Cape Town- Rental car, tours or car w/driver? HELP!

May 6th, 2009, 03:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 23
Cape Town- Rental car, tours or car w/driver? HELP!

Hi everyone,

I am wondering what the best way to get around Cape Town is? Should we rent a car (is it easy to navigate around the city), take public transportation and book tours for Winelands and Cape of Good Hope (I don't think public transportation goes there), or should we hire a car with a driver?

For whichever you recommend, do you have any local places I can contact (local car rental companies, tours, drivers). Below is our tentative itinerary- any modifications are highly recommended too!

May 13- arrive in Cape Town at 10am, check into hotel, check out waterfront and downtown area, Robbens Island, Castle of Good Hope
May 14- Table Mountain / Kirtschenbosch Gardens
May 15- Winelands
May 16- day trip to Hermanus? not sure if it's worth it since it's not whale watching season but might be a nice relaxing trip
May 17- Cape of Good Hope or 2nd day in Hermanus? I can't tell from the guidebooks if I can combine some of these things together..for example can I do Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope in one day?
May 18- Leave Cape Town for 9 am flight to Johannesburg -> Kruger

Also, what is the best (aka cheapest) way to get from the airport to the downtown area?

Any advice you can provide would be appreciated!
lilladki is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 09:08 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,085
Driving around Cape Town and the areas you mention is easy. You can rent a car from Avis, which you can arrange online. We have rented from them several times (in several Southern Africa locations, including Cape Town) and have always been happy with the service/car. When you arrive in Cape Town you may pick your car up at the Avis outlet at the airport or, if you are tired after a long international flight (not the best time to tackle driving on the left if that is not the norm for you) take a taxi - Avis will deliver the car to your hotel the next day for a small fee.

There is no reason why you can't do the tour to the Winelands on your own, as long as one of your group is comfortable with driving on the left and is willing to be the DD. If you look at my trip report and photos from our 2008 visit to CT (link is below - see towards the bottom of page 3) there is a description with photos of our day trip to the Winelands last August - there is enough info that, with a map, you could figure out our route. It (the Four Passes Route - an out and back from CT) is a favourite - great scenery and, of course, top wineries!

Although you may not see whales, the trip to Hermanus along the east coast of False Bay is a very worthwhile trip. The road winds its way along the coast, and is every bit as spectacular as the better known Chapman’s Peak Drive, but a lot less busy.

The Cape of Good Hope and Hermanus in one day would be too much - you need a day for each.

For the Cape of Good Hope, go south along the east coast in the morning - you want to travel clockwise from Cape Town so that you catch the sunset over the Atlantic at the end of the day), taking in the surfers at Muizenberg Beach, the whales at Simsonstown, the penguins at Boulders Beach (take the second entrance, where you can swim amongst the penguins - you don't want the first entrance, where you are restricted to the boardwalk) and then Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. There is an excellent short hike between Cape Point (park here) and the Cape of Good Hope - it will you take about an hour return. Be certain to take the side trip to Diaz Beach - very pretty but involes a lot of stairs. If you have a picnic lunch with you, Diaz Beach, Platboom Bay or Buffels Bay (all within the Cape of Good Hope Reserve) are all great picnic sites - just be wary of baboons. Return to Cape Town along the west coast (hopefully Chapman's Peak Drive is open again) - stop along the coast and enjoy a bottle of wine while watching the sunset over the Atlantic - it is always spectacular!

Be certain to visit the shop at the main entrance to Kirstenbosch - a bit pricey but great variety!

Hope this helps! Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
May 7th, 2009, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 378
I'm not a very assertive driver (I drive very defensively), but I found driving in Cape Town to be relatively easy. The hardest part is adjusting to driving on the left side of the road, but I did some driving in Kruger before my trip to Cape Town--that prepared me for the difference.
Gritty is offline  
May 7th, 2009, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,891
hi lilladki,

ditto what Robin and Gritty have said. driving is easy and the signage good.

I agree that you shouldn't think about trying to fit in the cape and hermanus in one day; indeed, I'm not sure that out of whale season, I'd bother with hermanus at all, but you could call in there on the way back from the winelands, I think, just to have a look.

i like the rest of your itinerary - but you do know that you ought to pre-book the trip to Robbin Island don't you? we didn't and we couldn't go. [though it was very shoppy too at the time, and I'm not sure that we really missed much].

my not to misses in capetown area:

table mountain.
if you get there at 10am or 12noon, and you can take part in a free walk round the summit - it took about 90 mins and was really interesting. it goes from the seating area about 50ms from the top of the cable car.

kirstenbosch gardens.
we made the mistake of getting there late due to a flat tyre so that the shadows were lengthening. even so, we loved it.

