VIAJAMOS EN PLAN LOW COST ... PARA RECORRER MÁS CON MENOS DINERO
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AFRICA 2014 - 2015

8 meses (8 months)
SOUTHERN  &  EASTERN AFRICA




ROAD TRIP DE 3 MESES (3 months roadtrip)
SOUTHERN AFRICA:
South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland


5 MESES mochileando (5 months backpacking)
 
SOUTHERN & EASTERN AFRICA:
Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya 



De momento, FOTOS y algunas CRONICAS (en español).
Poco a poco, info útil de cada país visitado (en inglés). 
Para compartir con más gente, hay muy poca información útil para viajeros independientes y low-cost por Africa.

Now, just PHOTOS and some STORIES (in spanish).
Little by little, usefull information about each visited country (in english). 
To share with more people, there´s so little useful information for independent and low-cost travellers in Africa.

Cheap accommodation in South Africa.

¿ Are you looking for cheap accommodation in South Africa

Carry your own tent ... and do camping.  !!!! It´s the cheapest accommodation option!!!!

We visited South Africa during a 3 months roadtrip through southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland), during October - December 2014.

In our trip in South Africa, we stayed in campings (most of the time), dormitories (only twice because of bad weather), rooms (twice, the lodges were empty and they offered us a room for the price of camping!), and even stayed in bungalow for free. Also, we did couchsurfing many times. Simply amazing !!!



 We enjoyed different kinds of accommodation

So, from our experience, here´s some information about how to save money with accommodation in South Africa.

   General information about South Africa accommodation   


South Africa is a tourist destination and the offer is usually big and can suit every budget. The quality of accommodation is really high.

Backpackers are quite usual and you will find a dormitory in the main tourist destinations of the country.  So it´s quite easy and convenient for the low-cost travellers in Southern Africa.
The backpackers are good, clean, with kitchen, free wifi (usually).
Check Coast to Coast or Alternative Route, the websites and also free guides that you find easily (tourist information, backpackers) with the most famous hostels.
Average price for accommodation:

- For camping: around 75-90 R/pp (around 5-6 €/pp).
- For a dormitory: around 120-150 R/pp (9-11 €/pp). 
- For a room: The prices start around 300-400 R (20-30 €)... and much more...

Accommodation in South Africa is a bit cheaper than in neighbour countries like Namibia and Botswana and the offer is much bigger.
Without a private car, if using public transport, you will probably have to limit yourself to big cities easy to reach by bus/van and to central accommodation. 

If you are planning to use “baz-bus”, it will be easier to reach the backpackers (as they do a “door to door” backpackers service, maybe not the cheapest transport but convenient and easy). 
Or you can always ask other travellers around if they are going in your way... and share the ride...
In the national parks, big and good offer of accommodation, from camping to luxury rooms (read the National Parks information, at the right sidebar menu).


   Camping in South Africa, the cheapest accommodation  

It´s the budget option for South Africa. In average, 75-90 R/pp (around 5-6 €/pp). So carrying a tent is really interesting to save money. 

There are many campsites and caravan-parks, most of them very well-equiped and nice (like in Europe, Australia/New Zealand, USA...). The National parks usually have campsites too. Also many backpackers have a campsite or allow you to pitch your tent in the garden. 

Around  Cape Town, there are municipal campsites, really cheap outside the high season.
The white South African people, specially Africaners, love camping!

Expect very good campsites, with clean toilets, hot showers, electricity points, BBQ but ususally no kitchen except at the backpackers.
Some of the backpackers offer free wifi, otherwise quite limited internet.
Most of the places have swimming pools.
Credit cards usually avalaible.

Warning:

School holidays: big and crowded holidays are during Christmas-New year´s ewe.
Avoid the big tourist destinations, specially the coast. Many places are fully booked and the prices can be much more expensie! Also in march/april, june and October but easier to find a room.


   Couchsurfing in South Africa  

There´s a big community all over South Africa.
Most of the people are local white people, big travellers. And it´s quite easy to find a host in the main cities and towns.

We did 26 nights of couchsurfing . Always very nice experiences, “5 stars” couchsurfing hospitality in South Africa!

We also visited remote places or national parks where there´s no CS community and not so many towns... and did camping.

Moving around South Africa. Rental car, public transport, tours.

We visited South Africa during a 3 months roadtrip through southern Africa

 (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland).
October - December 2014.
 

   ROADS AND DRIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA   

South Africa has a good road system, just a few small roads are not tarred. On the main national roads, traffic is heavy with many trucks. Secondary roads are usually quite empty and it´s nice to drive there.

Travelling with a sedan normal car is fine, even for most of the national parks.

