Need help to decide about SA
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jul 30, 2012 7:12 AM Last Post By: Shandy23
Jul 27, 2012 4:39 AM
Need help to decide about SAHi folks,
Two days ago I reserved my plane ticket to SA for April/May next year (yes I know it’s quite early) but it turned out I’ll travel alone and I have some 5 days to decide whether to go (and buy the ticket) or not, which is the reason why I’m writing.
It was quite sudden (three days ago I didn’t even think about SA) which is usually how I’m deciding about my trips, therefore I don’t have ANY routing plan. Roughly it would be Joburg, Kruger NP, Swaziland, then probably using Baz Bus and its hop-on-hop-off service following the coast to reach Cape Town where I’m thinking to take a plain back to Joburg to save the time (my flights would be Apr 17/May 12).
My first preoccupation is whether traveling alone should worry me? Then how easy would be to organize trips and tours inside SA on my own and how realistic this rough itinerary is? (not to mention I’d love to include Vic Falls somehow but flying to there and back would quite exceed my budget)
Any suggestion is more than welcome. Thanks in advance!
Jul 27, 2012 5:23 AM
1Travelling alone is not a problem, it's in things like car rental and transport that it's pricier to go it alone.
With 3,5 weeks you won't really make your plan unless you hurry, it's too much. You could split it in Joburg-Kruger-Swaziland-St Lucia - Durban for the first 10 days (ideally rent a car for this), then a flight/train to Cape Town for that city and surroundings (much of which can be done using public transport / tours), with a flight or train back to Joburg at the end (booking now will get you good deals).
Bazbus doesn't go east of Joburg/Durban so you'll either need to go by bus to Nelspruit and join a hostel-arranged tour of Kruger there, find another tour operator (more pricey), or simply rent the cheapest car available and do it on your own. I've driven around Kruger a few times by myself and still loved it, if you go slow you won't miss too much wildlife while keeping an eye on the roads as well. I'd say 3 nights inside the park is the minimum, 4-5 days ideal for first time visitors. Book the Kruger accommodation as far in advance as possible as soon as you know the dates you'll be there; once there you can always ask to switch around.
Jul 27, 2012 6:42 AM
2you can get Krugertours from Johannesburg they'll pick you up and drop you off there from your accommodation or from the airport. There are small group safaris camping or treehouses which are reasonably priced all game drives and walks etc included. Then take Baz Bus down to Durban, maybe stop in the mountains on the way then along until Cape Town. Otherwise you can get the safaris to drop you in Nelspruit after and make your way to Swaziland, not sure about the transport on that part though other than minibus taxis..
Travelling alone is no problem I travelled alone as a single female for several months in Africa, including South Africa. the Kruger Safari and Baz Bus is basically the route I took,
Jul 27, 2012 1:19 PM
3I'm not sure if I would be quite as quick to say "traveling alone is not a problem" before knowing if the poster was a woman or not. Always more risky as a lone woman, and South Africa IS the "rape capital" of the world. Still, having visited twice (once shortly after the dismantling of apartheid, and once this summer) I would say the security/safety situation is very much improved, and a single woman can visit safely if she doesn't do anything stupid (don't go out after dark, period).
As for route, Jo-burg-Kruger-Swazi-St.Lucia-Durban is the reverse of part of the route we just completed, and highly recommended (we visited Tembe along the way). Be warned that Capetown is surprisingly far from Durban for a limited time in SA. How about renting a car to drive Jo-Burg-Kruger-Durban, drop the car off in Durban, fly/bus directly to Cape Town, get around there on public transport, then flight back to Jo-burg?
Jul 28, 2012 5:14 AM
4Hey thank you all for your comments (and private messages!). Yup, it was stupid of me not to mention that I’m a guy. I realized that the moment I turned off my PC (that I should’ve mention that, not that I’m a guy. I know that slightly longer).
Obviously renting a car would save the time but actually I like to use public transport and chat with locals (that’s actually what I like the most when traveling) or at least with a fellow backpacker so I’d rather skip car rental if possible.
