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Travel destinations: Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa. The most beautiful city on the planet, as boasted by many travel guides. Now that’s a tough reputation to live up to. However if you are lucky enough visit this southern gem, it will not disappoint.

Table Mountain towers over a mix of colonial buildings, skyscrapers and brightly painted facades. White sandy beaches stretch from its core as surfers ride the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Catching a ferry to Robben Island offers a panoramic view of the oldest city in South Africa. The scenery is stunning from your state of the art boat, but your emotions are conflicted as you make your way to this historical island linked to a dark past.

Home of the infamous prison where Nelson Mandela was detained for 19 of his 27 year incarceration, you can’t help but feel what it must have been like for the prisoners. Surrounded by frigid, shark infested waters, freedom and beauty were right in front of their eyes, and yet they could not escape.

The guides are former inmates who make the experience that much more compelling. They tell personal stories of their time on the island and how they schemed and planned all the while to put an end to Apartheid. These men are true Hero’s and it is an honor to have them share their experience.

On the tour you will see Nelson Mandela’s tiny cell in the maximum-security wing, the quarry where he chipped away with crude tools and where the secret meetings of the African National Congress took place. They built a government here and he and the ANC eventually ran the country.

After a thorough history lesson, you have earned a drive to Simon’s Town to see the penguin colony. Rent at car or motorcycle and drive along the most scenic highway in the world. Chapman’s Peak is featured in many a film and commercial and you will see why. The enormous cliffs fall into the water with a two-lane highway carved into its rock face. Breathtaking.

Continue south from Simons Town to the Cape of Good Hope where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Stand atop of some of the world’s highest sea cliffs and look out over the sea, the only thing between you and Antarctica.

You can make it back to Cape Town before dinner and have a seafood feast at one of the many restaurants at the V&A waterfront. This trendy area has boutique shops, wine bars, cafes and theatres. Street performers sing traditional African music to perfection and you may find gymnasts or musicians performing on the main stage.

Strolling along the waterfront is a splendid and safe experience and you can lose yourself in the nightlife drinking fine wine and eating delectable food at reasonable prices.

While in South Africa you cannot leave without a visit to the wine country. Once you are used to driving on the other side of the road, you will have the confidence to take your rental car to Franschhoek, the wine capital of Africa. Take a wine tour at Grande Provence Winery and make sure to stay for lunch or dinner. The award-winning chef has made this restaurant one of the top ten in South Africa.

Walk through the streets eating ice cream as you browse art galleries and book shops, or take a drive in the countryside for another dose of breathtaking views.

You will need weeks to truly explore everything that there is to do around Cape Town. Safaris, Bungee Jumps, Shark Diving, Sailing, a trek up Table Mountain and a trip to the Western Cape and Garden Route will keep you occupied for days on end.

Not only is it a beautiful place to explore, it is also very reasonable at eight South African Rands to a dollar. You can stretch your money a long way there and spend as long as you want in the City known as the Mother of Africa.

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Cape Town Car Hire – Aroundabout Cars

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Costs set to kick car hire into overdrive

Vehicle rental rates are expected to increase by between 10% and 12% this year, largely because of an increase in input costs, higher interest rates and higher car prices.

Wayne Duvenage, the chief executive of car rental company Avis, says that interest rates have increased 70% in the past 18 months and 35% of the cost of operating a fleet is made up of depreciation and interest rates.

The average cost of renting a car is about R280 a day, but he points out that this is about one third of the cost of a hotel room.

“Vehicle holding costs have risen significantly due to the interest-rate hikes along with new-car price increases and the increases in the price of petrol,” said Duvenage

“Other cost drivers such as general supplies, salaries and rent have also been driven up.”

Inflation in the car-rental industry far exceeds general inflation and this will force car-rental companies to increase their prices this year.

Duvenage says that at times such as this, “reckless competitive activity” often occurs, reducing the ability to introduce much-needed rate increases.

Smaller rental companies might push rates down to get corporate accounts, but this will push the industry backwards.

Budget Car and Van Rental CEO Ray Booth says that the cost of maintaining a fleet of cars is between 25% and 40% higher than last year, with salaries and accident- repair costs rising substantially.

The used-car market, into which Budget sells its fleet, is also very “soft”. Fleet cars are generally sold after nine months or 30000km, but this limit has been extended to 35000km.

