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South Africa on a tour or alone?

London, United...
Level Contributor
35 posts
78 reviews
South Africa on a tour or alone?

Hi there, were two female friends who would love to visit South Africa. However, I've heard so many stories about how dangerous is SA that I'm wondering what's the best way to discover this beautiful country?! Is it better to book a tour or just plan our trip the way we want it. We recently came back from Colombia and Peru which aren't safe destinations and everything went well. We are wise women but sometimes it's not enough! Please help!

19 replies to this topic
Johannesburg, South...
Destination Expert
for Johannesburg
Level Contributor
5,688 posts
1. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

There are many threads here on the subject of safety.

I suggest you follow this link, and pay particular attention to reply #2.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/ShowTopic-g293…

The "safety issue" is greatly exaggerated by the media, and disgruntled ex pats :-)

enjoy your visit,

Regards

Gavin, Owner -- Serval tours & Transfers

Edited: 04 May 2018, 17:41
Glasgow, United...
Level Contributor
756 posts
64 reviews
2. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

I've recently returned from a trip to Cape Town and the Garden Route. I spent my time in Cape Town with friends and then drove the Garden Route alone from Addo back to Cape Town, spending nine nights doing so, and I had no issues at all.

I think as long as you use common sense and do a bit of research you are highly unlikely to have any issues. I think having some travel experience to the destinations you mentioned would serve you well. Much like those places South Africa does have its issues, but as a tourist if you research the place you visit you are unlikely to encounter any problems.

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Level Contributor
9,514 posts
65 reviews
3. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

Numerous travel agencies sell a comprehensive trip called 'A World In One Country'. It shortchanges you somewhat on the wildlife viewing, but does take you through numerous parts of South Africa.

Long Island, New...
Level Contributor
6,618 posts
21 reviews
4. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

Yes, in the UK you’ll hear lots of scary stuff. Too bad - S Africa is a great holiday destination.

It depends on what kind of trip you’re looking for. Group tours are generally not the best way to experience most areas and unnecessary. If you share what you’d like to see and do, we can help you decide the best way to do it.

Leeds, United...
Destination Expert
for Western Cape, Cape Town Central
Level Contributor
5,281 posts
625 reviews
5. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

I would really encourage you to do it yourselves. South Africa does have its safety issues and crime problems, but as a tourist you’re highly unlikely to be affected, just as in South America. You sound like wise travellers. I have been to this beautiful country over 20 times, mostly travelling on my own and never had any problems.

The easiest way to get around is in a rental car. You can also fly easily between some destinations.

Most of the tours I’ve seen try to fit too much in. South Africa is a big country!

Leigh-on Sea...
Level Contributor
4,650 posts
6 reviews
6. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

hire a car and be independent. If you drive in London you will find driving in SA a doddle, they drive on the same side of the road to us, roads are good, it is very Westernized and most people speak English .

you have visited Peru and Columbia and lived to tell the tale , South Africa works in the same way i.e. keep out of the 'no go' areas that tourists wouldn't want to visit anyway. South Africans are some of the most friendly , helpful people in the world and you are unlikely to experience any problems whatsoever. I have driven thousands of miles with my disabled husband (we are both pensioners) over several visits and often off the beaten track and, as same as the majority of the posters on this forum, ever encountered any problems.

Should you still not be confident to go independently there are many UK Tour Operators that offer group tours eg. Travelsphere, Trailfinders, Saga, Riveria Travel , Virgin etc. . However, as SA is such a vast country and the tours seem to cover great distances, I would say that you would be spending many hours in a coach with early starts.

London, United...
Level Contributor
35 posts
78 reviews
7. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

First of all, Thanks a lot everyone! I really appreciate all your opinions and advice! As a matter of fact, every country isn't 100% safe, starting with England (where I live). I don't get scared easily but when I keep hearing people's stories then I just start to wonder... South Africa has been on my bucket list for a very long time... And having been to South America and many other countries, I'm thinking why not visiting SA this year? We don't have an itinerary yet but would love to go to Cape Town and do a safari for sure. I need to do some research as well but if you have any suggestion, I'm very open :) I have a UK driving licence but not my friend so I don't mind driving but maybe not long distances. Do they have manual cars to rent? I know it will sound silly to you but I enjoy manual better than automatic! Also, I've always travelled without a tour operator and it is definitely how I like it. Many thanks to all again!

Pretoria, South...
Level Contributor
3,116 posts
28 reviews
8. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

You're in luck: the car hire companies have manual transmission as a default:-) . I think anyone wanting an automatic has to explicitly request it. Distances between places are quite significant, so if you don't want to do much driving you're going to have to consider domestic flights. There are intercity buses - currently on strike - and very limited long-distance train services.

Re "safaris", see the two pinned threads on Kruger for useful information.

Edited: 06 May 2018, 10:06
Leeds, United...
Destination Expert
for Western Cape, Cape Town Central
Level Contributor
5,281 posts
625 reviews
9. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

You can quite easily put together an itinerary where you don’t drive too much. For example, you can easily drive around Cape Town, within 2 hours drive of the city there are some beautiful spots. Lots of people drive the Garden Route. I don’t bother any more, as I can find some lovely places closer, although the sea is colder! I hate the 5 hour drive from Cape Town to the start of the Garden Route.

The Kruger for self drive or the private lodges surrounding the Kruger would be the best place for a safari. But there are also reserves in the Eastern Cape and KZN.

The reserves in the Western Cape are too small for me, but others enjoy them. You can easily catch a flight from Cape Town to one of the Kruger airports.

I’m sure you’ll have a great and safe time!

South Africa
Level Contributor
1,760 posts
23 reviews
10. Re: South Africa on a tour or alone?

I agree with most of the advice above. The safety issue aside, there is something to be said for the value of an experienced tour guide to enrich your experience. If not for the entire trip (which can be expensive) at least consider using a guide for some parts of it.

One of the most interesting walks you can do in Cape Town is a guided walking tour called Footsteps to Freedom. The stories, history and knowledge shared by a passionate guide who knows the area well, can really add value for you, especially on a first trip.

Same thing on safari. Many regulars on here are fans of self-driving Kruger (including myself) but we have all done it many times. Our own knowledge and understanding of the bush is sufficient to make every game drive fascinating. But when you do a safari for the first time, and you don't know what you are looking for or what you are looking at, it is really very enriching to have an experienced, professional guide with you who can help you find the animals and interpret (even anticipate) their behaviour and interactions. He or she will explain about the landscape and ecology and share many interesting facts about everything you see, from bugs and plants to elephants and giraffe.

Yes, driving yourself is cheap and easy and very doable, and many do this and have a great time. But for a first time safari, I would always recommend going with a guide, on an open safari vehicle. And guides differ in quality. Some guides are hard to understand and do nothing more than pointing out the animals and saying what they are. With some luck and prodding, a poor guide might share a few facts or crack a few jokes. But once you've been on safari with a top notch guide who really knows the bush, is good with people and understands what makes a safari special, you will find it was worth every penny.

Have fun!

Onne from Wild Wings Safaris

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