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South Africa travel?

Discussion in 'Layovers' started by bike21, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. bike21

    bike21 Well-Known Member

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    Anyone traveled extensively in South Africa? My wife and I are heading there in March and are looking for some opinions/experiences. The Lonely Planet forums are a huge help, but I figured some JC'ers might have some info too. We are spending most of our time in the national parks around Joburg and exploring Cape Town. A few days in Joburg too for a friend's wedding. I hear Joburg can be quite rough in certain areas though :eek:

    Any input is appreciated!
     
  2. SkyCougar

    SkyCougar Penalty Box

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    Bike, I sent you a PM. :)
     
  3. aerosmith

    aerosmith Well-Known Member

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    hey bike21

    let me know what you want to know and I may know what its about (ok just confused myself !) - originally from there - feel free to PM if needed


    aero
     
  4. bike21

    bike21 Well-Known Member

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    Well, a few basic questions... :)

    1) Which areas of Joburg should we avoid?
    2) How is the drive from Joburg to Kruger or Marakele? Good roads? Long?
    3) Is it worth the drive to Kruger or a closer park such as Marakele a good idea?
    4) How is the Cape Town area? Any areas to avoid or must see? We plan on hitting wine country for sure!
    5) Any tips on driving around? We will hire a car from Joburg to a park and also once we arrive in Cape Town.

    I think that is about it for now. Thanks again!
     
  5. t82

    t82 Well-Known Member

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    go to the foresters arms in capetown aka forries
     
  6. aerosmith

    aerosmith Well-Known Member

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    Hey bike21


    ok - here's some info -

    Jo'burg - I think of it as a big city (very relative since I now live in NYC) that most people have to travel through. Areas to avoid, the city center to start with, most areas just drive with windows up, locked doors. and be more observant of whats going on around you (usual deal whenever you travel but you must be far more vigilant in Jo'burg). There is truly not too much to do in Jo'burg - go down a mine, see gold being poured, go to Soweto (they have organized tours now and know the areas to travel so not too much of an issue). Other than this, shopping and thats about it although nothing like here in NYC or any other big US city.

    Not sure on your budget, there are 2 ways to see animals in SA, cheaper way is to go to Kruger and you will see a wide variety but you may not see the big 5 - leopards are elusive but you may get lucky however you will most likely see elephant, giraffe, water buffalo, crocs, various antelope etc etc all in there natural environment. Kruger is a 5/6 hour drive from Jo'burg, roads are pretty good since there is a lot more tourists going there, ameneties have been beefed up as well. You can also fly to Skukuza (SAA flies there) its the main camp in Kruger down in the south-west corner - about 1 hour flight there.

    The other way is more $$ but you are basically guaranteed to see animals and CLOSE up - real close (lions 10 feet away etc etc). These places are more exclusive so people usually stay 1/2 nights but you also get a real "bush" experience with a lot of luxury included (some of the best small hotels in the world are these exclusive camps in the bush north-east of Jo'burg). It all depends on the time you have and of course the money.

    I would plan to spend more time in Cape Town. Cape Town is definitely one of the best, most picturesque cities in the world. There is soo much to do that a few days is never enough (but you can always go back). The wineries are great with amazing geographical settings, if you are into this also look into the wineries around Paarl and Franschoek, they are a little further (extra 1.5 hour drive) than Stellenbosch (1 hour outside Cape Town) but even more spectacular. If you can get a tour try Thelema (won international awards for its reds and very difficult to get the wines outside the winery - small exclusive harvest but can stand against most reds in the world - in my opinion). Spier is another good winery also the Constantia wineries are well known but you shouldn't go wrong with any of them.

    Must do's in Cape Town - Table Mountain - can take the cable-car up and down or if you are so inclined you can walk up (about 4.5 hours but can be strenuous) climbing/abseiling off it, paragliding off it. Sundowners on Camps Bay, Clifton beaches - sun sets over the sea - bring some wine - can be an spectacular setting (romantic for the ladies!). Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years - also has spectacular views back to Cape Town. Also District Six, an area of resistance during the terrible time of apartheid. Cape Point and the drive through Hout Bay and over Chapmans Peak - another spectaular drive, incredibly scenic. Also, the V&A waterfront is amazing with top class dining and shopping set right in the harbour area, also has a great aquarium. There is a lot more to do and see in Cape Town, let me know how much time you have since this will dictate if further discussion is needed; there are too many things to get into although if you have some decent time (a week or more) then we can talk, I have only touched on the basics for Cape Town. Cape Town city center is more safe than Jo'burgs and has some neat craft markets (Green Market Square being oone of them).

