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Author: tbnied1

Joined: 8/28/2012
Posts: 1

August 28, 2012

The review, "South Africa Highlights Tour the Best" by my husband, Robert Nied, regarding our trip beginning July 14, 2012, may be found on the "Reviews" page for this tour.  It is dated during the last seven days.  No part of this review duplicates the previous review.

This review is composed of a list of suggestions to make this tour more enjoyable and more educational for travelers.  They are:

1.  Engage your Program Guide in conversation about topics that interest you that he did not present as part of his formal presentation on the bus.  He or she is a tremendous source of information about almost all topics South Africa.  Likewise, if your driver is either Colored or Black, he can add to your knowledge about his personal life during the Rebellion and afterwards.

2.  Obtain a 10 day weather forecast beginning two days before departure and the historical weather for the month of travel. 

3.  To lighten your baggage layer your clothing for any expected cold weather, especially during the open jeep safari ride in Kruger National Park.  You may wish to consider a light windbraker as the top garment.   A securable hat, light leather or wool gloves, and a scarf will be very helpful to keep you reasonably warm.

4.  From at least the fifth floor of your hotel in Cape Town try to view the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean, a truly spectacular view, as is a similiar view over the Indian Ocean from your hotel or from the ocean front in Port Elixabeth.

5.  Within fifty yards or so of the monument to Elizabeth, the namesake for Port Elizabeth and the location of one of your tour sites, is the city's travel bureau where you can obtain two modestly priced walking tour guide books, one with more than twenty stops for a next-day walking tour, if you wish.  You will be able to cover about ten or so locations, but they are all worth the time and effort.

6.  Bring along or purchase along the way reading material for the long bus rides and evenings without late entertainment.

7.  The add-on excursion to Pretoria that can be arranged the day or so before is well worth the modest additional cost.  Consider buying fruit from the many stands in the park adjacent to the parliament buildings.

8.  Be conservative in the purchse of the SA currency because almost all purchases can be paid for by either a credit or debit card.  To convert the balance of your local currency at the end of your trip to dollars is very expensive.  One hundred and fifty dollars in local currency obtained from an ATM machine is efficient.

9.  In Cape Town a thirty minute walk along Long Steet,  the adjacent street with the Slave Museum for twenty minutes, and about a little over an hour in the Company Gardens are important for an ovelrview of the downtown area.  Bear in mind that there are pickpockets on these major streets and to protect yourself by being aware of persons close to you and to move away quickly.  Also, know that to obtain a taxi from either street may be very difficult and that you may have a forty-minute walk to a bus at the Riverfront for a ride to your hotel.  

10.  If you wish to visit Robben Island (off the coast of Cape Town) where Nelson Mandella was imprisioned during the last years of his twenty-seven years of imprisonment at two locations, you should purchase tickets for the ferry and the tour several months in advance of your trip.  The internet should provide this opportunity.

11.  Be very judicious in deciding whether or not to protect yourself from malaria, as we experienced no mosquitos during our entire nineteen days on the ground. If there are concerns on the ground, a product such as Deet should be effective.

Thelma Nied, Jacksonville, Florida, August 28, 2012





Author: donaldjudy68

Joined: 8/6/2011
Posts: 14
Traveler Since: 2011

August 30, 2012

Thank you very much for your long informative post on "Highlights of South Africa".  We leave October 9 for the safari pretrip before the regular trip.  We are taking the malaria medicine as recommended.  I see you recommend the Pretoria tour as we were debating about that.  We aren't sure what to do with Johannsburg as we have too much free time.  Has anyone done a tour through the hotel in Johannsburg?  I've read about safety problems.  Is going to the Rosebank or Melrose Malls interesting?  Other suggestions for Johannsburg??  We are interested in Robben Island so will look into that.  What interesting things did you buy in South Africa?  Would love to hear from others going on the October trip.

