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birdseye
05-12-07, 13:56
Hope nobody minds this sort of question on a bike forum.

Is there's a south african or somebody whose been there who can help with a bit of travel advice - swmbo and myself are thinking of going to SA in Jan / Feb but would prefer to do a DIY tour rather than a package.

The first question is how safe? Arriving at Joburg off a UK flight and then having to find our own hotel and hire car etc. Is this sensible / practical?

Then where are the "spots we shouldnt miss"? What about the blue train? Isandlwana? Stellenbosch? Done the kruger some years ago but wouldnt mind some game viewing again. Where?

Lastly, what about hotels in SA? It was quite practical in NZ to travel without prior booking, hotels were cheap and good. Is SA the same, should we pre-book, are there any web lists of recommended hotels?

Or should we forget the whole thing and book with SAGA? :o

purds
05-12-07, 14:16
We've been a couple of times and really enjoyed it.

Personally I would not want to spend any more time in Jo'burg than I had to.
If you must have a stopover there I would book in advance and make sure it's in a safe area. The stories I have heard from Jo'burg residents would make your hair curl.

If you've been to Kruger before and liked it what about trying a private game lodge?

Also Capetown is a 'must see' IMHO. Totally different from Jo'burg and a really great city. I've not doen the arrive and find a hotel bit before - I guess it depends where you are and how safe the area is.

ianf
05-12-07, 15:05
I go there a lot on business. It's fairly safe as long as you stay out of the centre of town or the townships. You can go to both of these during the day, but I get a local to drive me.

Car hire is easy at the airport, and you can rent GPS from AVIS at least.

I'd recommend that you stay somewhere like Sandton or Fourways in a B&B or nice hotel. I've used both the Montecasino Intercontinental and the SunSquare there as well, and they are both some of the best hotels I've used in each class. Once you have a proper nights sleep under your belt you can head off again in the morning to somewhere less city like.

The flights land about 10-11am from the UK so if you get any sleep on the plane you could head off and be somewhere nice by tea-time, and skip Joburg, but it's quite a nice place in the northern suburbs.

Tim Cullis
05-12-07, 16:31
My daughter has just returned from a trip she put together. Flew to J'burg then connecting flight to Port Elizabeth. These are some notes she put together during the planning.

Tim

__________________________________________________ ______________

Thurs 18 Oct
Flight: BA 57, Heathrow to Johannesburg, dep 2115, arr 0900 tomorrow

Fri 19 Oct
Flight: BA 6241, Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, dep 1110 arr 1250
Pick up hire car, drive to Addo
Lonely Planet says… “Addo is 72km north of P. Elizabeth near the Zuurberg Range in the Sundays River Valley. It’s a small park which protects the remnants of the huge elephant herds that once roamed the Eastern Cape. There are about 180 elephants in the park and you’d be unlucky not to see some. Day visitors are charged R20 per vehicle.”

Need to arrive xxxx for hotel-organised elephant safari (inc lunch) – or we can just pay entry fee at the park and do our own unguided tour. Accommodation: http://www.woodall-addo.co.za

Sat 20 Oct for 2 days
Area: Addo/Lalibela Private Game Reserve
Activities: need to arrive by xxxx for afternoon safari
Accommodation: http://www.lalibela.co.za/

Mon 22 Oct for 2 days
Area: Lalibela to Storms River
Activities: Chris and Katie say the drive from Lalibela to Kenton-on-Sea is beautiful… just need to figure out how long it will take…
The Garden Route, split between the western (Wilderness) and eastern (Storms River) gateways will give you the opportunity to explore Victoria Bay, the Wilderness National Park, Knysna, the lakes & lagoons, Knysna Elephant Park, Natures Valley, Monkeyland & the Tsitsikamma National Park and the highest bungee jump in the world
Accommodation: http://www.forestferns.co.za/

Wed 24 Oct
Activities: Take the train (Outeniqua steam train) to Knysna – it takes a couple of hours but is a nice journey with some lovely scenery. You can get the train back but quicker to take a car – there are a number of companies who will happily pick you up. Knysna is very nice to walk round for a couple of hours and take lunch on the pier. You can take a boat trip to the knysna heads – its ok but I wouldn’t do it again.
Knysna Elephant Park – great experience to feed and touch elephants – just before Knysna
Restaurants – Copper Pot (www.copperpot.co.za) – been voted in the top 100 South African restaurants for the past three years – really good food.

