Favorite thing: In South Africa, the electrical outlets are 220V AC. That means for American travelers, our electrical devices we use at home will only work with an adapter. I've become a smarter traveler and have bought certain items with the 220V plugs such as a high watt hair dryer, curling iron and straight iron (I know that seems like an oxymoron - the curling iron & straight iron). I have damaged a curling iron and straight iron on previous trips using an adapter because the voltage was still too high. Other devices we bring such as cell phone chargers, lap top cord and camera battery chargers do just fine with the adapters.
Hope you find this helpful!
Favorite thing: On travel, it seems that the dilema of obtaining currency without having a high conversion fee is often difficult. I happen to bank with Bank of America. So, seeking out the right banks in other countries that Bank of America partners with is important to me. The fee is usually nominal. ABSA is one of four of the largest banks in South Africa. We had no problems finding an ATM when needed. It was good to pay cash wherever we could. I used my credit card only at the accomodations we stayed at and at one restaurant. And still, somehow, someone tried to fraudulently charge over US$3,400.00 on my credit card. Luckily, my bank refused the charges and called me to let me know my card would be cancelled and a new card was being sent to me.
Volunteering - the true way to experience Africa
Fondest memory: For all the nature, wildlife, and conservation lovers out there, I want to tell you about a lion and black rhino monitoring program that I’ve spent the past 4 weeks volunteering at in South Africa! It's called LEO and is located in the secluded Selati Game Reserve, free from tourists, so you basically have the whole reserve to yourself! This gives you the chance to experience all of the outstanding wildlife that Africa has to offer - from impala, giraffe, and zebra, to herds of elephants and prides of lions, to elusive leopards and feisty white and black rhinos!
LEO offers its volunteers the opportunity to experience first-hand the impact each animal has on the surrounding environment by getting volunteers directly involved in the research. As a volunteer, I got to help out with some anti-poaching activities, recording data, and doing telemetry, which is the device we use to find the lions, elephants, and leopards that we’re monitoring!
With one of LEOs main focuses being the monitoring of lions, you have the opportunity to see these amazing animals on a daily basis, whether they are hunting/feeding, playing, or (their personal favorite) sleeping. They also have a Black Rhino monitoring program where you get to spend the whole day on a quad with a LEO guide, finding the black rhinos and monitoring their conditions. With Black Rhinos being so endangered, this was one of my favorite parts of the project because you can really tell how much of a difference you’re making!
You also have the chance to do some conservation work on the reserve by removing fallen over trees, alien plant species, and road repairs. It is a balance of real conservation efforts and an exhilarating, hands-on volunteer experience. Each drive brings a new adventure and the staff members never fail to bring a few laughs as well. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to volunteer at LEO Africa and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to experience the true nature and wildlife of Africa!Related to:
- Budget Travel
For Indian travelers/ Budget Vegetarian travelers
Favorite thing: Though you do get plenty of vegetables and vegetarian products, you will not always find vegetarian food in all restaurants. If you are a budget traveler and opt for self catering, it makes sense to carry some spice powders from home where it is so much more cheaper. It does not add much to your weight to carry some garam masala and chili powder. But make sure you declare it if you are asked to declare. We carried a few items like khakhra and spices and were let off without any questioning. It did help us in a big way since we stayed at self catering places. Self catering units are not cheap by any means, but at least you can get the kind of food you want at an affordable price!! South Africa is surely an expensive country to visit and one needs to find ways of cutting down some costs.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Buying water cans
Favorite thing: By and large the tap water in South Africa is safe to cook in. But check with your hosts and if they say that it is not to be used for drinking directly, then consider buying water in cans instead of bottles. Especially if you are traveling by car and do not have to carry the weight around. You can pick up 5 litre cans for 13 to 15 Rands instead of 12 Rands for one litre!!Related to:
- Budget Travel
For travellers who opt for self catering
Favorite thing: Those who opt for self catering can find many stores that sell groceries and other essentials. Pick and pay as mentioned earlier is the cheapest. But you can also find good offers in Spar, Woolworth and Shoprite stores. They are all good places to pick up your food items.
Pick and pay stores
Favorite thing: If you are on a budget, then Pick and pay stores are your best bet to buy groceries and other essentials. These are cheap and offer value for money. They have many outlets in most towns and in all cities. In some outlets they also sell clothing under the name Pick and Pay clothes.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Cape Town's Awesome Scenery
Favorite thing: I would include the V and A waterfront. There is lots of activity there plus a great mall that has at least one African shop where you can get souvenirs at reasonable prices. Simons Town and Fish Hoek are lovely small fishing villages on the sea. Simons Town is historical because of it's affiliation with the Navy and there are some interesting shops.
There is so much more. Have a look through the Cape Town pages on VT.
The last time I was there (Nov. 2011,) I flew from Vancouver to Cape Town with KLM. They have a 23 hour stopover in Amsterdam and I was able to have a tour of the canals and got the general flavor of the city.
