procedure anyway, but still worth mentioning for those who may be concerned.
  • Laundry: Women generally tend to over pack anyway, so this is mainly for the light travellers – pack a little extra and/or recycle clothing items so that you don’t have to do laundry while on vacay. Because laundry takes water and water is scarce. It might seem like a simple reminder, but to us, every drop counts.
  • Shorter showers are recommended over long baths : Who doesn’t enjoy a long luxurious bath or shower at the end of a long day touring? Yeah…we all do. That’s why I think this may be the hardest point of consideration out of all, because it’s something we generally take for granted. And although it’s almost second nature to us locals now, it’s was one of the hardest parts to grasp in the beginning. So, most hotels would have removed the bath plug from hotel bathrooms, and we all plea with you to take the quickest shower you possibly can considering our circumstances.

All in all, the water restriction won’t greatly impact your stay here. Cape Town is still as beautiful as ever and is still very much welcoming everyone to visit. All we ask is that, while you are visiting, to just be cognisant of our situation and help us in our efforts to conserve our water. And if anything, you will go home with a greater appreciation for something we all take so for granted.


I hope this has article has clarified any concerns.

 Thanks for reading!


Until next time,







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