Plettenberg Bay: Have never spent long here but has great beach and last time spend a few hours on the beach watching a group of dolphins surfing which was fantastic – I guess it may depend on time of year

Restaurant: We ate in the Blue Bay Café which was very nice – not in the same league as some of the Cape Town restaurants

Between Plett & PE try and stop at the big bridge (forgotten the name) and watch them bungee jump – have a go yourself but scared me just watching. Also, if you have time stop at Storms River for an hour of so.
Accommodation: http://www.cinnamonhouse.co.za/

http://www.milkwoodvillage.co.za/activities.htm is nearby

Fri 26 Oct for 2 days
Area: Wilderness to De Rust, Klein Karoo
De Rust – this Victorian village is the setting for vineyards, orchards and spectacular displays of rare pelargoniums from which all the world’s geraniums originated. The village is situated on one of the most beautiful drives in southern Africa – the Meiringspoort Gorge which travel through the awesome Swartberg mountains and where the road crosses the same river stream no less than 26 times. Halfway through, you will find a beautiful, 60m high waterfall.
http://www.derust.org.za/info.htm
Accommodation: http://www.housemartin.co.za/

Sun 28 Oct for 2 days
Area: Klein Karoo to Montagu, Brede River Valley
Activities: Route 62, the longest wine & mountain route in the world. Montagu is the rock climbing capital of South Africa. Explore the Robertson Wine Valley and the incredible mountains surrounding the town. Enjoy a tractor-trailer ride to the summit of the mountain to enjoy a glass (or two) of wine, whilst watching the sunset. This part of South Africa includes awesome mountain passes & gorges, including the opportunity to cycle down the Swartberg Pass.
Accommodation: http://www.7churchstreet.co.za/

Tues 30 Oct
Area: Montagu to Winelands
Accommodation: http://www.lafontainefranschhoek.co.za/

Wed 31 Oct
Area: Winelands
Activities: We have never been overly keen on the centre of Stellenbosch – shops are ok but not a lot else to do. Much nicer to walk up the main street in Franschhoek which has far more character.
Spier is one of the nicer vineyards. Can get busy with tourists, as there is plenty to do – you can stroke the cheetahs for a fee. Also very nice to grab a picnic (they have their own deli building so you can buy the food on site) and just chill out round the pond.

Restaurants: La Petite Femme (great place for lunch – nice garden and views across the valley)
La Courenne (www.lacouronnehotel.co.za) – great restaurant – nice for lunch to sit outside and enjoy the superb views – very nice to just relax and chill out
Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant (www.cabriere.co.za) – just opposite La Petite Femme – very nice for dinner
Accommodation: http://www.lafontainefranschhoek.co.za/

Thurs 1 Nov for 2 days
Area: Winelands to Pringle Bay
Activities: Shark Cage Diving, whale watching, hiking, cycling, horse riding. Located in a World Heritage site – local attractions include a Penguin Colony, the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, white water rafting. Discovering the Kogelberg Biosphere, a recently proclaimed World Heritage site is a hikers and casual walker’s delights; mountain trails, sandy beaches; rocky coastlines, rivers and forests. Track down the “wild horses” of the Bot River Estuary, visit the Jackass Penguin colony at Stony Point or explore nature’s true wonderland at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. Get up close and personal with the Great White, ride the white waters of the Palmiet River or skydive in tandem, the whale coast has it all and then there are the wines!
Accommodation: http://www.moonstruck.co.za/

Sat 3 Nov
Area: Pringle Bay to Cape Town
Accommodation: http://www.primi-royal.com/primiroyal.htm

