When you see an ad on the Internet for travel destinations, safety issues don't always come to mind. They appear when you feel adventurous, off the beaten track. In this regard, South Africa proved to be a truly dangerous place. The situation was aggravated by the fact that I was drawn to mountaineering, but it simply did not work out to ask questions to a person with experience in this direction.
In the business of travel I am experienced and organized, but I always try to conduct reconnaissance of the area before departure, using the advice of those who have been there. At the same time, I’m not torn into the thick of it, I like to know that at the end of a hard day I can fall on an ordinary human bed.
If you are a backpacker, the best way to get around is the hop-on-hop-off bus. The concept is unique for this continent, as I have not come across anything like it in other places. The bus picks you up with your belongings at the campsite or hostel where you are staying and brings you straight to the next of the selected ones.
The country doesn't actually have a very good reputation among travelers. It is quite risky here, but services such as this bus significantly raise its credibility in the eyes of visitors.
Usually, old small cars are used for these purposes, there are no more than 20 seats, but this turned out to be more than enough. As a rule, they were not even half filled. At the same time, after a couple of days it became clear that those few who regularly filled the places of transport are the same people. We became friends and began to tell without fail where we were and how we spent time at our next meetings.
While driving, the hop-on hop-off stops every few hours, usually at a gas station or a recreational spot off the road. There have always been shops and the necessary communications to buy almost everything you need. At the same time, the cost of everything that is on the shelves is quite reasonable.
Often there were cafes that belonged to the same food chain, which, apparently, specialized specifically in serving such visitors. Honestly, after some reviews, I expected that it would be mediocre and dirty here, but no. I didn't come across a single bathroom that looked too depressing, and the food was quite high quality, given the spartan approach to travel.
The bus travels on several of the most popular South African routes:
• Port Elizabeth – Cape Town. When moving in this direction, you will definitely have to stop for the night in Porto and Durban;
• Johannesburg – Durban. Passes through the Dragon Mountains.
As a rule, a trip using any of these options takes about a day.
This method of travel is suitable for flexible people who do not like to follow a plan drawn up by strangers. You yourself determine how much time you will spend in a particular place, yourself from your own cultural program for every day. In this format, only one thing should be taken into account: during the season there may be such an influx of people that it is better to book rooms at least 3 days in advance. That is why the period between the tourist influx seasons is better suited for such adventures, when there are places in every passing hostel.
For free use of the bus you need to purchase a ticket. There are many options for tickets in this class, which should be selected individually, depending on your travel conditions. The most popular are one-, two- and three-week options.
In fairness, it should be noted that the country's bus fleet is not as fresh as we would like, or the operating conditions are difficult for vehicles. The fact is that transport can be delayed, fail and fall into other emergencies in real time. At the same time, there are private long-distance flights that operate with such comfortable technology that you will not find this in all European countries.
Places to stay, lodging
The number of hostels in Africa literally rolls over. This is good, because, competing with each other, they offer visitors a decent service and a reasonable price. An interesting feature of such parking lots is that almost everyone has a swimming pool. This is good if you need to freshen up in the heat, but they seemed dirty to me.
Otherwise, I was more surprised by the cleanliness of the rooms, the order. Since the last haters known to me returned from Africa, apparently, a lot of time has passed. Now such organizations have begun to monitor the image more closely, it can be felt.
Most of the camps had food offerings. Usually, just breakfast was included in the cost of living, but you could count on a larger table in some establishments. At the same time, the needs of tourists are understood, in particular, there is a menu for vegetarians and an adequate price for everything. For lovers of strong drinks, in each menu there are a couple of items of fairly high-quality and affordable alcohol. For example, local wine for 10 ZAR can be found under every bed! A bottle of beer will cost a little more -15-20. If you brought alcohol with you, it doesn’t matter, I have not been denied the opportunity to drink my own in any institution.
The price tag for a bed is reasonable, on average a double room will cost 200 ZAR per day. However, many have a full bathroom. The hostel is substantially cheaper, around 120 ZAR. By the way, in all such hostels where I ended up, everything was in order with the protection of things and I didn’t lose anything.
There was only one feature that personally seemed strange to me until I figured it out. The fact is that the hostel administration can call many times for no apparent reason, each time requesting confirmation of the booking. This is quite understandable, because everything is crowded here during the season, and a person who even made a 10% prepayment for a reservation may simply not come. Apparently, this is a common practice, because the administrator is forced to constantly carry out such approvals.
By the way, if you use hop-on hop-off, keep in mind that many organizations work in conjunction, you can get a good discount or promotion on this occasion.
The scale of this country is amazing, but some of its cool places are not easy to get to. Nevertheless, there were organizers at each transit point (usually from among the administrators of the rooming house), who could arrange almost any tour available at that time. The cost is especially pleasing, it is very reasonable, so you can visit Africa, even with a modest budget.
As for urban transport, it is usually non-existent or too rare to be seriously considered for travel. At the same time, almost all hostels organize transfers, including those already included in the payment for accommodation.
Eating here is not expensive, but sometimes it's worth spending a little time looking for a chain cafe. In any hostel you will be prompted where and how to eat at a reasonable cost. There are establishments for any budget, including the premium segment, where one dish can cost more than my entire trip.
There are enough products in stores and everything is about the same level as in Europe. There are supermarkets for the poor, there are for those who are richer. Of the second, slightly stale products, gradually migrate to the first at a discount) Joke.
Which guide to choose
Usually people come here already with a guide book, for example, I was with my copy of Lonely Planet. However, everywhere you can find free local guides, there are 2 of them: "Alternative route" or "Coast to coast".
They are free and contain a lot of useful information. First of all, they are aimed at demonstrating a network of hostels and hostels. Their features, position, prices, availability of shares and other information that simplify the selection of a place to spend the night are indicated.
But in this regard, the South African communications infrastructure was underdeveloped. The internet here is among the worst I've ever seen in my life. The connection was always very slow, it was not available everywhere I stayed, and in most places it turned out to be a paid service. At the same time, it was quite expensive – 20 ZAR per hour of use. Even more expensive was the use of the firm's own computer.