Go Self-Drive Tours, South Africa
Go Self Drive Home

17 road tripping hacks for 2017

You’re here! We’ve helped you to plan your amazing self-drive vacation and you’re about to hit the South African roads. Our roads are generally in great condition and are clearly marked. They really are quite easy to drive. But there are always one or two tricks you can keep up your sleeve to make the drive even better…

Go Self-Drive Tours presents: 17 road tripping hacks for 2017!

1 – Invest in a car charger/adapter to keep your phone and other mobile devices charged and in working order during your trip. Many of these will also allow you to play music from your phone or device through the car’s sound system.

Coolers will do just that to your cooldrinks and snacks.

Coolers will do just that to your cooldrinks and snacks – cool them.

2 – Car coolers are also powered via the car charger jack and are ideal for keeping snacks and cooldrinks cool and fresh.

3 – Get everyone on the trip to download a currency exchange app like Venmo. These types of apps allow for the quick and safe transfer of money, making it easy to split bills for food, fuel or tolls.

4 – While we’re on the subject of apps, there are quite a few road trip game apps available for both Apple and Android. These are sure to entertain and make the miles in between destinations and sights melt away. We found these at www.babble.com.

5 – When parking in an unfamiliar town or city, drop a pin on your device’s map app. You’ll be able to wander around freely, without having to be too worried about where you left your car – simply look up directions to the dropped pin.

6 – And staying on maps… save Google Maps for offline use. Now you’ll be able to use this awesome directions tool even if you stray away from WiFi zones.

7 – Keep a shower caddy or small crate in the boot of the car – this is a fantastic way to keep extra fluid bottles upright and out of the way.

8 – This almost goes without saying, but bring snacks. Stopping to take photographs along the way or unplanned detours to take in the scenery might eat into your traveling time. Make sure you’ve got something to eat.

Cereal containers: not just for cereal.

Cereal containers: not just for cereal.

9 – And what will you do with your snack wrappers? Place a plastic bag inside a cereal container and secure it into place by clipping the container lid on. Voila!

10 – Ziploc bags are the road tripper’s friend. Use them for storing napkins and cutlery for easy on-the-go eating.

11 – It is customary to tip car guards in South Africa – especially in our smaller towns. Keep a small plastic container in the glove compartment of the car. Whenever you buy something at a shop and get change, put the silver coins in the container and use this as ready-at-hand tip money.

12 – Take turns driving. You’re here to wonder at the amazing scenery or to spot wild animals. Give everyone an opportunity to do so by rotating the driving responsibilities. This also ensures that drivers who share this responsibility get equal opportunities for extra rest.

13 – When driving on our highways, especially in cities, keep an eye out for your exit sign. Not only to know when it will be coming up, but in which lane you should be to take it.

14 – The wearing of safety belts is compulsory by law in South Africa. Make yours a bit more comfortable by wrapping a soft towel around the strap.

15 – A fun way to keep the kids entertained is to laminate a road map of your journey. Get them to trace the route and mark off landmarks as you go along.

An ordinary spray bottle becomes an effective personal cooling system.

An ordinary spray bottle becomes an effective personal cooling system.

16 – Remember that you’ll be traveling under the South African sun. While most rental cars are equipped with air conditioners, fill a spray bottle with water and ice blocks for a refreshingly cool spray.

17 – Let the professionals take over. Visit www.goselfdrive.co.za to find out how we’ll work with you to plan the best road trip of your life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Top tips for effortless air travel

You’ve contacted us through our website, Facebook or Twitter pages and we’ve worked with you to plan your ideal self-drive trip through South Africa. Chances are you’ve got a long-haul flight to take before hitting the South African roads. To help you make that trip easy and fun, we’ve put together a few tips for effortless air travel.

Pack less to enjoy more!

Pack less to enjoy more!

Pack less – Traveling with only hand luggage is the end goal. Of course, this is impossible in certain cases (like when you’re setting out on the golfing trip of a lifetime), but how often have you returned home from a journey only to realize you’d hardly worn everything you’d packed? Traveling with less means that you spend less on check-in luggage fees, you spend less (none, really) time waiting for your luggage and you have to lug less around airports and hotels.

Roll with it – Once you’ve packed a suitcase with rolled clothes, you’ll wonder why you’d never done it before. Trust us.

