South Africa on the move

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You hear lots of stories about the lack of personal safety in many parts of Africa. So we asked Kym Fuller (former Chair of RDA Western NSW and now director of Cerful Travel, a tour operator based in Victor Harbor, South Australia) for a frank report of his tour of South Africa. It was a pleasant surprise. Below is Kym’s report.

Yes, I am currently taking tour groups, and South Africa was great – the difference between now and 15 years ago on my first visit was chalk and cheese. At no time did we feel uncomfortable – the white population is under 10%, but as one ex South African Broadcasting executive mentioned “the fire is out of the eyes” which was certainly noticeable everywhere we went.

The road infrastructure is amazing and the number of new cars on the road is impressive. The retail side of things looks to be booming. There were a number of new shopping centres we saw that were very busy. One of the most impressive pieces of infrastructure is the new Kingshaka airport in Durban. When it opened they completed the move from the old airport in one night so they closed the old airport after the last flight, and the first flight landed at the new airport the next morning. Apparently the Brits were using it as a case study for their airport dilemmas.

With the favourable exchange rate, travelling over there is a breeze. The food is fantastic as is the local wine. We stayed in 4.5 – 5 star accommodation, which was very affordable. We also traveled up to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, where they have totally abandoned their local currency in favour of USD. All of the workers are paid in USD and they seem to be really happy, everyone we came in contact with were friendly and very welcoming. We arrived at the tail end of the World Trade Organisation conference which was a big deal for Zimbabwe and Zambia – the airport was being upgraded and the roads had been fixed up.

The airfares are pretty competitive (as low as $1500 return from Perth/Sydney) and given the increasingly strong linkages to South Africa, WA folk in particular should be making a point of seeing this fascinating country.

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