We did not have much choice from India to reach South Africa. This seemed to be the most reasonably priced airline, but I was not happy with their service. The food options are very unhealthy and meager portions, the staff are not courteous and there is no friendliness on board. I found this is in contrast to the general friendliness that we found all over South Africa. I would surely not recommend this airline.
For example between J'burg to Port Elizabeth we had pre booked our meals and stated that we needed vegetarian options, They bluntly stated that they ran out of vegetarian options since most people asked for it. I thought that people who had pre booked would be first served, that is how it is in all the other airlines that I have traveled. We reached P.E. at around 9.30 p.m.!!
It is essential to have a car if you want to truly enjoy seeing this country. Of all the rental car companies, we found Thrifty Dollar Rental Cars most reasonable.
There are many kinds of packages. It is better to take one with super cover, which includes insurance for any damage including the wind screen and the tyres.
Renting a car (or hiring a car) in South Africa and touring the country independently is an excellent vacation option. South Africa is one of the few African countries where the roads are well maintained and you don't require a 4WD vehicle. Gas (petrol) is readily available at reasonable intervals along the roads and many gas stations are open 24hrs.
This is a nice way to drive, and was driven from and to the airport to the areas mentioned, for courtesy didn't took pictures as was heavily crowded in the shopping plazas around the neighborhoods.
Its a joy to drive and see up close the real country. Any country would do ,thank you ::)
some information on driving in the country
Driving in South Africa is a superb way to get around, but visitors need to be mindful of the risks this involves so that they can exercise due caution. Driving in poor light (dawn, dusk or at night) is particularly risky, and I would advise travellers - particularly those who are unfamiliar with driving in the developing world - to avoid this if at all possible.
Why should you only drive in daylight? Firstly, the condition of the road surface is often poor - even on major routes (see my tip on potholes) - and potholes can be difficult to identify if the light is poor. Some of these potholes are huge, and hitting one can cause major damage to your vehicle, as well as increasing the risk of the driver losing control.
Secondly, most game becomes more active around dawn and dusk. Kudu in particular have a nasty habit of trying to jump across the road if they are startled by oncoming lights, and there are numerous incidences of them misjudging the distance and landing on the bonnet of vehicles, shattering the windscreen and killing both themselves and the vehicle occupants. Given that a kudu is about the size of a cow, you can imagine the damage that even a glancing blow will cause, and even if you manage to avoid it, the chances of you losing control and crashing are pretty high.
Thirdly, there are also many domestic animals (cows, goats, donkeys) on the roads in the rural areas, and even on fairly major roads whose edges are not fenced. Often by the time you spot the animal, it's too late to avoid them (and even if you take evasive action in time, your chances of crashing are pretty high).
Lastly, there is obviously a higher risk of being attacked or highjacked when you have limited visibility. Signposting can be a bit patchy at the best of times, with signs often being poorly maintained and/or overgrown, so the risk of getting lost if you're trying to navigate after dark is also higher.
Across most of the country, the days are pretty much the same length year around: it is usually light by 06:00 and only gets dark about 19:00, even in winter (although higher latitudes - for example, the Western and Southern Cape do get longer summer evenings and shorter days in winter).
Thus, plan your journey so that you complete it in dayligh, and be warned that there is relatively little in the way of twilight, and once you start to notice the sun setting, it sinks like a stone. This photo was taken driving into Rustenburg at 19:00, when only half an hour earlier, there had been bright sunshine.
One of the most bewildering pieces of Sarth Efrikan English for the newcomer is the use of the term 'robots' for traffic lights!
I first encountered the term when I first arrived in Jo'burg and was asking for directions. At the time, I was too taken aback to question what the term might mean, and ventured forth with great trepidation, half-expecting to encounter a Dalek or a Transformer at the next junction!
Even after all these years (and having come to routinely use the term myself), it still makes me smile!
There are, however, other aspects of our robots that will make you snarl rather than smirk. In Johannesburg in particular, it has become an almost everyday occurrence to encounter robots which are out of order, and it can take days - and quite often even weeks - for them to be fixed, during which time busy intersections revert to being 4 way stops and clog up like the arteries of a cholesterol junkie (see my transport tips elsewhere).
I accept that certain causes of robot malfunction are beyond the control of the traffic authorities: for example, 'load shedding' (another glorious South African euphemism for what the rest of the world would call a 'power cut') and cable theft (where thieves steal the cable, strip it down and sell the copper to unscrupulous metal merchants for its salvage value - one of the few aspects of recycling of which I thoroughly disapprove!).
However, what really sets my blood pressure racing is the fact that dozens of robots across the city malfunction as soon as it rains - and we're not talking about needing biblical deluges to trigger this either, as even a light drizzle seems to be enough in many instances. How hard can it be to design robots with effective waterproof insulation??? Perhaps we should consider re-importing one or two former South Africans now domiciled in New Zealand to assist us with the technology, as I didn't see a single malfunctioning traffic light during my entire visit, and it rains there practically all the time! ;)
(work in progress)
The good news for the traveller that's willing to self drive is that South Africa has an excellent network of national roads (prefixed with an N) that are the equal of highways anywhere else in the world.
On these roads, you'll comfortably be able to average 100km/h (the speed limit is 120km/h unless otherwise posted). However, in order to facilitate rapid transit, the highways almost exclusively bypass the towns en route and the services that they offer.
