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Safe to Drive from Cape Town Airport to Hotel @ 6 p.m. (18:00)?

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Apr 10th, 2012, 11:43 PM
  #1
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Safe to Drive from Cape Town Airport to Hotel @ 6 p.m. (18:00)?

Hello.First, let me apologize this is so long but I hope it'll help me get good answers if I'm detailed in my question!

We (Me & husband - middle-aged parents from San Francisco Bay Area - and our daughters, ages 13 and 10) are visiting SA for the first time (never been to Africa at all) in June. After having been on safari for 11 nights and spending 3 nights in Jeffrey's Bay for my surfer husband, we will arrive at 6 p.m.(18:00) to Cape Town airport after a flight from Pt. Elizabeth, so not a long flight. We will have had a rental car for a few days prior to this to drive from Pt. Elizabeth to Kwandwe Lodge (about a 2 hr. drive) and then to Jeffrey's Bay where we'll stay for 3 days, using the car for fairly short drives around Jeffreys Bay and perhaps to St. Francis Bay and then back to the Pt. Elizabeth Airport. So we'll have gotten somewhat used to driving on the "wrong" (for us) side of the road.

We're staying at Welgelegen, a small "boutique hotel" at 6 Stephen Street - I believe it's in the Gardens neighborhood - they have directions on their website from the airport and we'd also have our GPS. Nevertheless, I am particularly anxious about the 'wrong side of the road' issue because of a tragic car accident in which I was a back-seat passenger and in which my aunt was killed (in Jamacia). She was driving and hadn't driven much there, spaced out, pulled out of a hotel into the right lane instead of the left and we had a head-on collision. This was 20 years ago but as you can imagine, it's not something one easily gets over. I am a confident driver myself and actually prefer to be the one to drive at home, as I feel in control. My husband is a very confident and good driver, though, and I may have him be the one to do most, if not all, of the driving in SA.

I think it'll be dark by 6 p.m. that time of year (late June) and wonder if it's a bad idea to drive ourselves? Have read mixed things about the N2 being dangerous at night if you were to break down (maybe it's not the same part of the N2 we'd be on though?) and pedestrians and animals on the road, etc. Then other people say oh nonsense, it's perfectly safe, etc.

Our lodging and car rental have been arranged by the agent from &Beyond that we've been working with to plan the entire trip (some staying at &Beyond lodges and some not) including the Cape Town part. She's checked for us and offered that if we prefer not to get our car at the airport that night, Welgelegen could arrange a transfer for us to the hotel from the airport, and then the car rental could drop off the car at the hotel for us the next morning, for a fee. We figured out that it will cost us quite a bit more to get picked up by Welgelegen at the airport and get the car the next day - these are the relevant costs:

o Daily rental = R 288 per day

o GPS rental – R 69 per day

o Car Delivery at Welgelegen is R 500

o Transfer from Cape Town international to Welgelegen is R688

So by getting a transfer on the night we arrive, we'd save the cost of the car rental and GPS for the prior night (I think? though I'm not sure would that cost be a whole day or is it charged by parts of days or what??) - let's say that we did save a whole day's car rental costs so R288 plus R69 (GPS) - and I'm going to convert to USD now as it's easier for me to understand - we'd save $44 BUT we'd incur R1188 in transfer and drop-off charges, about $149. So overall, it would cost us about $105 extra to do it that way. Trying to figure out if it's necessary?

By the way, we'll be in Cape Town 4 nights, so we arrive on a Monday night at 6 p.m. and leave the following Friday afternoon on a 6:10 pm (18:10) flight back to the US.

My husband is inclined to say let's just drive ourselves and save the $105 extra. It WILL only be 6 pm which seems better than if it were midnight but ... just wanted to see what others thought?

Thanks!
Jane62 is offline  
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Apr 11th, 2012, 01:32 AM
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Jane62, we will be in Cape Town as well in June and we are planning to have a car and would be driving some in the evenings so I am inclined to say its ok, but my partner is very familiar with the city (though he has not yet driven there) so I will leave that to you to decide.

I did want to say that if you do the transfer from the airport the cost is quite high. We have paid 300-350ZAR for a pre-arranged taxi to Seapoint, which I believe is a bit further than the gardens, so you may want to check that if you decide to go that way.

Have a great trip.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 03:45 AM
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We are Canadians living in CT for a year - our sixth visit to Africa. We pick up our rental vehicles at the airport and drive to our accommodation. We are always surprised at how easily we adapt to driving on the "wrong" side of the road. That being said, it is a challenge after 20 hours of flying and, while one of us drives, the other navigates and ensures that the driver turns into the correct lanes etc. By the time you get through customs and pick up your luggage, it will be dark - although the N2 is well lit.

