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First time in Southafrica - Suggested itinerary

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My name is Franco and I´m from Argentina. I´m planning my first travel to Southafrica for the nest year (probably April/May 2016) and i would like to know suggested itineraries for the trip. We probably will be around 15 days and a must in our trip is a safari.
How many days would you spend in each place? Thanks for the suggested itineraries you could give me. There is no budget problems.
Thanks in advance for your help!

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    Hello Franco,
    You didn't mention your specific tastes, but imperative to any South Africa visit, and to combine with your safari, a trip to Cape Town is a must.
    Cape Town is scenic and beautiful and vibrant and trendy and so much more.
    And in addition to Cape Town, we also have spectacular wine areas in very close proximity.

    As an example itinerary, you could split your 15 days as follows -
    * Cape Town: 5 or 6 days - Table Mountain cable way, Robben Island, city tours, day trips to visit the penguins at Boulders and Cape Point National Park (to see where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet), a wander through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and a walk on the 'Boomslang' elevated walk-way, fabulous dining, quaint sea-side villages to explore, outstanding shopping, to mention but a few excursions.
    * Cape Winelands: 1 or 2 days - for superb wines and award-winning wine farms, combined with magnificent scenery.
    * Safari in the Greater Kruger National Park area: 7 or 8 days - depending how many nights you decide to spend in Cape Town and/or the Cape Winelands, you should definitely split the remainder of your stay between two Reserves/Lodges. Very little surpasses the Kruger National Park for game viewing, and the Sabi Sands area of the Park in particular for leopard sightings. I highly recommend at least one of the two lodges you choose be in the Sabi Sands area, I can almost guarantee, this will be a memorable highlight of your visit.

    As I said previously, you didn't mention your specific tastes, but in addition to the above, you could also consider the luxury of the Blue Train as an option to get you from Cape Town to Johannesburg ... to in turn link up with your safari in the Kruger National Park. I am not sure if a luxury train experience is something that would interest you, but there are so many wonderful options to consider.

    In terms of accommodations, I can assure that in Cape Town, the Winelands, as well as in the Kruger National Park area, there are superb and varied hotels and lodges to suit every taste.

    I hope this has been of some help, I am happy to provide further assistance as you require!
    Happy Planning,
    Debbi - Travel Guru, Southern Destinations

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    Hi Franco!

    Depending on your interests, budget and level of adventure, there's so many different ways to experience South Africa. And there will certainly be a way that fits you perfectly!

    You could comfortably do Cape Town in 4-5 nights, followed by a 1-2 night stay in the Wine lands, followed by your remaining time in the Bush. As Debbi points out, the Sabi Sand area has incredibly game viewing, especially if you want to see the most elusive of all cats, the leopards! You can fly direct from Cape Town to the Greater Kruger Area Reserves where there are so many great lodges to pick from! You could "mix" up your stay by splitting your safari time between 2 areas or 2 different style accommodations (lux tenting and suite-style accommodations for example). There are also long stay discounts if you stay at lodges that are part of the same portfolio or collection.

    If you're interested in seeing 2 different safari areas, you could consider combining the Sabi Sand area with one of the incredible lodges in Phinda Private Game Reserve. Phinda has 7 distinct ecohabitats ranging from subtropical to evergreen. It is also home to one of the last sand floor forests in the world. The area near to it, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, is SA's first UNESCO World Heritage site and offers incredible diversity in flora and fauna not to mention tons of crocs, hippos, turtle nesting and more. It's also near to incredibly beautiful coastline. Sodwana Bay is really spectacular.

    If diversity in your safari is of interest and you were open to experience another country, then you could consider a combo of sister lodges, MalaMala in SA's Sabi Sand and Mashatu in Botswana. This would also give you incredible diversity in terrain, flora, fauna, and service. Flights are direct and coordinated for you between these sister lodges. This would make a wonderful combo as well.

    So as you can see, it really depends upon what you are looking for as well as your budget, interests and style of travel. There's certainly something for everyone. Happy to help!

    Africa Direct USA

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    Hey Franco -

    Since you are coming from a country that also has great wine and beautiful wine country, I would likely skip the winelands or just do a day trip. It's nice, but you can do that at home. Do you want to visit Cape Town? Like BA, it's a very European city in a non-European country. Again, it's nice, but a nice city. It's entirely your choice to go or not. I enjoyed it for the penguins and the Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island and Table Mtn. Three nights should be plenty, add another if you want to visit the winelands.

    Now safari is a whole other subject! We've done two different itineraries which we loved and would definitely do again. Both are easily combined with Cape Town:

    Mala Mala (or any other), Pafuri, Mashatu - excellent trip to three different ecosystems. Start in a private lodge near Kruger. There are many. Affordable options, which are great values and you see the same animals as the lodges with fine dining, spa treatments and extremely nice accommodations, include Arathusa, Africa on Foot (and their sister camps - check the website. All are great) and Gomo Gomo. Mid range includes Mala Mala Main camp, Kirkmans, Kings Kamp and too many to list. Singita, Londolozi, Rattrays are high end. I like the affordable lodges, especially Arathusa because it has a waterhole in camp and animals come visit all day. Stay 3-4 nights.

    Now get a road transfer to the newly reopened Pafuri Lodge or The Outpost in northern Kruger. It's beautiful and very different flora and fauna than in the southern part of Kruger. Stay 2-3 nights.