Author: rmnied

Joined: 8/28/2012
Posts: 6
Traveler Since: 1998

September 02, 2012


With regard to Jo'Burg, Donald and Judy, you will find that you do not have "too much free time," as you say, if you spend four or five hours in the Apartheid Museum (Yes, it is worth that much time if you so some reading in advance about that dreadful, long period (1948 to 1991) of SA history), walk through the heart of the city to visit its municipal buildings,  libraries,  monuments, gardens and parks, indoor and outdoor markets, Mandella Place (a very upscale indoor mall on several levels) and its surrounds,  restaurants for lunches and any dinners on your own, and other sites recommended by a walking tour from the local visitors bureau, a good guide book, your tour guide and driver, and commercial websites.  The city is worth at least four full days.  We had the exceedingly shot period of two days.

With regard to a "tour through the hotel in Johannesburg,  as you say, all hotels deserve a walking tour on your own.  You will find worthwhile wall-hangiings, paintings, prints, and sculptures (these give you ideas for your own purchases in the markets and shops), often attractive wallpaper in the halls, and well-appointed restaurants and bars, and often a gym and pool.  I would do your hotel touring after dinner or before breakfast so as not to take time away from touring and walking.during daylight hours.

A safety matter is dscussed in the above posting.  Beyond that, do not limit your touring of areas with many people of mixed races in any city during daylight hours before sunset.  Do not walk a street with few people even in the immediate area of your hotel, as property owners have security dogs that run free and can be very frightening.  If you wish to walk in the immediate area of your hotel, seek advice from hotel personnel for safe streets. 

South Africa is known for batik wall-hangings and its paint variation (It looks a little like a Pollock paintings but with a design) and mohair wall-hangings imported from Lesotho.  (A two and one-half foot by three and one-half foot hanging will cost about R2500 with a rebate of the 14 percent value-added tax at the airport---well worth the money. The price is pretty well fixed in the better shops. It can be tightly tied to occupy little space.  Capetown is the usual place to find them.)  Other local artifacts are wood carvings.  Your hotels will have these and other quality souvenirs for sale at fair prices.  Check out the few websites that advertise art objects of SA.  A woman in Connecticut sells the mohair wall-hangs, if you don't find your desired size in SA; but you will pay, in part,  for her shopping trips to SA.

Robert Nied, Jacksonville, Florida 

Author: donaldjudy68

Joined: 8/6/2011
Posts: 14
Traveler Since: 2011

September 04, 2012


Thank you for your long reply to my questions.  I googled the batik wall hangings and put them on my list for shopping.  Glad they can be tied up for packing..  Also hope to get a mask, wood carvings etc.  Our whole house is "traveling" so Africa should be included too!  Since we already do the Apartheid Museum and Soweto with Grand Circle already, we might do the Pretoria optional tour. Did you take it?  I see they don't have it on the 2013 trips. We'll check with the hotel about safety issues and where we can go. Is Johannsburg the main place where safety is a real concern?  Thanks again.   Judy

Author: rmnied

Joined: 8/28/2012
Posts: 6
Traveler Since: 1998

September 05, 2012

Yes, we enjoyed our (modestly priced) day (including driving from Jo'Burg and returning) in Pretoria very much, viewing the imposing early Twentieth Century, British-built office buildings of the Executive Branch of the SA government, walking slowly through the downtown city square with its many (but not too many) fruit and vegetable vendors), purchasing an apple and a pear for about three Rands each, being dwarfed by a monument to Jan Smuts (if my memory is correct) and listening to our excellend tour guide, John Fisk, expound on what were experiencing,  the history of the city, and the operation and locations (three cities) of the three branches of the national goverment. Such an arrangements appears to foster gross  inefficiencies, but that is SA!  I recall having a little free time to look about on our own, as well as having lunch at our expense but together with the almost full busload of tour members at a very satisfactory restaurant.  Websites should give you a good bit more about the City and what to do during any free time.

With regard to safety, you will note that my first posting did not refer to Jo'Burg specifically.

I hope the above is helpful.  I will be glad to anwer any further questions. 

Robert Nied, Jacksonville,  Florida

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