Many South Africa Questions??

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Jan 16th, 2006, 12:42 PM
  #1
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Many South Africa Questions??

We are about 2 months away from our trip and I still have many questions----
First our trip is to Krugar than Capetown-any advice on either area would be great!
1. Also,there are many differnt types of malaria meds. I am not asking for medical advice but has anyone had a positive or negative experience with a certain type? Is one prefered over another?
2. What colors should I stay away from for the safari (I know tan and greens are ok?) but which shouldn't I pack?
3. Finally, I have read recently about droughts in Northern Africa....is this also the case in South Africa (Kruger)? Our safari is in March and while we knew it would not be lush and green...I was wondering what to expect.
4. After checking the average temps for March I saw that 75 was the high and 65 was the average low. For some reason, I thought it was cooler at night?
5. Our tour is booked as well as travel and accomodations, however we should we tip our guide in dollars? Also, should we expect to find ATM's and visa/mastercard accepted at most places?
6. We do have one free day in Capetown and we thinking of climbing Table Mountain...is there a trail, is it safe to do alone or should we have a guide?
7. We already have a decent camera 5x optical zoom, but are looking for something a bit better we found a great deal on the Kodak Z740 (10z optical, 5x digital zoom) anyone know anything about this camera or others similar?
Thank you so much for any info that you can provide!
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Jan 16th, 2006, 12:49 PM
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One more question....
The hotels that we are staying at are the Rosebank in Johannesburg,
the Sabi River Sun near Kruger,
and the Portswood in Cape Town
Has anyone had experience at any of these or know of them?
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Jan 16th, 2006, 03:40 PM
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Hello,

In answer to your questions...

1. Personally, I have always taken Malarone and had no problems. Do a search on 'malaria' and you will find a lot of information on this topic.

2. Bright colours and dark blue. Dark colours in general are not great as they show dust a lot more and you'll get hot.

3. Sorry, I don't know...Botswana, at least, certainly seems to be getting quite a bit of rain this year.

4. Remember that the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so in March you are looking at late summer/early autumn. Also, 'average' temperatures are usually daytime temperatures.

5. Rand are preferred. There are ATMs everywhere and Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. The only exception is if you need to buy petrol (gas) for a rental car -- in that case, you'll need to pay in cash.

6. There are a number of paths you can take to climb Table Mountain. Some are harder/more hazardous than others. I'm afraid I don't know much more than this.

7. If you are looking for a 'prosumer' super-zoom, I'd advise taking a look at the Panasonic FZ series cameras -- they are widely acknowledged as the best in the super-zoom category and come with built-in optical stabilisation which will be a big help with camera shake (a big factor when you have a 12x zoom lens). The FZ-30 is the newest camera (8MP); many people are happy with the FZ-20 (5MP) which has also come down a lot in price. I used an FZ20 before switching to digital SLR.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 16th, 2006, 05:03 PM
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Thank you so much for all of the info...I knew that bright colors were off limits. However, what is the reasoning behind not wearing blue?
Is black ok?
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Jan 17th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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The Portswood Hotel in Cape Town is lovely and very well situated for the waterfront. The staff was incredible and the rooms very comfortable.

Regarding blue - I know that mosquitoes are attracted to blue and I have also heard that other biting insects (like the tsetse fly) are attracted to it. I think you'll be ok with black.

We've used Malarone twice now (Brazil and Africa) with very little trouble. My husband had some heart palaptations, but he is prone them anyway.

We generally used rand to tip with, although at the lodge in Sabi Sands we put the tip for the guide and tracker on our credit card with our incidentals when we checked out. We did it in USD and then they could convert it for the guide. Credit cards were accepted pretty much everywhere (except in Zimbabwe, but you aren't going there).

Don't know the Kodak camera, but you will appreciate having the 10x optical zoom. The downgrade in quality of pictures using the digital zoom is such that I didn't use it at all. With the 10x optical I was able to get some incredible photos.

Hope this helps. Have a great trip!
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Jan 17th, 2006, 07:30 AM
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MGTR

Couple of answers to the questions which I think are still a bit vague. I hope these help clarify...