    Get a short road transfer to Mashatu in SE Botswana. Main camp is higher end and according to a very recent visitor has excellent food and great accommodations. Tented Camp is more rustic, but very kind staff and we'll run. Both are excellent options as the wildlife viewing is really great. Stay 3-4 nights. Fly back to JNB/home.

    My favorite trip: Kruger area, beach/water activities in St Lucia, KZN safari: same as above for Kruger area lodge. Stay 3-4 nights.

    Fly to Richards Bay or Durban (we rent a car and drive through Swaziland! It's fun) and get a road transfer or rent a car and get to my favorite fun town of St Lucia. It's on the Indian Ocean and has every water activity you can imagine plus beautiful beaches, horseback riding with zebra, kayak with hippos, whale watching, top ten scuba/snorkel. Too much to list. Stay in a condo or b&b in town and restaurants, beaches, shops and grocery are in walking distance. All activities can include a pick up if you choose not to have a car. It is really a fun town. Stay as long as you want. 2-3 nights minimum. You could also choose an exclusive beach stay at Rocktail or Thonga, if that's more your traveling style.

    Road transfer or drive to Phinda Reserve or Rhino River Lodge in Zululand Rhino a Reserve. Both have excellent game viewing, Phinda has been established for a long time, ZRR is younger but still excellent. Phinda is an &Beyond property so combine with other &beyond lodge near Kruger - Kirkmans, Kings or Ngala Tented for a long stay discount. We did a rhino conservation project at Rhino River Lodge - they hold a very special place in my heart. Stay 3-4 nights. Fly home.

    Both are excellent choices. Both fit into a 2 week timeframe. I would (and will!) do both again. I know it's a lot of info, so you have a lot of work to do! Enjoy your planning - it's part of the fun. No matter what you choose, you'll love it. I'm looking forward to visiting Argentina soon. It's next (if I could just stop visiting S Africa!).

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    take a look at my trip report from last summer... 18 days... or others that have had similar trips. when researching, i found that trip reports were important in giving me a real sense of what various itineraries are like.
    it all seems overwhelming at first, but it will come together. it's all about making the decisions from so many choices!

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    Thanks for all the replies...

    As someone said there ir a lot of information and now i have to investigate the places you mentioned...

    Just something more...

    1) Is it the flower route through the coast worth it?

    2) Is it Johannesbourg worth it to stay some days there?

    3) Do you need to rent a tour in order to make the safaries?

    Thanks again!!

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    Hello Franco,
    1.) The West Coast flower route you mention is seasonal and best around spring time, which in South Africa is in September. Some years the flowers are better than others. Whilst they are truly beautiful, some seasons absolutely magnificent, unfortunately your timing to view them won't be right.

    2.) Staying in Johannesburg really depends on your interests. To get more out of your holiday, I would personally spend more time on safari or at the beach or in one of the other more scenic areas of the country.
    It is possible that you may have to do an overnight in Johannesburg to facilitate your flights in/out of South Africa, in which case you could possibly look in on the Apartheid Museum which is worth a visit.

    3.) Renting a car to do safaris is dependent on your choices.
    If you want to do a self-drive holiday, and you choose to stay in Public Parks, then renting a car is imperative :)
    You will need to drive to the Park and then self-drive within in the Park.
    A self-drive safari means you have to stick to the (main)roads of the Park, you may not go off-road in your vehicle to follow the wildlife into the bush.
    Many visitors choose to arrange transfers from the airport to the various lodges, and at the lodges, if you have chosen private lodges, you are then taken on safari drives in Land-rovers/Land-cruisers owned by the lodge and driven by lodge safari guides (sometimes accompanied by a tracker).
    Many guests prefer prearranged transfers as this permits you to relax and take in your surrounds.
    Another option would be to fly in to a smaller airport closer to the lodge(s) by small air-plane, it is costlier but quicker.
    Once again, once at your lodge, if a private lodge, you would be taken on safari drives in the vehicles owned and driven by the lodge guides.
    A fair number of local visitors opt for the self-drive option, whilst I would say that most Overseas visitors opt for the prearranged transfers and stay at private lodges.

    Hope this is helpful,
    Kind Regards,
    Deborah - Southern Destinations

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    Hello Franco!

    1) Might you be referring to the Garden Route and its coastal towns of Mossel Bay, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and the surfing capital of Jeffrey's Bay? Incredible natural beauty there. Wonderful coastal hikes and opportunities to enjoy some great beaches, water activities and visits to nature reserves. If so, it's difficult to do the route in under 7 days. People attempt it in less but it means spending more time in the car than in the fresh air. There are many boutique and quaint hotels scattered along the shoreline. In April, the average temps range from mid 60s F to mid 70s F with May just slightly cooler on average.

    2) If you had time to spare in JNB, then you could do a Soweto Day Tour of Jo'burg, the Museum Africa, the Hector Pieterson Memorial & Museum (great multimedia there!), and you could do a township tour if that's of interest. There are actually a number of cultural/historical tours available and if this is of interest. I would recommend that you pre-arrange this with a licensed private guide. Further afield, there's Cradle of Humankind. But again, depending upon your level of interest, this could be done if you have time to spare between flights or in transition during your trip.

    3) Regarding self-drive within a Natl Park, I agree that the self-drive option works well for those who are local and live there and who have the luxury to return again and again for sightings. However, if you are not experienced in the field on tracking and animal behavior, there's a very good chance you will drive right by many animals. Even when an animal is VERY close to the road, their camouflage renders them nearly invisible. It is their best defense and they use it wisely!

