4x4 Campervan Hire from Buffalo Campers
Buffalo Campers, who rented a vehicle to me, in which I was subsequently involved in an accident. My wife, who was driving the vehicle, suffered a broken neck. The accident occurred on the 02/05/2010 - at about 1.30pm in Botswana she was flown to Johannesburg from Maun.
The vehicle that was hire was a Toyota Hilux 4x4 with caravan - having a foldaway tent mounted on its roof. I took the vehicle on the 29th as far as Zeerust on the N4 and stayed in a chalet for the night. During this first period of our journey we noticed that the radio did not work or the CD player. The cigarette lighter used to power the sat nav did not work - the sat nav we hired went flat. The heater did not work. When reversing in the dark at Zeerust the reverse lights did not work. We continued our journey to Francistown were we stayed the night and realised that the vehicle tended to wonder from side to side and speeds higher that 100 KPH. There was also section on the road that had pot holes and we drove in a manor as to avoid hitting them and causing damage to the vehicle and tyres. I drove from Francistown to Nata were we stayed from something like an hour, bought some gift items from the shop and a soft drink to refresh ourselves and wondered around to have a look. I then took the vehicle a Little way from Nata and Teresa then took over the driving. Teresa also drove to avoid the pot holes prior to the accident although my wife does not remember the accident I am assuming that as she approached a pot hole she turned the steering wheel and the vehicle turned sharply to avoid the pot hole the vehicle went out of control and rolled into the bush. The Air Bags did not deploy on both the drivers side and passenger side. No other vehicle was involved.
When the Botswana police attended the scene, they noted that the licence disc on the windscreen was dated 2008 - together with the faults with the vehicle make me suspect that the maintenance of the vehicle was not to a sufficient standard for a vehicle rented out to the public, there is a duty of care here. There should be records of the service history of the vehicle to show that repairs and maintenance was carried at a regular basis and for accounts and tax purposes. The owner of Buffalo Campers, Mr Vaughan Colette who rented the vehicle to me will not provide this information. I believe that there was a lack of maintenance due to none functioning of electrics and the large side to side movement of the vehicle at over 100kph - this would have contributed to the loss of control and if properly maintained may have prevented the accident altogether.
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
Driving in Johannesburg
Smash and grabs at intersections are a particularly Johannesburg hazard. Its perefectly safe to drive but do the following for a safe driving experience:
1. Don't drive with your windows down especially in built up areas where you will need to stop at intersections and four way stops.
2. Put handbags and valuables in your boot while driving - objects in plain view are a temptation and often even if your window is closed, it will be broken to get at the bag, camera etc.
3. Don't wear overly obtrustive jewellery that look valauble even if its not. Its not unheard off, for someone to walk past your car in a tarffic jam and grab a necklace.
4. Don't park in the emergency lane for whatever reason unless something's wrong with your car.
5. Stick to the main roads and avoid driving long distances late at night. There are lots of drunken and reckless drivers out late at night and especially over the weekend.
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
Johannesburg Art Gallery - Take a Taxi!
The Johannesburg Art Gallery is well worth a visit. It is, however, situated in a seedy part of town and even locals wouldn't walk in this area if they didn't have to.
Take a meter taxi to the gallery and phone for one to fetch you (or make arrangements in advance to be fetched).
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Arriving Johannesburg at night
Johannesburg is a city with a high crime rate. But you can not lock yourselves in the hotelroom when you are visiting a new country. The best way to see a new country is to meet the people.
I came to Johannesburg with a minibus from Swasiland. It was night when the minibus arrived. The streets were more shabby as closer the bus came to the city centre. And it was less street lighting than the suburban areas. I thought the bus station would be a safe place to enter. But the minibus stopped in the dark parking area. I could see men standing outside the bus for nothing. All the rumours and advices from other people made me even more insecure. I thought about my selfdefence training, and how to defend against a possible attack.
Since I had no hotel booking, I asked the bus driver where to go and how to do it. He said: "Do you see the light on the building 100 meters away from us. That is a hotel (Hotel Formule Inn Park City). Go as fast as you can, and don't talk to people on the way".
