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South Africa escorted tour - your comments please!

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Thinking of going to South Africa in September.. Would appreciate your comments on this itinerary. It's through Citiescapes but the agent in SA is IKapa tours.
.Itinerary

DAY 1 :

Fly from Dublin to Johannesburg (routing to be confirmed) arriving the next morning.

DAY 2 : JOHANNESBURG

Upon arrival you will be met and assisted to your shuttle transfer service to the hotel. You have the remainder of the day at leisure until 19h00 when we all meet at the hotel reception for a briefing on the tour and a chance to meet up with your fellow travellers.

Accommodation: Protea Hotel OR Tambo or similar

DAY 3 : JOHANNESBURG TO HAZYVIEW (BB)

This morning we leave for Mpumalanga, dropping several hundred feet into the lush subtropical region of the Lowveld. Travel along the circular Panorama Route via Graskop, visiting the view sites of the Blyde River Canyon, one of the natural wonders of Africa; gasp at the glory of God‟s Window, with a boundless view of mountains and fertile plains and finally a visit to Bourke‟s Luck Potholes before heading to Hazyview.

Accommodation: Hippo Hollow Country Estate or similar

DAY 4 : FULL DAY INSIDE THE KRUGER (PB)

We have a bright and early start to the day in order to experience the wonders of exploring the Kruger National Park in our closed vehicle. Spend a morning with the Big Five in the Kruger National Park. The Kruger National Park is an internationally renowned game reserve of nearly 2 million hectares and supports the largest variety of wildlife species on the African continent. Keep a lookout for the wonderful flora and bird life that abounds. We return to our hotel around lunch time and your afternoon is at leisure.

Accommodation: Hippo Hollow Country Estate or similar

Distance travelled today: 200 km

DAY 5 : KRUGER TO SWAZILAND (BB)

This morning after breakfast, we check out and depart on our journey to Swaziland. We proceed south to Malalane and then onto Swaziland where this afternoon you will visit a real Chief‟s village and have the fantastic opportunity to gain an authentic knowledge of traditional Swazi culture .

Accommodation: Mantenga Lodge or similar

Distance travelled today: 290 km

DAY 6 : SWAZILAND TO ST LUCIA (BB)

This morning we journey through Swaziland into Zululand stopping en route to bargain for curios and souvenirs at the roadside markets. Our journey continues into the Kingdom of KwaZulu-Natal where ancient traditions and modern cultures of both Zulu and Settler have combined into a vibrant society living in peace and harmony. Arrive this afternoon in the Umfolozi area for your overnight stay.

Accommodation: Protea Hotel Umfolozi or similar

Distance travelled today: 435 km

DAY 7 : ST LUCIA TO DURBAN (BB)

Guests have the option to lie in or take an optional morning boat cruise (own account) or simply soak up the atmosphere of this tourist town St Lucia before heading off later in the morning towards Durban. An orientation tour introduces us to this multicultural, vibrant seaside city before arriving at our hotel late afternoon.

Accommodation: Garden Court South Beach or similar

Distance travelled: 290 km

DAY 8 : DURBAN TO DRAKENSBERG (BB) (BD)

This morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast or perhaps enjoy a stroll along Durban‟s golden mile which buzzes with energy as surfers, joggers and cyclists take to this seaside playground. Then we head into the majestic Southern Drakensberg Mountains . We proceed on a visit to the 300 foot high Howick Falls, continuing through the Southern Midlands Meander Route, arriving at our hotel mid-afternoon. Your afternoon is at leisure to soak up the surroundings, or go fishing, hiking and even horse riding in clean mountain air (own account).

Accommodation: Drakensberg Gardens Hotel or similar

Distance travelled today: 255 km

DAY 9 : DRAKENSBERG (BB BD)

Full day at leisure to soak up the surroundings of the magnificent Southern Drakensberg Mountains .

Accommodation: Drakensberg Gardens Hotel or similar

DAY 10 : DRAKENSBERG TO EASTERN CAPE COAST (BB, BD)

This morning we continue south to the Eastern Cape entering the fourth of the provinces and the birth place of Nelson Mandela (fondly known as Madiba). En route we see the old traditional way of life in the homeland area known as the Transkei and stop for lunch outside the capital of Umtata. We continue via Nelson Mandela‟s birth place and house, arriving late afternoon at our accommodation in Chinsta East, on the beautiful, unspoilt Eastern Cape Coast.

Accommodation: Crawfords Beach Lodge or similar

Distance travelled today: 520 km

DAY 11 : EASTERN CAPE COAST TO PORT ELIZABETH (BB)

We awake to the sounds of the crashing waves and have the morning at leisure to unwind with beach sand between our toes. The beach stretches on uninterrupted for many kilometres and the thick indigenous beach forest is a haven for an amazing variety of birdlife. We set off after lunch heading south to Port Elizabeth.