1. Colours
Essentially stay away from bright or bold colours. Washed out natural colours are the best as you fit into your surroundings. Even black as a block of colour stands out and is therefore to be avoided.

2. Hiking trails up Table Mountain
There was a recent news article in an African Travel magazine on problems on the lower stretches of these routes with muggers annoyingly. It might have been solved with better policing by the time you are there. Ask local advice when you are there and if it is less safe to do it at the moment they should be able to point you in the right direction for interesting and safe routes.

Richard
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Jan 17th, 2006, 10:33 AM
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I recently hiked Table mountain with a fabulous guide, we walked from the cable station over to Kirstenbosch, about 6 hours. The views were spectacular and the fynbos fascinating.
My guides name was Ray Green, he is an enthusiastic mountain guide, relatively inexpensive.
You will need to arrange transport to and from the mountain, which he can assist you with.
Have a look at his website. www.greentrails.co.za

The mountain is safe and the trails well marked, however and unless you are familiar with the terrain I would encourage walking with a guide who knows the ropes.
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Jan 17th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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In southern Africa, the colors black and blue are used on flags to trap tsetse flies because they are attracted to those colors. I wouldn't wear either color in the bush.

ShayTay
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Jan 17th, 2006, 07:55 PM
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mgtr,

When it comes to climbing Table Mountain it certainly is a possibility and it can be done on 2-3 hours if you take the easiest of the routes available viz. Plattekloof George. While saying this bear in mind that there are over 300 pathways that one can take up Table Mountain with some being as easy as Plattekloof while others being very hard and only meant for the very experienced climber.

Most folk hike up the mountain and take the cablecar down. I suppose the main reason for doing things in this manner is that everyone likes to say that they climbed Table Mountain however another very good reason is that the down walk is rather hard on ones knees. Whatever you do if you decide to walk up or down make sure that you do the following:

1. Carry lots of water with you

2. Ensure that you have something warm to wear no matter what the weather is on the day as things can change rapidly in this regard.

3. Make sure that you have much sunscreen applied and definitely wear a hat or a cap.

4. Carry a cellphone with you in case of emergency

5. You should not need a guide however try to walk with others by waiting at the starting point for others to arrive and then join their walking party.

Do not underestimate Table Mountain in terms of climatic changes and things going wrong while hiking the mountain. Even though the walk up Plattekloof George is a relatively easy one even experienced walkers have landed up in trouble in the past so be careful no matter what.

When on the pathways you will find that they are very well demarcated and you will have no problem finding your way.

If you decide to do the hike have a taxi take you to the Plattekloof George start point as all taxi drivers know exactly where this spot is.

Hope the above helps and that you will enjoy our city to the full when you visit us.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Jan 17th, 2006, 09:12 PM
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Hi mgtr,

I took malarone, in Sept-Oct 05, with no side effects, and I have a very easily upset stomach. It is expensive, however from my research, it was my best choice, and I would not hesitate to use it again!
On hotels- I stayed at the Rosebank Grace (not sure if that is the hotel in Joberg you are referring to), but it was quite lovely! Their spa was a wonderful way to start my vacation, and to recover from the 26 hour flight/layover time. There is also a lovely mall at Rosebank, with a smallish craft marketplace- very nice. We had dinner at a wonderful steakhouse in the rear of the mall- Gosh- the BEST STEAK DINNER I have EVER had!!!!
In South Africa (the country) everything is done in Rand. Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted in the cities. ATM's are available (make sure your pin # is only 4 digits). I exchanged money at the airport- very easy, and then got more if I needed it out of the ATM's. The Rand is gaining on the dollar lately, so it may???? be worth exchanging money here in the USA now, but you will need to take a look at that for yourself! I checked at www.oanda.com for the exchange rate (cheat sheet) quite frequently before we left for vecation. The printed cheat cheet came in handy in Zimbabwe, where there were just too many ,000's to keep track of in Zim dollars. Have a Great Time!! Suzi
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Jan 18th, 2006, 01:07 AM
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The Rosbank is a different and older hotel to the Grace, but I can't comment in any detail. I've used the hotel but not for a long time and not for accommodation. But it's a 4* and as far as I know of a good standard. It's Lien Wah Chinese restaurant has been going for many years and I think has a good reputation, although it's been a long since I eat there.