Whatever you do, you will have a great time. Diane In response to a question in the Travel Forum.
Fondest memory: The amazing scenery is my fondest memory.Related to:
- Family Travel
The uniquesness of Johannesburg.
Favorite thing: I think you sell Jo'burg short. For those of us who aren't South African, it is a very interesting city and very different (for me at least) from anything I had ever experienced before. The busyness, the cosmopolitan atmosphere, and just the street scenes were something I would not have missed and will be seeing again in December. Yes, it can be dangerous but it's important to know where is is unsafe to go and what is unsafe to do.
There is much to do. The Rhino and Lion park is a great place to view animals. Pilanesburg is close. The shopping centers are modern and have a wonderful variety of stores.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of South Africa is the people. Thanks to my friends who live there, I had the opportunity to meet a variety of interesting people... from the children in the townships, to the folks who operate the soup kitchens who are so poor themselves, to the seniors who live in a wonderful retirement village. It was so different for me to be the one who nobody could understand that well. I would often say something and be met with puzzled looks. I kept forgetting that I was the one with the accent.
A wonderful memory is the uniqueness of the country with it's many sharp contrasts. There is much to learn there.
The scenery and the animals are also a wonder. THIS IS A SA FORUM RESPONSE.Related to:
- Theme Park Trips
Touring South Africa
Favorite thing: I am not a South African but have been there as a visitor. I have been to the Kruger and to Pilanesberg game parks and loved them both. I have no idea how August is for game viewing. While in the area, you could spend a couple of days in the Drakensbergs (very beautiful) which are about a four hour drive from Johannesburg. Pilanesberg is two hours from Johannesburg. I highly recommend all of these spots and as the South Africans will tell you, self driving is probably the best way to go. The highways are good.
I think Cape Town is lovely but I wouldn't spend too much time there as South Africa is a big country and there are a variety of things to see and do.
THIS IS AN ANSWER I GAVE IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN FORUM.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of South Africa is the people and particularly those in the townships. When I am home I miss the beautiful weather, the scenery and the variety of activities that are possible in this great country.
Safety in South Africa
Favorite thing: The only time in four visits that I worried about my personal safety was when a very large male elephant was coming after us in Kruger. My companion was fortunately very adept at backing up very quickly.
I am from Canada and had no trouble using my debit card at Bank Machines (ATMs). Perhaps asking at your own bank in England will insure that it is okay.
About the safety issue, just good common sense always comes into play. Don't drive at night and don't have anything of value in sight in your car. Ladies should kep their purses out of sight instead of on the seat where we usually keep them.
Fondest memory: I miss the people and the scenery.
Excellent web-based maps for planning purposes
Favorite thing: When you are first planning a trip, it can be hard to get good maps that are detailed enough to give you good information, but not so high resolution that the detail is obscured. Maps in guide books are usually too small, or if they are large enough to read, they are so localised that it can be hard to work out how the different regions covered fit together. And particularly if you're not going to a mainstream destination, it can be hard to buy maps of far off countries in your home town.
I recently stumbled across the maps page on the sa-venues.com website whilst doing some research for a trip that we hope to do later in the year, and was pleasantly impressed.
The website provides a whole variety of maps, from straight road maps to those which display topography and others which are thematic (for example, tourist attractions, malarial zones game game reserves). As well as the national maps, there are more detailed maps for each of the nine provinces, again providing a variety of different detail depending on their intended use. Even more usefully, they also include road maps of the larger towns in each region, which is the sort of information that comes in really handy when you are trying to work out which areas to stay in.
Follow this link: http://www.sa-venues.com/maps/default.htm
great people, good nightlife
Favorite thing: My favorite thing about South Africa are its people, the most kind people you could ever meet.
The country is really special for its wild life and beaches. Its probably the best value destination in the world.
The best city is Cape Town with its relaxed vibe.
Fondest memory: The people are very freindly and its a great destination if you like motorcycle adventuresRelated to:
- Adventure Travel
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: COUNTRY INFORMATION:
Visa: No visa for stay up to 90 days. No money to pay.
Mobil phone: Very good roaming.
ATM: Yes, all over the country. It works very good and gives normal rate.
Recommended language: English.
Infrastructure: Very good.
Friendliness by the people: Still suspiciousness/racism between black & white people. Very proud to be the host of Football World Cup in 2010.
Attention by Police/military: No bad experience.
Crime: Very high.
Rainy period: Central parts: November, December, January and February.
Price level: Cheaper than Europe. Safari and tourist activities are cheaper, but else a bit more expensive than other African countries.
Airport departure tax: Nothing from JNB.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Favorite thing: I cannot explain or describe South Africa in general. It is probably one of the most amazing countries I have visited and no matter how long my visit could be you will always leave with the feeling that these is still so much more to see. I surely wish to go and visit again and if I could have a job there I would have pack my stuff and be there in matter of few days :)))
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