Pack smart – Bring a sarong and hooded top in your hand luggage. A sarong makes an easy scarf, balled-up pillow, beach blanket and emergency towel. Pull the hood of a top up over your head and it goes a long way to providing privacy, light and noise reduction. Definitely bring one or two pairs of ear plugs.

Check-in – Many airlines allow for online check-in, which cuts down on standing around in queues at the airport. Read the fine print, as you might even be able to pre-book your seats for most of your connecting flights. Aim for the security with the professional ‘suits’ – they always move along faster than those queues with lots of kids in them.

Be prepared – Planes are notorious germ carriers. Drink an immune booster for a few days before and after your flight, and be sure to pack a small, regulation-sized tube of water-less hand sanitizer.

Pre-order a special meal if you want to eat first.

Pre-order a special meal if you want to eat first.

Chicken or beef? – Most airlines let you specify any dietary or religious requirements regarding your food. These ‘special meals’ are usually served first, so if you don’t want to take the chance of being left with the only option no one else wanted, order ahead.

You’re on holiday, so smile – Keep in mind that the hostesses and stewards have probably already been in the air for 12+ hours. Not only are they probably tired, but they’re still working. Be polite with the service staff and that G&T might reach you a bit faster.

Plan to relax – Your flight status, along with certain bank cards allow access to specific airport lounges. If you have a long layover waiting for you, find out if you’ll be able to enter one of these – and book in advance. If you don’t get in by default, it might be worth while paying the fee to enjoy a hot shower, soft chairs, free food and drink, and the relative quiet compared to the rest of the departure lounge.

Many people see air travel as an irritating chore to get through before enjoying your vacation. We believe that flying is part of the fun – it is where your journey begins, after all. So follow these easy tips and flying can become fun. But not as fun as the amazing road trip you’re about to have…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Join the legends – take a road trip.

The indie rock band Counting Crows got it right when they sang “we all want to be big stars”. We all want to feel as if we’ve made it big, as if we’ve hit the jackpot, as if we’ve achieved something, as if we’ve joined the club.

You too can become a road tripping legend.

You too can become a road tripping legend.

The easiest way to count yourself among the in crowd, is to join the ranks of legendary road trippers. “Me?” I hear you asking yourself. “How could I possibly dare to assume greatness? How could I possibly hope to plan the most awesome road trip ever – awesome enough to become legendary?” The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind. The answer is at www.goselfdrive.co.za. But before we get into how we can help you plan your self-drive vacation, let’s take a look at a few of those who have made it into the Go Self-Drive Road Trippers’ Hall of Fame.

While he didn’t do it on wheels, Moses definitely takes the top spot for the longest road trip in history: he spent 40 years leading the Israelites through the desert. It might have been a shorter trip if Moses had access to Google Maps, but be that as it may, he showed true commitment to the road trip, but failed to reach the final destination. Poor Moses died with the land of milk and honey in sight. Don’t worry – we’ll help you out with maps and directions on your self-drive vacation.

Edmund Hillary had to pack a lot of food on his epic road trip.

Edmund Hillary had to pack a lot of food on his epic road trip.

Sir Edmund Hillary’s epic road trip to the South Pole did take place on wheels. He reached the South Pole – by tractor – on 3 January 1958. His was only the third successful overland expedition to the Pole (Amundsen reached it in 1911 and Scot made it in 1912). But we’re pretty sure he’s the only one to do it in a tractor. You won’t have to drive through South Africa on a tractor (unless you really want to). We’ll even advise you on what rental car to choose.

Next on our list is every person who has ever taken part in the Dakar rally. These crazies legends traverse thousands of kilometers, through various countries, of truly rough off-road terrain, in true off-road vehicles. The 2017 event takes place in January, and participants will face 9 000 kilometers, traveling from Paraguay to Argentina, via Bolivia. You can also do off-roading in South Africa. In fact, you can do a lot of things in South Africa. You tell us your interests, and we’ll work them into your trip.

Santa doesn't fill up at the Shell.

Santa doesn’t fill up at the Shell.

At this time of year, we can’t ignore the greatest road tripper of them all. While it doesn’t take him a very long time, he makes this trip only once a year. And we don’t blame him – traveling the world in a matter of hours must really take it out of you! Not to mention stopping at every house, having to crawl down – and up – sooty chimneys, doing your best not to be seen, lugging a gigantic sack around and having to deal with a whole herd of flying reindeer. And don’t forget that Santa has to drink millions of glasses of milk and eat millions of cookies that are left out for him. We really hope he isn’t lactose or gluten intolerant… Luckily you’ll have more to look forward to than milk and cookies, because we’ll even recommend restaurants along your trip.

