Greg’s South African adventures #40Kfaraway (featuring Johannesburg fun, train misadventures, Cape Town wine & penguins)

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Frequent Miler's 2019 40K to Far Away Challenge is done! Greg, Nick, and Stephen competed to see who could go farthest with 40,000 points and $400! Click here for contest results and next steps.

Wow. I had a great time on my 40K to Far Away adventures, but I’m beat!  I’m now in the Seychelles for a brief recovery (I slept 10 hours last night!) before flying off to join my wife in London.

I wrote previously about my trip leading up to South Africa:

In this post, I’ll cover my adventures within South Africa.  Please watch the videos.  I spent a lot of time putting them together and they do far better at showing my experiences than the words below…

Johannesburg

I started in Johannesburg (Jo’burg) where I rented a car (you can read here about the trials and tribulations of renting this car with Chase points!).  I then drove to Chef Bjarne’s house.  I had met Bjarne on the CouchSurfing website which I used, in this case, to find locals who could give advice about what I could do on a Sunday morning in Johannesburg with only about 6 hours available.  Bjarne offered to prepare a sunrise breakfast at Northcliff Tower overlooking the city!  I would pay for the ingredients.  After breakfast, he took me in my rental car for a tour of the city.  In addition to the breakfast and great fun hanging out with Bjarne, a big highlight was our visit to the Rosebank Sunday market.  This video covers all that and more:

p.s. If you visit Jo’burg and you’d like a personal Jozi (Johannesburg) tour with a local, Bjarne might be available. Contact him here: BjarneH@iafrica.com.  If you’re looking for lodging, his Airbnb gets great reviews too (found here).

Johannesburg to Cape Town by Train (and bus)

The Shosholoza Meyl train ride between Johannesburg and Cape Town may be the single best value in travel today.  For only about $50 you get a sleeper car to take you 1,400 kilometers across the country.  At this price, your sleeper car is private if you book for 2 to 4 people.  With just a single person, you are likely to be put into a sleeper car with up to 3 others.  In my case, I had just one roommate (luckily he was very nice and considerate!).  Also at this price, everything is à la carte.  You pay extra for food and beverages and even for bedding (the latter is about $4).  I brought my own bedding, but I was a bit jealous of my cabin mate’s much nicer setup.  You can read more about the train at the Man in Seat 61.

The downside of this fantastic deal?  The train is often late… very late.  If you have a tight schedule, don’t even consider it.  And sometimes things go fantastically wrong.  Watch my video to see some hard to believe examples of what actually went awry…

Cape Town

One of the rules of our contest was that we couldn’t seek help from readers.  That said, Nick, Stephen and I agreed in advance that friends and family were fair game.  Of course, we couldn’t ask someone to pay for our flights, but if someone offered to host us when we visited, that would be fine.  After all, accepting such an invitation is what we’d likely do when travelling normally.

It happens that I have a good friend in Cape Town.  My wife and I have hosted her at our house many times in the past.  When I told her I’d be in Cape Town she was eager to reciprocate.  So, when I finally arrived in Cape Town (despite my train and bus misadventures), I eagerly accepted her hospitality.  She and her husband Bruce made my brief visit to Cape Town awesome.  I can’t wait to return with my wife!  Check out the highlights in this video:

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AlexL

When I heard you flew back to Washington DC, I assumed you will be going dakar and used the intra-Africa excursions from united to get to Seychelles. I just thought it will be cool to get to Seychelles on this challenge. I guess I got some destinations right, but definitely not the itinerary. Look forward to it. Btw, did Nick, Nick’s wife and Conrad meet at Niue? So I am curious if your wife would like to meet you at Seychelles. Or she just loves London.

Laura

Loved your Cape Town video, took me back to one of my favorite places on Earth. Just got back from the Seychelles, hope you had nice weather.

P T

Thanks Greg. Great videos and story, which reminded me how I used to travel. I kind of miss those days!

MFK

Enjoyed the videos. Looking forward to your final trip reports.

Samuel Palmer

Loved the vids Greg. I’m gonna share with my SA neighbor. He’ll be touched. Well done. U have my vote ….

Lukas

You ended in Seychelles?!?! Win by default 😀

Frank

love it!!! I truly enjoyed this challenge, especially since all of you have families and made it work somehow to share a good trip with them, but also go and explore by yourselves. Amazing!

HoKo

I might have missed it but did you mention the scheduled arrival time for the train to cape town (versus when you actually arrived via bus versus when the family that stayed on the train arrived)?

Mike Saint

Typical South Africa for you. I just got back from South Africa. I thought JoBurg was a dump but Cape Town was amazing and beautiful.

CaveDweller

MS
My KSA worker buddy said just By Pass JoBurg . So u do air or taxi or rental car and forget the rest when in SA ??.
THX
CHEERs

Paul

It’s certainly less interesting than the train, but last week I flew JNB-CPT for $53 on kulula. Enjoyed your videos of the sights in Cape Town.

CaveDweller

FM
Next time u do a Challenge or Contest include the value of what ur friends give you . How much did that glass of wine out of that $400 bottle did u credit ??
Fun trip but not legit for avg. traveler .
CHEERs

CaveDweller

What’s Super Cheap to a blog site owner ?? I’ve done that all over the world(cheap) BUT credit the account !! Poor Steve !!
FM is a very good site ..
CHEERs

Sarah

Wine is very cheap in South Africa, and usually HUGE pours (to the rim of the glass). Think $2 per glass for a full glass of wine.

CaveDweller

Sarah
Nice lady it’s the Cost ect. should be included for the Contest !!
Remember this Blog Travel Stuff is just for Fun .
CHEERs

rick b

Ha, and I thought I had it rough when my train in Vietnam got stuck on the tracks for 2 hours.

Kathy

Great adventure! Thanks for sharing the videos!

William

I’m glad you had a good time Greg. You do so much for this community, so I’m glad to see you continuing to inspire us!

Kishore sharma

Nice post ..
thanks for sharing…