So Much to do, So Little Time - Cape Town & Joburg

Feb 4th, 2004, 05:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 6
So Much to do, So Little Time - Cape Town & Joburg

My husband and I are planning a trip to South Africa for a friend's wedding in late March, in Johannesburg. We will probably only have about 7 to a max of 9 days in the country, but we'd like to hit both Joburg and Cape Town. We're interested in both history, vistas and wine. That said, I'd deeply appreciate any helpful hints or comments on the following:
1) Is there safe affordable rail service between the two cities? I've read about the luxury tour trains, and while that sounds great, they seem pricey. But, by the same token, we don't want to ride a train which might be seedy, just to save money.
2) Are there cheap air fares between the cities? Like any reliable discount airlines, like Southwest, JetBlue or RyanAir types?
3) Should we use taxis to get around? I've heard and read things about some SA Public Transportation that leads me to believe we should steer clear of it. And are taxis expensive?
4) Are Joburg and Cape Town pedestrian-friendly and tourist-firendly? Should we not venture out much after dark?
5) What winery is a must?
6) Definitely going to do Robben Island, but what's a must in Joburg or Pretoria? Is there a Soweto tour or monument?
Sorry for the extended question. South Africa is just one of the places I've always wanted to visit, but I also hear it's a place one should keep her guard up. We're really excited! We can't wait! Thanks, in advance, for your help!
daisychain is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 06:32 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 25
Hi, Hope you have a fantastic stay in SA!
1. Shosholoza Express is the train you would want between Jhb and Cape Town, much cheaper than the Blue Train, for instance
2. For cheap airfares go to
3. For Cape Town I know an excellent tour operator, efficient with personal service tailored to your requirements .I found that using day trips with a tour operator is the best way to get around, the will pick you up at your accommodation and will take you to the best tourist spots.
4. Suggest you take normal precautions and not venture out after dark, specially if you ate new to a place. Only go out at night if accompanied by a tour guide.
5. There are so may wineries, they have a wine route, a half day or day trip, then you see the lot, you can also combine the wine trip with other tourist spots on the same trip.
6. In Pretoria the Voortrekker Monument, In Johannesburg a Soweto tour, Pilanesberg National Park for Wildlife (this can be a day trip from Jhb) Lesedi Cultural Village.

Just ask if you need more info.
FunkyMunky is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 09:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 251

Some additions:
2. If you don't have success with Kulula, a new budget airline (1Time) is commencing operations soon. Not sure of their web address but if you search I' msure you'll have success. Otherwise, SAA have some excellent specials on to compete with Kulula (
3. You are right in that the public transport system in SA is abysmal. Stay clear of mini-bus taxis, they are little more than death traps on wheels. Private (sedan) taxis can be expensive. If you plan on being out an about much you should consider hiring a car - otherwise use tour guide services as suggested.
4. Some areas of Jhb and Ctn are pedestrian friendly, but these are limited. Both cities are tourist friendly - SA hospitality is legendary. You can venture out after dark, but have a local with you.
5. Ctn expert Selwyn lists Rust en Vrede as his fave wine estate - I tend to agree - although Fairview is also nice and you get the added bonus of amazing cheeses.
6. Remember to do the Mountain when in Ctn. In Pretoria, I say rather skip the Voortrekker monument and visit the Union buildings instead. In Jhb, the Hector Peterson memorial in Soweto, Gold Reef City for a trip down a mineshaft, Lesedi is quite a drive out of the city and a bit cheesy IMHO, if you are willing to drive then rather go to the Cradle of Humankind. And one thing you cannt miss out on - shop, shop and shop!
If you have an idea of where you will be staying in Jhb then I could help you narrow down your activities so that you don't spend all your time in a car.
PS You've picked the best time of year to visit Jhb.
traci_local_in_sa is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
There are several South African wine routes; try doing a search on "South African wine routes" or something like that, and you'll get a lot of information. There are so many wine estates that whatever you like, you'll find. I would try to include one of the bigger names, with a more commercial operation, and one or two of the smaller ones, just to get a feel for the different approaches they take to visitors. Pinotage is a varietal unique to SA, so be sure to try it.

I second the suggestion to tour the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Johannesburg is not pedestrian-friendly; it's worth it to rent a car. The mini-bus taxis that you hear so much about aren't really taxis in the American sense. They're mini-buses (vans) that follow specific routes, usually stuffed with more people than you can believe would fit. They have a high accident rate. I've never taken the private taxis, so can't comment on them.

SA does have a high crime rate, but most of it is directed toward locals, not tourists. You don't need to worry more than you would in any big city in the US.
Celia is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
>>>>>>Johannesburg is not pedestrian-friendly; it's worth it to rent a car.<<<<<<

But just remember, if you're from North America, that South African traffic drives on the left.

If I were you, I would spend more time in Cape Town than Johannesburg. Cape Town and area is more scenic, has more historical interest, etc.

As far as the Johannesburg portion of your trip is concerned, the northern suburbs of Sandton and Rosebank are the ones that most commonly are recommended to tourists. However, I think you also need to take into consideration where your Johannesburg friends live and where the wedding will take place. If you could provide that information, I think Traci or someone else "on the ground" in South Africa could give you advice on the best and most convenient place to stay.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 11:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 9
Hi Daisychain,

I juts want to add a few things.
For cheap flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town, you can have a look at or SAA, but there is also Nationwide, which also have very compatible prices. I just don't know, if they do have a webpage.
Then hiring a car, I could give you two webapges that work with car rental in South Africa: and
I would also spend more time in Cape Town, because there is so much more to see. Have a look at this webapge:
It gives you a general idea about caoe Town.

Have a great time in South Africa

stern is offline  

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