FAQ for South Africa

Frequently Asked Questions for BioE 159 – South Africa

What is the website for the course and the password for the website?

http://courses.pbsci.ucsc.edu/eeb/bioe159/home/ Password: PescadorAfricano

Do I need any vaccinations to travel to South Africa?

You will not need any vaccinations to travel to Capetown and Betty’s Bay, South Africa. However, for those of you planning to travel after the class is over you may want to look into necessary vaccinations. This may vary by country or even by regions within countries. The two most common vaccinations needed are for yellow fever and malaria. Look into this sooner rather than later as some vaccinations involve a series of shots.

When should I arrive and when should I leave?

You should plan to arrive in Capetown on April 8th and to leave on May 3rd. If you stay to travel afterwards, you will be responsible for your own accommodations.

What will the weather be like while we’re there?

The average temperature in Capetown in April ranges from 53 to 72 °F. When we arrive the weather will be similar to fall weather in Santa Cruz. However, by the end of the trip the weather will be transitioning towards winter.

What is the address and telephone number at Betty’s Bay?

5553 Wallers Way, Betty’s Bay 7141, South Africa (0027) 28 2729201

How do I get to Betty’s Bay from the airport?

The teaching staff will provide transportation to and from the airport in Capetown. In order for us to coordinate picking up students it is very important that you fill out the flight information form on the class website.

What are the accommodations like?

We will be staying at a summer camp in Betty’s Bay. We’ve reserved 13 apartments. Each apartment includes a kitchen, living room, bathroom and has two bedrooms. One room has a double bed and the other room has two single beds. You will need to provide your own bedding, pillow and towels or you can pay a fee of $60 rand (=$6.50 USD) per person per day.

You can see the actual apartment set up in this YouTube clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSzYDowdnJQ

What will the food be like at Betty’s Bay?

All meals (including breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be provided while at Betty’s Bay. We have requested that the staff serve traditional dishes when possible.

Will there be phones available while at Betty’s Bay?

The teaching staff will purchase a few cell phones. Students can use these to make outgoing calls. Students will also be able to provide relatives with these telephone numbers in case they need to reach them. Other alternatives are that students can rent their own cell phones while in South Africa or call their cell phone companies to investigate international phone and data plans.

Will there be Internet?

While there is internet available in the office for the staff of Betty’s Bay, students will not have access to internet while there. We will schedule trips into the closest town (~ 15 km away) to use Internet cafes.

What should I pack?

We will post a list with suggestions about clothing, accessories or gear you may want to bring with you.

Can we buy weight once we get to South Africa?

We will be contacting a dive shop in a near by town to see about renting or buying weights.

Should I bring my computer?

Despite the lack of Internet access while at Betty’s Bay, it will still be useful to have a computer. Students will begin writing the introductions and methods for their projects while they are still in the field.

Will I need an adapter or transformer?

The voltage in South Africa is 220/230 V and requires an M plug adapter. For your laptop computers you should only require a plug adapter. You can purchase these once you are in South Africa. For other devices you may require a voltage converter as well.

What reading materials do you recommend for the class?

We will be using “Two Oceans: A guide to the marine life of southern Africa” as our field guide for the course. We have also posted a species ID list on the website so that students can familiarize themselves with some of the most common species we’ll encounter while there.

Do we need to decide on our projects before we leave for South Africa?

We suggest that students start thinking about potential projects before we leave for South Africa. There will be time during the first week of classes (April 1st – April 4th) for students to share ideas and form research teams before we leave.

What projects have students done in the past?

We are working on posting a list of past projects and papers on the website for you guys to review. However, this is one of the first classes where the majority of projects will either be intertidal or involve snorkeling. In the past there have been a large number of subtidal projects due to the accessibility of SCUBA tanks and compressors.

Is Betty’s Bay a marine protected area?

The areas where we will be working in Betty’s Bay are not marine protected areas.

Will there be field trips in our free time?

We will schedule field trips when the weather does not allow us to do field work related to student projects. Some of the potential field trips include trips to the Cape of Good Hope,

botanical gardens, snorkeling in False Bay, visiting the island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated, Table Mountain, etc.

Will we have lectures and exams while we’re in South Africa?

When the weather or water conditions do not allow us to work on projects, either Pete or Giacomo will give lectures. There will also be exams and a species ID quiz.

Without Internet how will we do background research on our projects?

We will plan to upload some useful publications to the website before we leave for South Africa. We can also take advantage of article databases like Web of Science during visits to Internet cafes.

Where do you recommend we travel after the class?

Some recommendations include the Namib desert (Namibia), Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe/Zambia), Kruger National Park (South Africa), Lake Malawi (Malawi), Quirimbas Archipelago (Mozambique)

Where should we stay while traveling around after the class?

Youth hostels are a good option for students on a budget. Make sure to bring a padlock with you to lock up luggage while traveling around during the day.

Is it safe to travel around Africa by yourself?

We recommend that you guys always travel in groups. It is not a good idea to travel by yourself.