Sun 4 Nov for 2 days
Area: Cape Town
Activities: Helicopter rides (Civair www.civair.co.za – based at the V & A Waterfront) around Table Mountain and southern Cape Town
Robben Island – very interesting but you will need to book
Table Mountain – try to go on a nice evening and watch the sun go down – take a jumper (it will get cold) & a bottle of wine
Afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson – great sandwiches & cake, was good value and a pleasant patio area
Shopping – Canal Walk & the Waterfront
Chapmans Peak Drive
Boulders Beach – not as good as it was as you used to be – you could previously walk amongst them but you can still get close.
Wine Tour – we meet to Groot Constantia (www.grootconstantia) for a tour and it was very good
If you fancy a drive then drive up to Bloubergstrand – this is where all the pictures of Table Mountain are taken from. Great beaches & nice restaurant (On The Rocks) with fab views of the mountain at night
Kirstenbosch Gardens – we aren’t great garden lovers but there were very nice to wander around for a few hours.
Cape Point – You have to go and see it but once you have been we haven’t been a second time
Boat trip from V & A – Ok – highlight is if you get to see any dolphins
Boat trip from Hout Bay to Seal island was also ok – can get a bit choppy !

Restaurants: On the rocks (www.dining-out.co.za/member_details.asp?MemberID=596) - Bloubergstrand
Constantia Uitsig – www.uitsig.co.za – you must go here – arguably the best restaurant in Africa you may well need to book because of time of year
Steenberg (Catharina Restaurant) www.steenberghotel.com – restaurant is fab (it was an old cellar) and probably my favourite – go early and have a drink outside on the terrace
Au Jardin (Vineyard Hotel) www.vineyard.co.za – great food & great views of Table Mountain
Accommodation: http://www.primi-royal.com/primiroyal.htm

Wed 7 Nov
Area: Cape Town
Flight: BA 58, Cape Town to Heathrow, dep 2050, arr 0645 tomorrow

birdseye
05-12-07, 20:04
thanks very much for that Tim - a great deal of help. and thanks to the others for their ccontributions too.:clap:clap:clap

dlevett
05-12-07, 20:18
I live in Jo'burg (Fourways) with my family (Brit working over here) and can give you a lot of info if you wish - drop me a pm and I'll forward you my E-Mail address.

Arriving at Jo'burg airport and hiring a car is fine. I would not 'find an hotel on arrival' in Jo'burg - it's quite likely that all will be fully booked (especially the big names in Sandton)

Cheers,

Dave.

Steve E
05-12-07, 21:24
Hi
I have been going to SA for several years now and do it DIY.
I generally fly to Capetown for a few days and then drive the Western Cape and Garden Routes and go to Bloemfontein, taking in a game park or two.

Lots of Advice been posted by Tim Cullis. This year I went to Addo Elephant Park and stayed in one of the nearby lodges, best place i have ever been. With internet booking and research you can easily do a three week tour staying in good B&Bs plus a game park for less than £2000, including flights and car hire. Most towns have a City Lodge/Town Lodge (hotel chain) and they are good value.


Just sit down in front of the PC and plan the trip and go.

Steve

Janz
05-12-07, 22:41
Excuse the missive, but I love visiting SA.

I am a regular SA traveller though after having lived there for 19 years with no problems with crime, I was mugged during last year’s visit. The advice I’d give is still go! it’s a great country as you have already seen, and good value. But, avoid dodgy places and don’t flash cameras, jewellery and bags about.

Cape Town is a must, PE is a good place for Addo Elephants, beaches and high dunes, and the Klein Karoo has so much on offer including game drives in Sanbona near Barrydale. While in the region go to Aghulas the southernmost point of Africa. This is whale country too, though maybe not much to see in Jan/Feb.

If flying into Joburg, pick up your car and hit the road to Cape Town, do-able in one day, but why rush when the Free State and Great Karoo have nice stopping off points to explore?

I’m biased towards the Klein Karoo and have written a piece about the road the R62 the alternative Garden Route, here (http://firesittingroute62.blogspot.com/). Believe me you will drive around their wishing you had brought your GS. Great mountain passes and lovely dorps like Prince Albert, Barrydale and Nieu Bethesda. These places are coming to life with Cape Towners who want to get away from the city and set up interesting lifestyles in the sticks including plenty ecotourism. If you’re interested I can recommend accommodation here.

KwaZuluNatal is good if you want to tour the Boer War battlefields and sun yourself on the beach. I like the south coast, Elysium is unknown, quiet and safe. I visited Spionkop this year and was amazed. Around Lesotho there are good sites if interested in bushman cave art, walking, swimming in mountain streams, peace and quiet.

