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Single traveler on May work/pleasure trip

Richmond, Virginia
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2 posts
18 reviews
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Single traveler on May work/pleasure trip

Hello there,

I am a 33 yr old American woman planning a work/pleasure trip to South Africa this May. This is literally a lifelong dream of mine and I'm super excited but also making myself crazy with research! Please help me stop the insanity! The first week of my trip is for work and so my itinerary is fairly set. It's the second week of free time that I'm trying to make some decisions about.

I will arrive on Friday, May 4 in Johannesburg and will have part of the weekend to myself, during which I plan to visit the Apartheid museum, hopefully the Cradle of Mankind area, and possibly Soweto, all via a tour company (which I haven't chosen yet). Starting Monday I'll be working. Tuesday evening I leave with my work group for Durban and then fly on to Cape Town Wednesday night. I'm hoping to see Table Mtn and some other city sights between a few work functions on Thursday and Friday. Then things start to get interesting...as of Friday evening I will be completely on my own. My plan is to catch a flight from Joburg back home on Sunday, May 20, so I will have just over a week to myself.

I am planning to take day trips around the Cape and to the Winelands that first weekend. I will probably do this via a tour company rather than renting a car and doing it on my own but am open to suggestions? I do love wine and the pics I've seen of that region do look gorgeous, so I'm wondering if I'm doing myself a disservice by spending only one day in the Winelands?

My original plan was to then leave CT on Monday morning and head toward the Garden Route with some sort of organized tour or driver, if I could get one. Now, I would normally be fine renting a car and driving myself, but some of the info I first read about traveling in SA indicated this wasn't a good idea for single women. However, I've seen quite a few TA posters saying just the opposite. I'm a smart girl and keep my wits about me and am not prone to paranoia, so would love to hear more opinions on this. Renting a car and making arrangements myself certainly seems the more economical route and gives me the flexibility I'm after. I just don't want to do anything stupid or illinformed, either. Anyway, I was thinking a 3 nt Garden Route jaunt, probably with nights in Oudtshorn, Knysna, and Tsitsikama/Storms River, then on to a game reserve for 3 nights (saw a pay 2/stay 3 deal at Amakhala which looked like a good deal, especially since I'll have to pay the single supplement).

This all sounded like a pretty good plan for someone who only has a week to spend and knows she can't see even a fraction of all that the country has to offer, until I started reading and researching more and now I'm wondering if I shouldn't redirect and try to go to KZN and the Drakensburg area instead, given the time of year and to have more of a "traditional" African experience than the Garden Route can provide. I do love mountains. And the KZN parks sound great. But outside of a reserve, can I even see that area on my own? I'm a good driver but is it crazy to think about navigating the Berg on my own, driving on the unfamiliar side of the road? To be clear, I'm not opposed to flying from CT to another city to start the leisure portion of my trip.

Clearly im all over the place. I would be so grateful for any suggestions - either to stick to my plan and just plan a return trip to see the Eastern part of the country, when I can take more time and hopefully have a traveling companion, or to scrap the Garden Route and try for a more "wild" experience in an area that is also likely to have drier, warmer weather in May.

Many thanks in advance!

SR

Pretoria, South...
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2,148 posts
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1. Re: Single traveler on May work/pleasure trip

Hi SR

I'm possibly one of the people you've seen post that it's fine for a woman to drive on her own - I do it without incident several times a year and I'm 20 years older than you with little in the way of don't-mess-with-me skills!

My two cents on your where-to-go dilemma: I love KZN, especially the Midlands and the Berg, and don't particularly like the Western Cape - pure personal preference. So my vote would always be for KZN for myself. You need to know that a lot of roads in the Berg are either tarred or good gravel, so you can get around quite easily. Regrettably the really beautiful routes are often the untarred, 4x4-advisable/mandatory ones, but one can't have everything! Also be aware that those parts of the Berg that are not actually wilderness can in fact be quite colonial and not terribly "wild" at all. (And it goes without saying that you'd be exteremely ill-advised to hike in the wilderness areas on your own.) The game reserves are a different matter, obviously: wild by definition!

And having said all that, I tend to think that in your case, seeing you'll be in the Western Cape anyway, why not just stay there for the short time you have. There's plenty to see and do, and lots of lovely scenery. Just be sure to make that return trip to see the rest of the country:)

Happy travelling.

Leeds, United...
Destination Expert
for Western Cape, Cape Town Central
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3,642 posts
535 reviews
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2. Re: Single traveler on May work/pleasure trip

Hi

Yes and I am another of those who say it's safe for a female to drive alone! I have always been to SA (mainly western cape) with another female friend, but there have been days when we have wanted to do different things and I have driven myself. Never any hassle.

I would never think twice abut driving myself around SA. I would just make sure the doors on the car are locked and my belongings out of site in the boot. But I would do that in most cities. I would probably have a sat nav, so I wouldn't have to read and steer at the same time and drive during daylight hours.

Just book your car and drive yourself. I am sure you will find it most rewarding

I love the western cape. Just sorting out my 4th holiday to the area. The winelands region is beautiful. Please don't miss it

I would really advise you to stay in guest houses. Not only do they offer greta value, but the owners are always really friendly and there will always be someone to chat to. I have travelled in other countries alone, and you can get bored of your own company

I look forward to reading your plans

Lisa

San Francisco, CA
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36 posts
5 reviews
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3. Re: Single traveler on May work/pleasure trip

I just got back from my first trip to South Africa a few days ago. I wasn't alone, I was with my boyfriend, but we did drive both on the Garden Route and from Jobert to Kruger and back. It's nice to have a companion and navigator, but I was impressed with how good the roads were and how easy it was to learn the driving customs.

So I think it's reasonable to drive yourself. Just a few suggestions:

1. Plan your routes, know where you're going. The roads in the south part of the country were very good, with good signage. But it's easier if you have the route in your mind at the outset. I printed out directions to each guest house before we left from the US.

2. Don't be too ambitious if you don't want to drive at night. Now, driving at night wasn't awful. But we drove fairly late, say until about 10 pm, one night going from Cape Town through Stellenbosch, through Franschoek, to Betty's Bay, and on to Riversdale for the night. Way too ambitious, when we wanted to stop in each place! The roads were fine. But unlike in the states, the N4 has little to no advertising....which is a good thing for scenery, a bad thing if you want to find a restaurant or hotel.

Arriving at 10 pm would be very inconsiderate for many private guest houses, fortunately the one we were staying at operated a full restaurant. Not only was the place open, we could get a meal which might also have been a problem at that hour.

3. Consider renting a cell phone. The roads were dark and empty along the N4 from Cape Town to Mossel Bay. I had my American cell phone, but that would have been little help in an emergency.

4. Stay in guest houses. I really liked the ones we chose, for location or atmosphere or for the people we met.

Laurie

4. Re: Single traveler on May work/pleasure trip

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