Monday, June 22, 2009

South Africa- How to get around within the country

South Africa is generally easy to navigate within the country. Similar to many other developed countries, it offers automobiles, buses and trains. If planning a vacation with tours included, your transportation should already be set. Getting to your tour destination might be the only transportation issue you have. Check with your hotel desk staff to have them arrange a car or taxi to take you to your destination.

If you are an adventurous person and looking to explore the country via rental car just remember that South African drivers drive on the left side of the road and all cars, including all rental cars, are right hand drive vehicles! The road infrastructure is sound and well built. The toll roads even accept credit cards!! The tolls range from $0.31 to $5.68. Additionally, everything is measured in kilometers, so make sure you know how to convert miles to kilometers! Wearing a seat belt is a must and chatting on a mobile phone, like in many states in the U.S., is illegal. So rev your engine because the speed limit on national highways in 75mph!

Traveling a long distance and don’t feel comfortable navigating the road on your own? Check out the bus system in SA. There are many bus options to choose from, for example, Intercape, Greyhound and SA Roadlink. Want to really upgrade your bus travel? Check out Compassline. This tailored, personalized, luxury Mercedes tour bus can carry up to 12 people in its spacious and comfortable seats.

If you want to get a whole new experience, travel the railways in South Africa, specifically the world’s most luxurious and famous railway, The Blue Train. In addition to riding in high style, for short trips you might prefer to try the Banana Express or the Apple Express. The Banana Express runs in the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast while the Apple Express runs out of Port Elizabeth. You might even check out the Steam Train Company which operates out of Cape Town and offers golf and scenic tours.

Disabled? No worries! Many places of interest in South Africa have wheelchair-friendly facilities and walks. Some shorter trails even have Braille. Accommodations for disabled persons are in progress as the government has introduced legislation on this.
Flamingo tours specializes in tours for people with disabilities.
Eco-access.org/ is a database of accessible destinations in South Africa for people with disabilities.

Keeping in touch with people from home? Be aware that South Africa has well structured communication land lines as well as 4 mobile phone service providers including- Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and Virgin Mobile. Cell phones can easily be rented right at the airport upon arrival. Internet cafes are another great way to stay in touch and can be found even in the smallest of towns.

Currency exchange is made easy as vendors can be found at the airport, many hotel front desks, banks, bureaux de change and automatic tellers. South Africa has very favorable exchange rates for many international currencies. The form of currency used in SA is the ZAR.

It is always a good idea to understand the modes of transportation available to you before you travel. Not only will knowing the best ways to get around make your trip less stressful, you might also learn about great transportation methods you never considered before, such as The Blue Train. These methods could enhance your whole experience and trip itinerary!

Special thanks to http://www.southafrica.info/travel/advice/ for all of their great information!

Have you ever taken a trip on The Blue Train? Share your experience with us!

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