For diy travelling there are guest houses and B&Bs aplenty in SA just use the internet and plan before going to avoid disappointment. The problem I found was that many wanted deposits in advance and weren’t set up for credit card or Paypal transactions, and international bank drafts were the cost of the deposit. I was able to come to an arrangement where I would pay into their accounts on arrival at Joburg.

Last year I got onto Lastminute.com and got a good central hotel in Cape Town for B&B prices. I booked a flight through Nationwide Airlines a local carrier flying out of Gatwick to Joburg. Hire car was through AutoEurope.com.

For Joburg, if you must (no disrespect intended to our Joburgers out there, but if on limited days…), I stayed in a B&B in Melville (Peter at Sunbury House), and their African manager Christina could take you on a tour of Soweto if you’re interested in seeing the sites.

Go diy, or tour, but go!

xylo66
06-12-07, 15:56
I lived in SA all my life till 9/11 and BE forced me out. If need advice for the KZN side of things, please feel free to drop me a line on bodillc at hotmail dot com. KZN has tons to do and see aswell, such as Hluhluwe ( said = shla- sloo- wee ) rhino game reserve and many other good spots to visit. Midmar dam is nice to camp, as mentioned already, Spioenkop and the Drakensberg mountain range are spectacular. Lesotho was mentioned by previous post - well, a huge word of caution there, as if you ( like most of SA , and I guess, in the world ) if you land up in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can go horribly wrong. Lesotho is very isolated ( and cold ! ) and I can give you details aswell about there. Highly recommend garden route, Jeppes' bay, Mossel bay, whale watching in Hout bay - best in Oct. I was there and saw 32 whales putting on a show and a half !! Some were the size of submarines !! Awesome. Ride Chapmans peak aswell ( if its open ). Just remember, SA is HUGE by UK standards and distances are not like it is here. But, go for it. ( learn to say " howzit " :)

Dale
06-12-07, 17:22
Is there's a south african or somebody whose been there who can help with a bit of travel advice


Some brief thoughts from a cape Town local ...

The post from Tim is one of the very best summaries I have ever seen on SA - there is a wealth of good info there.

I'd give JHB a miss - not really much to see there. Rather fly direct to Cape Town from UK, or catch connection in JHB. JHB-CT is 13hr drive and boring unless you have lots you want to see along the way.

What to see ... we, there is soooo much. give me an idea of the kind of things you like and I can recommend from there. also give me an idea of a time frame ... SA is much larger than the UK and travel times larger.

Hotels: book in advance - especially in jan / feb. Also look at B&B's there are more and more popping up. often better value too.

Security is an issue, but not if you keep your wits about you - don't wander around downtown after dark, leave your car unlocked, etc, etc.

Lastly, there are firms that hire out GS's if you need more info just shout.

What to see ... we, there is soooo much. give me an idea of the kind of things you like and I can recommend from there. also give me an idea of a time frame ... SA is much larger than the UK and travel times larger.

Dale

birdseye
06-12-07, 18:08
I live in Jo'burg (Fourways) with my family (Brit working over here) and can give you a lot of info if you wish - drop me a pm and I'll forward you my E-Mail address.

Arriving at Jo'burg airport and hiring a car is fine. I would not 'find an hotel on arrival' in Jo'burg - it's quite likely that all will be fully booked (especially the big names in Sandton)

Cheers,

Dave.

Sorry Dave but I cannot access the pms. Can you drop me an e mail to severn.sea.school(no spam)at hotmail.co.uk Remove the (...) and change the at.

birdseye
06-12-07, 18:11
Some brief thoughts from a cape Town local ...

The post from Tim is one of the very best summaries I have ever seen on SA - there is a wealth of good info there.

I'd give JHB a miss - not really much to see there. Rather fly direct to Cape Town from UK, or catch connection in JHB. JHB-CT is 13hr drive and boring unless you have lots you want to see along the way.

What to see ... we, there is soooo much. give me an idea of the kind of things you like and I can recommend from there. also give me an idea of a time frame ... SA is much larger than the UK and travel times larger.