There are more members in our Go Self-Drive Road Trippers’ Hall Of Fame, and we’d like you to join them. So, visit www.goselfdrive.co.za and let’s get to work arranging your perfect South African self-drive vacation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Beat the heat this summer.

If you’re doing a road trip through South Africa this summer, you’re in for a treat. The African summer sun is a beauty, but it can also be a beast. The kind folks at www.hellodoctor.co.za have provided us with helpful hints on how to make the most of these lazy summer days, without falling into a sunburned daze.

 

Make sure that you get the right sunscreen for your skin type.

Make sure that you get the right sunscreen for your skin type.

Their blog suggests the following:

  • Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to allow your body to cool properly. Cotton is best as it allows air to pass through and sweat to evaporate.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Your head is especially sensitive to heat.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to avoid sunburn. Being sunburned affects the way in which your body cools down.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun during the hottest part of the day (between 10am and 4pm).
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun or in a hot environment. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drink more water than you need, particularly if you’ve been sweating, to prevent dehydration. It’s generally recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
  • Avoid hectic, intense activity when it is hot or humid. Schedule outdoor activities for the coolest times of the day (early in the morning or after sunset). If you have to be active during the day, don’t overdo it and maintain a pace that allows your body to adapt to the heat. Increase your fluid intake and take lots of little breaks in the shade.
  • Improve indoor air circulation: open the windows, use a fan, or get air conditioning.
  • Cut your alcohol and caffeine intake as these substances cause you to lose more fluids than you consume, which can worsen heat-related illness.

A bad sunburn can really put a damper on your vacation, so do take caution. At worst, prolonged exposure could lead to sunstroke – which will seriously spoil your holiday! www.health24.com defines sunstroke as:

“… an acute, life-threatening condition in which the body’s heat-regulating system fails, due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures, excessive production of heat or commonly a combination of the two. The body is unable to lose heat adequately in order to return to its normal temperature.”

Methinks Piggy got sunstroke...

Methinks Piggy got sunstroke…

Sounds scary! So how do you know if you or your traveling companion might have sunstroke (also known as heatstroke)? Let’s see what Wikipedia says.

“Heat stroke generally presents with a hyperthermia of greater than 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) in combination with disorientation and a lack of sweating. Before a heat stroke occurs, people show signs of heat exhaustion such as dizziness, mental confusion, headaches, and weakness; if a heat stroke occurs when the person is asleep, symptoms may be harder to notice. However, in exertional heat stroke, the affected person may sweat excessively. Young children, in particular, may have seizures. Eventually, unconsciousness, organ failure, and death will result.”

Don’t run screaming into the (shady) hills! Just remember your hat, your water bottle and, as always, trust me on the sunscreen.

If you’d rather visit South Africa during the other seasons, or if you’d like to start planning your self-drive vacation for next summer, visit us at www.goselfdrive.co.za to see how we can help.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

You needn’t speak the language to understand the lingo

One of the more humble perks of traveling to a different country is getting to learn one or two words or phrases in the local language during your travels. While English is widely spoken in South Africa, the country sports 11 official languages, with various dialects of languages spoken throughout.

These different languages and their dialects, driven by the varied cultures that speak them, have all found a way of integrating with South African English, creating a unique slang lingo. Sometimes called ‘South Africanisms’, this has become a colourful language that casts a humorous tone over everyday chats.

And, for your self-drive vacation through South Africa, we are giving you the gift of the gab with Go Self Drive’s guide to some of the most common South Africanisms.

You'll hear many colourful terms during your South African road trip.

You’ll hear many colourful terms during your South African road trip.

Ag shame. The ‘g’ is guttural, so growl it from the back of your throat. Shame denotes pity, sympathy or cuteness. On safari you might hear: Ag shame, did you get stuck in the sand?, or Ag shame, did you see that baby rhino?

Babelas (pr. bubbu-luss). Hungover. You might get a babelas after a really good braai˟.

Bakkie (pr. buck-key). This is a local version of a pickup truck, or small plastic containers. If you’re adventurous, you may want to rent a bakkie for your road trip, or if there are any leftovers after the braai˟ (not that there would be much left over after a good braai˟!), you can put them in a bakkie.

Boet (pr. boot, but with a shorter emphasis on the ‘oo’). Brother, but applicable to any male friend or companion. When stopping for a cold one while on your road trip, you may hear: What can I get you, boet?