Budget concentrates mainly on the corporate market, with only about 9% of its activity in the leisure market, although this figure increases during December and January. The group’s fleet-utilisation rate is about 75%, but at mid-week, it can rise to as much as 95%.

Booth says European business travellers are big users of the company’s fleet and the strengthening rand ate into the real profit on the daily rental of € 26. ‘‘Since last year, however, the rand has fallen by about 22% against the euro. That is the sort of increase we would need,” he says.

The group, part of McCarthy Motor Holdings, is “barely profitable and results will be lower than last year”, he says.

Anne Leonard, the director for international and local leisure rentals at Imperial Car Rental, says the group is still looking at prices and no decision has been taken yet. But she concedes that operating costs have increased significantly.

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CAPE TOWN CAR HIRE

If you are in Cape Town and you need to organize car hire there are two ways of going about it. Either you can phone around several different Cape Town car hire companies obtaining quotations until you find one that suits your needs, a painstaking process that can take for ever, or you can book one the easy way, by booking through car hire 4 Less on the Internet or by making just one phone call to our offices. Car hire 4 Less will guarantee that you get the very best prices and a car that precisely suits your needs. So if you are in Cape Town and need to hire a car all you have to do is to complete the form on our web page and you will have an answer within seconds. Car hire 4 Less has specials and discounts throughout the Western and Eastern Cape and throughout the whole of South Africa. Our Cape Town car hire prices are made in alliance with such industry leaders as Hertz, Budget, Alamo and Europcar and all deals are fully inclusive.

The contract that you get by booking through car hire 4 Less includes:

  • Third Party Insurance, which covers injury or vehicle damage to a third party.
  • Collision damage waiver immunity.
  • Fire and Theft of the vehicle
  • Airport surcharges
  • Bail bonds (where necessary)

You will notice when you book your Cape Town hire car in that there are several collection points in the city. Make sure that you book to and from the correct Cape Town car hire point (there are a number in the area) or you may find that when you go to sign the contract there is no vehicle awaiting you!

There are a few things that the Cape Town car hire contract does not include, some of these are:

  • Personal accident insurance – you can purchase this when you complete the contract.
  • Other Insurances – e.g. Luggage and belongings
  • Insurance exclusions – see relevant documents
  • Fuel – you will need to leave a deposit with a credit card
  • Tolls and traffic fines
  • Delivery or collection fee – if you need the vehicle delivered to a specific address.
  • After hours charges
  • Optional extras – e.g. a GPS unit
  • One-way rental charges – if you are dropping vehicle elsewhere than pick up point.

It is important to note that car hire 4 Less special low prices are normally offered for bookings of at least a week. Shorter bookings may be made but the daily price could go up a little. All prices are inclusive of VAT and can be booked either online or by phoning car hire 4 Less’ offices. Cape Town car hire can be anything from a luxury 4 x 4 with air conditioning to a small and very basic two-door saloon. If by chance you experience any mechanical difficulties or accidents involving your rental car, it is important to report the details to the local rental partner within 24 hours.

Intoweb Marketing is a online marketing company independently creating leads and business for car hire 4 Less via an affiliate marketing campaign. The information on the web pages describes the services or products car hire 4 Less offers to the marketplace. All online marketing web pages were created by an independent search engine optimizer with the goal of promoting car hire 4 Less on the internet. Intoweb Marketing as an internet marketing company strives to turn web pages into lead generating tools for a positive return on investment. Intoweb Marketing in addition offers other services such as pay per click management, email or newsletter marketing, seo training and marketing consultancy services.

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Cape Town Car Hire

Cape Town Tours Tour Wine Route

South Africa is one of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating countries. It has many popular attractions – from the Big 5 to the magnificent mountain ranges. This means it is fast becoming a top tourist destination. Mmilo Tours operates within South Africa and has many different travel packages, some of these being their Cape Town tours. A tour of the wine route is popular amongst tourists. For this reason, wine route tours can be done either as part of one of their ready-made, group tour routes or it can chosen as part of a tailor-made route to suite your needs.

Winemaking in the Cape is strongly based on the Germanic tradition and method, although it has also been influenced by the French traditions. Wine cellars are a popular destination on most Cape Town tours. To tour a wine route means to not only taste some of the best wines in the world but also to visit the national heritage sites, top quality restaurants and spas which for part of many wine estates. South African wines are growing increasingly globally. This is seen in the recent increase in wine exports from the South Africa over the past years. When taking a Cape Town tour or a tour of a wine route, Mmilo has a variety of different packages.

