Travel Tips – South Africa

This will just be a list of the things I found useful and not.

My VASQUE BOOTS: I love them. Wonderful support, both on the footbed and on the ankle. They are so comfortable I’d like to wear them around the house like slippers.

I didn’t do serious climbing in them, but walked many miles in both sand forest and city pavement, and they were great for both places.

Only caveat – double knot the laces, as they come undone really easily.

KATADYN MICROFILTER WATER BOTTLE: Filter worked well, bottle was a bit stiff for my hands at first, but it loosened up. No tummy upsets during 3 months away.

BIG SERIOUS caveat: This bottle will develop some kind of problem if it’s on your pack or anywhere where the sun is shining on it. It starts to wick the water out and you can start with a full bottle, and when you go to get a drink (as I did) you will only have an inch of water left in the bottle. This could be dangerous!! I have written Katadyn about this, but so far have received no comment or acknowledgment.

TILLEY HAT AND CLOTHING – The hat was good, but I’m not really impressed by the clothing at all. First of all, it doesn’t dry overnight as promised, even in the area of South Africa that’s in drought conditions. Also, the sizes are wonky. If you try on a pair of long pants and they fit fine, you can’t just grab a pair of short pants of the same style and expect them to fit – they don’t. The rise is quite different in those two, and the shirt lengths are quite variable. I ended up with one shirt where the last button was above my belly button and the shirt ended shortly (no pun intended) thereafter. It looked ridiculous on me. BAH!! I’d already tried on 3 shirts where the length was fine, so figured I could just grab the 4th and I’d be OK.

South African Post Office: Don’t use it at all for anything other than post cards. NOTHING I mailed home got here, and nothing I’ve sent there since, eg: letters with photographs, Christmas cards, has reached the intended recipients. Enquiries to SAPS about my missing parcels that should have arrived here have received no reply.

*** One parcel I sent by SAPS just arrived now, it late January, though it was mailed in mid-October.  It was in reasonable shape, and better late than never.  I had sorely missed it, since it was the tin on composite board art work (the artists paint part of a street scene, then take pop cans and so on, and cut them up to make the buildings in the scene.  Since many of the buildings are actually tin, and more have tin roofs, the effect is very evocative).

DHL Freight: Most of what I sent home arrived, only the CDs stolen out of the package, but most everything else was smashed and broken. I was brokenhearted – all my souvenirs and gifts for my grandkids gone. Now, for their part, when I put in a claim, which had to be done directly with DHL-SA, they were efficient and reasonable with that. Unfortunately, that doesn’t get me my stuff, and as I’m likely to be unable to ever go again, that hurts.

AVIS Rental cars: Good cars, clean, not any problems. Friendly efficient service if you’re dealing with them in person. Dealing on the web for reservations and so on is useless. Used them more than once and was always happy with both the vehicle and the service.

Dealing with anyone, just about anywhere in SA on the web, with the exception of hotels and some B&Bs is pretty useless. You won’t get a response any sooner than if you’d sent a letter by Pony Express, if ever.

ENTERPRISE Car Rentals: Uh, no. Rented a car from them at Jozie airport to drive up to Louis Trichardt, and the car had a tire that had a nail in it and leaked, which I had to get fixed, and also had 200km on the meter and a partially empty gas tank, which I didn’t discover until I stopped for a bite to eat at a highway place. There again, they were fairly easy to deal with when I took the car back and showed them the bills, but the manager did some kind of trade-off on the bill for those costs and I was too tired to figure out who, exactly, benefited from that, and now I’ve lost the bills, so I’ll never know.

ROSE’S RADIO TAXI: In Johannesburg, this company is wonderful. Jozie is a huge spread out city and the drivers for other companies don’t seem to know it well. They want you to tell them where to go, which most tourists can’t do. Rose’s drivers either know where they’re going or find out before they set off.

I may add more things here as I think of them.



  1. I was just thinking about Travel Tips – South Africa and you’ve really helped out. Thanks!

    • grannym said

      Thanks, Carla. I’ve checked your site out too, and it looks very helpful. (it’s a site that arranges vehicle rentals for Aussies taking overseas vacations, and Carla checks out all the companies before she recommends,)

  2. tembe2 said

    I have given up on the South African Postal Service, so corrupt! best bet is to register the parcel of letter. I keep in touch with my family via skype and send them gift cards to Woolworths I buy online and have hand delivered. Loved reading about your adventures!

    • grannym said

      Thanks, t2. It was amazing to be there, and I can’t wait to go back.

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