Just outside the bus two men in green waistcoats stopped me. They said it was dangerous for a white man to go alone in the night, and offered to protect me for a small amount of money. I said no thanks, and walked fast against the hotel with my rucksack and a bag.
On the way another man came against me, and said someting like... "Mr. wealthy, I need food". But he was stopped by the two men who had offered to protect me for money. They have followed me even though I said "no thanks". Shortly after that there were more people around me. I could have lost my belongings without the men in the green waistcoats. Or was it all arranged? Anyway, I gave them 50 Rand each to follow me inside the Hotel Formule Inn.
I don't recommend to arrive Johannesburg downtown at night as I did. Talk with the busdriver in advance and ask him to stop at a safe stop before you enter the downtown.
Take a look at the two photos on this tip, and see the difference between the day photo and the spooky night photo. The place is the same, outside Hotel Formule Inn Park City.
- Adventure Travel
Upon arrival at OR Tambo airport, after clearing immigration and customs, I was stopped by two airport policemen before exiting, they asked for my passport and asked me to open my bag which contain my camera. Then they said that I need to show them the permits to bring in camera equipment into SA when I had already CLEARED through customs. So yea I told them that I have cleared through customs who did not even asked for any camera permits, etc.
Then one of the policeman said "What's the drink for the officers?"
So I know what they really want, I told them I have a local friend waiting for me outside, only then they let me go.
One more thing, it's best to go around Joburg with an established local.
- Road Trip
Taxi`s in JNB
MINIBUS taxis are by far the cheapest and most popular form of public transport in South Africa, used mainly by the urban and rural poor. But if you are a visitor to Johannesburg, using a taxi can prove bewildering and even frightening.
One thing I want to point out to you guys is that they are the worst people on the road. They don`t respect the rules of the road , they will stop anywhere at anytime to pickup or drop passangers. So please becareful when driving behind a taxi.
Taxis and airport helpfuls
I arrived in Johannesburg on business and was only there for one day/night. Luckily my hotel had an airport shuttle though I had to wait for a good 20 minutes to a half hour for tis arrival. On the way exiting the airport to wait for the shuttle I had several men approach me offering "cheap taxis". One of them was persistent and followed me to the exit. He did not seem to understand no for an answer and kept chopping his rate he was offering significantly. His final price was still twice what I would have actually paid for an official airport taxi. I also went out for dinner that evening and had not read this page before travelling, as I found the taxi rates are worse than a taxi in New York City. I paid about $20 US dollars for a place I could have walked to in under 5 minutes. Point being, never accept rides from anything other then official taxis anywhere you go and always get the price before releasing care of your luggage or getting in the car.
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
General Driving Tips in South Africa
Driving between locations should be a highlight of your trip to South Africa, but here are a few things to remember when planning your trip:
1. Some roads may look major routes on a map but can quickly deteriorate into a dirt track. This is not necessarily a problem, even in a saloon car.
2. In rural areas you have to be careful of potholes as well as livestock and people on the road. In cities you need to be careful of the kamikaze mini-bus drivers who have limited regard for the normal rules of the road or lane discipline!
3. It is polite to pull over to the left 'hard shoulder' lane where possible to allow faster traffic to over-take. Typically they will flash their hazard lights to thank you. You can thank them for thanking you by flashing your headlights briefly!
4. 'Fourway Stops' are common in South Africa. All approaching traffic must slow to a stop and only pull off when it is their turn (determined by the order the traffic arrived). Roundabouts (or 'traffic circles') are commonly used in the same way - don't assume drivers will give way to the right!
5. Manned speed cameras are very common, especially coming into, or leaving, built-up areas. If you are stopped just smile and cooperate. Do not bribe policemen.
- Road Trip
- Luxury Travel
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i have been to jhonnesburg recently and the so called dangers about it is nothing more than a media hype. i found it very safe we used to roam about till the wee hours of morning and there was absolutly nothing to fear.i think it is just as usual as any other mega city were you should be smart enough to take care of your own.i had heard so many stories of mugging and car jacking ect. that when i arrived in joeburg i was scared to go out of the hotel.
but when i started to venture out i found it as safe as any city in the world.so you guys if you are goin to joeburg dont listen to the stories go out there and have a blast it has some of the best night clubs.