One of the ready-made, group tour options is the Eden Tour. This tour includes both Cape Town tours and a tour of a wine route. This 10 day tour starts in Port Elizabeth and slowly winds its way around the coast to Cape Town. Along the tour you will be able to participate in activities such as lagoon boat cruises and explorations of the Cango Caves. There are also several other optional activities should you wish to take part in them, such as visiting the Maritime Museum in Mossel Bay. The basic cost for this tour is $3244.3317.

Another top choice is the Rediscovery Tour. Although this is partly a Cape Town tour, to tour a wine route and other aspects of the Cape, it also journeys Durban in the KwaZulu Natal province. The wine tour aspect sees the groups visiting several top wine cellars in the town of Stellenbosch. The whole journey lasts 10 days and aims to share with visitors a variety of experiences offered by traditional Durban and Cape Town tours, from a tour of a wine route to a visiting the famous V&A Waterfront and historical sites. The baseline cost for this tour is $3266.3803.

Mmilo Tours is for the traveler who enjoys the luxury of four-star accommodation and travel, whether on the Cape Town tours, a tour of a wine route or tours of the Kruger National Park. All accommodation is in small to medium sized lodges, to ensure an intimate experience. Furthermore, Mmilo Tours groups are kept small, usually not exceeding 30 members. Tour guides are all South Africans, to ensure an authentic experience. All of this is part of Mmilo mission to provide visitors to South Africa with enriching, enjoyable and relaxing holiday.

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50 PERCENT INCREASE IN BIKE TEST BOOKINGS

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Quality Car Hire in Cape Town and South Africa from AroundAbout Cars

August 18, 2008
By Maureen Marud

If there is a seemingly endless wait for an appointment at the local driving licence test centre, use another one, advises Vernon Little, assistant chief of Cape Town Traffic Services.

Little said: “You can go anywhere in South Africa to do a driving licence test if you have a valid learner’s licence. No centre may turn you away because you do not live in the area.”

And here are the numbers you’ll
need to dial in Cape Town.
 

Little recently unveiled plans to cut waiting times from the current six-months average to three months for a driving licence test, and two months for a learner’s test

‘Test stations were inundated early in 2008 by a last-minute rush’

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Booking backlogs were caused by various factors, he said, one of them going back five years.

Test stations were inundated early in 2008 by a last-minute rush of drivers trying to meet the five-year deadline for renewing licences they took out in 2003 when the deadline for changing to card licences created a “deluge” of applicants, many of whom were tested at an emergency station in the Athlone stadium.

He added that backlogs had been aggravated by higher fuel prices as more road users turned to motorcycles to save on fuel bills.

“Cape Town’s traffic departments have been inundated with a 50 percent increase in bookings for motorcycle learner and driving tests in the past year,” he said

‘Licence applicants are coming to the centres ill-prepared for their tests’

But only four of the city’s 16 testing stations are equipped to test for motorcycle licences – and at Gallows Hill in Green point licence tests for motorcycles and heavy motor vehicles are done in the same area but can’t be done at the same time because of space restrictions.

Another problem, he said, was that licence applicants were coming to the centres ill-prepared for their tests. For instance, a cracked windscreen or an expired licence disc meant the examiner could not conduct the test in that vehicle.

“We can’t take the vehicle out on the road, so that person fails automatically.”

The relatively low pass rate of 35 – 40 percent at all the city’s stations was partly the fault of driving schools, some of which used unregistered instructors.

“Province has identified the need for all driving schools to be accredited,” Little said.

Plans to cut the backlogs included opening new test centres and employing more cashiers, clerks and testing officers.

Little said three new centres opened in 2007 – in Khayelitsha, Joe Gqabi and Ottery – and one in Mitchells Plain was expected to open by November 2008.

A new centre in Fish Hoek, to serve the southern peninsula, would open within the next 24 months.

Other plans included a revamp of the Milnerton and Brackenfell centres, a new test track at Kuils River, an upgraded test track at Bellville and a new centre in Somerset West after the old one was closed. – The Argus

More unlicensed drivers being caught



The 35 000 people who were caught driving in Cape Town without valid driving licences in the first six months of 2008 represents just the tip of the iceberg.

