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SAA carry ons // Cape Town activities

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Going for a two Q post here -

First, any advice on your experience with SAA carry on's would be lovely. I hate checking bags but fear my carry on and personal item might not make the cut. Are they super strict?

Second, I'm in CT for a week of work, then took a week to myself. My dad is suggesting a safari but I've been reading that the ones near CT are more of a glorified zoo - thoughts? And of course any suggestions on must do things while there is appreciated. For context, note I'm 24yo female traveling alone and more into culture/exploring/getting to know local spots then things typically considered touristy, although I'll do those as well ;).

Continuing on that, I'm extremely into music. Suggestions on young hip hangouts for music?

I guess that was a big 3 questions... Thanks in advance!!

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    Hi there -

    I've flown to South Africa three times in four years on three different airlines. Every single seat was full on all of them, so be prepared for the airline to be very strict. If you get through security with oversized bags, they will probably gate check them. Just pack less. Anything you need, you can buy in CT. We don't check bags, either and have been on safari for as long as three weeks. Just wear your heaviest shoes and make sure all your clothes can be mixed and matched. If needed, wash a few things in the sink.

    I only go to SA for safari, so to be in country for a week and not see elephants, lions, zebra and rhinos in their home sounds nuts to me - but I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. Not knowing your budget, time of year or your level of luxury, I would fly to the Kruger area (fly to the airport closest to your lodge choice)and spend three-four nights at a full service lodge. For budget accommodations, check out Gomo Gomo, Africa on Foot, Shindzela and Arathusa. For higher end, Kirkmans, Ngala Tented, many, many, many more. Just choose a lodge (or two if you spend a week) that quotes in Rand - the exchange rate right now is crazy good and it's almost the equivalent of half price compared to just a short time ago. It's a great time to go! And there is nowhere else in the world to see wild African animals. Don't miss it. Going solo is no big deal - the lodge can arrange to pick you up at the airport, game drives are done as a group and dining is usually as a group, too. So you are never alone unless you want to be. If you prefer to get help, contact Wild Wings Safaris (there are two - choose the non hunting one!! The website has dashes.) or Sun Safaris. They get good reviews here.

    If Kruger is out of your price range (it's a good deal, but still a bit pricey), you could fly to Durban and visit Rhino River Lodge in the Zululand Rhino Reserve. I love Zululand, so that's where I'd go. Just check their website and email them for info on transfers from the airport. If you get to visit the little town of St Lucia, it's definitely worth a couple of days for beaches, kayak with hippos and horse riding with zebras - all sorts of fun activities on the Indian Ocean. (Can you tell I love it?)

    While in CT, visit the penguins and the Cape of Good Hope, Table Mtn and Robben Island. Spend some time at the beaches - ask the people at work for the best ones. They might have some better suggestions for local places to visit.

    Have fun! CT is a beautiful city and spending a few nights out in the African bush is incredible. Hopefully you'll catch the bug and keep going back.

    "They say elephants never forget. What they don't say is you will never forget your first elephant." - Bill Murray

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    Hi lysskropp!

    So great that you can extend your stay to see such a beautiful part of the world!!

    I would recommend that you spend a couple days in Cape Town to explore the areas that are not available during your work week, such as Table Mountain, a trip to see the penguins and Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island and District 6 Museum. Another place to visit might be the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which are quite beautiful. Their Centenary Tree Canopy Walk, which was architecturally designed to mimic a snake, and their sculpture garden are beautiful. They also offer outdoor concerts there depending upon when you are there. If you're interested in a great cultural experience, you should consider a township tour. Clients love this tour that I arrange with a guide who has a dance/sing/drum project for the local children - so much warmth and smiles! The wine lands are also quite beautiful and only about an hour away. The landscape is different than the Napa area. You could sit, sip and be in awe of the beautiful mountains and vineyards. There's really a lot to do but again, when you are traveling, your interests and your activity level will really define how long and what you do while in Cape Town and its surrounds!

    Since you have only perhaps 4-5 nights possibly remaining, I would highly recommend that you head to either the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve or Timbavati Private Reserve. This is a game rich area that has an unfenced border with Kruger National Park. And if you want to see leopards given a shorter stay, then there is no better place than in this area. Flights from Cape Town fly direct to the airport nearest to your chosen lodge. Transfers can be bundled into your stay.

    Depending upon your budget, there are numerous options for lodges. Arathusa and Elephant Plains are my favorites as offering great value for the money. The next step up would be Ngala, Simbavati and Kirkmans. Having said that though, there are many to choose from. Private reserves offer off-road driving so that you can stay with an animal, night game drives, and generally speaking, better guiding and better communication with other rangers/jeeps for sightings. These lodges are also full service and all-inclusive and this makes it very easy, especially for a shorter time in the bush and if you are traveling alone. Discounts are available at lodges depending on how long you stay. I have planned many side trips like this for those on business. You will never feel alone and staff ensure that you are well taken care of.

    A business side trip is a great way to see the world and lucky for you, your work will take you to South Africa!

    Best
    Dianne
    Africa Direct USA

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    Thank you Dianne and christabir for your responses! I'm here in SA and it's absolutely stunning! I'm not going on safari this time but will make sure to the next time I come back :)

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