Choose correct time to see the Big Five!
I did not choose the correct time to see the animals!
Pilanesberg park is only two hours from Johannesburg, and I had my guide drive me around the huge reserve for about fours hours (starting at noontime).
But all I saw were deers, birds and a few wild pigs...I guess the big animals were still asleep...
There were no elephants. no zebras, no giraffes...no big animals...(sigh)
But, I did look at other VTers' pictures and they have great shots of the animals! It really depends on the time of day and this was my first safari and I did not know...later in the day when it is cooler is when the animals start moving around.
So, just to make sure I see elephants and not be disappointed, I went to an enclosed Safari Reserve in Cape Town the next day, hehehe...for sure I saw them now...
Johannesburg is unfortunately known for its very high crime rate. It has been virtually taken out of the tourist destination map except for SOWETO tours. Most tour companies will take you to nearby Pretoria.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
Never Go to Downtown Johannesburg Alone
I was warned many times by the meeting organizer, friends, and friends of friends that I must never ever to go to downtown Johannesburg alone. They told me that it is not safe for a foreigner and tourist like me; the crime rate is very high and violence relating to petty crimes are equally high, they say. Because of all these warnings (being human), my curiousity got the best of me and I wanted to know what the fuss was all about.
Anyway, I eventually managed to persuade a friend of a friend that he should take me to downtown Johannesburg. He only agreed to take me to a district close to the downtown area, on top of a hill overlooking the sprawling buildings and houses that stretches all beyond the horizon.
So, that was as close as I can get to the dangerous downtown of Johannesburg! :-)
Mugging - car jacking
Guys be aware!
Dont go off on your own into areas you dont know or where people say dont go! I know it makes sense but people think i do it at home......da da da etc etc
This is not your home! there are a lot of poor people here and they mug to live! try and move with others in lite areas be aware of what is around you and try not to stop at traffic lights at night!
I am 6'1" and 16stone exrugby player and they tried it on with me.... just out side the shopping mall!
Dont be put off though there are loads of top people and nice things to see and do - just stay awake -
- Food and Dining
- Business Travel
- Arts and Culture
odds are not in your favor
I was at first amused about the warning's of robberies and mugging's in downtown johannesburg. I read about these warning's in travel publications and i still didn't think twice about it. however, upon arrival i was then warned by my guest house, some locals, and a few taxi drivers. i had never before feared walking around any city in my life. i took a taxi to downtown to " test the waters ". even after strollin' a few blocks i felt " uncomfortable ". my (your) common sense will tell you not to walk alone (maybe, maybe with a trusted local). there are many car-jacking's and mugging's daily, alot occuring in broad daylight. the city police won't even walk a beat down there (i saw none). downtown has been taken over by many " undesireables " from the very poor squatter area's of soweto, etc. many business's moved from downtown to the suburbs because of the high crime rate there. be your own judge. don't be a hero, walking around alone there is not an option, the odds are not in your favor. if your in a rental car or taxi, keep your windows up and doors locked.
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Protea Hotel Midrand - Armed Raid 11/12/06
I was staying at the Protea Hotel in Midrand near Johannesburg on 11th December 2006. At approx. 9am three armed men came into the Hotels reception and forced everyone to lay on the floor. They then proceeded to rob everyone of their money, credit cards, jewelry, watches and mobile phones. They then forced hotel staff to open the safe. The entire raid lasted no more than 3-4 minutes, but it was a very terrifying experience. Several British Airways crew members (who use this Hotel) were victims of this armed raid.
Although the Hotel has great perimeter security (including an electric fence) this is useless when the Hotel guard at the gate has a gun to his head and is forced to let the raiders in.
To my knowledge nobody was physically hurt in this raid. I learned afterwards that this is not the first time that this has happened at the same hotel, so be warned.
My tip is: Stay in a Hotel in nearby Stanton which has a much higher level of security (armed police) and is far less remote.
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