Braai˟ (pr. brrr-eye). The cooking method of choice in South Africa, but also a social gathering. On your road trip you’re likely to braai a lamb chop and some wors˟˟, but you’re also likely to have a babelas the morning after your braai. Find out everything you need to know about a braai (and other tasty local treats) by clicking here.

Café. Pronounced like the French do, a South African café is a corner shop or superette where you can buy daily necessities like bread, milk, snacks and wood for your braai.

Check. To pay attention or to look. On safari you might hear Check that elephant!

Dop. An alcoholic drink. If you have too many dops while you braai, you’ll have a babelas.

Dorp/dorpie (pr. dorp-ee). A small town.

There are 11 official languages in South Africa.

There are 11 official languages in South Africa.

Eina (pr. ay-na). Ouch!

Eish (pr. ay-sh). A general positive or negative exclamation.

Howzit. A greeting that also asks you how you are.

Ja (pr. yah). Yes.

Jol. A party or really good time. You’ll have a jol at the braai.

Koeksister (pr. cook-sister). A plaited doughnut that is dipped in a sweet sauce after frying. Read all about koeksisters and other tasty South African treats here.

Lekker (pr. lack-err). Anything that is good or nice. For instance, you’ll have a lekker koeksister while listening to lekker music on your lekker road trip.

Now now. Meaning soon, within a few minutes.

Padkos (pr. put-cos). Snacks eaten during a road trip, like a koeksister.

Robot. In South Africa robot refers to traffic light. When getting directions to your guesthouse, you might hear Hang a left at the next traffic light.

Sies (pr. sees, with a very short emphasis on the ‘ee’). An exclamation of disgust. Sies, this dop is warm!

Sjoe (pr. shoe). A general exclamation. On safari you might hear Sjoe! Did you see that huge lion?

Smaak. As in like – I smaak your takkies˟˟˟, boet!

Sommer (pr. som-err). Just because. If you find a dorpie you like on your road trip, why not sommer stay an extra night?

Takkies˟˟˟ (pr. tack-keys). Sneakers.

Woes (pr. voos). Wild or rough. That jol was woes!

Wors˟˟ (pr. vors). Sausage, usually grilled on a braai.

Yebo (pr. yeah-boh). Yes.

You’ll be more than likely to hear a few other colloquialisms, depending on where in South Africa you find yourself. But if you keep this list close at hand while traveling through our beautiful country, you won’t have to worry about understanding – or even taking part in the locals’ conversations.

What’s more, if you contact us today, you won’t even have to worry about planning and arranging your ideal self-drive vacation or safari in South Africa. We offer a range of services that include suggesting and booking itineraries, routes, accommodation, activities and even restaurants. We work with you to determine your expectations, what you’d like to do and see, where you’d like to go, what kind of vehicle you’d like to drive there and, once you’re there, what kind of accommodation you’d prefer. We custom design your road trip to suit you – all you’ll have to worry about is if you have enough wors and dop for the braai.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments closed

Take your taste buds on a South African self-drive vacation

You’ll have more on your plate than a full itinerary when taking a road trip through South Africa. And we’ll help you to pick your favourites on the menu.

Everyone has to eat. But if you are one of those I-eat-because-I-must kind of people, or a that-looks-delicious-I-want-to-stuff-it-in-my-face kind of people, the wide variety of snacks and meals available in South Africa will not just fill your biological fuel tank, it will surprise and tempt you to try just about anything.

sushi, food, eat

International cuisine is widely available in South Africa.

If you prefer a global smorgasbord while on vacation, you’re likely to find pizzerias, trattorias and even bistros in most towns, while the larger centres serve up just about any cuisine imaginable – from French to Asian, Greek to north African, Italian to fusions of all of the above and more.

Even if you prefer a taste of home while on your South African adventure, international fast food outlets like McDonald’s, KFC, Dominoes and Burger King are plentiful throughout the country. But, if you are really on an adventure, why not step out of your culinary comfort zone and try some of the local favourites?

Like any other country, South Africa boasts its own, unique cuisine. A conglomeration of cultures has created a menu of delights. Heavenly herbs from the indigenous heritage, tasty techniques from the colonial history and sumptuous spices from the Malay and Oriental quarters all come together to create a melting pot of the most delicious recipes devisable.

There's nothing like a South African braai!

There’s nothing like a South African braai!