 
Always keep left. In South Africa, it´s like in UK, the driver seats right of the car.
Maximum speed 120 km/h and usually 100 Km/h. 

Road signs are really good, everwhere. 
We travelled without a detail map or GPS navigation and it was really easy. Just checked google maps in advance.


 We just passed a few police controls (there are more during holidays). They only stopped us once, ask for the international driving license (even if not really needed in South Africa, specially when renting a car…) and some Spanish gift… We tried to be polite and calm… and finally it was fine…

Tolls: only the main big national roads have toll gates, at least in some sections:

- N1 Johannesburg-Cape Town and Pretoria-Beitbridge;
- N2 Durban- Port Shepstone and Durban-Empangeni and Tsitsikamma 
- N3 Johannesburg-Durban, 
- N4 Pretoria-Lobatse (Botswana) and Pretoria- Mozambique Border,
- N17 Krugersdorp- Oshoek (Swaziland Border), Kroonstad-Bloemfontein.

Prices vary a lot depending on location and km (10 to 50 R). But most have alternative free roads!
Chapman´s tourist road near Cape Town has also a toll gate.

Around Johannesburg and Pretoria, automatic toll system here, no gates. You have 24 hours to pay but if driving a rental car, don´t worry, the cars have a control system and it will be directly charged to your credit card after doing the drop off.  Sections are around 3-5 R each.

All the rest of national roads and secondary roads are free.
We drove around a big part of South Africa and as we took smaller roads and free national roads, we didn´t pay too many tolls.

Complete informations about roads and tolls: www.routes.co.za


PETROL IN SOUTH AFRICA 
In average, unleaded is 12.50 R/l (less than 1 €), more expensive in the south and cheaper in KZN.


   PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN SOUTH AFRICA   

We didn´t use it as we rented a car.
But this is what we saw travelling around South Africa.
If you travel between big cities and towns, you will find public transport. There are big coaches and vans.
Otherwise, if wanting to visit rural areas, parks, empty places, it will be hard without a private car or tour.

Public transport around big towns/cities:
Really limited and bad, except in Cape Town and some places aroud Johannesburg-Pretoria. So most of the times, the only option is taking a cab or taxi (quite expensive).

Public vans (Toyota or bigger Mercedes), around and between big cities:

Public vans are called “taxis”, in South Africa.  They are the most usual transport for short distances and you also find them on longer distances. Cheaper than the big bus companies. 

Departure point is around the city center. Ask the locals. Sometimes not so easy to find the place... as different departure stops depending of the direction where you are going.
In some smaller towns there are vans stations.


Many white South Africans don´t recommend to take a "taxi". 

Black people are the normal customers of the "taxis".

But many “adventurous”travellers use them and say it´s safe and much cheaper than taking the bus... and real South Africa experience.



Buses in South Africa:
 
There are different companies. Most of them with new and good buses
The best option for long distances:

They also have international destinations (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique).
It´s possible to book online with most of the companies. And also to buy the tickets at the supermarkets.

 Prices vary a lot depending of the destinations, the month, offers, etc. 
For example, Jburg/Durban is around 200 R-8h(14 €), Jburg/Cape Town is around 600 R-19 h (43 €), Cape Town/Durban is 500 R-24h(35 €), Cape Town/Windhoek is 800 R-20 h (around 60 €).
Travelling in South Africa by bus is not as expensive as in Europe for exemple and still quite correct price.

Bazbus:
Backpackers hop-on hop-off door to door bus. Interesting if travelling alone and staying at the backpackers´ hostels. 
Prices are: 1.700 R-7 days(120 €), 2.300 R-14 days(165 € ), 2.700 R-21 days (193 €).
Very popular for young travellers. Easy! Kind of "organised" tour...
They have different routes. Complete information on their website.

Flights in South Africa:
South Africa is a big country… so if you don´t have too much time flying can be interesting to save many hours on the bus.
The good news: now there are low-cost companies in South Africa and you can find flights from around 30 € one way.
Just check the websites:  Kulula, Flymango, Safair, Skywise.
And the normal and biggest national airline, South African Airways.
Some of these companies, also have international destinations, like Victoria Falls-Livingstone, Zanzibar, Nairobi, Dar Es Salam...
Fastjet, low-cost from Tanzania, also has flights to Johannesburg. 
We didn´t use them, we rented a car and then travel by land to East Africa.

Trains in South Africa:
Good and safe for the long distances but quite limited net, just between main cities. People travel more by bus, less confortable for sure for long hours, specially black people don´t like so much taking long trips by train (because of the Apartheid time... used to relocate people...).

