From accessible transport in and around Cape Town to the beautiful view from the accessible room in the Aha Quayside Hotel in Simon’s Town, here are some tips for exploring the Mother City
While on my many travels for work and pleasure, I visited Cape Town and needed to arrange transport to and from various venues, including the airport. I decided to look into the options that are currently available and their costs.
For airport to city transfers, the cheapest is the MyCiTi bus rapid transit service, which offers a route from the Cape Town International airport to the Civic Centre in the centre of Cape Town. The MyCiTi station is at the main terminal of the airport with level access to the arrivals hall. Buses depart from the airport every 30 minutes on the hour and half-hour from 05h30 to 21h30 on weekdays and from 06h30 to 21h00 on weekends. They depart from the Civic Centre to the airport from 05h00 to 21h00 weekdays and 06h00 to 21h00 on weekends.
Should you wish to transfer from the airport straight to the V&A Waterfront MyCiTi bus station, you stay on the bus at the Civic Centre. The cost for this trip is R100.80. Of course, once you are at the bus stop, you will need to then take an Uber or other taxi to your hotel. If you need to use the bus service to any of the other MyCiTi stations, you will have to change buses at the Civic Centre.
Staff are reasonably helpful, but if you are travelling alone you need to be able to move yourself and your luggage by yourself. Also be aware that, in order to use the MyCiTi bus service, you’re required to purchase a card for R35 and then load enough credit for your fares. There are various discounts available for tourist attractions if you have a MyCiTi card. For more information visit the website at www.mycity.org.za.
If you can’t be bothered with changing vehicles, the best option is to take some form of paid service directly to your venue. Uber is cheaper than other transfer companies and taxis that charge you to get from their starting point to the airport. To use Uber, you will need to download the app and create an account that is linked to your credit card. Uber drivers can also be paid in cash, but this is very risky in my opinion.
For transfers in and around Cape Town consider companies with accessible vehicles. Here are a few options:
Care Transport and Tours
Founder Susan Fowkes has a Mercedes V230 wheelchair-accessible vehicle with a lift that can take up to three passengers and one wheelchair. Based in Faerie Knowe, Care Transport and Tours offers airport transfers, shuttles to local venues and a shopping service. Other vehicles are available to accommodate groups and full-day tours to the West Coast, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
Telephone: 021 785 5859
Cellphone: 082 869 4224
Although Pam and Jeff Taylor offer airport transfers and shuttle services to restaurants, their main focus is specialist tours for people with disabilities, including sightseeing in and around Cape Town and various other options around South Africa.
Telephone: 021 557 4496
Cellphone: 082 450 2031
Travel with René
René Moses, a quadriplegic herself, offers a comprehensive service that includes airport transfers, customised tours, and vehicle hire for self-drive.
Cellphone: 082 770 9430
As I needed to be in Simon’s Town for work, I booked into the Aha Quayside Hotel. The four-star hotel is situated on the water’s edge overlooking Simon’s Town yacht basin. Access to the hotel from the parking lot is via a paved ramp that is too steep to take on alone. The reception staff are extremely helpful and friendly.
One of the 29 rooms is an accessible room: Room 101 is located on the corner of the hotel with a balcony that offers exceptional views. There are twin beds that can be pushed together to form a double bed, and the room is spacious with a desk and seating area. However, the hanging rail in the cupboard is impractically high.
The safe and tea station is situated at an acceptable level, but the extra glasses and ice bucket are on shelves that are too high to reach. The mirrors are all situated too high for a wheelchair user, except the full-length one in the passage to the bedroom.
The wet room has a step-free shower with a fold-down seat. The shower head is on an adjustable connection, but the rail starts at 1,45m from the floor – a bit high. Again, the mirror above the basin is too high for a wheelchair user. The towel rails and shower caddy are accessible.
The property offers one restaurant, which is situated on the level of the quay and is only accessed via the outside. There is a set of general steps on the one side of the hotel and wheelchair access is via the general pavement along the road going to the quay. I found this extremely odd as I wondered how anyone accesses this area in the rain! As a result, I decided simply to use room service, as this meant I didn’t have to ask for assistance. The views from the accessible balcony made in-room dining worth it.
Mandy Latimore is a consultant in the disability sector in the fields of travel and access. email: firstname.lastname@example.org