Ridesharing has become a complete and total way of life in my day-to-day and during travel. Here in North America, we have the likes of Uber and Lyft, whereas in Asia you have GoJek, Didi and in Europe you’ve got Taxify/Bolt among the many, many names in the rideshare world. Uber in Cape Town is a cheap, easy and convenient way of getting around!
Uber and Bolt are the two main players in South Africa, and I took both during various trips, more recently, spending more time using Bolt in my recent 2019 trip. Ridesharing remains an economical, convenient and easy way of getting around.
Uber has its share of controversies but I can’t deny that Uber has been a lifesaver on multiple occasions! I’ve never tried Bolt before 2019 but my experiences have been positive so far. I wanted to compare the two to give you some perspective. Avoid overpaying private airport shuttles after a late-night arrival? Yes, please! Avoid crazy expensive airport taxi fares? Every time!
1. The Uber Experience
Uber is the ride-sharing app that you probably already use on a regular basis. Just install the app, add your credit card information, and you’re good to go!
Note: I understand that recent news about Uber and its prevalent gender and diversity issues make it somewhat controversial to be recommeding. Unfortunately, alternatives like Lyft isn’t as widespread as Uber, so I will leave this post up to help solo female travellers to travel better until I have an alternative that I can share with you!
Feel free to use my Uber referral link (or use code: stephaniel241) to get a free ride (up to $20) the next time you’re in South Africa. This may not sound much in Canadian dollars, but this is practically a FREE ride from the airport to city bowl (I only spent R150 which is equivalent to about $13 CAD!)
Aside from the stories of disgruntled taxi drivers, and city politicians about the presence of Uber, I’ve heard of stories of sexual assaults happening to female passengers in Toronto. If this can happen in a city like Toronto, considered to have a high standard of living and by most account, very safe, what would it be like in South Africa?
I decided to give it a go because I couldn’t justify paying $35 private transfer that my hostel first arranged for me. It wasn’t any more convenient than an Uber car, and I was paying double the amount of what I have been paying through Uber. Over 2 weeks, I took almost 20 Uber rides, mostly to get me to Long Street where most walking tours start, and is an excellent point in the “downtown” Cape Town. Whilst in the car, I also had my share of conversations with the drivers, many of which are taking up Uber as a side-gig to earn extra money whilst they run their own business, or finishing up their degree.
I never felt unsafe with the Uber drivers in Cape Town – striking up that conversation, taking Uber at a reasonable time (I think the latest I’ve been out is around 9:30pm – which is key since I was going around solo!) and keeping the app open at all times allowed me to have a really positive experience. From each Uber driver, I learned something new – from how an Uber driver gets processed and approved in South Africa, and the general happenings in the city/country which gave me rapport with the drivers. The drivers are mostly courteous, and always asking me if I wanted to change the radio / air con, etc.
As of recently, Uber South Africa has introduced cash payments in hopes of getting more customers. Credit card is difficult to get in parts of the country and not everyone is eligible for one. Just a heads up in case you’re travelling to the country soon!
2. Bolt Experience
Equally as popular as Uber and as widely available, Bolt is a great alternative if you feel strongly about Uber’s conduct that you prefer taking alternative providers. Bolt is Taxify’s answer to Uber and Taxify itself is based in Estonia. There is not much of a difference when it comes to installing the app on your phone and generally speaking, the Bolt drivers are readily as available as Uber.
During the entirety of my trip, I mostly took Bolt or Uber in Cape Town as they weren’t as widely adopted outside of the big cities. Knysna for example, didn’t have too many Uber options around. The cost difference between the two platforms during short trips are minimal and only became noticeable during longer trips (where you can expect $2-5 difference).
The interface are almost identical with equally as many promotion and discounts as Uber. I’ll often pull both apps up and see which will give me an extra 10-20% discount before using one over another. If Uber’s shenanegans have been an issue for you, Bolt is a great alternative.
Bolt or Uber in Cape Town are a safe, convenient, and inexpensive way of getting around, even for solo travellers. As with anything, always use common sense, and triple check that the car coming to pick you up is the right vehicle (plate, name, car make, etc!)
Do you often take Uber or Bolt while travelling?
Where to Next?
- Kruger National Park is the premiere spot for safari in South Africa and here’s how you can do an African safari on a budget!
- If you’re looking to explore all of South Africa, consider taking the BazBus – a hop-on-hop-off cross country bus!
- Here’s how much it costs to go to South Africa as a solo traveller
- Stay connected and get a SIM Card while travelling in South Africa
- Make time to in surf in Muizenberg; here are spots closer to Cape Town
- Don’t forget to plan a day for hiking Table Mountain and Lion’s Head!