Thursday, May 3, 2012

Trip Summary

This is a continuation of our Munich & South Africa trip. You can find the full trip itinerary here. 

We had a really great time in South Africa! The planning took a lot of research, but I enjoyed it. As I mentioned previously, I planned the trip mostly myself with the exception the safari since I got a better rate booking through an agent.

Us in Franschhoek at the Boschendal Wine Estate

Our favorite was by far the safari! We would highly recommend everyone to do a safari at least once. We hope to be able to do it again one day. :) Franschhoek was also wonderful and we would definitely want to go back. It was such a relaxing town with beautiful views and great food. Cape Town was pretty but felt very touristy. We did really enjoy the Test Kitchen, and it was definitely the best food during our trip. Johannesburg wasn't our favorite and unless you plan to visit other sights such as Sandton, Gold Reef City, etc. I wouldn't recommend a special trip to just Johannebsurg.

Some highlights from our trip:
  • Our first safari -- it was really cool to be on a safari and be around animals in the wild
  • Our first trip to the African continent -- hopefully not our last!
  • Our longest spa experience together -- 3.5 hours of pure bliss and relaxation!
  • First trip together flying in business class -- we're spoiled for life :p
  • Outstanding food at the Test Kitchen -- Definitely one of our top 3 meals ever

Here are a couple of tips from our experience:
  • Tipping: Similar to the US, tipping is customary in South Africa. You can tip around 10% for services and at restaurants.  There are sometimes random parking/street attendants that watch your car; you can give them 2-5 Rand. If you do go on a safari, definitely tip the ranger and tracker. Tip them in person if you can as it is more personal and you know that they receive the tip directly. There is also usually a staff tip box also for lodges/guesthouses.  
  • Safety: People are generally really nice and friendly. However, just like Indonesia, due to the gap between the haves and have nots, we still saw a lot of poverty in South Africa. We saw shanty towns next to nicer areas, and there were some people asking for money in certain areas -- something to be aware of. A lot of people are worried about safety. Generally speaking, just be aware of your surroundings and do not wear heavy jewelry or overly luxurious stuff. 
  • Weather: We went in March/April which is South Africa's fall season. Weather was around 70-80 F throughout our stay with some rain showers, but overall we had really great weather. Their peak season is December/January. Low season starts in May and you can typically get really good rates in May or September/October/November.
  • Currency: South Africa has their own currency (Rand). We used our credit card that had no foreign transaction fees for most of our purchases. We did have to get cash to pay for some of the tours, and I recommend just withdrawing from ATM as opposed to exchanging money.
  • Driving: South Africans drive on the left side of the road. It took a while for Dan to get used to it, but generally driving was ok--well marked street signs, paved roads, etc. We didn't drive much in the city though, only to/from Franschhoek, which probably made it easier. We didn't need an international license, just our local US state license to bring and show the rental car agency.
  • Cost: Food prices in South Africa are really good and quite cheap compared to the U.S.  Hotel prices are also very reasonable, with the exception of the safari portion. The safari can get really expensive, but there are cheaper options if you don't need a luxury lodge for your stay.

Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any questions :)

No comments:

Post a Comment