In order to compensate for this, most of the major highways have developed 'one stop' service stations along the highways. These offer refuelling facilities as well as good amenites such as clean toilets and shops selling sandwiches, snacks and hot and cold beverages as well as basic groceries and toiletries.
Most will also have some sort of franchise fast food outlet: the most common being Steer's or Wimpey (both local burger chains). The food won't be gourmet, but it will be plentiful, calorific and relatively affordable. Many also have some sort of play area where kids can run off a bit of steam after being cooped up in the car. Occasionally you do stumble across something more classy, such as the legendary Millie's just outside Machadodorp, which is a good stop en route between Johannesburg and southern Kruger and specialises in locally produced trout, as well as other more conventional offerings.
These 'one stops' tend to be spaced at about 50km intervals - probably designed on the basis of an infant's bladder capacity - so if you miss one, don't worry: there'll be another one ''now now"!
Visitors used to serving themselves are often surprised at the number and helpfulness of South African forecourt (petrol pump) attendants.
These guys (I've never seen a female one) fill up your car with fuel, and will offer to wash your windscreen as well. They will usually also offer to check your oil and water levels, and even to check your tyre pressure: in other words, all the routine maintenance that you know you should do regularly but never seem to get around to!
Why are they so helpful? Well, to be brutally honest, they are chronically underpaid: in a recent strike (mid 2010), it came out that a forecourt attendant gets paid less than R1700 (about than $US250) per month for a 45 hour week. This is a breadline wage, so be sure that you recompense them for their effort, as it is a vital supplementation to their base income. The going rate is about R2 for filling up with petrol, and about R5 if they do all the other checks. A very small sum to invest in your road safety, but which potentially has a very big impact on someone's quality of life.
a very nice easy to read airport, terminal A and B all easily link, you can walk. There is some stores before passport control but the best is once you get actually in, plenty of stores, restos to serve you. I spent time here as was given a free ride to airport,and spend it at the wandys or mandys terrace overllooking the approach to the airport.
this I am told is recently done, and a semi metro subway tube transportation coming into the terminus of chic Sandton, and then goes above ground linking with public transport trains elsewhere, the convenience is that is link directly with OR Tambo international airport in Jo'burg.
You buy a magnetic card, good for the trips you need or about 105 rands for the airport run,and enter thru turntiles like any other metro system.
You then descend by escalators or elevators:lifts, a couple floors down to catch the train. The airport is the yellow line.
best shuttle transfers from airport to lodge all under the ownership and the timing is fantastic, great service, know the area well, and can arrange for even safaris. If you stay in the lodge hotel the pricing is combine and better, otherwise think about 400 rands for the roundtrip from airport.
very nice smallist airport even if rates to it are expensive, not enough airlines serving it yet; best rates come late at nights.
the Mile High Bar is a highlight, and nice waiting period can be spent here, SA is running flights to other cities from here. Parking is just across the entrance uncovered and guarded.
I was fortunate in that South African friends drove me everywhere. We drove from Jo'burg to KNP and through the park (three days).
I flew to Port Elizabeth and was again looked after by friends.
If I had to find my own transportation I would definitely rent a car. The highways in South Africa are very well maintained.
I have not done this but it is possible to get the Gautrain from OR Tambo to Sandton. It comes well recommended. It is especially helpful I think if a traveler has only one day to spend in Jo'burg.
If you need to fly within South Africa there are various domestic carriers who seem to do
a good job. These are Mango, 1Time, SAA and others.
Ever wonder why there are so many 4x4s on South African roads? Well, here's your answer!
For a developing country, South Africa has a very comprehensive road network - much of which is tarred (sealed). However, road maintenance leaves a lot to be desired, and in recent years, avoiding potholes on the roads has become somewhat of a national sport. Major highways - prefixed with M or N - are usually kept in a reasonable state of repair (apart from the roadworks associated with upgrades for the 2010 World Cup, but that's another story). However, on ordinary roads - even the major roads indicated in yellow on the road maps - be on the lookout for potholes.
Many potholes can be huge and capable of stuffing up your oil sump or even breaking your axle, so please be careful: this is the time to exercise caution rather than machismo!
Be particularly careful when driving in poor light conditions when you can't easily pick up variations in the road surface: dawn and dusk tend to present particularly problematic driving conditions, especially if you are driving into the sun.
...and the prices won't kill you either. This budget airline sounds like the way to go if you are flying within South Africa
When I was in the Johannesburg airport waiting for my flight back to the USA, I saw several aircraft with what seemed to be excessive writing on them. I have not had an opportunity to fly on this airline but have done some reading about them since returning home and I will certainly try to make a connection on Kulula Airlines the next time that I am in South Africa. At this time they do not fly outside of South Africa. I suppose that they are afraid that they might get lost. (Please read on to see why I felt comfortable taking that jab at them as I share some stories which I found during my reading.)
On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where
you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"
"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only four ways out
of this airplane."
From a Kulula employee: " Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth .
To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and
pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't
know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public
"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an
emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."
Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landing in Cape Town : The
flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump
and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the
airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."
A Kulula pilot wrote that on one particular flight he had hammered
his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which
required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers
exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline. He said
that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the
passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said,
"Did we land, or were we shot down?"
After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.."
I am posting my favorite Kulula Airlines story on my Durban page.
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