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South Africa

 
 
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Author GaryArndt
Partaker
#16 | Posted: 11 Jul 2016 10:09 
I have been to all the World Heritage Sites in South Africa save for one.

The Vredefort Dome is very underwhelming. I was there on my own in a car. The visitor center was shut down (permanently) and most everything around it was private land.

Author GaryArndt
Partaker
#17 | Posted: 11 Jul 2016 10:12 
I've also been to the Swaziland tentative site. Not hard to get to, but also underwhelming. I don't forsee it being inscribed anytime soon.

FYI, if you are driving, watch your speed near the South African/Swaziland border.

Author elsslots
Admin
#18 | Posted: 28 Oct 2016 13:27 | Edited by: elsslots 
Tomorrow I'll publish my last blog post from my South Africa tour - "Vredefort in-depth".
Here are a few other thoughts about that trip:

Driving
- Driving was easy. I had brought my own SatNav (TomTom), but I could have managed without it.
- The high speed that is allowed on the minor roads took some time to get used to (120 km/h on B-roads), but after a while I was driving fast and overtaking trucks like a real South African.
- It's impossible to avoid unpaved roads: I've driven hundreds of km's on them during this trip, without a problem with my standard Toyota rental car.
- Gas stations are still all manned by pump assistants (one for each pump) - lots of cheap labour here.
-
Solivagant:
Parking is often acompanied by the un or semi official "car minding" payment threat

I did not have the pleasure to experience this myself, although it surely still exists.
- And to beat Solivagant on his penny-pinching parking practices in Italy: I only paid 8 Rand (0.5 EUR) on parking fees during 2 weeks.

Safety
Solivagant:
Things may have changed but what amazed us was the diference between town and rural security. The former a bit oppressive with high walls, wire and guards etc and the latter, where places we stayed at didn't even lock their doors!

Still completely true. My rooms in Mapungubwe and Northern Drakensberg did not even have locks. Most other places were fairly relaxed too, only my B&B in St. Lucia was in some kind of a fortress with 3 locked gates/doors to handle before one could reach your room. Don't know why that was, the town itself did not feel unsafe. I visited many remote locations on this trip without any incident or scary moments.

Tourism
The country is very popular with German and Dutch tourists, also with people who have never been to Africa before or outside of Europe. It's "light" enough for that. They do travel on a very beaten track, in a kind of "white bubble". Luckily my WHS got me out of this zone, and to a site like Mapungubwe that even is not well-known with South-Africans. I met many of these tourists, and always had to explain why I skipped Kruger Park. They suggested Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park (near St. Lucia/iSimanagaliso) as an alternative: much greener than Kruger at this moment, and full of wildlife.

Author elsslots
Admin
#19 | Posted: 28 Oct 2016 13:35 | Edited by: elsslots 
Sights
None of the 5 WHS + 2 TWHS that I visited were really excellent. I liked Mapungubwe the best: the remote and quiet location, the giant baobabs, dramatic landscape, utter dryness and interesting piece of Southern African cultural history. Most of the others only have niche value - interesting enough for an educating visit but not with a "Wow"-factor.
Between those sites there isn't much else: like in Canada or Australia, you can easily spend a day driving without passing anything of interest. On one travel day for example I had to count seeing 1 ostrich and a sign to a place called 'Vlieland' (=namesake of an Island in the Dutch Wadden Sea) as the highlights of my day.

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#20 | Posted: 29 Oct 2016 14:26 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Thanks for these post trip "wash ups" I really enjoy reading them even if they aren't of immediate practical use to me.

Likewise I've enjoyed the blog posts on South Africa, even though it has never really been high on my wish list.

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