    When you are in a jeep with an experienced ranger, you benefit not only by their expertise in spotting and tracking but also by their knowledge of animal behavior. In addition, rangers work with each other on sightings so you will get to see and learn a lot while on game drives.

    Africa Direct USA

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    Sorry about my ignorance...

    The "lodges" you´ve mentioned are like a kind of "hotel" inside the park? and they have their own safaries tour around the park? Am i correct?

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    Please don't feel sorry that you have questions! We are all here to help! When I finally get around to traveling to Argentina to see BA and go a glorious wine tour, I'm sure I will have a ton of questions too!!

    So yes, lodges are like "hotels"; however they tend to be smaller and more intimate, not only in number of rooms but there tends to be higher ratio of staff to guest than in a typical conventional hotel. Also, unlike a hotel as one large building with lots of rooms and serves all functions, lodges tend to have a number of outbuildings serving different functions. For example, the "rooms" at a lodge tend to be free standing units or there could be some connected together. There is usually a main building that serves as a gathering space in the early morning hours before game drive to have a bit of something to eat before you head off in the jeep. It's typically also where you gather for meals. There's also a boma which is an enclosed outdoor dining space, typically beautifully lit by candles and lanterns for atmosphere at night. So as you can see, it tends to be more spread out and less congested.

    Tented Camps are similarly set up. Tents can also range from more moderate and basic accommodations to all out luxury with raised floors, aircon, and incredibly beautiful bathrooms (many clients say they're nicer than any bathroom they've seen elsewhere while traveling!) As with lodge suites, there can be a wide spectrum of amenities and luxuries. Something to meet all budgets and styles of travel.

    As for touring around in the jeep, there is no prescribed "tour". Animals move freely and rangers, especially in private reserves, work together to share sightings so that guests can see the different animals. So you move about the area in an unstructured way. If you find an animal that you'd like to follow for a while, you may do so. It can be very fun going in and out of river bends, driving over bushes and such to keep him/her in sight. It's especially fun when animals are stalking or on the hunt. However, if you are in a National Park, it works a bit differently as you must stay on the road. Off road driving is not allowed so this changes the dynamic of game viewing a bit.

    Hope this helps clarify some of the terminology that's used!

    Africa Direct USA

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    Private lodges are on private property outside of the national parks. Most near Kruger don't have fences between them and the national park, so they have even more room to roam. Many of us refer to the national park plus the adjacent private reserves as "greater Kruger". It's an amazing place. Just to confuse things, there are a few lodges inside Kruger working on "public concessions" - so they are private lodges on public land. Pretty controversial.

    I love both, but I will try to give you the schedule at each so you can decide which is better for you. All times are very approximate, as it all depends on sunrise/sunset times.

    At a private lodge:

    45 minutes or so before sunrise, your ranger knocks on your door (or says good morning outside your tent) to wake you up. Get up, meet at the lodge, have coffee and a little snack, go out for your morning game drive before sunrise. The ranger is well trained to find animals, he has a radio to communicate with other rangers if animals are found and sometimes there's a tracker who is really good at seeing animals that I usually miss. If a lion or rhino goes off the road, the ranger can drive off road to follow it, if it's a particularly interesting sighting. Stop for coffee and a "bush break" a couple of hours in.

    9-10:00 Return from your game drive (they last about 3-3.5 hours), brunch served.

    Spend the afternoon at the pool, napping, hanging out in the lodge or in your bungalow/room

    15:00 - Afternoon tea or light lunch

    16:00 - afternoon game drive. Drinks/snack just after sunset.

    19-20:00 - Return from game drive. A little time to freshen up and back to the lodge for dinner. Some lodges you dine as a big group, some as individuals/couples/families. I prefer big groups to hear about everyone's game viewing for the day and meeting new people.

    Too late, go to bed.

    That's your typical private lodge day - I've been to many (about 20, I'd guess) and they are all similar.

    If you choose a rest camp in Kruger national park and self drive:

    Wake up any time you want to. Check the gate times - you have to be in or out before they close. Usually near sunrise and sunset, never after dark. If you want to get out at sunrise to get the best game viewing, either make breakfast or pack breakfast (and lunch) to eat on the road (there are picnic areas). If you want to eat at a rest camp restaurant, they don't open until at least 7:00. You can either wait for them to open or drive, while looking for animals, to another rest camp and have breakfast.

    Drive yourself on tar and/or gravel roads, keeping an eye out for creatures. Many times you'll find traffic jams where there is an interesting animal. No driving off road to follow them. Drive for as long as you want to, eat lunch on the road or back at your rest camp. Most camps have a pool, Skukuza has a golf course and museum. Get back before the gate closes.

    Eat dinner either at a restaurant or cook yourself. Go to bed.

    I love both experiences. We love being taken care of at private lodges and we love going on all day game drives in the park. We love the food at lodges and it's fun to cook out in the bush in the park. On a first safari, I'd do private lodges - they are in every price range. I prefer the more affordable ones, they are so personal and friendly with great rangers. The high end ones are just not my style.

    Asking if something is "worth it" is impossible to answer. We all have different likes and preferences. I go to S Africa for safari, so the Garden Route is too "tame" for me and we spend time in cities to do stuff that's available - the Apartheid Museum, Cradle of Humankind and the Lipizzaner horse show on Sundays in Joberg are all better than my high expectations. I'd rather go to KwaZulu Natal than the Garden Route. But it's a personal choice.

