south africa: travel resources—where, what, why, how

emdoneni1

When putting together my travel plans for South Africa I was unable to find any package that truly covered what I was looking for. They either catered for the passive traveller or did the usual Cape Town/ Kruger combination and nothing else. A bit of a waste, I felt, since there was much more to South Africa. So I ended up travelling solo and independently through the country, doing all the things I really wanted to do, and pleasantly finding it one of the safest and friendliest countries for a woman to travel alone through.

I did some homework and luckily also found great guides whilst travelling. I’ve put together a list of the travel services I used. All of these are still valid as of now. I checked.

Port Elizabeth
portelizabeth2
Hotel: City Lodge, Summerstrand
(Typical City Lodge hotel, but great location on the beachfront.)

City tours and airport transfers:
Sisa Manxiwa (e-mail: scmanxiwa@webmail.co.za, cell: +27 (0) 76 426 0145 / (0) 79 160 0563.)
(A mine of information and a thorough gentleman, he came highly recommended by every hotel and tourism office in the city!)

My related blog post:
south africa 1: port elizabeth, victorian england in africa

Garden Route
knysna4
Package tour (Garden Route Splendour 4 days 3 nights):
Thompsons Africa (Thompsons are one of the biggest tour operators in South Africa. Absolute professionals. One can’t go wrong with them.)
Township tour in Knysna:
Emzini Tours (One of the most emotionally poignant and beautiful township experiences I had in the country.)

My related blog post:
south africa 2: the 4-day scenic garden route

Cape Town and around
capetown8
Hotel: Holiday Inn Express, St. George’s Mall
(Swank hotel with slick minimalist décor in the heart of Cape Town. Ask for a room on the 15th floor for great views.)

Day tours:
Peninsula, Winelands, Walk to Freedom (Langa Township and Robben Island), City Day Tours: Thompsons Africa, contact tel: +27 (0) 31 275 3500.
When exploring on my own I walked through the city (it is very safe) and took the City sightseeing buses to get around. At R220 for a day pass, the buses are a treat.

My related blog posts:
south africa 3: cape peninsula, the company of nature and wine
south africa 4: kaap staad aka cape town, the most beautiful city in the world

Durban and KwaZulu-Natal
sanipass5
Day tours:
Battlefields and City Day Tours: Thompsons Africa
Kamberg, Shakaland, Sani Pass, Hluhluwe/ St. Lucia/ Emdoneni and Indian Cultural Experience personalized tours, Airport transfers: 1st Zulu Safaris
(There really is no other way to explore KwaZulu-Natal; for real adventure 1st Zulu Safaris win hands down. Ask for Sotiris, cell: +27 (0) 82 776 6771.)

My related blog posts:
south africa 5: kwazulu-natal history—from rorke’s drift to kamberg to shakaland
south africa 6: kwazulu-natal adventure—from sani pass to its game reserves
south africa 7: durban—sun, sea, sand and the indian connection

Johannesburg and Pretoria
gauteng6
Hotel: Mercure Johannesburg, Randburg
(Awesome staff, the hotel is located right next to Brightwater Commons/ Randburg Waterfront.)

Day tours:
Pretoria, Soweto, Cradle of Humankind Day Tours: Ulysses Tours and Safaris
(Very knowledgeable guides and warm personalized service.)

Airport transfers:
Please do NOT take a taxi from O.R. Tambo airport. They cost a fortune. Ask your hotel to do a pick up or a company like Ulysses to do the transfers. There is also the gau train which gets you to Sandton in 12 minutes. The service includes an additional network of buses to various neighbourhoods.

My related blog post:
south africa 8: gauteng, johannesburg, the place of gold

Kruger National Park
kruger2
Lodge: Umbhaba Lodge
(Stunningly beautiful place. My room had a balcony, sitting room, bedroom, two bathrooms and a gorgeous four-poster bed. Add to this wildebeest in the grounds and pretty awesome meals.)

Post-Kruger accommodation in Johannesburg: Outlook Lodge
(It is near O.R. Tambo airport and they make the yummiest omelettes.)

You could do the Kruger bookings directly or ask an agent. I used www.uyaphi.com since I also wanted to do the Panorama route. They booked it for me through Spurwing Tourism Services.

My related blog posts:
south africa 9: the ‘panorama’ journey

south africa 10: kruger and the big 5

Local flights
Open a couple of windows in your browser with the following addresses to get the best deals.
www.1time.co.za
www.kulula.com

Happy travelling. ❤

south africa 10: kruger and the big 5

kruger1

Kruger National Park is nearly every South African’s favourite place in the world. It is also part of every tourist’s mandatory itinerary to the country. Covering an area of two million hectares, the game reserve is a realm in itself where wildlife reigns supreme and we humans are the outsiders, satiated with being mere audiences to a world that is complete.

No matter how many times one has been to Kruger, one can just never get enough of it. It is too big. It changes colours and moods with every passing day. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the lowveld in the country, the park contains a mind-boggling number of animal and plant species together with centuries old cultural treasures such as rock paintings and archaeological sites.

I stayed for three days and two nights and, yes, saw all the Big 5. 🙂 Which boiled down to herds of buffaloes and elephants, a leopard smacking away its lips after an impala kill, rhinos marking their territories with trails of urine and dung, and seven lions and a herd of buffaloes battling away on the banks of a stream after the lions had attacked one of the buffaloes. Continue reading

south africa 9: the ‘panorama’ journey

panorama1

Guess you’ve heard the old adage—the journey is as important as the destination. My destination is Kruger National Park. The journey is appropriately the Panorama Route. 🙂

I had always wanted to do South Africa’s Panorama Route. One of those ‘have to do’ things in life. Why, you might well ask? It is scenic, on a majestic scale, cutting through the northern Drakensberg Mountains and Great Escarpment to abruptly give way to the plains of the lowveld.

Nature in South Africa is rather grand. Everything a little larger than life, a little more verdant, a little more unique and unduplicated by god. The Panorama Route’s first highlight is the Blyde River Canyon with the Three Rondavels standing sentry on the side; the latter evocative of the huts of the country’s indigenous people. Continue reading