Among the excuses offered for this state of affairs by the ANC is the long waiting periods for aspirant drivers to get appointments for tests.

ANC councillor Werner Scwhella said he was “deeply concerned” about the number of people driving without licences.

“The question is whether people are merely ignoring the law or taking a chance driving without a licence due to the long waiting periods,” he added

Kroll Background Screening CEO Ina van der Merwe said while it was true that there were long waiting periods at testing stations, this did not excuse those opportunistic drivers who took the short cut and bought their licences from crooked officials.

“Many jobs require the employee to be on the road. Rather than not work, many employees choose to drive illegally. Also, in instances where a drivers licence is a pre-requisite for employment the employee chooses to rather buy a fake drivers licence than risk not getting the job. Unemployment levels are very high, and people have become desperate,” she said.

According to the Metro Police’s quarterly report, Cape Town’s traffic department dealt with 19 234 unlicensed drivers and just under 11 000 unlicensed vehicles in April, May and June.

Acting safety and security director Heathcliff Thomas said the waiting period for a new licence was nine months nationally but that Cape Town was doing “relatively well” in reducing the waiting time to an average of six months.

With government admitting that only a “hand full” of the 90 000 bogus drivers’ licences that are currently used by drivers have been cancelled, background screening companies are compelled to certify these illegally obtained licences as valid lending further credence to

them.

Willie Hofmeyer, head of the Special Investigations Unit told parliament that his investigators had visited 350 licensing offices and had scrutinised 1,4-million files. From this investigation it became clear that 91 596 drivers’ licences were invalid.

“The present situation is making life extremely difficult for background screening companies who are compelled to certify a licence as valid until such time as it had been cancelled by the Department Of Transport.

“We believe the number may be much higher because last year the transport department’s Wendy Watson confirmed that up to 50% of all drivers’ licences were “suspect”, Van der Merwe said.

Kroll Background Screening, the largest credentials verification company in South Africa, processes millions of enquiries relating to the authenticity of drivers’ licenses, passports, degrees and diplomas.

“One of the major problems that we face is that some of the holders of these bogus licences may end up driving busses putting the lives of thousands of commuters at risk.

Van der Merwe has urged the department to address the problem with a greater degree of urgency and to get the bogus licences out of circulation.

“Human lives are at stake here and the sooner we get these bogus licence holders off our roads the safer it will be for the rest of us”, she said.

Equally important was to shut down the licensing offices where many of these bogus licences were issued, she said.

Van der Merwe said more than 18% of all documents sent to her company for verification turn out to be fake.

For more information, please contact Nina de Winter at Kroll on 012 644 4000 or on her cell 082 787 9890

Driving in South Africa

Visit Aroundabout Cars for Cape Town Car Hire

Article Source: http://www.capespirit.com

Driving in South Africa is an enjoyable experience if one is familiar with the local driving conditions and nuances on the roads.

Licensing

Hiring a motor vehicle in South Africa requires that the intended driver of the vehicle has a valid driver’s license from their country of origin. The license mustbe printed in English and bare a photograph of the driver. However, it is more desirable to also obtain an international driver’s license from the relevant authorities in your country of origin before travelling to South Africa in order to ensure that you will be allowed to legally drive in the country. American citizens, for example, can obtain international licenses from automotive clubs associated with the AAA. Drivers should bring their local and international driver’s licenses with them when visiting South Africa.

Most car rental companies in South Africa will only provide their services to individuals over the age of 21, with some only allowing those older than 25 to rent cars.

The Metro Police in South Africa are responsible for policing the country’s roads and are a separate body from the South African Police Services (SAPS). These officials maintain a high visual presence on the country’s roads and will request presentation of a valid driver’s license should you engage with them on South Africa’s highways and byways.

Rules of the road

South Africa’s road rules are similar to those of most developed countries with the exception that in South Africa one drives on the left hand side of the road, just as in England, Australia and Japan, and unlike central-European countries and the USA. This means that drivers in South Africa are seated on the right-hand side of the car.

Adjusting to this is simple for most drivers from countries that drive on the right-hand side of the road because it makes sense once presented with controls on the other side of the car, and when following the traffic on the road. The only danger can be when turning right into a road, when the propensity to stay on the right hand side may kick in for American and European drivers.

