First things first- A big THANKS to everyone who helped me in my trip here- both on and off the forum. All your tips and advices helped me formulate my trip.
Disclaimer. Everything I say here is based on my one trip on the areas from OR Tambo straight to Hoedspruit/Kruger Area. As such, what I say may not be the norm.
Items I learned
1.CELLPHONE- I bought the B4Igo package online and got my phone no. 2 weeks before I left. There were 4 people ahead of me when I went in and I was the first out among them. I showed my email and they just brought the sim out and put it in the phone. I was done. Funny thing. I always wondered how they registered it and got a phone no. I think I know. I received 3 text messages immediately. 1st txt- I have won R450,000 in the RICA sweepstakes. Wow! my trip was turning out to be a lucky one. The second text stated " you have inserted your sim card in another cellphone. to request cellphone settings, reply yes (free SMS) and Vodacom will send the settings to you. " So B4igo must have activated the SIM by putting it into another phone.
The 3rd was " we have detected you have incorrect device settings. press yes to have your new vodacom settings installed for free. " I did click reply " yes " several times. I never got those settings until April 30 when they send me 3 txt messages that installed settings onto my phone.
Another thing I found was that in order to txt or call back to the US, I had to simply put the + sign and dial my home phone no. (ex. +1-212-xxx-xxxx) For a few days before I discovered that, I tried using the " 011 access, then country code (1 for the US) and then the number " which never worked.
Cash- the Nedbank money exchange stated exchange rate R10.3506 to 1 USD. Commission R72 + R10.08 VAT; Administration Fee 72 with VAT 10.08. Final amount I got was R1906.00 for a grand final exchange rate of USD1 : R9.503.
ATM- Nedbank- my bank account showed a debit of $189.63 + $3 ATM fee. total $192.63 for an exchange rate of 10.3826.
The next day at Hoedspruit I changed money at a bank with the initials ALCI ( or something like that) R2000 = $189.01+ $3 ATM fee for an exchange rate of 10.4161.
Incidentally I found "slimline" ATMs at the camp shops in Satara, Skukuza, and Lower Sabie. There was a sign that said the daily limit is R800. You also have to ask the cashier after 11. a.m. before you withdraw money. I did not try it but I suspect it was to find out if there was money in the ATM.
Conclusion. My little experiment shows what everyone is saying. USE THE ATM!!!!
Chose Avis. The thing that pushed me in this direction was that they have more branches in places that I was going. This helped me when my car had a problem. Avis also had good reports here at TA.
Credit cards are somewhat widely accepted. In supermarkets, they were processed at the checkout counter. At gas stations, including the ones inside the Kruger camps, they brought out a portable scanner and processed it in front of you. Once, I think in Satara, the attendant was going to bring it inside the building but I asked for the machine to be brought out. At the Kruger camps, there is a large sign (when credit cards are to be used) in the offices that the credit card must be processed in front of the client..
Saw A mosquito at Mist of Gold and quite a few during our sundowner drinks on my second night at Africa On Foot.
After reading up here on TA, seeing what others did, and asking around, I decided to take malarone- once a week. I tested myself with a dose way before my trip to see if I would get behavioral changes but my friend said I was already crazy enough to want to meet and feed a hippo. I also used mosquito repellent thruout the trip.
Please change the units from miles to KM. It was funny to see the GPS telling me to drive so many miles while I was looking at signs and the trip meter in kilometers. I had a Garmin NUVI unit. I bought a " Southern Africa " SD memory card for $30. The map was very accurate- even showed the secondary roads of Kruger Park. You can get this map from ebay. The map code is 010-11595-00. Was the GPS necessary? Well, the signage of the SA roads were very good. You could probably get away without it. But I felt more at ease with it especially when I was going back to OR Tambo. I personally recommend it. It would show you a turn off or intersection way before you can actually see it.
I'll be posting more along the way as a reply to avoid having too long an OPEdited: 17 May 2014, 20:57