S. Africa guidance needed before trip

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Dec 13th, 2005, 06:23 PM
  #1
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S. Africa guidance needed before trip

My travel agent sent me this email:
Your private guide has asked if you would like to have a tour of Soweto or a day room at the Airport Sun during your 6 hour layover in Johannesburg on your return? Apparently your flight from Royal Malewane arrive at 3.30pm and your flight out is at 9.30. You do need to be back at the airport by 7.30pm. You could also just transfer into the Melrose Arch area which has a few shops and cafes and you could hang out at the hotel which is really hip, has lovely lounges and bar etc and with nice weather, which it should be, you could sit outside.

What do you think I should do during the layover? Advice is needed. Is Soweto dangerous? Any other ideas? TIA
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Dec 13th, 2005, 06:38 PM
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Dr. Andrea~I was wondering what happened to you, haven't seen you for awhile. Can you fill me/us in on the itinerary you finally decided on and when you are going? Thanks, Dennis
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Dec 13th, 2005, 06:42 PM
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Thanks for thinking of me.

We start off in Amsterdam for three days. Then we go to Cape Town for three nights and then the Winelands for a night (Spier) to check out this cheetah reserve that they have. We have a private driver and guide for those four days. She is also going to meet us when we come back from Royal Malewane to help us with our connecting flight. We then go to Royal Malewane for three nights for safari. Then back home!
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Dec 13th, 2005, 08:54 PM
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Hi Dr Andrea,

I have done the Soweto tour. It is not at all dangerous. You will be driven around in a minibus with a guide who tells you everything about Soweto. You will be shown Mandela's house, the museum and the nicer parts of Soweto.
They will not take you to the poorest parts because of security I guess.
I think it is definitely worth doing .
You will be able to shop in Cape Town.
I always think it is a pity to go to a hotel for 6 hours, except it you really need the rest.
 
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Dec 13th, 2005, 10:43 PM
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Given that you really only have four hours to spare, I think that it is pressing it to include a Soweto tour. If 45 minutes is allowed in each direction, you are looking at a 2.5 hour tour.

If you have Business Class flights, I would sooner recommend that you just hang out at the airport.

I have done the Soweto tour and while I enjoyed it, I don't think I would want to do it without a chance to include a leisurely lunch stop at Wandies Place, a very interesting restaurant that is a Soweto fixture serving in a buffet style. If you had a full four hours for Soweto, it would be worth it, but with so rushed a tour, I don't think you will be able to enjoy it as much.

Soweto, at least from my experience, is not at all dangerous at least in the areas visited during the tour.
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Dec 14th, 2005, 07:24 AM
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Agree with Rocco:
I don't believe that you have sufficient time. I reckon that once you have deplaned ex Malewane it will be closer to 16h00. Then you'll have the efternoon rush hour traffic to contend with & since Soweto is the other side of JNB it will be at least an hours drive....

So i'd say as sad as it is to conclude your trip with your feet up.... Either take a room or enjoy the business class facilities in the airport: There is quite a selection of duty free shops so if you nfancy that last minute urge, that would be your parting chance.
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Dec 14th, 2005, 12:09 PM
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and what did you decide to do for your husbands birthday surprise?
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Dec 14th, 2005, 01:06 PM
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I think you'd have time to visit Soweto, which shows a much different part of Africa than you'll see. There are plenty of hip hotels, shops and cafes elsewhere in the world, but its not often that you get to see how many people live in Africa, which can be enlightening.
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Dec 14th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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Dr.Andrea,

In my opinion Roccco is spot on with his analysis.

I do many townships visits in the Western Cape with my visitors to Cape Town and my experience in this area makes me want to cringe when I see what your travel agent has offered you. In my language you will be doing what I call a "zoo tour" and if ever there ever was a way to NOT try and understand and appreciate what township life is about then a "zoo tour" would be the way to go.

In my opinion you should rather come back and do a township visit on another trip to SA but dont try and "squeeze it in" this time around.

In ending I would like to mention that I think that you could well be insulting the people of Soweto by whistle stop touring through an area that houses more than a million people in a period of 3 hours just because you have the spare time!

Just my twopence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Dec 14th, 2005, 03:46 PM
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Thanks for the responses. I would not be part of a larger tour. We would be touring with only our private driver and guide. In terms of the surprise for my husband, I decided to surprise him with another trip during the summer to Italy. I am also going to take him to an Indian restaurant that Roccco recommended in Cape Town and an indonesian rice table in Amsterdam.
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