    I made an error above - Pafuri hasn't reopened, but The Outpost is open in northern Kruger. Lovely area, so different. I wish Pafuri hadn't been destroyed in the 2012 floods.

    Believe me, we were all "ignorant" before we went the first time. It is all so much better than I could even dream about. No matter what you choose, you're going to love it. Have fun planning! Come back with any and all questions.

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    You are great!! Thanks for all the clear and very useful explanations... now I´m understanding how it works... and i have to investigate...

    I was looking a pair of lodges in the internet and I found them very expensive!! (around usd 1200 per person per night).
    Are there cheaper ones and good options as well??
    Which lodges do you recommend??

    All of them includes food and safaris in their prices??

    Thanks again!!

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    Yes, Franco, there are very expensive lodges. They are also the ones that pop up on top of internet searches because they can afford to pay for it.

    I prefer the more affordable ones. For mid price, try Kirkmans, Kings Kamp, Nottens, Cheetah Plains (there are many more). For affordable, try Arathusa, Gomo Gomo, Shindzela (very friendly but rustic), Africa on Foot, nDzuti and nThambo. Look for lodges that quote in Rands, you'll get a better value right now than the ones that quote in USD. Check for all lodges in the excellent Sabi Sand reserve. I like Arathusa for location and the waterhole. Get a room overlooking the waterhole and watch animals visit all day between game drives. Africa on Foot and nThambo are famous for their great rangers. Kirkmans would be my mid range choice for excellent all around value. There are many great ones and everyone has different favorites.

    If you want to use an agent to help with your arrangements, Wild-Wings is highly recommended and will work with you to plan your perfect trip when you are ready. They can arrange your domestic flights and transfers, plus any tours you want to take in Cape Town or Joberg. No car required if you don't want to drive. It is generally no more expensive to use an agent than trying to arrange it yourself. I like W-W because they will arrange a very high end or an affordable trip, within any budget.

    Private lodges include food (generally very good, local and abundant) and game drives. expensive ones also include drinks and laundry. The affordable lodges will have more people in the game drive vehicle (up to ten!), the high end ones will limit that to 6. For some, that's very important. For me, not so much. We've been lucky to have fun large groups and sometimes our vehicles have been just us two. Luck of the draw. All but one of our rangers have been excellent (and he wasn't bad, just grouchy).

    If you consider KZN, look into Rhino River Lodge. Excellent value, great reserve, even better people. Very easy to get to from the coast. See their Facebook and Instagram for some of their great work. No, I don't work for them, I just really like them. I want to live there. :)

    Enjoy your planning!

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    ok! that´s perfect!

    If I´m staying in Cape Town... how is the best way to arrive to the lodges? Do I have to go to Johannesburgo first?

    Are dangerous the safaris?? I read on internet of people attacked by animals...

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    Hi Francolf!

    There are a number of airports that serve the lodges in the Greater Kruger area and you can fly direct from Cape Town. Once you decide on your lodge accommodation, you then pursue the flights/transfers to get there. For the most part, you don't have to fly thru JNB but it does depend upon your lodge choice, day of the week, etc.

    Safaris are not dangerous if you follow the safety rules provided by your lodge and your ranger. Since the opening of the national parks many years ago, the animals have become habituated to the profile of the jeep and animals have thus learned that jeeps are not a threat. This is passed down from generation to generation. Rangers will advise you not to make loud noises around the animals, nor wear bright colors nor stand up in the jeep, among other things. Of course, it is never safe to get out of jeep!

    Hope this helps.

    Africa Direct USA

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    What is the difference between the "public" Kruger park and the "private" Kruger Park?

    I saw a map on internet showing a lot of private game reserves, what are the differences between them?? When you pass from a reserve to another is there a border?

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    No fences, except in Thornybush, one of the private reserves that is still fenced off from the rest for managerial reasons. Many dirt roads form the border between private reserves, as well as reserves and the park. You seem to be overthinking it - I gave descriptions of the main differences above. Just decide which experience you would prefer (or do both). The difference is ownership and management - Sabi Sand is the oldest so animals have been living and passing through there the longest. The other reserves like Timbavati and Balule are younger, but the wildlife has had a long time to learn the areas so the sightings are becoming very similar. Kruger National Park is owned and run by S Africa, the reserves are privately owned and have to follow very strict rules because there are no fences and S Africa doesn't want to put "their" wildlife into danger by taking down the fences where they might allow bad behavior. It works well for everyone, generally.

    I've been on close to 100 game drives - it's never been dangerous for me, along with everyone here. I've been less than a meter from a male lion, an elephant's trunk almost touched me and rhinos jousted right in front of me. Most of the time they are a reasonable distance, but occasionally you get lucky and they pass close. It was all thrilling. Just don't do stupid things and you'll be fine. Believe elephants when they act mad. Don't get between moms and their children. Don't reach out to touch them. Get out of the way if you're in their way. No fences, except in Thornybush, one of the private reserves that is still fenced off from the rest for managerial reasons. Many dirt roads form the border between private reserves, as well as reserves and the park. You seem to be overthinking it - I gave descriptions of the main differences above. Just decide which experience you would prefer (or do both). The difference is ownership and management - Sabi Sand is the oldest so animals have been living and passing through there the longest. The other reserves like Timbavati and Klaserie are younger, but the wildlife has had a long time to learn the areas so the sightings are becoming very similar. Kruger National Park is owned and run by S Africa, the reserves are privately owned and have to follow very strict rules because there are no fences and S Africa doesn't want to put "their" wildlife into danger by taking down the fences where they might allow bad behavior. It works well for everyone, generally. For excellent wildlife stick to lodges in Sabi Sand, timbavati and Klaserie. I recommended a few good ones above.

