a VirtualTourist member from California
I am travelling in a group of three, one is a 13 year old. We arrive in Johannesburg airport and we plan to first visit LION PARK ( near Jo'berg) and spend a night in the "semi-luxury"? tents and see some animals!! and try a BRAAI, - we will slowly make our journey to Wild Coast to Tshana to Mdumbi Backpackers- but we want to break the trip and stay somewhere nice 6 HOURS OUTSIDE OF JOHANNESBURG and the next morning-ish continue by bus to Umtata ( to arrive at a reasonable hour to be collected by backpackers transport!)
Is Maseru in Lesotho around 6 hours from Johannesburg? ( by something like greyhound bus??) Is Durban area ( Kwazulu) ( maybe the ZULU BEER route????) around 6 hours from Jo'berg and then after overnight somewhere in one of those locations heading to Wild Coast? I feel a bit baffled and the South Africa tourist website doesn't give me clear information how location distances are....
I will be happy for some GOOD advice please! ( we are going to be travelling by one of those "greyhound" type of buses for the whole trip )
Here is some advice.
First, you are really restricted in your movements by your mode of transport. As you will travel mainly by "greyhound" type bus, you must accept the fact that you will only see the side of the main roads. Second point to consider is your bus timetable.
Johannesburg to Durban: Distance is about 600km. The bus services do this route in about 8 hours. Bazbus use a slightly different route and take about 10 hours.
Durban to Umtata: Distance is only 325km and take about 7 hours by bus. Bus departure time is 07h00 which sort of dictate your overnight in Durban.
I did not mention Maseru as a possible alternative. It is off the normal route, and once you travel from Durban to Umtata you will see (and understand) why there is only one access road into Lesotho from that side. We call that mountain the Drakensberg. The Zulus refer to it as uKhahlamba (translate to 'Barrier of Spears')
Durban as destination: Another big city (pop 2.5mil) with everything you will normally find in a big city. Add to that the biggest concentration of Indian people outside of India, and you can maybe imagine the atmosphere, mingled with the typical Africa that you will get to know in Mdumbi and the colonial British. And of course, the warm Indian Ocean (water temp avg about 22degC). If you do stay in Durban, there are many hotels as it is a popular holiday destination. If you want to go Backpackers, try Happy Hippo. (http://www.happy-hippo.info/) It think it is in the best location of them all.
If you rather want to stay on the road to Durban, ask, and I will give you some pointers.
Beer: South African Breweries at one time was the 2nd largest global brewer (after Bud) with brands like Millers, Black Label, etc, and the local favourite - Castle. You will get to know it. Traditional beer or Mageu (also known as magou, mahewu, amahewu or mawe througout Africa) is a non-dairy, non (or low) alcohol, energy giving beverage. It is made by many of the maize consuming populations in Africa. It is also packaged and distributed commercially. I would like to hear your comments after your first taste.