South Africa was our country number eight (8). The travel infrastructure in this country is impressive. Of cause going to South Africa from any country remains the same. It is either by Air, road or sea. The inland travel is what impressed us the most. We hope that by the end of this article someone will have agreed with us and will be working on how to get Kenya on such a platform. If you are planning to visit South Africa, you will also get some tips for your travel right here.
In all the countries we have been so far, and we could be speaking for many many more that we are going to travel to, inland travel is either by air, public transport (bus, train or vans) or hiring a vehicle. The comfort and convenience is what varies.
Of cause South Africa offers breath taking sceneries, vibrant cultures, active adventure, game reserves and bursting city life just like Kenya. They cater for across the board travelers from the luxury to the budget traveler. These article is going to address the budget travel and how to travel through South Africa on a budget.
We left Kenya heading south to South Africa and it is the only country as a Kenyan you will need the visa for. The application is done before traveling and the tourism visa is 90 days from date of entry. That made it easy for us to travel the countries in between without loosing time on the visa. The application paperwork is intense and you will need to show proof of finances, accommodation and return ticket (if you are flying in). Make sure you have a good itinerary with accommodation reservations printed out. There is a cost to the visa processing and the waiting period is about a week.
The border crossing is easy and straight forward if traveling by road. Police check is mandatory and once cleared you gain your stamp and proceed. We found friendly staff that were very efficient and fast. It took us just a few minutes, smiles and little chats. The police at the exit was kind enough to take the picture up there.
South Africa has some of the most beautiful roads whether tarmac or off-road. We kept it more tarmac but also rode some back routes. We loved the 7 passes which was absolutely gorgeous. It’s a must be on your list of roads to ride. We met with cyclists on that road. It’s popular for its scenery.
Visiting the major game reserves can be quite expensive but there are local companies offering budget travels to the game reserves. If game reserves are not your thing, you can do Cape Town to Johannesburg and Pretoria without missing on anything. This route includes the following activities:
Many Beautiful beaches – with surfing, swimming, whale watching (depends on season) and shark diving.
National Parks and Game lodges: – The Cable mountains, Albertinia Game lodge, Plettenberg Bay Game Lodges near Tsitsikamma, Touwsrivier Game Lodges to mentions just a few.
Great Hiking Trails: – Tsitsikamma National park and Wilderness.
Extreme sports: – The Bloukrans Bridge on the Garden route for bungee jumping.
We travelled on the route for more than a month and still did not exhaust the list of things to do and see.
We are traveling on motorcycles and therefore we never had to use public transport. However, South Africa has one of the most amazing means of transport on this route. It is called the Baz Bus a model introduced to South Africa from Europe by Barry Zeidel, a qualified accountant, entrepreneur and retired backpacker. The model comes with a fleet of 22 seater buses fitted with Wifi, TVs & DVDs, USB port, air-conditioning and trailers capable of carrying extra luggage, surfboards and bicycles providing these travelers with a safe and reliable way to travel the country.
Data from their website states that; this unique transport network in South Africa is a leading force in the Tourism Industry and carry over 100,000 independent travelers each year! Baz Bus collects travelers from over 200 backpacker hostels, guest houses, lodges and hotels along the route catering for every budget & travel style. All one needs is a ticket that gets you to “hop on and off the bus” at your preferred destination along this route as many times as you want using the same ticket. It offers you the flexibility of planning where you want to go, how long you want to stay and when you want to leave. It comes with flexibility of change of ticket dates, buying extra seat and more.
South Africa has a variety of backpackers and particularly this route has backpackers in each and every town. They are beautiful, comfortable and cost effective. These backpackers have collaborated with the Baz Bus making the entire system a one stop shop. You can download the list of the accommodation from Baz Bus website which helps you plan efficiently.
If not traveling on the Baz Buz ticket, you can also book the accommodation on platforms such as hostel world and booking dot com. The other advantage of staying in the backpackers is that you get to meet other travelers and they always have organized group activities that are cost effective and fun.
WHY WE THINK THIS IS PERFECT FOR KENYA.
Kenya has similar attractions to South Africa from breath taking sceneries, vibrant cultures, active adventure, game reserves and bursting city life. However, we lack an effective, reliable and convenient transport system for traveling to these attractions not unless you are able to hire a car or join the organized group travels which most of the times may not always fit into your schedule. This has resulted to some places receiving good tourist numbers and others struggling. Our transport system sieves out a huge number of travelers because of cost & convenience and they end up going to have the same experience in other countries that are cheaper.
WHAT WE DID IN SOUTH AFRICA
The Table Mountains
You can take the Hop on Hop Off bus tour. This bus ticket caters for many destinations all over Cape Town one being the Cable Mountains. You can chose to take a cable car up the mountains or take a hike. Take note the weather changes very drastically during the day and it can be sunny in the morning, raining in the afternoon and very cold sometimes. Dress in layers.