the cape.
you can go to Boulders beach on the way, and chapman's peak on the way back. if you get the funicular to the very top, there is a walk that says - to the end, 90 mins. it's more like 30 there, 30 back. the restaurant at the bottom is excellent.

for this I would get a driver/guide [there was a thread about this not very long ago] and pre-book a nice place for lunch. that way you don't have to worry about drinking and the guide will know the loveliest places to go which a bit off the beaten track.

have a great trip,

regards, ann
annhig is online now  
May 7th, 2009, 11:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 4,215
Excellent itinerary except the SET date for table mountain: Go as soon as the table has no "table cloth" on top. Adjust the itinerary to the table mountain part. Whatever might be on your schedule: go for it. Whatever is in the pipeline: adjust to the table mountain visit!

Enjoy your trip!

spassvogel is offline  
May 7th, 2009, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097

Firstly heres my thoughts re the self drive vs tour with a guide scenario

In a nutshell in answer to your question my answer to you would be that if you can afford it then it certainly is worth having a private guide.

My reasons for saying this are:

1. You will save an enormous amount of time seeing the area as you will not be wasting time travelling from spot to spot trying to find your way – that is if you have chosen a knowledgeable guide

2. You will all see the area as you will not be in a position of one of you driving and one of you nagigating; oops I mean navigating

3. If you drive with a good tourguide you will more than likely be travelling in a way that you will see all the little hidden secret places that locals frequent as opposed to the normal touristy places that all the tourbooks suggest. In actual fact you should see the REAL South Africa

4. Depending on your guide for the journey you should be able to walk away from your visit to our country with a very good idea as to what we are all about in South Africa and furthermore how truly beautiful our country is.

The drawback to all of the above is that it will generally cost you more than if you drive yourself or tour on a group scheduled tour but then you have to ask yourself after investing so much money and time to simply arrive in South Africa is it not worth your while investing slightly more and obtaining a close to perfect holiday for your extra investment?

Now let me tell you why, unlike all the other advise you have had in this thread, I definitely recommend you hire a guide and please prepare yourself because this is not going to be pleasant news; as a matter of fact I hope that I am wrong in giving you this advice

You are arriving in Cape Town at 10h00 on May 13 and right now the latest weather forecasts (reasonably accurate most times) predict that at 17h00 on Tuesday May 12 the heavens are going to open and we are going to have rain, rain and more rain in Cape Town. Presently the weather forecasts only predict through to Thursday May 14 but as matters stand if the forecasts are correct (In Cape Town they are generally very close to correct) it will still be raining on Thursday night at 20h00 and who knows when it will stop. I am really sorry to bring this news to you as it wont make your Cape Town journey an optimal one however rather be forearmed and ready than obtain a horrid surprise is the way I see matters. I have been through this situation on so many occasions in the Winter months in Cape Town that I can tell you with surety that you are going to pull your hair out trying to work out what to do and when to do it if you try and do this journey on your own while it rains. If the predictions are correct then your Robben Island and Table Mountain plans are a definite no go zone on the days that you have planned. Due to possible morning mist I would even go as far as saying that your Peninsula drive and Hermanus journey has a 50/50 chance of coming off. I can but only hope that most of the above will be available to be done from Friday morning onwards.

So why do I say hire a guide? When you hire a guide he/she will tell you what can and cannot be done on the day. A good guide will watch the weather forecasts very keenly and when you tell him/her what your total intentions are he/she will hopefully, knowing locations, distances and all the little tricks with regard to going to these places, be able to shuffle all around so as to accommodate most of what you want to do. Needless to say if the weather is not going to clear up between Thurs May 14 and Sunday May 17 then your journey to Cape Town is not going to be one of the best options because not even a highly experienced guide will be able to have you see the big spots or for that matter many hidden secrets

May I also comment that in my opinion your planned itinerary seems to be a good one however with the rain prediction you might have to start looking for some indoor entertainment. Once again this where a good guide could prove to be very handy. Two further comments:

1. You most certainly cannot, due to distance to cover, do the Hermanus / Cape Point drive in one day.

2. The best way to travel from the airport to the city centre would be by private shuttle. Contact Johnny Maasdorp at Meljo Tours. His service is efficient and well priced. His prices are better than taxis from the airport and the only way that you could beat the price is if you hire a car at the airport. If you decide to use Meljos and are happy with their shuttle service my suggestion would be that you speak to them about touring you in Cape Town as they are a group of competent tourguides. Btw in Cape Town if you ask someone to travel downtown they will take you to the lowest part of the city; “Downtown” is an Amercanism that does not work in South Africa

No matter what you decide I can assure you that even in the rain Cape Town is still a great city to visit and you will enjoy yourselves.

Enjoy my city when you visit us be it in the rain or not.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
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