I am looking at booking a last minute trip to Cape Town to go for 2 weeks Sept/Oct. To be honest I don't know much about the culture if its safe and how to get around. I am interested in a Safari for sure! and want to see the beautiful CT I have heard about. I am worried I haven't done enough research to pull off a trip on my own (plus significant other) and would be interested in a budget friendly tour that would accommodate at least a safari from a starting point of Cape Town. Any suggestions would be great! I don't want to miss out on an opportunity because of a last minute urge to go!
Cape Town is a great city and you will love it!
As for getting around look into the MyCiti Bus system as an option or Uber. It runs all around CT and goes to Hout Bay (you can visit a market there) as well as up the West Coast to Bloubergstrand and Melkbosstrand. It is inexpensive and the buses are very clean.
CT and SA in general have a lot of misconceptions about safety and it is like any other big city, which has dangerous areas and late at night you just need to be aware of your surroundings, other than that it is safe.
For food spots head to restaurants on Bree street and upper Kloof street, a lot less touristy and some very good options.
For Safari tours think about shark cage diving, and avoid Aquila which is close to CT but it is a 'Safari' more closely aligned to a zoo with animals in bigger fenced in areas. Think about going up the Garden Route to Hermanus or further to Addo Elephant National Park and Tsitsikama. There is a lot to do in the area and it is very beautiful. Staying at the Storms River mouth Cape Nature camp is beautiful and inexpensive with hiking very close by.
Hope that helps and enjoy South Africa!
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The big tourist strip in Cape Town is Long Stwhere all the bars, pubs, nightclubs, hostels and many hotels are located and it is also the most secure as there is a security guard posted on every block. The other place to visit is obviously the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway and the V & A Waterfront where there is one of those international milepost signs (16,912 km to Vancouver, but no Calgary on it). Not to be missed is a day trip to the Cape of Good Hope and Robben Island Museum. You can take the public bus from Cape Town Airport to Long Street only one transfer. If you're travelling budget like me, then there are many Hostelling International facilities. I stayed at the one on Long Street but there are many in Cape Town and you can book the day trips and activities at the hostel too. If you like to hike mountains, you can hike the Platteklip Gorgetrail to the top of Table Mountain and then only pay half for the cable car back down, about 100 Rand (CAD$12). Also the high-end part of Cape Town is Camps Bay with its big sandy beaches but nobody swims in the ocean due to the presence of sharks. CAPE TOWN IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AT NIGHT OUTSIDE THE PROTECTED TOURIST AREAS THERE ARE BLACK GUYS ROBBERS AND MUGGERS THAT PREY ON TOURISTS. I can speak from personal experience since I got chased by two black guys who tried (but failed) to rob me and a young white woman at the backpacker hostel where I was staying at got robbed of 1000 Euros on the first day she arrived. If you want to squeeze the most out of your 2 weeks then I can recommend G-Adventures has a tour starting in Cape Town that goes up to see Namibia, Botswana and ends at Victoria Falls in Zambia.
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If you haven't booked yet, consider doing the Kruger Park for the safari portion of your trip? If you're flying into S.A. from far you'll likely come via Johannesburg anyway, and it's easier to get to the Kruger than to the Addo from C.T. (which is the closest safari experience to Cape Town that I'd happily recommend).
If you have booked already, then not to worry :) The Garden Route is a beautiful part of the country, and a trip to Addo will take you along the R62 and through the Garden Route on safe, scenic roads, with lots of wine farms, little shops and galleries, and country cafes to explore.
As for DIY versus booking an organised tour, if you are happy to rent a car then you can have a great experience with your partner. I would only recommend an organised tour if you really want to see wildlife (but then this tour will probably take you out of S.A. and into Namibia anyway) or if you want to be in a group for the social aspect.
Final note on safety, I wrote quite a long article here, but in essence if you stick to the touristy stuff, and stay street smart, you should be fine :)
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Cape Town is a lovely place, easy to get around. If you were comfortable with the idea I'd say drive yourself. The roads around Cape Town are easy to drive and safe.
South Africa is always associated with crime and danger but in the two years i spent there i never felt unsafe. You just need to be aware (like people really should be anywhere!) Don't flaunt your money, lock your car doors, have a bag that bag snatchers can't easily grab (one thing ladies always seem to forget when traveling) This isn't advice JUST for South Africa, please don't think it's a dangerous horrible place! Too many people think that way and miss out on seeing a wonderful country.
Enjoy your trip, I'm jealous, i miss SA!