    I've been on close to 100 game drives - it's never been dangerous for me, along with everyone here. I've been less than a meter from a male lion, an elephant's trunk almost touched me and rhinos jousted right in front of me. Most of the time they are a reasonable distance, but occasionally you get lucky and they pass close. It was all thrilling. Just don't do stupid things and you'll be fine. Believe elephants when they act mad. Don't get between moms and their children. Don't reach out to touch them. Get out of the way if you're in their way.

    Try to enjoy your planning - I remember the first one and it can be overwhelming.

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    Hello everyone again!!

    This is the itinerary I´m thinking about.

    domingo Johannesburgo
    lunes Johannesburgo
    martes Johannesburgo
    miércoles Kruger
    jueves Kruger
    viernes Kruger
    sábado Kruger
    domingo Kruger
    lunes Kruger
    martes Cape Town
    miércoles Cape Town
    jueves Cape Town
    viernes Cape Town
    sábado Cape Town
    domingo Cape Town

    We´d like to visit Johannesburgo, that´s why i thought of 3 days there.. what do you think about it? Is it worth it to visit Pretoria as well?? I read on the internet very bad comments about Johannesburgo and its dangers... is it as unsafe as i read? I read that it´s very dangerous to visit the downtown and to go out at night...

    About the days in Kruger.. If i want to split the days in two reserves.. which ones do you recommend? you told me about Sabi Sand...

    Well.. i will be waiting for your advices and critics :)


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    That looks good - I'm a safari girl so would increase the safari time, but we are all different. I did have to ask my husband about the Spanish days, but I figured it out :).

    Joberg is as safe as any other city if you use common sense. There are areas to enjoy and avoid - like everywhere. I don't think there's much to do, so do specific things you want to do and fly in/out. We have been to the Apartheid Museum, Cradle of Humankind and the caves, the Lippizaner (those dancing white horses) stable and show on Sundays and a few nights in transit through JNB. I'm not sure what's in Pretoria except government buildings - if there's something you are interested in, by all means go.

    Quite a few lodges are mentioned above - reread them for some great suggestions. If you want mid priced at two different reserves, go to a lodge in Timbavati or Klaserie reserves first, and end in Sabi Sand (they are all outstanding with excellent game viewing). For better value, lodges that quote in Rand will be lower priced right now because the currency is in trouble.

    That's a long time in Cape Town. Not sure what you're planning. I would skip the days in Joberg and do:
    Cape Town first for 4-5 nights, fly to Durban and spend a few days on the beach and fun activities in St Lucia, then visit Phinda or Rhino River Lodge for 3-4 nights, fly to Kruger from Durban and spend 4 nights as your grand finale at Kirkmans. Phinda and Kirkmans are owned by the same co, so you get long stay discounts plus their current flight special and they quote in Rand. Rhino River Lodge is my very favorite lodge at a much more affordable rate. Excellent values right now - granted, not as good as against the USD, but still better than ever before! If Phinda or RRL don't excite you, try Ngala Tented in Timbavati for same discount as above, or the Africa on Foot camps. Do Kirkmans or any Sabi Sand lodge you choose last. Fly homethrough JNB. My perfect trip (for me). A couple of us recommende a similar itinerary above. I like to do safari last - it's the highlight.

    Please check out the St Lucia tourism website for all of the fun stuff to do:

    Have fun planning.

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    Thanks again!!

    Sorry aboout the spanish days!.. I have a sheet in excel and i forgot to translate them haha

    Another question... If I want to stay some days in a lodge in the Sabi Sand and a few other days in a lodge in the KZN area... are there flight conections between this areas or i have to do it through Johannesburg....


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    Hey Franco -

    No worries about the Spanish. It made me think.

    There is a charter between Kirkmans and Phinda. They are owned by the same company. There are no direct commercial flights, but the drive is easy - just two half day drives. Kirkmans-Phinda has a fly free offer right now and 15% off for long stays - contact them for details. Google Phinda fly free and click on the &beyond or andbeyond result. They are excellent at getting back to you, so email them for help.

    The flights go through JNB and then you'll need a road transfer from the airport. No matter what you choose, do the Sabi Sand lodge last. It will be the highlight! You can start in Cape Town, fly Durban and transfer to Phinda or Rhino River Lodge, hopefully spend a little time in my favorite town St Lucia, fly to Kruger (maybe from Richards Bay), stay Sabi Sand lodge, fly JNB and home.

    I think a lot more people would combine Kruger and KZN if there were a few non stop flights. There are direct flights from CT to Durban.

    Or CT, fly HDS, road transfer Timbavati lodge, road transfer Sabi Sand lodge, fly Skukuza to JNB to home.

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    Hello again!!

    I was looking for information on the web and i was thinking not to visit the KZN area. We don´t like too much the idea of so many transfers and long trips... and it´s a little difficult going from a lodge in Sabi Sand to a lodge in KZN...

    Insted of this we are thinking about staying some days (2/3) in another reserve (for example Timbavati, other?) and other days (3/4) in Sabi Sand... what do you think about it? Is it worth it to change lodges in closer areas?? are there differences???

    About the trip I think we will be starting from Johannesburgo becuase of the travel connections... We don´t have direct flights from Buenos Aires and we prefer the long trip at the end (from Cape Town)...