I stayed at the Sabi River Sun for a week about three years ago. It is part of the major Southern Sun Hotel Group. We had a self-catering (although they have a restaurant) two-bedroomed thatched chalet that was very large. Also with a patio/braai area. Just a stroll acorss one of the golf course fairways to the river, where there are a number of hippos. My guess is that most visitors would be golfers, although it's also convenient for access to Kruger Park. But they also have tennis courts, a squash court and a bowling green.

I presume you have website addresses for both the above, I can post them if you don't.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 01:09 AM
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Ouch! I mean "Its Lien Wah . . ."
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Jan 18th, 2006, 01:19 AM
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After looking at the website for Sabi River Sun, which only refers to "rooms and suites", I've jealised that my description of the chalet is probably irrelevant. You're most likely booked into one of the former, the latter are timeshare units. But they're all in the same grounds.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 03:20 AM
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Thank you so much for all of the information and advice. Very helpful. Since you all have such a wealth of knowledge....I will ask a few more...
1) What type of convertor will we need to plug in items (hair dryer, etc.-we are in US)
2) Will the ride from Johannesburg to Kruger be scenic? (is it about 4-5 hours?)
3) My husband and I are having the ongoing discussion about where to keep passport, credit cards, etc. When we travel, I prefer to keep them on me. He thinks it is safer to leave in a hotel safe, etc. I know many of you are seasoned travelers...any opinions?
4) A person that we know from South Africa said that the malaria pills really aren't needed. Granted, we have traveled before to central american regions that we should have taken them and didn't...just loaded up on deet. We will only be in Kruger for 4 days...during the dry season. I have notoriously bad reactions to medicine.
5) I always like to pack CD's or download songs on the ipod that get us in the mood for wherever we are traveling...any suggestion for music or specific artists?
Thank you again!
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Jan 18th, 2006, 03:51 AM
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1) The convertor needs to be one that steps down from 240 to 110. Also note that you will need to carry a socket adaptor as the outlets are configured diffferently in SA
2) The drive JNB_Kruger is magnificent particularly the last half of the journey as you pass through the escarpment of the drakensberg mts. Yes drive time is 5 hours, however give yourself an extra hour to browse the roadside markets and to drink in the scenery.
3) I prefer to be unincumbered when I do trips, so will leave valuables in a locked safe at the hotel.
4) Quite frankly if you are in the kruger between May and September you have no need for prohylactics. If you require peace of mind, no harm done taking the precautions.
5) I could list quite a few, however have no clue what your tastes are. Personally for the drive into Mpumalanga I enjoy some thundering classical played at full volume. but if you want some vibey typically African numbers, I never fail to enjoy Johnny Clegg and Savuka or Jaluka. Listen scaterlings of Africa as you pass through the rural farmlands.

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Jan 18th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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mgtr,

To answer some of your questions:

The electricity supply in South Africa is 220-250 volts, 50 Hz.

To see in pictorial form what plugs we use in SA please go to
www.ILoveCapeTown.com/saplugs/plugs.htm

The only time you will ever need a passport on you while in SA is when you want to do a cashing transaction in a bank. Thus my advice is duplicates of passports, laminate them and bring them with to to SA You wont need to carry your original passport or ID anywhere in SA. Just have some duplicated documents to carry around with you so as to identify yourself.
This will suffice.

A very impotant point on the same subject is that please note that your U.S. Passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your intended stay and MUST MUST MUST contain two blank facing visa pages.

Heres a neat little tip for wherever you travel:

Always put a $100 bill in your shoe wherever you travel so that you have
instant cash available at all times in case of an emergency.

Hope this all helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa


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Jan 18th, 2006, 08:25 AM
  #17
 
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our trip is mid-march if that makes any difference
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Jan 18th, 2006, 09:16 AM
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Then you should consider the anti malarial prophylactics.
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