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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 adventures
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.
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 :)))
Favorite thing: We went to SA mid august til mid september; low season as it is winter. Ok it is often a bit on the chilly side (especially when you go out for morning and evening game drives) but apat from that it's great! As hotels were often almost empty apart from us, we sometimes got upgraded (without even asking) and got all the attention from our hosts (be it in restaurants or hotels). In Franschhoek we even got into Reubens without reservation, had excellent food and waiters were great (this doesn't seem to be the case in high season). On the game drives in the parks the range rovers are half full, sometimes you are the only person on it! Another advantage is that the vegetation is dry during winter, so it's easier to spot the animals). So if you don't mind not being able to go for a swim in the hotel swimming pool (they are not heated so ...) this time of year has a lot of advantages!
I don't know what you are used to eating but I found with the exception of a few special dishes that the food was the same as in Canada. However, they have magnificent fruits and vegetables which are fresh and twice as good as here in Canada. They also eat a lot of yogurt...at least my friends did.
Also, the braai (bbq) is very popular in South Africa.
Stayed recently for three nights. It is absolutely wonderful. Rooms are very elegant with incredible...more
The best and most expensive hotel of the area. Directly in the Sandton shopping Mall. The smallest...more
Skukuza is the largest of the rest camps in Kruger and the park's administrative headquarters. While...more