    I have some questions about transfers...
    - How do we go from Johannesbourg to the lodges in Kruger area?
    - Is it possible to transfer from a lodge in a reserve to another lodge in another reserve?? how??

    We prefer not to rent a car on our own.

    And finally... We would like to visit the Blyde Canyon... how is the best way to visit it? are there day tours from Johannesbourg or from the lodges in Kruger area??

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    for me, switching reserves after a couple of nights is a good thing. since these transfers are handled by others, it's just really easy. i liked meeting and being with new and different guides/trackers... and seeing how meals are handled differently at different lodges.

    our trip organizers, wildwings safaris, used 'gap'transfers for most of our transfers. i'm sure they were reasonable, because we were on a budget trip. i reviewed on T.A. and their reviews are pretty flawless. also recommended to someone on this forum, and got a big 'thanks.' give them a call and see what they can offer.

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    Hello Franco,
    Experiencing two lodges is always a good idea. Although the standards remain the same (and these are high in Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve/Timbavati Private Game Reserve), it is always nice to see things from a different perspective, to meet new people, to sample a new environment, a change of style and scenery, which the change between lodges will do.
    Transfers between lodges are commonplace, and easily arranged by whomever is doing your bookings for you. If your lodges are close to each other the transfer will be by road and can be seen as a game drive in itself.

    In terms of traveling from Johannesburg to the Kruger Park, there are a three options -
    * Self-Drive or Arranged Road Transfer with Driver
    Dependent on your driving speed and the number of stoppages along the way, drive time from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park can be anything from four to six hours.
    A road transfer is the least expensive option, but also the most time consuming.

    * Flying to a Regional Airport closer to Kruger National Park (Hoedspruit/Eastgate Or Kruger Mpumalanga International)
    There are several daily flights operating from Johannesburg to either Hoedspruit or Kruger Mpumalanga International airports. Taking one of these flights removes a large portion of your drivinge time from Johannesburg.
    An escorted road transfer is then available from either of these regional airports to your lodge, the transfer is ordinarily around two to three hours each way.
    An alternative to the latter mentioned road transfer would be to take a charter flight of approximately 25 minutes to the airstrip closest to your lodge.
    This is not a cheapest option, but it does save a few hours.

    Flying Directly to Your Lodge
    Many of the private lodges surrounding Kruger National Park operate airstrips. The daily flights servicing these lodges take around 90 minutes from Johannesburg, and will deliver you directly to the airstrip closest to your lodge.
    From the airstrip a waiting ranger will escort you to your lodge by vehicle.
    This is the easiest and most convenient way to access the park, but it is the most costly.

    Visiting the Blyde River Canyon on the 'Panorama Route' is a lovely and easy add-on to your main Kruger National Park trip. You can do this either on your way to the Park or on the way back.
    Depending on the transport you choose to get you to/from the Kruger Park, in one direction you could choose the road trip option with a transfer company in small tour vehicle. The transfer/vehicle will take you via the highlights and sights of the Blyde River Canyon. You may wish to do the drive in one day, en route to or from the Park, you may wish to stay a night in one of the quaint towns on the route.

    On your request, as per your instruction, your travel consultant will easily be able to assist you with these arrangements.

    Hope this helps, happy Travels,
    Deborah - Travel Guru - Southern Destinations

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    Hi franco!

    I noticed that your itinerary starts in Jo'burg and ends in Cape Town. You've also expressed an interest in the Panorama Route, going on safari and seeing Cape Town. Such a great trip in the works!

    I'd recommend that you start your trip from Jo'burg with a guided tour of the Panorama Route and I would perhaps consider that you spend one night along the way for a couple reasons. The Panorama Route is incredible: Blyde Canyon, Three Rondavels, God's Window, etc. The vistas are spectacular and, as others have pointed out, it can make for a very long drive. If you want to enjoy the views and perhaps some local activities, such as a boat tour or a hot air balloon ride over the canyon, microlight flight, the Tufa waterfall etc then I'd consider a one night stay along the way so as not to rush it. You may also feel a bit of jet lag and you'd perhaps benefit by doing this guided tour over 2 days rather than a straight shot to the bush! On your second day, you would finish the Panorama Route and arrive at your first safari lodge!

    I would start your safari at a lodge in either Timbavati or in the northern part of Sabi Sand. After a few nights, I would recommend that you then transfer to another lodge in Sabi Sand for your second lodge (perhaps the southern section of Sabi). I always recommend a minimum of 3 nights at any one lodge to my clients. If you can pick one lodge with traversing rights or access to the Sabie river, it's an added bonus as the river provides for great game viewing as do other larger permanent waterholes, especially in their winter.

    Based upon the 6-7 nights total on safari that you outline, I'd spend 3 nights at your first lodge and 3-4 nights at the next. It's really hard to do only 2 nights anywhere. As others mention, it takes a little time to settle in and get the "feel" of a lodge, its staff, food/kitchen, and guides. Each lodge has a distinct atmosphere to enjoy!

    As for lodges, there are plenty to pick from! It will mostly depend upon your preferred travel style and budget as well as your travel dates since availability at certain times of the year is more popular.

    After your 6-7 nights on safari, you could fly direct from the reserve airport closest to your second lodge. For example, if your second safari lodge is in the southern part of Sabi Sand, then you could fly out of Skukuza directly to Cape Town.