    Driving in SA is a lot different from here in the States. Firstly, once you get on the national roads most people do close to 100mph (not saying you need to). Its on the other side of the road (drive on the left and the driver sits on the right). Also, stick (manual) is what you will get unless you specify specifically at the rental agency (about 5% of cars in SA are automatic), if you can fly a plane then it will take you about 1 day to get a good idea of the traffic flow and where to look but just be careful the first couple of days !. Be careful of the taxi buses in the cities, there is a lot of them on the road and they work the system - kinda like NYC cab drives, you hesitate you are pushed around but if you stand your ground you get the respect.


    Hope that helps, always willing to speak of SA, it is the "rainbow" nation and has some things in it soo unique that you will never forget your time there.

    later
    aero
     
  7. t82

    t82 Well-Known Member

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    avoid rossetenvile in jhb
     
  8. Kristie

    Kristie Mama Bear.... Staff Member

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    Excellent info!! I too want to hit joburg and capetown in the future....

    Thanks!!
     
  9. FOXES

    FOXES New Member

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    I'm heading to South Africa in March as well. Flying to JoBurg but then directly onto Durban. Then After a week flying to Capetown and Spending two nights in Franschhoek before we get a place at Hout Bay. I'll be there 13th -27th.

    I was hoping to hook up with some pilots. I would love to fly there.

    Thanks for info and good luck on your trip.
     
  10. bike21

    bike21 Well-Known Member

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    Great post aero! Thanks so much for the info! We definitely plan on spending a lot of time around the Cape Town area. I will be bringing a long lens with me ~400mm so hopefully the animal shots won't be too bad.

    Thanks again for the info and I look forward to the adventurous driving!
     
  11. SkyCougar

    SkyCougar Penalty Box

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    It's looking like I'm doing a South African FAM in April - here is the proposed itinerary for me. What do you think Aero?


    April 5 - Arrive Cape Town, South Africa
    On arrival you are met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the nearby craft market, shops, restaurants or Two Oceans Aquarium. Meet your fellow tour members at a welcome dinner tonight. Mount Nelson Hotel D

    April 6 - Cape Town
    The view of Cape Town is breathtaking from atop Table Mountain. Begin your tour here, and then stroll through Bo Kaap, the historic Malay Quarter. Visit the Company's Gardens and the eclectic shops and restaurants along the vibrant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure before dinner and a site inspection at the Cape Grace. Mount Nelson Hotel B, D

    April 7 - Cape Town/Cape Point
    Drive south from Cape Town to the very end of the striking Cape Peninsula, ultimately arriving at Cape Point, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. After lunch in the sleepy fishing village of Kalk Bay, return to Cape Town via scenic Boyes Drive. Mount Nelson Hotel B, L

    April 8 - Cape Town/Cape Winelands
    Explore the Cape Winelands, South Africa's premier wine-producing region. With the Hottentots-Holland Mountains in the background, ramble through Stellenbosch to admire the graceful Cape Dutch-style houses and the Village Museum. Stop at a private wine estate for a tour of the cellars and a wine tasting. Drive to Franschhoek for lunch and a site inspection at Lanzerac before continuing to the Mont Rochelle Hotel. Mont Rochelle B, L, D

    April 9 - Cape Town/MalaMala/Lion Sands Private Game Reserve
    Board an early flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and connect to a shared Federal Air flight to Skukuza Airport, where you are met and transferred to your lodge. Lion Sands River Lodge B, L, D

    April 10 - Lion Sands Private Game Reserve
    View game from open 4x4 Land Rovers, go on a walking safari, bird watch or try freshwater river fishing. A team of qualified rangers and an ecologist conduct informative lectures to complement your game viewing. You can even learn to track lion. Lion Sands River Lodge B, L, D

    April 11 - Lion Sands Private Game Reserve/Johannesburg/Depart
    Fly to Johannesburg where an A&K representative meets and assists you to the hotel for afternoon tea and a tour recap before this evening's homebound flight (please schedule outbound flights after 4:00pm). Intercontinental Airport Sun (dayroom) B
     
  12. aerosmith

    aerosmith Well-Known Member

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    Hey SkyCougar


    Ok, so you are staying at the Mount Nelson - very nice indeed. High tea (old, traditional style hotel), great reputation - think along the lines of Claridges in the UK - except not as stiff ! truly top notch ! (cant remember if you get your own butler but its like that).