The Vine yards for wine tasting
The Vine yards are also part of the route that the Hop on Hop off bus takes. There are quite a number of them and it is good to look at the map and see which route you would like to purchase based on what you would like to see. We did the Groot Constantia vine yard which is the oldest vine yard and really loved it. Make sure to eat something before this tour. The wine tasting can easily get you tipsy if not drunk. They provide some biscuits with the wine tasting but that is not for filling your stomach, its for helping you taste the next type of wine. There is a restaurant in the facility should you need to eat something after or just take some time to relax.
The Chapman’s peak road.
Chapman’s peak is a mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula. The Western part of the mountain falls sharply hundreds of meters into the Antlantic Ocean. A road named after the mountain as Chapman’s road is built on the this mountain. It is a spectacular drive open to the ocean view from the mountains. It makes for a wonderful way to view the ocean and the road is beautiful built with quite a number of view points. The most amazing part of this road being driving through the tunnel. We just loved it. Make sure to watch our video covering this road here. We cannot put the experience and beauty of this place into words.
Cape of Good Hope
This is a national park that leads to the southern most tip of Africa. It’s famous for its iconic nature in the geography of Africa, the fact that it is also a very important point for sailors as it is the point where ships begin to travel eastward than southward. It is also popular for its rocky nature with a good hiking landscape and various animals like Ostriches. The view from the top of the rocks is to die for.
On arrival as we were going to take our bikes for service at the BMW dealer, we saw the colorful buildings and had no idea of what wealth of beauty lay behind the first little glance of the buildings. Later on, we would take a walk to explore the town. Collect maps and information from a tourist center and head to Bo-Kaap as it is rated very high on the things to do. Depending on where you will be staying in Cape Town, you only need transport to get you to the city center. You can then walk to Bo-kaap without any extra cost. There is also a museum there that has the rich history of Bo-Kaap.
V & A Waterfront Mall
Beside the the high end top brands that fill up the mall, this mall offers some of the most interesting activities that will cost you nothing or just a tip to the performers. Ofcause if you are looking for high end top brands, you will find anything you can find in Los Angeles and New York here.
We loved the artists that perform in this mall every day from late afternoon. The mall offers space to artist for a small fee and these artists perform for tips. There is music, stand up comedy, sports and dance. We loved the very beautiful and romantic outdoor lighting and seating on the steps as we watched these performances in the evening.
There is also one of the best food markets we have seen in Africa. This food market offers different cuisines including African where you can eat Ugali (Pap) with chicken/beef and sukuma wiki (kale).
There was our favorite pub, Mitchell’s Pub. This is a must go to place. Amazing cocktails and service.
THE GARDEN ROUTE
The garden route offers you quite a number of activities: –
Amazing beach experience in every town you stop in on this route. If you are a lover of water sports, this is your holiday destinations. The waters can be cold as this is the Atlantic ocean getting its cold currents from Antartica. You will also get to see quite a number of aquatic wildlife, penguins, seals, whales and sharks.
Bungee jumping: – The world largest and fully operational commercial bungee jump bridge and the third highest in the world is in South Africa. If you are one of the adrenaline junkies, you found your place. Head to South Africa.
Hiking: – After you are done with your bungee jump, head to the Tsitsikamma National park and do some hiking. This national park not only offers great hiking treks but has additional activities such as walking on suspended bridges, enjoying coffee, a meal or beer by the ocean and get close to some animals.
There are many options for hiking on this route. We also did hike in the Wilderness to the Homeless people cave which was quite a superb hike. The hikes offer more than a trek and are really worth it.
Horse riding in Storm Rivers: while in this neighborhood, book yourself into Djembe backpackers and sign up for horse riding in the forest which is part of the national park. It was supper amazing riding the horses to nature and enjoying the quiet and tranquil part of the park.
Cultural walks in Coffee Bay: – Coffee bay was our last beach experience on this route. We loved the way this region has not been industrialized and urbanized. We loved the interaction with the locals and even being able to take a cultural tour here. It was our best experience in South Africa.
Drakensberg region: – This is the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, which encloses the central Southern African plateau. The Great Escarpment reaches its greatest elevation in this region – 2,000 to 3,482 metres. It is located in South Africa and Lesotho. The reason we went to this region is because we wanted to ride up Sani Pass. Sani pass is categorized as one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It is also one of the most difficult roads to ride and drive. Our adventurous minds could not let us miss this road. We stayed at a very beautiful hostel at the foot of Sani Pass (16 kms away) called Sani Pass Backpackers and took a day to acclimatize since we were going to climb up on the high altitude. While here, we did a hike in the small hills that are part of their farm and visited a waterfall in the neighboring hotel Sani Pass Premier resort. This waterfall is only accessible through the hotel. They do not charge anything but they will ask to see your identification and fill in an indemnity form as the water fall is in their property. There after we entered Lesotho and exited on the other side of the country entering in to Clarens region. We thereafter went down to Elgro Lodge for the Horizon Unlimited event and finally to Johannesburg to prepare to ship out of South Africa to South America.
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