    In Cape Town, there are so many wonderful things to do and see. In your allotted 5-6 nights, you could explore not only the city but its nearby surrounds. Special things to do include Table Mountain, Robben Island, Penguins/Cape of Good Hope guided tour day trip, Kirstenbosch Gardens/Canopy Walk, Wine Lands, District 6 Museum, Township Tour, Hop On Hop Off (aka HOHO) bus to explore the different neighborhoods etc. Just some ideas...

    This would be a great trip! It's got a wonderful balance of natural beauty, wildlife, food/wine, history, culture etc.

    As others have indicated in previous posts, a SA travel consultant/operator would be able to put this trip together for you seamlessly using reputable transfer/tour companies as well as doing a targeted search of accommodations that meet your style and budget. It's perhaps something that you should consider, if you haven't done so already, as there's a good amount of logistics here in terms of transfers, flights, guided tours, safari lodges/hotels to book.

    Hope this helps! Great trip in the works!

    Africa Direct USA

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    Thanks for the lot of information!!

    - Are there lodges inside Kruger park? Instead of staying in two private reserves, what do you think about combining a lodge inside Kruger and a lodge in a private reserve? are they similar??

    - About the panorama tour: We aren´t thinking in renting a car. I understand that may be is the best option but I find it a little hard... Here in Argentina we drive in the other side so I think is not a good idea haha... Is it possible to hire a tour that take us from Johanesbourg to a private lodge in a day visiting the canyon en route?? Which tour operator does this kind of trip?? And is it a general tour or a tailor made tour??

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    i'm sure your transfer company can stop at the canyon along the way. get a good idea of what you want exactly, then write to a couple of tour organizers... they will put it together and quote the prices.

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    Franco - I think your best bet would be to contact wild-wings Safaris and/or Sun Safaris to help arrange a perfect trip for you. They can arrange transfers, lodges and hotels and answer all of your questions honestly. It will be flawless. You will love S Africa, no matter what you do.

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    Hello everyone!

    Finally we bought the tickets! We will be arriving on May 8 to Johannesbourg and return May 23 from Cape Town.

    Now we are looking for the lodges in Kruger. We decided to spend 7 days there in two different areas: 4 days in Sabi Sand and the other 3 days in Timbavati or Klaserie. Which one of this two do you recommend? Timbavati or Klaseri???

    About lodges anyone have references of Motswari or Gomo Gomo?

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    I'm happy to hear you are going!! Did you contact an agent to help or are you booking it all yourself?

    I would do Sabi Sand last - it has the best game viewing and generally very nice lodges. Where did you choose to stay in Sabi Sand? I don't think there is much difference between Klaserie and Timbavati. I would make my choice by the lodge, not the reserve. If you are staying in a higher end lodge in SS, I would stay in a higher end lodge in Klaserie or Timbavati as well.

    That said, we all mentioned lots of options above. You will have to decide what works best for you.

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    We will be booking it all ourselves... I like orginising the trip.. I think is part of the trip!

    Yes, we will do Sabi Sand last and we were thinking in Arathusa or Elephants Plain lodges. In Timbavati/Klaserie we were thinking in Gomo Gomo or Motswari. What do you think about this lodges??

    I wrote an agent to ask about the trip from Johanesbourg to Kruger visiting Blyde river canyon en route but have no reply :(

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    Arathusa has a waterhole in camp and recently renovated, I prefer it over Elephant Plains. Get a bungalow on the dam - we watched animals visit all day between game drives. Just know at both of those lodges they usually are booked solid and will likely have up to ten visitors in each game vehicle - 3 rows, three across, plus one next to the ranger. It's difficult to take good pictures in a packed truck. It doesn't bother me much, as long as everyone is fun and nice (not always). If you choose a higher end lodge, they usually keep the number per vehicle to 6 max. If that's important to you, try a mid range lodge. If not, Arathusa wins because of the dam.

    See all the options in Sabi Sand, which are all good at Check the map for locations (I prefer the eastern ones), and the traversing areas (how big the area they can do game drives on), of course bigger is better and permanent rivers attract wildlife. See the individual websites for rates and accommodations. I'd probably choose Kirkmans Kamp in the mid range, Mala Mala for best game viewing. Both are above my budget, but those are what I'd choose (or Djuma, which is spectacular but always booked).

    Gomo Gomo will be fully booked and is very family friendly. Not sure if that's what you want. Not familiar with Motswari. I would consider nDzuti and nThambo, and Shindzela if you want friendly and personal but very rustic. Ngala Tented is very nice but pricey. If you combine with Kirkmans you get a long stay discount. (This is similar advice as given earlier!)

    I have not heard of a tour that will take you to the Panorama Route and drop you off in Timbavati. Get in touch with Wild-Wings-Safaris. If it's available, they'll find it for you. It's easiest and certainly least expensive if you drive yourself. To be honest, the Panorama Route is nice, but for me, not nice enough to lose a day in Kruger. You'll go next time when you are more comfortable driving yourself.

    Have fun planning.

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    Thanks for the very detailed explanation!! Very clear!!

    Unfortunately many of the lots i wrote are already full booked... Kirkmanks i found it a bit pricey...

    Do you have references about Notten's and Simbavati Hilltop???

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    Why do you keep bringing up new places? Do you check out the ones we suggest? Are you getting the available discounts? Contact Wild-Wings or any of the agents who posted above as I've suggested to you before, and they will give you best prices available. You haven't even added in transfers, which can be expensive too.