Personally, I feel that US$150 is money well spent if it will buy you peace of mind. Worrying about the drive to Welgelegen will put a damper on your vacation, which is a shame.

The stretch of the N2 between the airport and Gardens will be busy at that time of night, and you will be perfectly safe. If it will make you feel safer, rent a cell phone and purchase airtime at the CT airport, and put the emergency number (112) in your phone before leaving the airport.

Frankly, I am surprised that the hotel is charging you for the airport transfer - most B&Bs in CT will meet you at no cost. Who are you renting the vehicle from? Avis delivered a car to our house in Rondebosch (about the same distance from the airport as Gardens) for some guests at no charge. Are you certain that these are not surcharges being added by &Beyond? Have a look at the hotel website and see if it mentions a fee for airport transfers, and do the same for the rental vehicle. Robin
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Apr 11th, 2012, 07:25 AM
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Kellyee21 - thanks for they reply. What is the company you used for the pre-arranged taxi, do you recall?

Canadian_robin, thanks for the reply also. Actually we won't be going through customs since we'll just have flown from Pt. Elizabeth at this point. This is towards the end of our trip and we'll have been in SA a couple of weeks already, so hopefully our bodies will be adjusted to the time and we won't be too exhausted! We will be getting a cell phone or a SIM card to use with ours when we first arrive, so that'll be taken care of. I do think it sounds like a lot for the airport transfer too. They are a small hotel so maybe they had to arrange for a company to do it? I don't thing &Beyond is adding something on - I've been working with this agent for months very closely and examining every cost carefully with her but I will check again. I looked at the hotel website but it doesn't mention anything one way or the other about airport transfers. I don't know the car rental company but I will ask my agent and let her know I'd heard that Avis didn't charge some folks.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 09:56 AM
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Jane62 - it was the hotel that initially arranged it for us, I will check if we still have the guys card. We ended up hiring him privately later in the week for a full day tour around the Cape for 1200ZAR I think.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 11:45 AM
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Kellyee21 - thanks.

Canadian Robin - Just checked with my agent and she said she had quoted that price for either an &Beyond driver or Hylton Ross, both "luxury" transfers with reliable and good drivers in "safe" vehicles. I'm willing to pay extra for that assurance, even though I realize other less expensive transfers could be fine too. I did ask her though to just double check whether Welgelegen offers a complimentary one, though I'm guessing she already did.

Re the car drop-off fee - my agent says we are using Budget whose daily rental rate that she got us is quite a bit less than Avis, and that she's seeing that Avis is now charging R250 for a drop-off fee so I don't mind paying the R500 to Budget if we decide to go that route.

I guess the $100 or so is worth it for peace of mind but husband still prefers we driver ourselves and save that $100! If we do drive ourselves, someone on another forum told me we just need to be careful at Hosipital Bend, which he said is so called as it passes the Groote Schuur Hospital and it is quite tricky during peak traffic. He said once in hospital bend you need to move into the left most lane as you need to follow De Waal Drive of to the left, at the end of hospital bend.
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Apr 12th, 2012, 02:39 AM
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I don't understand why you are flying from PE to CT you are missing out on the Garden Route.

I always recommend Aroundabout Cars, a good reliable SA company I never experienced a drop off fee ! I think this could be an 'add on' by agent or hotel. I did a price comparison in another thread & there was a saving of about $140

Try to get to Addo National Park whilst in PE area.
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Apr 12th, 2012, 10:43 AM
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braaiseason thanks for the input. We decided not to do the Garden Route as we are already going to be away from home 3 weeks and couldn't take any more time off. We are from California and we have breathtaking coastal drives here so it was not the top of our list, though it does look beautiful. The main purpose of the trip is to see the animals, secondarily we're going to Jeffrey's Bay since my husband is a surfing fanatic and it's one of the top spots in the world so we felt we couldn't visit SA without going there, and then Cape Town because it's a City we felt we should see as long as we were in SA. Not going to Addo as we'll be on safari in Sabi Sands for 3 nights, Phinda for 4 nights, and Kwandwe for 4 nights before getting to Jeffreys Bay and then Cape Town!
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Apr 13th, 2012, 02:31 AM
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Thanks for explaining, although the Garden Route is not really about coastal drives, that's in Cape Town it's more about activities I thought your daughters might like such as otter or dolphin trails, bunjee jump, the forest, Storms River/Tsitsikamma, Knysna, the heads, lagoons, shipwrecks, elephant sanctuary, birds of eden, monkeyland, then Oudtshoorn has Cango Caves, meerkat tours, ostrich farms, the klein karoo.

If you find time Muizenberg is the surfing hot spot in Cape Town.
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