Hotels: book in advance - especially in jan / feb. Also look at B&B's there are more and more popping up. often better value too.

Security is an issue, but not if you keep your wits about you - don't wander around downtown after dark, leave your car unlocked, etc, etc.

Lastly, there are firms that hire out GS's if you need more info just shout.

What to see ... we, there is soooo much. give me an idea of the kind of things you like and I can recommend from there. also give me an idea of a time frame ... SA is much larger than the UK and travel times larger.

Dale


Thaks Dale. Probably going for 3 weeks but we are retired and can stay longer if the cost is less than expected. More than 4 weeks and I would be wanting to get back and play with toys. Would be interested in knowing who hires out GSs over there.

Lord Snooty
11-12-07, 09:07
Ten of us toured SA last November with Karoo Biking http://www.karoo-biking.de/en/feedback/index.php
we all hired 12GSes for the two weeks - mine had a rear drive failure in the second week:blast

One of our group - Katrina has left a testimonial and a video clip on the Karoo website, take a look. The tour was fantastic and if you look at the Karoo itineries they will maybe give you some idea of the places to visit and some good routes. We stayed in mostly independent guest houses and b&bs and they were all in their own way unique and excellent value. We stayed at two game parks also the last being Pongola near the Swaziland border. We also stayed in Zululand and visited the Rorkes Drift battle centre which was fantastic.

Prince Albert was one of our stopovers and I recall we crossed a 60k mountain pass on unpaved roads that day, the views were stunning! :thumb2

I have still got all my maps at home with the routes highlighted, I'll try and dig them out if you want further information.

bladerunner
11-12-07, 18:18
.

Lastly, there are firms that hire out GS's if you need more info just shout.



Hi
Howzit?

PLEASE CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT HIRING GS's !!!


I am working in Durban from Mid Feb to mid April 2008. I hope to hire a GS for weekends and probably a week at the end to see either the garden route or round Lothoto trip.

All info welcome

cheers

Simon

Janz
11-12-07, 20:05
...

Prince Albert was one of our stopovers and I recall we crossed a 60k mountain pass on unpaved roads that day, the views were stunning! :thumb2
...

Lord S, you weren't perhaps the one who marked his ascent of the Swartberg Pass by placing a Karoo Biking sticker at the top pf the pass? ;)

Dale
12-12-07, 04:39
Hi
PLEASE CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT HIRING GS's !!!
Simon

Simon,

Apoloies for the slow response ... life in the retail trade is a bit crazy right now. There are 2 companies, Motorberlin and Karoo biking. I dont have the details with me but will get them for you later today and post here.

Dale

Lord Snooty
12-12-07, 08:24
Lord S, you weren't perhaps the one who marked his ascent of the Swartberg Pass by placing a Karoo Biking sticker at the top pf the pass? ;)

Yep, that was us. Did you see the road sign up there peppered with bullet holes:D errr that wasn't us by the way:mmmm

Janz
12-12-07, 09:55
You mean this sign?...

http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q148/hotwires/DSC01198.jpg

chippelmike
12-12-07, 10:02
Hi there . Just a word or two of warning !
As everyone has said , Keep clear of Jhb! the northern suburbs are fine ! the food is great and cheap fuel breaks the bank at about 57p/ltr !;) the worst thing is :-

You wont want to leave !!! Its a fabulous country that makes the UK look FORTH world !!
I'm there for 3 weeks over Xmas & ew year and cant get away from the place..... Its great !
Mike.:beerjug:

Lord Snooty
12-12-07, 13:25
You mean this sign?...

http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q148/hotwires/DSC01198.jpg

That's the one!! :)

Janz
12-12-07, 17:27
Well, my sticky fingers couldn't resist your gift – in the interest of preserving the natural beauty of the place, of course. :D

http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q148/hotwires/DSC09969.jpg

mystic
12-12-07, 18:11
Hi Birdseye

Came across your thread today ...... and can see you've already received loads of info/advice/suggestions for your trip. Here's my 2penneth......

Like you, I'm retired :clap. Did my first trip to South Africa in early 2006. I was lucky enough to have a friend in CT who was happy to loan me his GSA for five or six weeks! Travelled alone, which is the way I prefer. In my experience I find I get to interact with the locals so much more .... and only have myself to worry about.