It is also therefore illegal to overtake on the left hand side of the road in South Africa. One must move into a right-hand lane when passing by other vehicles. Unfortunately this is one rule that is not adhered to by all South African drivers, so one must be wary of over-takers in the left hand lane.

In general, and especially on highways in South Africa, it is recommended to maintain a following distance of at least three seconds. The speed limit on highways is usually 120 kilometres per hour except in denser areas where it drops to 100. On national roads the limit is usually 80 kilometres per hour and in residential areas this is reduced to 60. South African roads are clearly sign-posted with the relevant speed limit but remember that in South Africa speeds are presented in kilometres, not miles!

It is also illegal to talk on a mobile phone or any other communications device while driving in South Africa, unless one makes use of a hands-free solution in doing so.

Road network nuances

Given the diversity of terrain in South Africa its road network provides driving experiences in a number of different environments.

In the Mpumalanga province one can travel through high-altitude grasslands and lush mountain passes. In fact, Mpumalanga sports the highest tarred road above sea level in the world.

When visiting the bushveld, and particular in the Limpopo and North West provinces, one must be wary of potholes. It is easy to miss these as you stare out at the beautiful African grasslands and savannahs from your car window. Potholes are, in fact, a regular occurrence on South African roads and while the National Roads Agency does a good job of patching these regularly, many escape attention – especially in more outlying areas of the country.

The Garden Route in the Western Cape of South Africa is a highly popular route for travellers to South Africa. Stretching from Mossel Bay to Storms River, the Garden Route is one of the most scenic drives available anywhere in the world. This famous stretch of road, sandwiched between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains and the Indian Ocean takes one through indigenous forests and a mix of Cape Fynbos and temperate forests with various eco-tourism activities scattered along the route. Roads on the Garden Route vary from narrow and windy to long and straight and, once again, the challenge is keeping your eyes on the road while passing through the staggeringly beautiful surroundings.

Another popular area of travel in the Western Cape is through the Cape Winelands. This is the largest wine producing area in South Africa and is divided into six main wine regions, each offering their own unique wine route. Driving through this area allows travellers to stop off at various wine farms and enjoy a range of famous South African wines, cheeses, olives and other produce. But one must obviously be careful of enjoying too much wine before getting behind the wheel of a car, and the blood alcohol limit in South Africa is 0.8. So take care when being seduced by the excellent wines of the Western Cape and remember to drink lots of water in-between.

Of course, safaris are a popular nature of trip to South Africa and this will take drivers through bushveld areas in game parks such as the Kruger National Park and Pilanesburg National Park. While in the parks travellers will spend much of their time on well-maintained dirt roads with very low speed limits, generally of 20 kilometres per hour. Off-road vehicles are definitely not a necessity for the national parks, but are desirable because of the elevated angle of view they offer that makes it easier to spot and enjoy the game in the parks. But virtually any car can safely be driven through the parks and used for game viewing. In times of great rainfall, however, the dirt roads can change overnight and require more care when being utilised as parts of the roads wash away.

Some practices on South African roads are irregular for drivers from other countries, such as that of moving into the emergency lane to allow other vehicles to pass by. While this is not strictly-speaking legal and drivers are not obliged to move over, one will find this a common practice amongst South Africa drivers, and especially truck drivers who will happily move over into the emergency lane on single-lane roads allowing faster traffic to move past. A colloquial etiquette has developed around this practice whereby drivers will use their hazard lights briefly to thank drivers who have allowed them past.

Personal Navigation Systems

GPS systems are an excellent addition to a road trips in South Africa and the local road data available is extensive and kept up to date, along with point of interest databases. GPS navigation systems can also be rented along with cars in South Africa, so that visitors do not need to bring their own systems along. However, should you wish to use your own navigation system, South African maps are available online for virtually all systems.

With GPS in hand it is possible to optimise time spent travelling and uncover more landmarks and places of interest to enjoy while travelling in South Africa. GPS systems also make it easy to plan trips ahead of time, along with intended stops, breaks and visits to services stations.

South Africa’s beauty and diversity is best enjoyed by taking to the country’s open roads and enjoying the scenery, historical landmarks, wildlife and culture of the country at one’s own leisure. With so much to do, see and enjoy a rental car is definitely the best way to travel in South Africa.

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