travel tips, tips

Travel Tips

1. We urge visitors to travel to the Wild Coast during daylight hours, and slowly, as the roads are not fenced and you are likely to meet a Transkei speedtrap in the form of a large animal. There are also potholes which are unavoidable at any kind of speed, as well as small, misleading dirt tracks leading from the feeder roads, so it is all too easy to get lost at night.

2. Be alert for reckless drivers.

3. Bring good walking shoes along with you, something warm for unexpected temperature fluctuations, a costume, towel, hat, sunblock and a good insect repellent.

4. The Tourist Safety Unit can be reached on 047-5052662.

10111 South African Police Services
10177 Ambulance Emergency Medical Services
112 Vodacom, Virgin, MTN, Cell C Emergency Number (148 for contract subscribers)

Mapuzi Police Station 047 575 9000 (Coffee Bay and surrounds)

5. Xhosa Phrasebook: http://www.wildcoast.co.za/xhosa-phrasebook

Safety Warning! Swimming on the Wild Coast

Care should be taken when swimming in the oceans around South Africa. Treacherous currents and high waves can drag swimmers into dangerous situations, sometimes followed by fatal drowning. There is also a risk of shark attacks. Therefore it is strongly advised to only swim where lifeguards are operating, and to avoid desolate and unguarded beaches.

Drowning or near drowning frequently happens in South Africa's coastal areas. Tidal currents and unexpectedly high waves do happen, together with ever moving rip currents. These currents come to live in a trench between sandbars, which can be described as a powerful, narrow channel full of fast-moving water running perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean.

Rip currents can be located by trained beach lifeguards while non-experienced swimmers can mostly not discern them.

A swimmer caught in a rip current should not attempt to swim back to shore directly against the current. This would result in exhaustion and drowning. The swimmer should remain calm and swim parallel to the shore until he or she is outside of the current. Then the swimmer can swim at a leisurely pace, in a diagonal direction, away from the rip but back to shore."

To Baz Bus or Not To Baz Bus

With thanks to Claudia Wu for this insightful article outlining the pleasures and pitfalls of traveling the magic bus. Read more of her great travel tips and stories: Where Wu At
11 AUG 2011

For those planning on traveling around South Africa, there is a very convenient backpacker-geared transportation service called Baz Bus. Basically, they provide transportation between backpackers/hostels in major destinations with door-to-door service. They also sell a type of ticket which allows you to hop on/hop off wherever you want for a fixed price. Personally, I decided not to go with Baz Bus because I wanted to get a local feel of South Africa by traveling as locals do. However, I would say 90% of the people I met used Baz Bus to get around. Here are some pros and cons that I found with Baz Bus (having to take it occasionally out of necessity):

Pros

  • 1. This is the most convenient way to travel around South Africa and allows you to spend more time enjoying your vacation instead of planning your transportation.
  • 2. Great for meeting new people. The majority of backpackers use Baz Bus so you’ll meet fellow backpackers and get great tips on what to do, see, eat, stay.
  • 3. Some of the drivers act as a tour guide, pointing out sites along the way and providing tons of information about South Africa.
  • 4. Safe, reliable and comfortable travel. The minibuses they use are very new and easy to fall asleep in.

    Cons

  • 1. More expensive than coach buses or other minibuses (I found on average it was double the price for Baz Bus).
  • 2. Takes some of the fun out of traveling for me which is independently finding/planning transportation from point A to B.
  • 3. Less flexible since Baz Bus has only 1 bus per day going in each direction. Coach buses usually had 2-3 options per day so you can depart and arrive at a time that suits your schedule.
  • 4. You might miss out on meeting and seeing how local people live since you’re interacting mainly with backpackers from foreign countries. There’s a backpacker bubble and you may end up traveling with the same people for your entire trip. Most of the people I met who took Baz Bus ran into people they met previously on the Baz Bus later on in their trip either on another Baz Bus trip or at the hostel.

    My advice is to try a bit of both and see what suits your style of traveling. Either way, you’ll get to experience South Africa and all that it has to offer!

    Baz Bus website: http://www.bazbus.com

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