South Africans like to cook on a grid over the coals of an open fire – we call this method to ‘braai’ (for more colourful South Africanisms and their meanings, click here). But it is so much more than your average verb. A South African ‘braai’ (see, now it’s a noun), is a social event. First you build and light the fire. While it is acceptable to use a charcoal-fuelled kettle grill in very rare circumstances, it is universally understood that a wood fire is better. While the fire is burning, everyone who attends the ‘braai’ stand or sit around the fire with an ice cold drink (or some red wine in winter – yes, we ‘braai’ in winter), and chats. Stories and jokes are told, bonds are created and strengthened and, although the point is creating coals from a burnt fire, more wood is fed into the blaze before the guests are fed.

A multitude of foods can be prepared on the ‘braai’. Traditionally some kind of marinated or prepared meat is grilled over the open coals – chicken, pork, beef, lamb or mutton and even seafood. But we also ‘braai’ our corn, mushrooms, and other vegetables. A big favourite at many a South African ‘braai’ is a sandwich of tomato, cheese and onion, lightly toasted on the grill until the tomato and onion is just tender and the cheese is an oozy, melted mouthful of moreish-ness.

We often cook in pots at a ‘braai’. ‘Potjiekos’, literally translated to pot food, is any variant of stew cooked in a cast iron pot over the coals. These pots are easily recognised by their potbellies and three legs. Flat bottomed pots are even used to cook ‘potbrood’ or pot bread.

'Pampoenkoekies' are pumpkin dumplings smothered in a caramel sauce... Yum!

‘Pampoenkoekies’ are pumpkin dumplings smothered in a caramel sauce… Yum!

Moving away from the fires and back into the kitchen, a popular cuisine is called ‘boerekos’, literally translated to farmers’ food. Contrary to what you might expect, this is usually a heavy meal of roasted meats and potatoes with stewed vegetables like green beans and pepper, and rice. Sweet pumpkin dumplings are cooked in a cinnamon infused caramel sauce, white rice soaks rich gravies and steamed broccoli and cauliflower are baked in a cheese sauce. Thank goodness for the green salad that is usually served on the side!

South Africans also love our stews and curries, but for food on the move you can’t go wrong with a bunny chow. A hollowed-out white bread is the perfect vessel for a steamy, spicy curry on the go! And speaking of food on the go… how about a walky-talkie? Can you guess what this would be? A dish of chicken feet and -heads. And while we’re venturing into territories of more adventurous tastes, why not try a smiley? I thought you’d like some braised and grilled sheep heads. You might even find some dried Mopani worms or grilled crickets, if you really wanted to. Don’t worry though, dishes like walky-talkies, smileys and insects are not the usual dinnertime staples. They’re more of a once-off dare for your taste buds.

If you have more of a sweet tooth, South Africa has no shortage of delicious desserts. Cakes, tarts, bakes, mousses, frozen desserts and sauces – we’ve taken the best of international influences and, over the years, have made them our own. Like the ‘koeksister’ (cake sister). This doughnut is formed by plaiting three strips before it is deep fried and dipped in a ginger and orange syrup.

'Melktert', or milktart, is a much loved traditional South African specialty.

‘Melktert’, or milktart, is a much loved traditional South African specialty.

You don’t get much more South African than a ‘koeksister’ – other than a milktart. This baked custard in a flaky crust is the quintessential South African treat and the one dish you must try on your self-drive South African adventure. In fact, why not try making your own by following this recipe. Bake it, enjoy it, and then come to South Africa to taste the difference…

There are many, many, many more delicious and interesting dishes and snacks to try in South Africa, so visit www.goselfdrive.co.za now to start planning your self-drive holiday. We’ll help you by suggesting and arranging your accommodation, itinerary and traveling options – suited to your unique needs and budget.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

You’ll need both hands to count Africa’s Big 5 (… and the Little 5)

Big 5

You know the Big 5 – now let’s introduce you to the Little 5…
Image from http://bit.ly/1ShaMOM

Africa’s Big 5 are famous: buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard and lion. And the best way to see them for yourself is to take a self-drive safari through South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

The Big 5 share the gigantic reserve with more than 150 other species of mammals, as many as 517 species of birds, 114 species of reptiles (of which 54 are snakes), a staggering number of insects and 1 982 species of plants. In and among these you’ll find Kruger’s Little 5…

We all know that two wrongs don’t make a right, but do Big 5 and Little 5 make a medium 10? Enough with the mathematics, what is clear is that the Big and the Little 5 all deserve 10 out of 10!

red-billed buffalo weaver

The Red-billed Buffalo Weaver is the biggest of all the weavers.