    All the lodges are fine. If you go inexpensively, the vehicles will be full. If you go more expensive, most limit the number in the vehicle. There's not a lot of difference between them at comparable price points. Luxury, level of food presentation and included laundry and drinks depend on your price point. None of us, except maybe some local agents, have not been to all of them and depend on others to give advice. I haven't heard of anyone, except one who paid for low end and was expecting high end, who has been disappointed at any of the private reserve lodges. It's not like anything you've experienced before.

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    Sorry!! Please don´t get angry! hahaha

    Yes I have checked most of the lodges you mentioned but the ones I most like are full booked. I have already wrote to the agents you mentioned. I´m waiting their reply. That´s why i asked for other ones...

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    Here's a map of all of the lodges in greater Kruger. It's a good map, but unlike the Sabi sand map I posted earlier, doesn't show traversing areas. It it all of greater Kruger, though, and shows the rivers which attract lots of animals in dry season.

    I would (honestly) stay at any of them and all of them have their pluses and minuses, but mostly pluses. Most are above my budget, however. I also prefer the lodges that people like me can afford - much more dòwn to earth guests. As I said before, you have to choose by budget and then narrow them down. Have you contacted Sun Destinations about nDzuti and nThambo? You can't get availability online, so you have to contact Sun directly to find out. Both, especially nDzuti, (really great owner/manager) are on my very short list for next time, along with Africa on Foot and Djuma (if family joins us). All have excellent reputations for game viewing and knowledgeable rangers. Sun is also Sun Safaris and they can help arrange your trip (like transfers) with all availability and discounts at any and all lodges, not just Sun properties, included.

    It usually takes 24-48 hours (more on weekends and holidays) to hear back due to the time difference. If you haven't heard back, reach out again - there must be a problem of some kind with the original message. Sometimes a reply unexpectedly goes to our trash file and gets auto deleted. Agents are very good about returning messages, but stuff happens. Try again.

    I know things sell out early, but May is usually not such a popular time. If you use an agent they can do provisional bookings and other things to try to get availability that doesn't show up online. Contact Sun and contact Wild-Wings again (the nice one, not the hunting one!). Even arranging a trip with help is lots of fun - and they can arrange transfers, tours and other stuff for you in Cape Town too, to make sure your trip goes as smoothly, efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible. Yes, it can actually cost less when using a good agent. I find without a car, an agent is very helpful for my arrangements.

    Enjoy your planning.

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    Hello Francolf

    As the US agent for a South African based company, things really slow down at this time of year. This may explain why hearing back is not as prompt as typical. Do not despair. If you need help, please email me. You can find my email by clicking my profile. I'd be happy to check availability, arrange a Panorama tour etc. I hope this isn't considered soliciting; then again, this post may get deleted. I hope not because I have provided info to you previously in this thread and other posters, such as christabir, have encouraged you to contact operators who have previously provided input. I'd love to help you "wrap" things up (no holiday pun intended here!)!

    Happy Holidays!
    Africa Direct USA

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    Dianne has always been very helpful with her suggestions and ALWAYS closes her posts with her agent info. I would not hesitate to contact her. Others as well (just to be fair).

    Hey Dianne - I didn't know you can arrange a JNB to Kruger lodge transfer with a Panorama tour. Info please. Is it a day trip or overnight? We did a guided day trip from hazyview and it felt a little rushed having to get a flight at HDS late afternoon. Can you do a JNB - Panorama Route - drop off at lodge day? Thanks. Just trying to get info for future posters.

    Merry Christmas!

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    Hi Christabir!

    Yes, we have arranged this. It begins with a pick up at JNB and then carries onward with the Panorama Tour and ends at a client's lodge. It is a long day, especially if you want to stop and enjoy the sights or take part in any of the activities to explore the region. You would therefore need an early start, that's for sure! Depending upon when you arrive in JNB, you may need to stay over the night before.

    As a day tour, you do arrive late to the lodge and for most people, missing afternoon game drive is a consequence of a day trip. Therefore, an overnight stay is a great way to enjoy the tour at a pace that takes advantage of the location. In the morning, you set off to finish the tour and arrive at your lodge in time for lunch and afternoon drive.

    To be honest, I think the tour works best in reverse whereby you are picked up from your lodge at 10am (after morning game drive). Depending upon your level of interest to explore, you can do the drive in one day or again, opt to stay overnight. This also can work well with flights that leave out of JNB in the evening.

    Hope the info helps!

    Happy Holidays!
    Africa Direct USA

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    Yes, one day is possible but A LOT easier from Kruger area TO JNB vs other way around.

    Have a wonderful holiday by the way and a safe and Happy New Year!

    Africa Direct USA

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    Hello everyone!!

    Finally I made the bookings!

    We will be staying 4 days at Nottens in Sabi Sand and 3 days at Senalala in Klaserie. Finally I made the booking through a webpage (South African Lodges). I have already arrange flights in/out and almost all the transfers.

    Now I have to ask you more information again! Sorry!

    I have to decide where to stay in Johanesbourg and Cape Town. Which neigbourhoods do you recommend in each city??

    About Johanesbourg I read about Melville, Rosebank and Sandton, but the last two i found it a little "artifficial", what do you think??

    Thanks for all the help!

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    per my trip report, we loved staying in the Bo Kaap area in Cape Town. Adored our b&b also; they served the best breakfasts ever! (Rouge on Rose) As much as we liked the location (easy stroll into the heart of town, or to the wharf)... if i had it to do again, i would stay along the water in Camps Bay... only because i just love the sound of wild waves. but it is away from the action...

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