    Cape Grace is right in the V&A waterfront - I think tiger stayed there. He got married at a location close to where I used to live - very exclusive game reserve called Shamwari (but thats another story). April 5-7 are good - cover the most important points if you have a somewhat limited schedule. Kalk Baai (Kalk Bay) is a small fishing village on False Bay - you may have a chance to see penguins around that area (only location on any continent other than Antarctica where penguins are known to live). Its a real scenic drive, road follows the shoreline all along the coast and then goes into the game reserve at Cape Point.

    Bo Kaap is a real traditional Cape Malay neighbourhood - the Malay people are well known for their unusual food (pretty different). I am sure you will see them dressed in their traditional clothing - more Bedouin than "western". And yes the view from Table Mountain is breathtaking !

    Winelands - all are good - actually have a bottle of Lanzerac here in my apartment - Lanzerac's reputation has increased immensley from the mid-90's after they changed wine-makers (as far as I remember). You will find these wines all good - Lanzerac one of the better - and best of all they are pretty reasonably priced for the quality (definitely get someone to drive you around - makes wine-tasting much more fun!)

    Lions Sands is one of the newer lodges - will be great - no worries about it, they will treat you like royalty (like you should) - some places you either dont have time or dont have the opportunity to go on a walking-tour - DO IT ! just being in the bush, at eye-level, with no structure around you will make it even more exciting and rewarding (guides will have guns) but you will feel more vulnerable and aware of the surroundings. I would not worry too much about fishing in a game park, I normally just want to be around the animals.

    Good tour - will be packed and busy, full of action and activities

    Few points -

    I would like to have a day off (preferrably 2) before I leave for something like this - are you flying via Europe or direct US - SA ? remember its about 16 hours from the east-coast to Jo'burg/Cape Town

    check if you need Malaria shots/tabs - the game reserve is in the "Malaria-zone"

    take lots of memory cards - LOTS

    things like Ostrich eggs (2 dozen regular eggs per 1 Ostrich egg) can be bought in many places - you can sometimes get carved eggs which are really unique - if you see one that you like, buy it since they (carved eggs) are not found everywhere. Also wood and bead animals/masks - these you can normally get more variety from merchants that you can bargain with - dont leave these for departure - you can leave small trinkets(sp) for the duty-free at the airport

    lastly - am I invited ?

    you'll love it

    aero
     
  13. SkyCougar

    SkyCougar Penalty Box

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    Hi Aero! Thanks for the speedy response! It's going to be a quick trip (it's business travel for me!) and I wish that I had more time, but after all, I do have to make a living! :D;)...and I have other FAMS coming up! (Dubai and Costa Rica on the horizon)

    That's good to hear. I actually checked out the hotel's web site today and it looks lovely. :)

    We are booking our clients at Cape Grace. I'm not sure why we're not staying there, and are staying at Mount Nelson, but we will be doing a site inspection. I'm looking forward to going down to Cape Point, it sounds beautiful, and I hope I see penguins! (note: I've seen them on the southern tip of the South Island New Zealand)

    But see, that's what I love about traveling! Mingling and mixing it up with the local culture, and I will try their food and drink! (Staplegun, sounds like your kind of spot!)

    I love wine, and we will have drivers! Yeah!

    I looked at the Lions Sands Lodge web site today and liked what I saw! So you are saying that out of my choice of activities listed for that day, I should do the walking safari with the armed rangers? COOL! I will dig that sort of adventure! :D I like to fish, but I can go to Idaho for that, and doing something different other than the standard jeep tour sounds like it's right up my alley.