First up is the Red-billed Buffalo Weaver. Sharing its name with the Big 5’s Cape Buffalo, this is the biggest of the weavers, but still grows to only 24cm in body length. Living in family groups or large flocks, these polygamous polies weave nests from strips of reed and grasses.

rhino, rhino beetle

The Rhino Beetle may seem quite frightening, but is harmless to humans.

More than 8 000 species of insects can be classified as beetles! The Rhinoceros Beetle is a subfamily of the scarab beetle family, yet there are over 300 known species of rhinoceros beetles. These beetles are named for the horns carried by the males: each has one on its head and another pointing forward from its thorax. But they do share more than their horns with their namesakes. The white- and black rhinos are amongst the biggest of the mammals, and the Rhinoceros Beetles are amongst the largest of the beetles. Although they can grow up to 15cm in length, they are harmless to humans as they cannot bite or sting.

elephant shrew

This little shrew is named for it’s trunk-like nose.

When it comes to size, the next member of the Little 5 does not have much in common with its Big 5 counterpart. The Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew is a mere 26cm from the tip of its tail to the tip of its elephantine nose – and, being longer than its body, the tail makes up most of this length. It lives amongst the cracks and crevices of loose and/or broken rocks and boulders where it can hide from predators and feed on small insects.

leopard tortoise

It’s easy to see how the Leopard Tortoise got its name!

The 4th largest tortoise species in the world is named for the spots on its shell. The Leopard Tortoise can live up to 100 years and weigh over 23kg. Distinctive markings are, however, where similarities between the tortoise and the big cat end – the Leopard Tortoise is a strict vegetarian (herbivore) and would rather retract into its shell in defence than attack with claws and teeth…

And speaking of big cats, the final member of the Little 5 is the Antlion. According to Wikipedia, Antlions are “…known for the fiercely predatory habits of their larvae, which in many species dig pits to trap passing ants or other prey.” The adult insect is often mistaken for dragonflies or damselflies and mostly fly at dusk or after dark. Check out the hunt in this video.

The Kruger National Park is full of surprises – and the best way to experience them is on your epic road trip. And yes, your road trip will be epic, because we will make sure it is. We’ll work with you to plan everything: which rental car to choose, what route to take, where to stay en route, what else to see outside and within the park, and what to do afterwards. All you’ll have to do is stay on the lookout for the Little – and Big – 5!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

South African safaris offer more than the Big 5.

We’ve said a lot about South Africa’s Kruger National Park – with good reason.

Africa’s Big 5, buffalos, rhinos, elephants, leopards and lions roam the plains, tropical forests and mountains that form part of the breathtakingly beautiful landscape.

The Famous Five share the park with hundreds of other species of mammals like giraffes and hippopotami, as well as smaller animals like bush pigs and meerkats – and an incredible variety of antelope and buck. This national treasure is also home to hundreds of bird species and an impressive repertoire of reptiles. In fact, the Kruger National Park boasts with so many animals, it’s the veritable Noah’s Ark of the Southern Hemisphere! And then we haven’t even begun to talk about the diverse botanical population.

Lions, Kruger

Guides are trained to track animals and guests often witness incredible incidents.
Image from http://bit.ly/2cbedWn

Join a guided game drive and be amused by playful primates, revel in the thrill of the hunt as big cats stalk unsuspecting prey, shiver as ‘something’ slithers away into the long grass and relax as antelope graze under the setting sun. Safaris are always unpredictable, but never ever boring (as the long suffering uncle of a certain Lion King once said, “Be prepared” by following these tips for your safari).

But at Kruger you can do even more with your precious time away…

Self-drive safaris are often easy ways to travel through the park – you will be surprised at the close encounters you’re bound to experience on the road. Off-road aficionados may prefer taking on designated 4WD trails, or you might be tempted to trade four wheels for two and hit the park’s mountain biking trails. These are offered at certain of the camps where you will be supplied with all the equipment you’ll need. Keep in mind that Kruger is a wildlife park full of interesting and beautiful, but very dangerous animals. So DO NOT go mountain biking anywhere other than on designated routes as allowed by and arranged through the relevant camps. If you’d like to get even closer to nature, many camps also offer guided bush walks (keep in mind that the same rules apply – please DO NOT go walking about the park on your own!).

golf, golfing, Kruger

Some camps even offer a round of golf – but keep an eye out for the locals!
Image from http://bit.ly/2bUKjYo

Get a new perspective on the park and its inhabitants while enjoying a hot air balloon flight, or add extra adventure and go caving near the Kruger National Park. Then again, if you’d rather spend a few hours relaxing after all the fun and wonder of your wildlife wanderings, why not treat yourself to some me-time at one of the many camps’ wellness spas?

