THEMA: Highlights of my 1 month trip with public transp.
27 Jul 2012 16:02 #246114
  • TobiasW
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  • TobiasW am 27 Jul 2012 16:02
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Ich habe die Infos in Englisch geschrieben, da sie auch auf der Lonely Planet Forum Website erschienen sind. Sie wurden auf Tobias Account veröffentlicht, da ich noch kein Login auf dieser Seite habe. Wichtige Fragen werden an mich weitergeleitet.

Anglo Gold Ashanti, Western Deep Level Mines, Tau Tona Mine, Carletonville, near Johannesburg (Jo’burg)
Here I did what many people wouldn’t do if even if they get paid. I went down in one of the 3 deepest shaft in the world, all between 3’600 – 3’800m. I called them from Jo’burg and talked my way through. I will not include a name or a telephone number here as they do not advertise these tours but they do run them on a highly professional level and free of charge. Your best chance is give them 2 weeks notice but don’t count on a visit. After a free breakfast and a extensive safety briefing I changed all my cloths and mounted in their miners cloths. Then we went down 3 shafts of 800 – 1000m in altitude, descending in dark, with 65km/h. Cool stuff. Later followed a 4-5km train ride and then you get to a low and water filled part (less than 1m high) from where I reached the gold reef at -3’640m. Here the miners were preparing the bore holes for the next explosion. Big fun but you need to be physically fit, not claustrophobic and not afraid of depth. The trip will take you half a day. Again don’t count on it, chances you get to go are small but as I am a cave explorer for many years – this was one of the best 3 things I did on this years 5.5 months trip through Africa!

Soweto Township (near Jo’burg) and Kayelitsha Township, Cape Flats, Cape Town on my own. But this is not everybody’s cup of tea, not that safe and recommended only for experienced travellers. I always found a good guide while walking the streets but at Kayelitsha the stares were sometimes quite intense. For a start, go to Soweto and stay around the area of Hector Pieterson Memorial and the Mandela House and decide after that for yourself whether or not you want to wander further into the streets.

A even better option is at the Rastafari Community in a township near Knysna where you can stay overnight in a simple room and get to know the different groups that form the Rastafarians. Be aware the smoking (tobacco) is strictly prohibited on the grounds of their community. Ask for Sister Kerry from Australia. Tel. 083 502 22 29 (or at the Tourism office in Knysna) who runs the homestay program. You can chat with the cheerful youth, eat home cooked meals, shoot great photos and attend an early morning church session. You can go there by a taxi (public minibus) from Knysna right to the beginning of the House of Judah, Rastafari Community, roughly 10km out of town. From there it’s a 3 min. walk to the homestay, ask at the gate.

Touching, walking and riding African Elephants, near Knysna at the Knysna Elephant Park. Tel. 044 532 77 32. . “Be touched by an elephant”. R200 adults, R100 – 12y. Duration 60 min. but you can stay longer if you wish. Departure times every 30’ from 08.30 – 16.30. You get to see the elephants from close, touch them, feed them (R30 per fruit bucket) and learn about their habits. The special walks or rides are more expensive R885/R1’250 adults and R425/R650, approx. 2h. They also have a lodge with rooms from where you see directly to the elephants which stay at cages during the night (for protection) Therefore you can hear them snout and shuffle from the balcony, even from inside your room. Room rates are from R920 – 1’320 for adults and you can go to the elephants whenever you like and stay with them during the day for free.

Playing / touching wild cats like cheetahs, leopards and lions:
I know some see this controversial but I liked it as I get always eye to eye level with many big animals from catching Anacondas in Venezuela over hunting with Eagles in Kazakhstan to diving with elephants in a Nepali river. For the cats there are different places in South Africa.

One is a bit out of Jo’burg in Midrand and is called Lory Park. You can see their animal park for R 60 (adults) and in addition you can play with cheetahs, leopards and lions. It’s roughly R60 for 10 Min. Look at their website for cool pics. Tel. 011 691 99 05 or 04. Cell. 076 187 38 83.

Next there is a park on the way (by car, not public transport) from Jo’burg to Kestell (near Clarens).

And a great place is at Kestell (near Clarens), Freestate, close to the Lesotho border. LP lists a backpacker place here but doesn’t mention: My Little African Wildlife Sanctuary. Tel. 058 653 13 76 or cell 073 731 30 34. E-Mail: Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!, 70 van Riebeeck Street, Kestell. You can sleep for R170 per person in simple rooms, dinner and breakfast are each an add. R60 and you can spend as much time with the animals as you want. At my visit they had some lynxes, servals and 2 young lions. The lynxes are rathr shy, the servals were very calm and the 5months old tigers liked to play a little rough at times. It was great fun. The owner is African’s speaking and speaks very little English but it works.

Call all of them ahead to make a appointment. Don’t go if you feel sick, even with a flu/cold. Children are normally not allowed, some might make an exception. Be aware that it is your blood that is flowing due to the sharp claws and teeth of the cute animals and accept the fact. But after a few days the wounds are healing :)

Zulu Dance at Shakaland (Durban Area, near Eshowe), Norman Hurst Farm, Nkwalini, Eshowe. Tel. 035 460 09 12
They offer all kinds of cultural activities and rooms but the best one is the Zulu Dance for which they are famous in all of South Africa (LP). In case you only want to come for the dance – call them ahead to find out about the timings. One is usually just after lunch and the other one in the evening. There is also a nice hike you can do down to the water reservoir on your own to kill some time.

Diving with Whit Sharks in Gansbaai, near Hermanus
I went with Shark Divining Unlimited, , Tel. 082 441 45 55 or 016 060 71 87. simply because Mike Rutzen is probably the only man who goes diving with them without a cage. And the original is always better. (It’s a bit like with Swiss pocket knives. You don’t want some Chinese or Russian knife in your pocket, right.) But there are other tour operator doing nearly the same thing for the same price – decide yourself.
General impression: Very professional but on sight it looks like an old family (who still is very professional) Unfortunately it’s not cheap but worth the money if you want to get to see a great white on eye level. It’s not scary but the water in early morning is very cold, even in the light wetsuit. I made photos under/above the water, short video clips and saw some great whites jumping out of the water. It was great fun. Prices are R1’700 for pick-up/drop at your hotel in Cape Town, R1’550 if you stay in Hermanus and R1’350 if you drive there yourself. NB: You have to get up very early, roughly around 4.00 – 5.00 am and the driver is always on time.

Wild Coast, the Kraal (mentioned in LP)
Simply a great place with very nice people. Scenic village hikes are offered for a low fee, the beach is exactly beneath you and you can eat crayfish for pocket money till you drop. Excellent.

SIM Cards:
Be aware that getting a SIM card is a major hassle in South Africa but no problem in Namibia and less problems in Botswana. In South Africa don’t give up. The law makes it very difficult for travellers and the low motivated staff can be quite annoying but ask around until you find a nice girl, extend some smiles and it is done within 1 Min. if she wants. Min. requirement is your passport (better a copy for them – but not for you) and the place where you stay this night. (In case you would have a receipt from the last night, even better)

Final word:
Travelling through SA on public transport, including some parts hitching and walking, quite often actually a combination of all 3 is challenging and I wouldn’t recommend it to single travels, especially women due to the horrific crime rate which is simply a fact. Public transport by taxi (minibus) and big busses is slow and especially the big busses offer inadequate service are run down and mostly you can’t even make a seat-booking but it works and I enjoyed my trip a lot. If you are a seasoned traveller on a limited budget, tall and from times to times grim looking but with a warm smile – give it a try.
nichts im leben ist sicher nur der Tod ist todsicher
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