This is not the most modestly named piece of equipment I've ever used, but one that lives up to its reputation. Greatguide is a GPS-enabled travel guide. We picked up our Greatguide at the Vodashop at Domestic Arrivals at Cape Town Airport, where the assistant explained to us how to turn it on and work it.
Our itinerary was programmed onto the GreatGuide (we were visiting Pine Lake Inn in White River). All itineraries are created via the GreatGuide website by the GreatGuide Team and then programmed onto the GreatGuide by the Vodashop RentaFone staff at the airport. Prospective Travellers can now log onto the GreatGuide website and book a GreatGuide online by creating their very own itinerary and then collect from a Vodashop outlet at any of the 5 destinations listed below.
Cape Town International Airport – Domestic & International Arrivals Hall
OR Tambo International Airport - & International Arrivals Hall
Durban International Airport
Port Elizabeth Airport
When we landed at Johannesburg Airport, we hired a car at First Car Rental, and fired up the Greatguide. Whilst in the underground parking Greatguide doesn't pick up the GPS satellite signal, and it took about 2 minutes of being outside before picking up the signal (so for those who don't know Johannesburg at all, I would suggest getting your initial directions from your car rental agency). Once Greatguide found its satellite signal, it told us a bit about Johannesburg. I then typed in the address we were going to in Midrand (easy to do), and asked it to direct me there. After much silence, Greatguide's female voice suddenly piped up "Exit to the left 3km". Brace yourself if you're not used to it, you may get a fright from hearing this the first time! And then "Exit to the left 500m"; "Exit to the left 200m" and finally "Exit to the left".
On the screen, the Greatguide displays information regarding which is the next turnoff, how many km there are to the turnoff, how many kilometres to the destination and estimates how long it will take to get to the destination. In general, the device is easy to use. The menus are self-explanatory and provide more options than you would expect. For example, Greatguide has a list of things to do in the area. These include activities (e.g. the Origins Centre, Golf Reef City, Zoo Lake), restaurants (e.g. Browns of Rivonia & Bukhara Sandton), where to shop (e.g. Sandton City), nightclubs to visit (e.g. Truth in Midrand, Movida in Sunninghill), museums (e.g. Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum), and things to do with kids (e.g. the Johannesburg Zoo).
On the trip between Johannesburg & White River, Greatguide not only showed us the way to our Pine Lake Inn, but also shared snippets of knowledge along the way. In Bronkhorstspruit we heard about an Anglo-Boer battle where the British dead were buried with peaches in their pockets, and to this day there are peach trees growing from where their graves lay. Greatguide also told us how Witbank is the most polluted town in South Africa and warned us to hold our noses as we passed through! We have done this drive a few times, and this was the most entertaining...if there's any criticism it's that I'd prefer Greatguide to tell me more.
Greatguide told us about the intricacies of South Africa english - one of the gems was "if you want somebody to go away, tell them to 'voetsak'". Greatguide mentioned that South Africa, Brazil and Australia are the biggest consumers of red meat in the world - my vegetarianism doesn't help SA's stats in the red meat stakes.
Having used the Greatguide from Johannesburg, we were pretty comfortable with it. When we met up with a technophobic friend in White River and were driving to Mac Mac falls, she was horrified that we were relying completely on this instrument to direct us there. Initially, she needed to stop and cross-check directions with pedestrians on the street, and it was amazing to watch her confidence grow as she witnessed Greatguide working its magic and getting us safely to Mac Mac falls.
Greatguide has an LCD screen which will break if you drop it, so be especially careful when you are placing it into its holder. Whilst Greatguide lists all the attractions which are nearby, some of the attractions may have closed down since they were listed - be sure to actually phone the places before you visit. There was also one attraction which we couldn't find on Greatguide (Chimpanzee Eden near Nelspruit).
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed using Greatguide. It's impossible to see South Africa properly without a car, so Greatguide is invaluable to tourists that know nothing about the area - but even to seasoned travellers like ourselves, we learned a lot and it enhanced our enjoyment of the trip. Much thanks to Bridget and Salwa to offering us the opportunity to review this product.
Book your Greatguide at www.greatguide.co.za