 
The Shosholoza Meyl long-distance passenger trains are convenient to connect Johannesburg with the main South Africa cities, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
Johannesburg to Cape Town is around 50 €, similar to bus price. www.shosholozameyl.co.za

Good local train system around Cape Town (Capemetrorail) to go to the Stellenbosch and and Simon´s Town (even second class, but always careful around townships) and the new Johannesburg-Pretoria Gautrain.

Also luxury trains, not for low-cost travellers.

No more international train connections, with Zimbabwe, Namibia or Botswana. Over!

Complete information about South Africa trains in Seat61


   RENT A CAR IN SOUTH AFRICA  

The offer is big in South Africa, different kind of options.
Also it´s usually cheaper to rent a vehicle in South Africa than in Namibia or Bostwana... and flying to South Africa is also usually cheaper...
The choice of the vehicle will depend of your budget, adventure plans...

Normal sedan car:
It´s really cheap and easy to rent a car in South Africa. 
Prices start around 200 R/day (15 €) for a small sedan manual car with AC.

100% recommended for that price, specially for 2 or more travellers (you can always try to find people to share with in the backpackers or online).
It´s a very good option, as you can easily get everywhere even visit most of the game national parks, easy, safe and cheap way. Do camping.
 And in a country where public transport is sometimes limited and quite expensive, renting a car is very good option, even for low-cost travellers.


4x4 car, full-equiped 4x4:
Also big offer in South Africa to rent 4x4 cars, but more expensive than sedan ones.
Many people rent full-equiped 4x4, special for camping (roof tent, beds, kitchen, etc.), very popular for many travellers but they are expensive around 100-150 €/day. We saw many cars of Britz and Bushlore, but many more companies.

 You don´t really need these kind of cars, if doing the typical South Africa trip route, between Cape Town, Johannesburg, Drakensberg, Kruger, etc. You just need a 4x4 if searching real wild adventure, if going to Kalahari, Richtersveld and northern Atlantic coast, top northern Indian Coast in Kwa Zulu Natal, off road in Namibia, inside the national parks in Botswana. Otherwise a normal car is also fine and much much cheaper.

Campervans:
Also possible to rent a campervan, but we didn´t cross too many on the roads. They are quite expensive. Maui and Britz are one of the most popular.

International roadtrip from South Africa with a rental car:

Many travellers rent a car in South Africa and travel to Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland as we did. Easy! No special papers needed for these neighbor countries! Just border car tax has to be paid when crossing the border post.

How to rent a car in South Africa?
You can check online, booking in advance is usually the best and cheapest option.Not only rental companies but also many brokers.
Most of the cars are manual. 
Keep left, in South Africa it´s like in UK, the driver seats on the right. Easy to learn! 
Usually no international driving license needed. 

Keep in mind that if less than 21 maybe some companies don´t rent cars.


Our experience:

We rented a small sedan car with www.rentalcar.com, a car rental broker.
The cheapest option we found in advance, online. ONLY 11.75 €/day, and possible to rent 3 months period and different drop on/off cities!
  
 Johannesburg airport car rental companies

Finally, the broker send us to a famous car company, Hertz. But it was cheaper, unlimited km and longer rental period allowed renting with Rentalcar than directly with Hertz (?).
No international driving license needed (if latin alphabet country license) with Hertz. 
10/10, great! Really recommended. 
We changed the drop off town (Nelspruit to Polokwane) without any problem and no extra charge, 2 weeks before the end of the rental period.
We booked a “Chevrolet Spark” and they gave us a bigger “Ford Fiesta” (a highest category, for the same price).
We only paid 11.75 euros/day, renting the car for 3 months, from Johannesburg airport to Polokwane (near Zimbabwe border). Price was all included (contract, one way fee, full tank, etc.).
The bond: with the minimum insurance (collision damage and Theft) was 5.400 R (around 400 €).
Less than a week after the drop off, the money was back.
Border crossing to neighbor countries
the rental company gave us a "border crossing paper", we paid no extra money finally for it (usually the rental companies charge you quite a big amount) and nobody at the border ask for that special paper. No needed, at least in 2014!


   ORGANISED TOURS IN SOUTH AFRICA   

There are many companies that organise tours around South Africa and the neighbours countries. They are very popular for international tourists.
In average, it´s around 100 €/pp/day (airplane tickets not included) with accommodation (usually tents and no rooms for the first price), food and transport and limited activities.

Most of the companies use trucks (overlanders), full equipped.
We saw many Nomad tours, one of the biggest companies for East and Southern Africa.
We also met Piet in a campste, an independent business man, who has a small company, www.jobovic.com, many years driving tourists around.
For Spanish people, looking for a Spanish group and guide, Kananga is the big spanish Africa specialist.