However you decide to spend your time at Kruger, it’s the perfect destination for families, groups of friends or romantic honeymooners. We know that everyone wants something else out of their travels, and that different people have different travel needs. That is why we’ll work with you to plan your perfect Kruger National Park self-drive safari trip.

We’ll assist with all arrangements – from your arrival at O.R. Tambo International Airport, collecting your rental car and driving to the park – with any additional stops you might want to make along the way. If you are already in South Africa, you can count on us to arrange an awesome road trip to the park from wherever you are. All you need to do is dream of your self-drive safari and send us an email – we’ll take care of the rest.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Fun and adventure for the whole family – all in one… cave?! (Part two)

Missed part one? Read it here.

The Cango Caves, in South Africa’s Klein Karoo, is the perfect stop while on your fun filled family road trip. You’ll find enormous caverns, huge (and still active) stalagmites and stalactites, walls of crystal and an ancient connection to ancestors who lived at the cave entrance hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Cango Caves, cave

The start of the Devil’s Chimney…

You’ll also find the perfect souvenir of your expedition at the curio shop, scientific information about the geology and history of the caves at the Interpretive Center and general info on nearby Oudtshoorn and surrounds at the Information Center. And you’ll find sumptuous ostrich dishes, traditional boboties, line fish and delectable Karoo lamb at the restaurant – traditional South African fare to fill the caverns of your tummy after working up an appetite with the Adventure Tour of the Cango Caves.

The Adventure Tour is an extension of the Heritage Tour, which takes visitors through the magical first 500m of the network of caves and is accessible to all family members (please note that there is no wheelchair access). Then the Adventure Tour challenges you to explore a bit further. The entire cave system stretches over 4km, of which roughly 25% is open to visitors. The vast network of cavernous halls is decorated with towering stalagmites and gravity defying stalactites, and are connected by winding tunnels and walkways.

This tour begins where the Heritage Tour turns back to the surface – in the Drum Room. Clamber down the 200 steps of Jacob’s Ladder into the Grand Hall. You’ll pass biblical Lot, his daughters and wife – who turned into a pillar of salt – in Lot’s Chamber. A large, hollowed out stalagmite takes on the form of King Arthur’s Throne in this Hall.

The Adventure Tour is not for those who get nervous in small spaces!

The Adventure Tour is not for those who get nervous in small spaces!

The Avenue leads you to Lumbago Alley. The roof of this 85m walkway is very low. In fact, it hardly exceeds a height of 1.2m for a length of almost 28m! Hanging crystal ‘gardens’ and a semi-transparent crystal wall will take your breath away in the Crystal Palace. Climb down more steps into King Solomon’s Mines, where a stout king sits upon his throne, which takes the shape of an inverted Protea – the national flower of South Africa.

From here you climb into the Devil’s Chimney. To reach it, you must first crawl through a passage 74cm high, that shrinks to only 30cm at one point. As the rock walls are literally ‘hugging’ cavers, this is known as the Tunnel of Love. You emerge in the Ice Chamber before moving through the Coffin and Ice-Cream Parlor into the Devil’s Workshop where delicate helictites hang from the colorfully lit ceiling.

A steep hump takes you to the Devil’s Kitchen. From here you squirm up a steep, 45cm wide shaft for about 3.5m. This is the notorious Devil’s Chimney. And just when you think that you’ve reached the end of your great caving adventure, you realize that the only exit lies at the other end of the Devil’s Post Box… Slide on through the 27cm high slot and you’ve reached the furthest point accessible to the public.

From here you trek back through the Coffin, Ice Chamber and Tunnel of Love to King Solomon’s Mines and follow the original route back to daylight, fresh air and open spaces.

Courier yourself through the Devil's Postbox at the end of the tour.

Courier yourself through the Devil’s Postbox at the end of the tour.