Guess your itinerary is going to be shaped not only your budget and available time but also the things you're attracted to. (I also took in parts of Namibia & Botswana while down there.)

IMO, you should not pass by the opportunity to get your hands on a GS for at least a part of the trip. The country has some superb dirt roads and amazing landscapes. Many tarred roads seemed to me to surprisingly empty by UK standards! I opted not to go near Joberg ..... in fact apart from CT I stayed pretty much in the rural areas trying to put my available cash into the local black communities. It may not be your cup of tea but, for me one of the most memorable experiences I had was spending three days in a black township (Langa) on the eastern fringe of CP, before flying back to the UK. There are now one or two black run B&B's established in the townships and you live very much as part of the family.

Don't pass up the chance to go out to Robben Island .... I didn't book in March ..... just bought the ticket and straight onto the boat.
The drive (IMO best ridden:thumb2) down from CT to Cape Aguilhas is STUNNING. Personally found the Garden route over-rated. Addo is well worth the visit. I'd also recommend the coast line east of East London up to around Port Shepstone (the Wild Coast).

Loved Lesotho ..... fairly mountainous, great scenery and people. The ascent up the Sani Pass was amazing, if a little hair raising! If you opt to go over to the battlefields in KNZ, really think it's worth hiring/sharing an authorised guide.

As regards personal safety, I can only say I spent six weeks traveling alone through five countries and experienced nothing but friendliness. Think its down to taking sensible precautions and just not placing yourself into situations where the risk level is high. Just maybe I was plain lucky!

As has been mentioned, B&B's are a good option and their numbers are growing. I ended up mixing off road camping, B&B's and Backpacker hostels (along the coast).

Sure you'll both have a great time .... and suspect once you've had a taste, you will be planning a future return trip :thumb2

Pughy
05-01-08, 14:16
Great to read all the info on SA. Mrs Pughy and off to Cape Town in two weeks for a 4 day conference and then hiring a GS from Karoo rentals - Jurgen at Karoo has been really helpful and is coming back to us with some suggested places to stay for our proposed route:

19th - Cape Town to Cape Agulhas via R43 - Overnight Agulhas
20th - Agulhas to Mossel Bay - Overnight Mossel Bay Area
21st - Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth - Overnight Port Elizabeth Area
22nd - Addo ElephantPark - We would like to do a day in the park "safari" and stay overnight - do you have any suggestions / contacts?
23rd - 26th R62 back to Cape Town

If anyone has any thoughts additions comments it would be really appreciated especially any suggestions for the ride back from Addo to Cape Town on R62

Dale
07-01-08, 07:21
[
If anyone has any thoughts additions comments it would be really appreciated especially any suggestions for the ride back from Addo to Cape Town on R62

Pughy,

There are lots of options ito different routes for the places you want to get to. I have listed some of them below, but would be happy to hookup for a beer some time and discuss with you when you are in CT. Send me a mail to daleedwards [at] iafrica.com and I will send to contact details.

For the CT-Aghulas leg ....
... make sure you include the R44 section from Gordons bay to Kleinmond ... beautifull road right on the coast and much more fun than the N2. You will hookup with the R43 anyway. Also
... the "fynbos" road from Stanford to Aghullas is also very nice, but not tarred - not sure if you are happy to get off-road.

Addo ElephantPark - Have a mate who's on his way there tomorrow... will revert once I have spoken to him.

R62 back to Cape Town -
from Addo, I'd take the N2 to Plettenberg bay, then the R339 to Die Vlug (gravel) or N9 (tar) , then turn West to Outdshoorn. Vist cango caves and Cheetah / Croc park. Possibly drive to top of swartberg pass while you are at cango. Overnight in Outshoorn.
Then head for Montague along R62. Stayover at the hot springs there - very pleasant after some long days in the saddle.
On way back, I'd turn south at Wellington and head for Villiersdorp. From there over a very nice mountain pass to Franschoek - a very pleasant little village in the mountains. Is only an hour from CT, but there are lots of really good restaurants and nice places to stay. I'd stop here for the last night before heading back to CT.

Happy planning
Dale