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East or West Coast?

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East or West Coast?

Dear Readers,

We are planning to book a trip in south africa and as we have 3/4 weeks available, we are willing to know if it is better to visit the west or the east coast. what is nicer and what are the major differences.

We have never been travelling so long abroad and as I guess everybody would like, we wish to see the "best".

Our focus remain on Johannesburg and Cape Town.

We have seen two different group tours and they offer or the west or the east coast.. What do you suggest us?

Thanks a lot!!

Ciao!

Pittsburgh...
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1. Re: East or West Coast?

We've visited the West Coast/Salt Coast 3x. The last time we spent a week based in Paternoster. Google it and you will get a good idea. It's 90 minutes north of Cape Town and a 2nd home center for Capetonians. The village is quite beautiful, with strict building codes which keep the tone of a fishing village (with Mercedes). The food is quite good or even really good - Ah (a guest house were we didn't stay but ate 3 times) and Suzi's are IMO the best. The other two are good as well. The beaches were clean and almost empty - we were there in late November. On holidays I am sure it's another story. The next town - Vriedensberg - has two excellent grocery stores. We used our rented apartment for day trips. The whole experience was very low key, i.e. not lots of touristy things to do, but lovely just the same. I don't recall when you will be there - in the spring the wild flowers bring tourists from all over SA. It WAS windy when we were there.

Cape Town
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2. Re: East or West Coast?

Not sure how you are defining the two. But let’s say the “East Coast” is from the Mozambique Border south to, say, East London. Which includes the Northern Zululand coast and wetlands near St Lucia and the huge stretch of Beach Holiday Resorts stretching 150 kms or so both north and south of Durban. Then southwards merging into the quiet, almost deserted “Wild Coast” with African Villages and stretching another 300km to East London. Big cities on this coast include Durban, Richards Bay and East London and very many middle sized and smaller towns.

This is on the Indian Ocean. The water is warm and swimmable nearly all the year. The coast and inland is subtropical. The main region is South Africa for Bananas, Pineapples and other tropical fruit. This is the main holiday region for people from the inland cities such as Johannesburg and Pretoria both summer and winter. Although in summer (Dec – April) the weather inland can be very hot and humid with frequent thunderstorms. The autumn and winter however are lovely.

The “West Coast”, starting north from Cape Town and stretching 700km to the Namibian Border is totally different. The whole coast is virtually devoid of towns. Maybe 10 or so small fishing villages in the whole 700km actually on the coast. This is the Atlantic and the sea is COLD (average 14C even in summer) as the currents come due north from Antarctica. As RobLaw says this is a great place for getaway from it all holidays. I love the whole coast and have just got back from a trip all the way north to the Namibian border taking in the total Wilderness areas of Richtersveld and the Cederberg. The whole area is also wonderful at this time of year for the Spring Wild Flowers – a magnificent sight covering hundreds of kms. But then a few weeks ago we were on the East Coast and inland in KwaZulu-Natal and also had a wonderful winter holiday.

Just to put it into perspective. There are probably 100 or more tourists on the East Coast for every one on the West! So do you like a “Holiday Coast” or a “Wilderness Coast”? And it also very much depends what time of year you are visiting as you don't say.

Just one other point you say your focus remains on Johannesburg and Cape Town. Cape Town is a fantastic city and the centre of a big holiday region with so much to do and see within a few hours drive. On the other hand, although Joburg is a big and very busy city it’s focus is certainly not on tourism. A few days there would possibly exhaust it’s charms! It is good as a gateway to get to other areas of the country such as Kruger National Park and the northern Drakensburg mountains. But matbe you have family there or another reason to focus on Joburg?

Edited: 05 September 2011, 16:34
3. Re: East or West Coast?

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4. Re: East or West Coast?

Dear Van de Caab,

What a nice description you made, thank you very much!

The focus on Cape Town and Johannesburg are just because the travel agencies I saw propose tours or from capetour up to the westcoast Namibia, Botwana and Zimbawe (a small part) to travel back from Johannesburg.

This trip is safari and sleeping in tents while the other agencies offer the othercoast from Cape Town east coast with a short stay in Swaziland and up to then leave from Johannesburg.

We are deciding to go with an agency because We haven't been there before and we would like to see the best and don't feel guilty that we have missed something, but the tours are also really expensive and we believe that they can show us "the most" possible.

I was forgettin to say that we are planning to have this thip in November.

So This is it, we need to take a decision and if we could we would do both trips :)

Regards,

Marta

Edited: 08 September 2011, 08:55
durban
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5. Re: East or West Coast?

Both would be worthwhile tours, I think you need to decide what it is you want to get out of the tour and what you want to see and do first and foremost. As VDC says the west coast is wild but very beautiful and extreme, the east coast is also very beautiful in a more sub tropical way and time of year will play a big part in which to choose. So what is your focus?

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com

Hazyview, South...
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6. Re: East or West Coast?

Not having been in South Africa does not neccessarily mean you need to go with an agency. The tips your are getting on Tripadvisor make it simple to plan your own, individual trip where YOU will take all YOUR interests into consideration.

These tours normally also work out cheaper (as you mention that they are rather expensive).

Thousands and thousands of first timers do that every year.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

Pittsburgh...
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7. Re: East or West Coast?

I agree with all these comments. I would not use a travel agency in SA unless you want to travel where thousands have gone before and do the same things. My advice in a nutshell: 1) rent a small, unobtrusive car; 2) drive only during the day; 3) bring your own GPS - maps can be downloaded from the internet; 4) stay at B+B's - the people you meet in SA are most of the fun and you don't come so far to meet people you could meet at home. I have had good luck with the Portfolio Collection of B+B's, but others are just fine, too. Plan dinners ahead - you can eat extremely well in SA or, without planning, it's just food. If you do stay in a B+B, take the advice of your hosts. It was nice to read the description of the West Coast (above). That was our feeling about it, but I had never heard it described that way. The Drakensberg Mountains (on the east) are also wonderful.

8. Re: East or West Coast?

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