How to travel safely in South Africa

I think it’s about time to write a blog on this topic. The media just LOVES to talk about South Africa as if any visitor gets a gun pointed to their head at the moment they arrive in this country. However, most violence is between people who know each other and not targeted at tourists but I do understand the concern and yes there is some advice that I’d like you to keep in mind. South Africa is a GREAT country to travel. I love road trips, cycling, walking AND hopping on a plane to other parts of the country.

Walking
Cape Town is a lovely city to walk. The city centre is very convenient and safe during the day. We don’t recommend you walk during the night. There are not many streetlights and people will notice that you’re a tourist. So in the evening always take a taxi from point to point and don’t walk. Taxi’s charge about R11 per km.

Jo’burg has areas where you can walk. Braamfontein has been revibed and is an incredible space to explore. Check the book ‘Spaces & Places, Johannesburg’ for some inspiration. Johannesburg is BIG so we do recommend a rental car or a driver.

Cycling
The City of Cape Town is really encouraging cycling. Cycle lanes have been established throughout the city but motorists are not very used to deal with cyclists, yet. So when you cycle, you need to be careful. Bicycles can be rented at the V&A Waterfront with AWOL tours. More and more hotels in the city offer bicycles as well. A great way to explore. And if you’re a keen cyclist and in Cape Town with full moon, join the #moonlightmass, check Facebook for updates and promote safe cycling in Cape Town.

Local buses in Cape Town
Check MyCiti bus via google and see the latest news. Our public transport system is really getting up to standard. I’m very excited about that. From the airport each 20 minutes a bus leaves and takes you to the Civic Centre. This currently costs you R 55 From there you can change and hop on to the bus line to Gardens, V&A Waterfront or up the Westcoast BUT during 2012 many more routes will be launched so do check updates on the system. Rides are R5 or R10 BUT you need to purchase card first which can’t be done at each stop. Best is to get it at the Civic centre but I heard news that some guesthouses / hotels were now also able to sell those.. Check with your accommodation if this is possible.

Travel by air
Distances are FAR. Cape Town to Johannesburg is about 1400 km so you’d like to take a domestic flight. Besides SAA you can check the low cost carriers:

–      www.kulula.com (TIP: look out for the flight numbers with 4 digits, those are BA operated and they give you a meal…)

–      www.1time.co.za

–      www.flymango.co.za

–      www.flysaa.co.za

Travel by rental car
We drive on the left hand side of the road, just so you know. Car rental is possible throughout the country with all major brands. We don’t recommend to hire from places like: rent-a-cheapie etc. They’re cheap for a reason. You will probably need to still buy the insurance and all kinds of other extras. But most of all, they’re unsafe and break down! In South Africa you like to rent a safe car with a company that has branches throughout the country so that when you’re stuck, help is never very far. Sometimes there’s 100 km between 2 towns so you can imagine that help can sometimes be a few hours away. The South African road system is EXCELLENT!! If you don’t want to, you don’t need to drive on any gravel or dirt roads (but often they take you to very special spots). We recommend driving with a map and not just a GPS. GPS signal is often difficult in areas with no reception. My GPS has sent me on routes that didn’t make sense to me at all so I was happy to still be able to read my map. Have a map book with your GPS so that you can check the route. Again, distances are FAR! Missing a turn-off might just take you few hundred km off-track.

Travel by bus
Buses are cheap and some services are quite good. We urge you NOT to book with SA Roadlink. There have been numerous accidents and they should be taken out of business. Choose other ones like Greyhound, Intercape or Translux. Check where and when they stop and if it is an express service or not. Some stop at each street corner and long distance trips are not recommended. But all depending on your budget. www.intercape.co.za www.translux.co.za www.greyhound.co.za

Travel by train
Johannesburg has the amazing Gautrain which takes you from the Airport straight to Sandton. You can download the Gautrain App. www.gautrain.co.za The train is an excellent service and shows that South Africa is serious about public transport.

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