Tourists visiting Cape Town – is the drought situation really bad?


Day Zero – the day where water supplies may be cut off in Cape Town – has been in the news for a really long while and it has recently been announced that ‘Day Zero’ has been postponed indefinitely.

Prior to my visit to South Africa in March 2018, many of my friends have been constantly asking me if I was worried about the drought situation. Back then, ‘Day Zero’ was scheduled for April 2018 and if it really did happen, will the water really be cut off for the tourists as well? Fortunately, day zero did not happen and I have nothing to share but I would like to share some thoughts about the situation in Cape Town while I was there.

  1. Propaganda to Save Water is EVERYWHERE

    Throughout my entire stay in Cape Town, you will see posters and tips on saving water everywhere – in the airport, in the toilets, in the hotel lobby, on television and even on the big billboards display. The message is spelled out clear and loud – Cape Town is facing one of the worse water crisis in history. You are encouraged to use a maximum of 50L of water per day.


    With all the propaganda messaging everywhere, naturally, you will feel obliged to use lesser water when you bathe.
    I found myself adjusting my habits like turning off the shower while you shampoo/soap, using a cup when you brush your teeth and also re-using my towels. Also, the water pressure of showers was adjusted to be weaker. For the 1st shower I had back at home after 18 days, I felt so appreciative of the high-pressure shower which I have taken for granted my whole life. #firstworldproblems



    Furthermore, I heard that it is inappropriate to be seen washing your cars as it could be deemed as wasting water.

  2. Public Toilets – You’re encouraged to flush when it is necessary brown

    This was something I couldn’t adjust to. I felt uncomfortable when I enter a cubicle which is unflushed (even though it is not brown).
    Similarly, I could not bear to not flush after using the toilet as I thought that it would be uncomfortable for the next person.
    I only attempted flushing lesser in the hotel rooms as I was staying alone.

    On a side note, the toilets in South Africa are very clean. To be honest, I didn’t expect to see clean toilets in Africa and I even brought my own toilet paper out for the first few days (fearing that they do not provide toilet paper) but oh gosh, I was pretty much mindblown by their clean toilets. Their toilets are well maintained by the janitors (I guess it’s some sort of job creation) and there was toilet paper provided in every single toilet I visited during my trip – not just in the touristy places, but also in the rest stop toilets along the expressway.

  3. Public Toilets – Water Taps are replaced with Sanitizers

    Alright, this is the one thing I couldn’t really accept but there was no choice cause.. the taps are seriously removed in some toilets. Like you see the sink, without the taps. Even in the airport, there was no running water for you to wash your hand. Instead, they have Sanitizer dispensers for you to ‘press’ when you’re done with your toilet business. The thing is.. I hated the smell of the public sanitizer; the smell is super chemical and a lot worse than dethol. Thankfully, I brought enough wet wipes and my nicer smelling sanitizer from bath and body works. No idea how I would have survived without it. #sorryforwhininglikeaspoiltkid but not having taps to wash your hands was quite a shocker for me.

  4. Shops selling bath products (like Lush) is heavily affected

    Despite staying in hotels with bathtubs, I did not dare to use the bathtub for a hot soak (despite it being cold on some nights) as I wasn’t prepare to be judged as the irresponsible tourist who did not make an effort to help in Cape Town’s worse water crisis. Well, even tourists like myself can feel the obligation to save water, the bath product brands are.. doing it too; but they are dying as a result. Lush was empty when I visited. Apparently it ain’t much cheaper in South Africa so I left empty-handed.

  5. The reservoirs and dams are drying up

    This is a photo of a reservoir/dam in Cape Town. The area is supposed to be filled up with water but the water has fallen to below 50% and tall you can see now are dead branches and sand. The rainfall is so little that our tour guide could remember the date of the last rainfall (sometime in Feb), which he said was more like ‘sprinkles’.

    The photo above is taken in Aquilla Game Reserve. The trees in the Game Reserve were all kind of dead. I’m not sure if leaves will still grow out from these branches. All that’s left are shrubs, mainly browning and small puddles of water. The situation is really pretty bad and only a huge rainfall will save the city.

    On a side note, the weird and interesting thing is that.. it is not the whole of South Africa sufferring a water crisis. The only area that’s affected is Cape Town. When we flew to Johannesberg and Kruger area, there was rain. When we drove eastwards for the Garden Route, there was rain. The only area that ain’t getting rain was the city of Cape Town. The weather was just as bizarre as it can be.

  6. Do not forget your conditioner or hair oil

    Alright, this point is unrelated to the topic of drought but.. please do not leave your conditioner at home, even though you don’t use conditioner on a daily basis (that’s me). The water quality in Africa is a little different and I’m not sure if it is from the hard water (presence of minerals). It happened to me on my 4th night in Africa and after bathing, I realised I couldn’t comb my hair at all. My hair was all tangled up, dry and frizzy after blow-drying. I had to buy conditioner form the hotel’s minimart the next day and slapped a whole chunk and massage my hair thoroughly with the conditioner. Without the extra step, I think all my hair will fall out should I attempt to comb it.

    On a side note, people over there don’t exactly bathe on a daily basis as the weather is not humid. You sweat lesser and ever if you sweat, the sweat evaporates off your skin rather quickly and you’ll feel cool and dry again. Even if they bathe daily, they don’t wash their hair on a daily basis but me being asian, not washing my hair for even a day was something I could not live with. My hair is rather greasy (in a humid climate) and I can’t imagine going to bed smelling my hair which has been contaminated throughout the day.

  7. Bring moisturizer, hydration cream, facial masks

    In my attempt to remember my moisturizers, hydration lotion and facial masks, I forgot my eyebrow kit. It was when I realised how thankful I was for liking brown eyeshadows. I used my dark brown eyeshadow for my eyebrow for 18 days. #thankful

    For hydration, I pretended that the Missha’s First Essence Treatment Mist was some godlike skincare regime and I sprayed it on my face excessively every morning and night. At night, I’ll alternate between mask packs and Khiel’s ultra facial oil-free gel cream (fresh hydration).

    Well, I’m not an expert in this but at least I didn’t suffer any breakout because of the change in climate.


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