So you think I should jump from Durban to Cape Town (skipping what’s in between those two) because of the time.
I checked cheap flights and found that Mango has best deals but it seems they are giving special offers about a month in advance so I’m not sure whether to wait or not.
Also when booking accommodation for Kruger NP should I do directly with the place I’ll stay in or with someone in Joburg (place I’ll stay there or...?). Any suggestions?
Jul 29, 2012 6:08 AM
5Just a few thoughts for you, I did SA on my own and it was pleasant and hassle-free. I did however rent a car which I normally never do because of the very same reasons you mentioned, but SA is a bit different. Renting a car avoids you from walking through crime hotspots with a backpack or luggage at odd hours such as bus stations or downtown in general, and also when you had your dinner you can drive home after dark from a guarded restaurant parking lot to a guarded B&B parking. While there is no reason to be paranoid about crime you must definitely be more cautious than in other countries.
Secondly, car rental is cheap there, and it saves you all the trouble of figuring out timetables and heading to and from stations. Just drop your bag in the boot and go. SA has lots of fabulous B&Bs outside towns and in plain countryside that would be next to impossible to reach otherwise. If you travel between big cities only then public transport is the easiest way but if you plan on seeing the great SA countryside and natural attractions, you´re out of luck. You may find yourself squeezed into overloaded white minibuses that stop at every turn for someone getting off who sat in the back so everyone else needs to shift seats or get off for that. Yes this is close contact and it can be enjoyed if you have plenty of time on your hands and if you´re the type for it. You can also book tours everywhere but a simple tour of the Cape Peninsula will cost you more than a rental car for that day.
Baz Bus is an option if you have no other options, but it´s not that cheap, it doesn´t even run daily on all routes and even with one bus a day you leave at the same time you arrived the day before because it runs every day at the same time, so it may be inconvenient to arrive at 7 am and then have to leave at 7 again, or get there late and depart even later the next day. Depending how busy it is you may want to book your next seat ahead and lose the flexibility to arrive, soak up the atmosphere and decide if this is for a day or for a week. The Baz Bus has partner hostels that have guaranteed customers because the bus stops there and people book ahead before they see the rooms, so the ones I saw were generally overpriced and bad value for money with comparatively low standard and party atmosphere instead of charm. Even if you don´t like it you probably stay there because nothing else is nearby, it´s dark already, and your bus leaves from there anyway tomorrow morning, this is how they earn their money. With a car you just drive around, stop for pictures, a meal or a toilet wherever you want to and you can look at your bed for the night before you commit.
Jul 30, 2012 7:12 AM
I happened along this post as I am actually a South African living in SA but my husband and I plan to do a road trip around our own country after having travelled other parts of the world extensively.
I would have to agree that hiring a car is almost essential for your out of town destinations – once you get to CT ditch the car and catch local transport. The reason I say this is because some of the best places to see are off the beaten track and local transport may not include these destinations so you will miss out and you will waste a lot of time waiting around. As mentioned above it will also be safer to have your own transport especially at night – during the day is much better and the crime situation for travellers is a lot less serious as it is for locals.
With 3.5 weeks I think you will have more than enough time to drive from Durban to Cape Town – the Garden Route is by far some of the most beautiful sights so I think it would be a great pity to leave it out. It is a 24 hour drive but you could divide it into a few days as there are places near St Johns, Knysna which just can’t be missed. You could do Kruger/Swaziland/St Lucia in 1.5 weeks and take 1.5 weeks to do the rest.
If you do decide to hire a car you can just book your accommodation through Kruger directly – if you are on a budget I recommend you book through SANparks which is the state owner operator rather than through a private lodge which can work out really expensive. You can then drive from JHB to Kruger (about 5 hours) otherwise you can fly from JHB to Nelspruit and hire a car there which is just near the Kruger which is what a lot of travellers do.
Hope this helps and I hope you have a wonderful time.
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