    Busy it will be. FAMS can be great fun, and you meet lots of interesting new friends, but they're often exhausting.


    Not sure yet, was looking at flights today at the office. It looks like for my schedule, that I will leave 2 days prior. I will most likely be flying SFO to FRA on United, (B-747) and then FRA to CPT on SA (A-340) or SFO to IAD (UAL B757) and connecting at IAD to SA and on to CPT. It will all come down to which flights I can get business or first.

    Thanks for that great info! I'll take the malaria shots...I'm excited!!!

    Sure you are! - The more the merrier! :D Actually I can take a companion along on this whole tour, meals included, for $1500. You've got to supply your own international air, but the internal flights within SA are included in that price. The normal price of this tour runs about 10K excluding international transit.
     
  14. SkyCougar

    SkyCougar Penalty Box

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    Hey Bike - my trip to South Africa got moved up. I'm leaving SFO on March 23rd, spending the night around JFK and then on to Capetown and Johannesburg on the 24th - returning back to the US on April 4th. Are you and your wife going to be there then? Maybe we can hook up in the evening for a drink or a bite to eat.
     
  15. bike21

    bike21 Well-Known Member

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    Check PM - too bad we can't have at a South Africa JC M&G!
     
  16. SkyCougar

    SkyCougar Penalty Box

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    Yeah, it's too bad Nick - it would be cool to meet you and your wife! I think that we'd get along fine and have fun. Hopefully we'll meet someday!

    Are you and your wife going into Krueger National Park or into the Northern South African Game Reserves? If so, make sure that you get your shots and malaria meds right away. I'm going to get mine on Tuesday. :( Apparently I'm a bit behind on my immunizations and need to get 5-6 immunizations - Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, The flu shot (because influenza is year round in Africa) Tetanus, etc. They tell me that I need to start taking the Malarone (malaria med) at least 2 days before I enter Krueger or any malaria-prone area. If you're only going to be in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, and Southern South Africa, you don't need to bother with malaria meds, etc.

    Not sure what your complete itinerary is, but you can get an idea here: http://www.malarone.com/malariamap.html

    I can't wait to groove on the local South African music! :D

    I am so jazzed about going to South Africa!
     
  17. bike21

    bike21 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the tips! We are basically sticking to Jo'burg and Capetown, however we are going on a quick safari for a few days but it is in a malaria-free game preserve. I sure hope their claim is accurate!

    I am sitting around this morning finishing up listing for flights and getting backup ZED fares, almost there! :)
     
  18. typhoonpilot

    typhoonpilot Well-Known Member

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    Sky Cougar:

    Sounds like a fun trip. Have you taken anti-Malaria medication before? I have and it's not fun. Some people tolerate it okay, but it makes others dizzy and uncomfortable. I personally won't take it ever again. The better option is to cover up at night and use a good anti-mosquito spray with at least 30% DEET. South Africa is not a high risk Malaria area in general. For your itinerary the risk of malaria infection is infintesimal while the risk of ruining your trip due to feeling unwell while on the meds is fairly high. It's a risk versus reward scenario for sure, but I wouldn't take the meds. Light colored clothing, DEET, and reduced outside activity at night along with a good Gin and Tonic at happy hour and you'll be fine :D.


    TP
     
  19. bike21

    bike21 Well-Known Member

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    I have heard some people get crazy nightmares/dreams from the medication too! :crazy:
     
  20. SkyCougar

    SkyCougar Penalty Box

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    TP, I had a bunch of vaccinations today and picked up the malaria (Malarone) meds, but I am a bit apprehensive about taking the malaria meds. My ex-husband came over for lunch the other day and he kind of raised his eyebrow as well when I told him that the travel medicine nurse told me that I should take the malaria meds. He's a physician and he told me to drink gin and tonic as well :D since I'm not going to be in an extreme high risk area. I may skip the meds, but it would be a serious drag to get malaria. I'll be careful though - thanks for the advice!

    Along with the Typhoid fever, influenza and hepatitis vaccines I got today, I was surprised that they also gave me a polio vaccine. I had it when I was a kid, so I thought I was covered. - Apparently there have been recent polio outbreaks in Namibia and Nigeria. My arms are sore tonight after all of the vaccines!
     

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