Nobody knows if the caves were first explored by Johnny Wassenaar or Jacobus van Zyl, but we do know that they are South Africa’s oldest tourist attraction. The Cango Caves have been on visitors’ to-do lists since the late 18th century, they are the first to be protected by South African environmental legislation and the first to employ a tour guide full time.

Make sure that the Cango Caves are on your to-do list when road tripping down South Africa’s Route 62 or through the Garden Route. You must pre-book your adventure, but we can discuss that when you plan your South African self-drive vacation with us. We’ll assist and advise you on all aspects of your trip: from what car to rent and what region to travel to, to where to eat sleep and play. Click here to find out more.

If you would like to visit the caves, please keep in mind that the Adventure Tour is not suitable for children under the age of 6, pregnant women, sufferers of claustrophobia, high blood pressure, asthma or muscular ailments.

 

Info from www.cango-caves.co.za and Wikipedia.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Fun and adventure for the whole family – all in one… cave?! (Part one)

Yes! South Africa’s Cango Caves, near Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, will fascinate and entertain every member of your family. Adventure and exploration? Check! Fairy castles and mood lighting? Check! Incredible natural wonders? Check!

The vast network of cavernous halls is decorated with towering stalagmites and gravity defying stalactites, and are connected by winding tunnels and walkways. Thrill in the adventure of exploring one of Southern Africa’s largest cave networks and let your imagination run wild amongst the beautiful, ethereal and delicate rock and crystal formations. And, yes, maybe even learn a bit about the history of the caves and how they were formed.

Explore the Cango Caves during your road trip.

Explore the Cango Caves during your road trip.

Two guided tours are on offer, the Heritage Tour and the Adventure Tour. The Heritage Tour examines the first 500m of the caves and is an easy exploration for all family members. Visitors discover the humongous Van Zyl’s Hall upon entering the caves. The cavern is 90m long, 50m wide and between 14m and 18m high! The 60-minute tour includes many magical sights as natural erosion, active drip formation and crystal growth continues to create formations that capture the imagination. And the chambers are either named after people important to the discovery of the caves, or for the formations found within them.

The Rainbow Chamber (lit by a variety of coloured lights), is home to the tame cave devil, Old Nick. The Cavern’s Biblical Section contains an open Family Bible, the Outstretched Lost Wing of an Angel and a hollowed-out stalagmite known as The Christening Font.

 

Cango Caves, cave

The Cathedral will take your breath away.

The Bride can be seen sitting on a low stool, silently weeping, in The Kitchen of the Bridal Chamber. This chamber is dominated by the fourteen post Bridal Bed. More coloured lights bring the Fairy Queen’s Palace (or Cathedral) to life in Fairyland, where the Fairy Castle takes the form of an inverted sunflower.

The Drum Room contains an impressive example of a translucent formation, along with a stalagmite that reminds one of a Bushman hut. This chamber serves as the end of the Heritage Tour, while those with the nerve to tackle the Adventure Tour carry on deeper into the mountain. Click here to read more about the Adventure Tour.

The Cango Caves is a must-visit when taking a self-drive vacation through South Africa’s Garden Route, or when traveling on Route 62. Situated approximately 29kms from Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo and 90kms from George on the Garden Route, a visit to this national treasure is an easy detour away – if it isn’t already part of your planned trip.

The Pulpit is another stunning rock formation within the caves.

The Pulpit is another stunning rock formation within the caves.

The network of caves was mainly formed due to chemical reactions within stagnant pools of subterranean water. Stone artifacts and other cultural material found here proves that early man had been living in the entrance to the caves during the Middle- and Later Stone Ages (250 000 to 50 000 years ago). The entire system stretches over 4km, but roughly 25% of that is open to visitors. More and more caves are discovered – even today – supporting the legend of Mr Johnny Wassenaar. Johnny followed an underground river in the caves in 1898. According to the story, he walked for 29 hours trying to find the end of the caves. He claimed to have calculated that he was 25km from the entrance to the caves, and at least 275m below the surface! He became the caves’ first official guide.

Because the Cango Caves is such a popular tourist destination, you have to pre-book your tour. But don’t fret! When you speak with us about customizing your self-drive vacation of South Africa’s Garden Route, Klein Karoo or Route 62, we can discuss your booking. But one thing is for certain – you can’t miss out on visiting this awe-inspiring destination! Okay – two things are for certain, because you can’t go wrong in letting Go Self Drive Tours organize your entire trip.

 

Info from www.cango-caves.co.za and Wikipedia.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed