Rent a car or hire a guide?


May 19th, 2003, 05:41 AM
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Rent a car or hire a guide?

Traveling to Cape Town in Oct. I would like to go to the Cape Pennisula, wine area, Table Mountain, Robbins Island, Hermmanus etc.

Is it better to rent a car and drive yourself around or hire a driver? If a driver is better, how expensive is it and are there any suggestions as to how to find a good driver/guide.
macjoy is offline  
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May 19th, 2003, 06:00 AM
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We had three full days in CPT and everything was prebooked from the States.
Except for the day we went out to Hermanus to dive with the Great Whites which is a very interesting experience. And in Oct you might still see the Whales.
The other days we had same guide who took us out to Winelands, to vineyards, to oLa Petite Ferme restaurant for lunch, tour through Stellenbosch and other towns to view the Cape Dutch houses. Guide/Drivers know the roads and fastest ways to get everywhere. Back into CPT, we visited the Malay (Islam) area, drove up to Signal Hill (near sunset) for great view of city and photos, also went on City Tour, do stop in at the District 6 Museum to see what this once vital area of CPT had been before being destroyed by the Apartheid government.
Next day we did Table Mntn first as it was first day no clouds hanging over the mountain. Cable car doesn't go up on cloudy days. Then down to Boulders Beach to see the Jackass Penguins, then onto Cape Point, lunch at a lovely restaurant "The Black Marlin", on return to CPT stopped at Kirstenbosch Gardens. Everything was great and the guide/driver (second day we had a stretch limo and everyone thought we were some celebs when we pulled up), but it's better seeing sights from a van-type vehicle.
Never made it out to Robbin Island, but got great photo of it from atop Signal Hill.
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May 19th, 2003, 06:02 AM
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It is quite easy to rent a car and drive yourself - but it is on the left side.

In CT, there is a guide named Buz Beck, who charges about $100 per day, and he drives. An excellent guide - former teacher, and gives an excellent, informative tour. Use him for one day to see CT, Table Mtn. and the Cape.

Then you can drive N2 to Hermanus and see the whales - an easy tow-hopur drive.

You'll have to work out wine country details - but again, you can drive yourself. Budget is a good rental company in CT.
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May 19th, 2003, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Just another suggestion: if you scroll you will see many informative posts from Selwyn who lives in Cape Town.
pattysuericia is offline  
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May 19th, 2003, 11:12 AM
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Hi Macjoy,

My comments in response to your question are based on the fact that I am a professional tourguide/operator in Cape Town with many years of experience in tourguiding so you are going to hear it straight from the horses mouth as they would say.

There is a lot to be said for both sides of the ?to have a guide - not to have a guide? coin but in the end it all comes down to one point and that is whether you can afford a tourguide or not. There is absolutely no question in my mind as to whether one should hire a guide if one can afford him/her with the answer being definitely in the affirmative. My reasons for saying this are:

1. You will see one heck of a lot more with a tourguide than while travelling on your own.
2. You will be shown how the people of the region live and what they do in their normal daily lives.
3. You will save an enormous amount of time due and thus see much more due to the fact that as already has been said guides generally know their way around.
4. If you have a guide who is worth his/her salt you will come to discover places and little hidden secrets that most visitors never see. In this way you will more than likely also hear local anecdotes, eat local food and once again if the guide is a good guide you will more than likely, other than at the main sight seeing spots, never see a tour bus with other tourists. As an example when I tour Cape Town the only place that my visitors ever see other tourists are at Table Mountain, Cape Point and the penguin colony; the rest of the tour they generally only see locals.
5. There is no question about the fact that when you hire a car the driver sees very little while driving and his co pilot or ?nagigator? oops navigator only sees slightly more. Guides circumvent this problem
6. This is a touchy point and what I am going to say is my own opinion and not necessarily that of other tourguides. I believe that as a tourguide it is ones function to try and secure the very best deals on anything that one does for your visitor. As is well known many tourguides take visitors ?shopping? so as to rake up commissions on sales that their visitors make. I believe that this is highly unprofessional and with that said I know of a couple of other tourguides such as myself in Cape Town who forego commissions earned and pass them on to their visitors as a discount. Of course the first issue is that a guide should only take his visitors shopping if the visitor requests this function and believe me many visitors do make these requests. In this type of scenario to have a tourguide who is trying to secure the best deals for you as the visitor can be very beneficial. I know that there are not too many of these type of guides around but my advice is seek them out at the time of your arranging your tour by asking the question blatantly about commissions and discounts as this could be of great advantage to you the traveller.
7. A good tourguide/operator will, if he works via the internet to secure tours, arrange all for you upfront in such a manner that you need not have to do much other than listen to the guides advice as well as garner whatever you want to of your tour from other sources and then simply instruct him/her to go ahead with the making of plans. If the tourguide does this in a professional manner he/she will make sure that you are allocated the best rooms at your places of stay etc and some guides will even go as far as sending you pictures of the rooms and venues of stay and of places you could possibly visit before you arrive that he/she has taken for you to view beforehand. In this regard bear in mind that brochures of establishments are generally limited and inevitably only say all the good things. A good tourguide will warn you of all these pitfalls such as whether smoking is allowed, will noise be a problem and other quirky things that generally irritate.
8. A guide will do his./her utmost to keep you away from hotspots which lead to you being endangered in your travels. In this case having a guide with you is very advantageous
9. You wont have to worry about what side of the road to drive on if you have a guide doing this for you. Furthermore you wont have to worry about whether you have the best car hire deals or whether your license will be accepted in South Africa etc

The advantage of travelling on ones own with car hire as I see it would be:

1. The ride will be cheaper.
2. Lots of people like the adventure of discovering places on their own and when travelling solo this will always be achieved
3. Sometimes the fun of travelling is to enjoy the mistakes that you make which I assume a guide wont let happen if you travel with him/her.
4. You can plan the whole tour yourself upfront and if you want to do all yourself in this regard. Lost of travellers attain enjoyment out of this type of function. Just look at how much Roccco has enjoyed planning his whole tour. It has been sensational to watch him do this and in his case I believe he has gained enormously from all his efforts. Do understand though that Roccco is a very confident and seasoned traveller and I would never advise that anybody does it as he did it this time round if it were their first visit to a country
5. When you travel on your own you are not linked into a fixed tour plan. Generally a tourguide/operator has planned all for you upfront and that means that little can be changed. In my own experience if my visitors want to change their plans along the way I will move heaven and earth to accommodate this however it is not always possible. As a matter of fact some times when I tour I even suggest changes of itinerary along the way when I recognise what the interests of my visitors are. Once again a good tourguide should attain this for you however good tourguides are a rare breed and that is why I say that when you tour on your own flexibility is a handy factor to have on your side.

There is another side to all of the above and that is that if you decide to tour with a guide should you do it with a group or as a private tour

As I see it two factors come into play over here and that is once again affordation as well as how confident are you to travel on your own as many travellers like the security of a group tour.

The advantages of touring in a private tour are huge when I comes to seeing a country thoroughly because of the following factors:

1. You can do what you want to do without having to consult others.
2. The above factor means you save an enormous amount of time and see much more. Furthermore you can see whatever you see in a qualitative fashion
3. You will not be held up by others when you stop at places and want to go but cant because the rest of the group are all stuck in a toilet or shopping for last trinkets etc.
4. When you are on you are own you have to contend with yourselves and not the personalities of the other people on a group tour. With that said you will have to contend with the personality of the guide and that can provide problems sometimes. This factor is also an important one to consider when deciding whether you should use a guide or not Also remember that there always is a ?Mr. or Mrs. Know all? in a tourgroup and you have to ask yourself whether you want to face these folk every day while you tour

Now a couple of warnings about tourguides in South Africa.

1. NEVER EVER travel with a person who claims to be a tourguide but is not qualified to be as such. Ask to see his or her tourguide badge or THETA (old Satour) card showing their accreditation number that is if they do not wear the official badge. You could be faced with embarrassing situation whereby the so called guide is stopped by the authorities and fined on the spot and told to stop guiding there and then. This had never been enforced in SA up until about 3 months ago when the authorities started stepping up the pace against ?rogue guides? by stopping tourgroups at the main tour places such as Table Mountain and Cape Point in Cape Town
2. ALWAYS check whether your tourguide whom you are travelling with is driving an accredited and licensed vehicle,. When I say licensed I don?t mean having normal licensing; I am also talking about having a license from the local road transportation board to carry paying passengers. You can sit back and say ?so what if he/she is licensed!? Heres a fair warning, if the vehicle is not appropriately licensed I can assure you that the guide is not appropriately insured be it for his vehicle or for you his passenger/s. If anything happens to you along the way you will be sitting high and dry NOT only with the local authorities but there also is a possibility that your own home based insurance company will not come out on your side only because you were travelling with an unlicensed tourguide/operator. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS POINT ENOUGH and I would recommend that you discuss insurance with your guide BEFORE you travel with him/her. With all of the above said please do understand that not every person that you meet up with as a tourguide or tour operator in SA is a rogue as most have all the relevant qualifications. All that I am doing is I am warning about what definitely prevails and that is an unqualified rogue community in the tourguiding world.
3. Ensure that your tourguide driver is licensed to drive and if he is driving you he does not only need his normal drivers license; he also needs what is called a PDP license (professional drivers permit). Once again any local traffic officer can stop the driver and he will have to show the license or face the consequences. Thus ASK TO SEE THIS LICENSE BEFORE YOU TRAVEL.

I also want to point out that all of the above rules and laws apply to the whole of South Africa and I cannot speak for other parts of Africa in this regard. Finally all of the above generally tends to rear its head not when you are stopped by authorities by when you unfortunately land up in an accident or collision with the vehicle

When it comes to costs to hire a Cape Town tourguide as opposed to travelling on your own I would say you should work on the following figures.

Car hire and self travel. ? Work on a total of about R500 ? R600/day for the whole days touring for your whole group ( About US$70)

Group tour ? R400 per person per day ( about US$50/person/day)

Private tourguide ? Between R700 and R900 per person per day however if your personalised party is larger than 2 people (eg a family of 4) then the rate generally is a downscaling one depending on how many people are travelling on the private tour

Please note these are rates that are presently being charged in the Cape Town and Garden Route region of South Africa and obviously can be the same or different in other regions of the our great country.

So Macjoy after that whole mouthful heres hoping that you are now more aware of whether you should or should not hire a tourguide, whether you should tour privately or in a group that is if you hire a tourguide and if you do so that you know what qualities and qualifications to look for in the guide.

PHEW! That was a long write however I hope worth it for those of you travelling to our great country.

Selwyn Davidowitz
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