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Wrapping Up South Africa Packages

November 05, 2000|LUCY IZON

Hostelling International South Africa has introduced inexpensive welcome packages in four major cities: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. They include airport pickup, several nights' lodging, some breakfasts and at least one full-day local tour. Prices are valid until December.

The Johannesburg package includes a ride from Johannesburg International Airport to a local HI hostel, where you get three nights' shared room and two breakfasts. You also get a full-day tour. Tour choices include Soweto Township, Gold Reef City, Johannesburg city or the entertainment complex of Sun City. The package costs about $58, plus $9 for extra nights. If you prefer a double room, the cost is $145 per person, per night, and $27 per person for extra nights.

Pretoria, the administrative center of the country, is about 40 miles from Johannesburg. Its package includes transportation from Johannesburg airport, three nights at Pretoria HI, two continental breakfasts and your choice of a visit to a cheetah research center, Soweto Township, Sun City and Pilansberg Game Reserve, or Pretoria city. The cost is $61 plus $9 for each additional night. In a double room it's $133 per person, and $27 for each additional night.

Durban, with its surfing beaches, is the third-largest city in South Africa. The package for this city includes airport pickup, three nights at an HI lodging, two breakfasts and a choice of a cultural city tour, a visit to a nature reserve or a visit to the Valley of 1,000 Hills with its traditional Zulu villages. The cost in a multi-share room is $60, and $9 for additional nights. No double rooms are available.

Cape Town, with its spectacular seaside setting at the base of a flat-topped mountain, is just 25 miles from the Cape of Good Hope. Along with airport pickup, three nights at a hostel and two breakfasts, the packages for this city include visiting Cape Point, the townships or the wine lands, or whale watching or mountain biking. The cost is $60 plus $9 for each additional night; a double room is $141 and $27 per person for each additional night. All packages can be booked by credit card.

For more information from HISA: telephone 011-27-21-242-511, fax 011-27-21-244-119, Internet http://www.hisa.org.za. When visiting the site, heed the safety warnings by hostel staff and local residents. You should also get current medical advice before you travel to South Africa. Besides malaria, the parasite bilharzia is present in rivers and lakes in some northern parts of the country; visitors should avoid contact with water in those regions.

Baz Bus, a hop-on-hop-off bus service, caters to international backpackers and operates on set routes throughout South Africa. Passengers are dropped off and picked up at popular hostels along the routes. Riders can get off when they choose. Buses go by designated pickup points.

Transportation between Cape Town and Durban costs $155 one way, $220 round trip; Cape Town to Johannesburg/Pretoria (via Drakenberg) is $180 one way, $315 round trip. Cape Town to Johannesburg/Pretoria (via Swaziland) is $210 one way, $315 round trip.

On the Baz Bus Web site at http://www.bazbus.com, you'll find the hostels along the route; tel. 011-27-21-439-2323. There are HI-affiliated hostels and independents. On the site you can see photos of Kruger Park Backpackers hostel, with its African-style huts, in Hazyview, Mpumalanga province. It's just a 10-minute drive from Kruger Park's Numbi Gate.

The hostel also offers tours for independent budget visitors. For example, two nights at the hostel and one night in a tent in the park, with wildlife viewing in a four-wheel-drive and meals, is $113 per person. For details, contact Kruger Park Backpackers, Main Road, Hazyview 1242, South Africa; tel./fax 011-27-13-737-7224, Internet http://www.argo-nevis.com.

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Lucy Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Internet http://www.izon.com.

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