Accommodation: The Paxton Hotel or similar

DAY 12 : PORT ELIZABETH TO KNYSNA (BB, BD)

Today our journey continues towards the Cape. Visit the Tsitsikamma Forest, which provides scenic walking opportunities. A short walk to the Storms River Mouth offers some magnificent views of the gorge and river below . Arrive in Knysna late afternoon for check in at our hotel.

Accommodation: Knysna Hollow Country Estate or similar

Distance travelled today: 300 km

DAY 13 : OUDTSHOORN (BB)

After breakfast, we travel inland over the spectacular Outeniqua Pass to Oudtshoorn, known as the “feather capital of the world” because of its ostrich industry. We visit a working ostrich farm and then explore the famous Cango Caves. Walk (the more adventurous may crawl!) around the famous Cango Caves with their magnificent dripstone formations of stalactites and stalagmites.

Accommodation: Knysna Hollow Country Estate or similar

Distance travelled today: 315 km

DAY 14 : KNYSNA TO CAPE TOWN (BB)

Today‟s journey ends in Cape Town. On the way we stop off in Mossel Bay to visit the famous Post Office Tree, the Bartholomeus Diaz Museum and Shell Museum. We drive via Swellendam, Worcester and through the Huguenot Tunnel before arriving in Cape Town in the late afternoon.

Accommodation: Protea Hotel Sea Point or similar

Distance travelled today: 540 km

DAY 15 : CAPE TOWN (BB)

Enjoy a day of leisure in the „Mother City‟ where a visit to the V&A Waterfront is recommended. Enjoy quality time exploring this beautiful city.

Accommodation: Protea Hotel Sea Point or similar

DAY 16 : DEPARTURE (BB)

You will have the morning is at leisure for some last minute shopping, before you are collected and transferred to Cape Town International Airport for your onward departure flight. (Flight routing to be confirmed)

DAY 17:

Arrive in Dublin after your return overnight flight from Cape Town.

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Price inclusions

Flight from Dublin to Johannesburg (overnight)
Transfers on luxury coaches throughout
14 nights accommodation in South Africa, based on 2 sharing
Meals: Breakfast daily, 5 dinners
Tours included along the way
Transfer to the airport
Flight from Cape Town to Dublin (overnight)
Taxes and charges of €374
Optional tours offered locally

A full day open vehicle safari in the Kruger National Park

An afternoon open vehicle safari in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

Game viewing boat cruise in St. Lucia

4×4 Adventure tour up Sani Pass and into Lesotho (passport required)

Full day tour to the Cape Winelands or scenic day Cape Peninsula Tour

Please note an optional range of extensions in South Africa are available on request. Please ask for specific details.

  • Report Abuse

    I cannot imagine wanting an escorted tour of South Africa that lasts for 15/16 days with options of even more tours offered locally. A lot of the time is spent travelling and it seems to be long distances almost every day. There is no necessity for an escorted tour to this level. Book your own flights and hotels then take local excursions as and when you need them, cut down the number of places to visit. Why spend your first night in Joburg at the airport when you can stay in Sandton or Rosebank.

  • Report Abuse

    The Kruger day seems contradictory:

    DAY 4 : FULL DAY INSIDE THE KRUGER (PB)
    We have a bright and early start to the day ... the Kruger National Park in our closed vehicle. Spend a morning with the Big Five in the Kruger National Park.... We return to our hotel around lunch time and your afternoon is at leisure.

    Price inclusions
    A full day open vehicle safari in the Kruger National Park

    What are your age/health? Have you taken a bus tour of a country before?

  • Report Abuse

    It's certainly a comprehensive trip! But it includes some things that I would not do on a first, and possibly only, trip to South Africa, e.g. Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape, which are lovely, but not really worth going halfway around the world for. I'd also skip Durban. This tour also omits Cape Town and the wine country, which certainly should be included in a two-week trip. The amount of time in Kruger is not nearly enough, and driving in Kruger in a big bus is just a plain bad idea. You want to be in a small vehicle, open sided, to really see wildlife, and you want to spend 2 or 3 days minimum on safari.

    I'd suggest to your ski club that they look for a tour operator that has a better understanding of what South Africa has to offer.

    It's such a wonderful place; to me it would be a shame to spend money on this particular tour, rather than one that shows off the best of the country.

    Celia

  • Report Abuse

    Thank you all for your responses.
    Odin, yes I agree a lot of time is spent travelling. I hope that the majority of it would not be on the motorway as I am hoping to see lots of spectacular countryside. We do like escorted tours. We have been to China, Egypt and India with an Irish company called The Travel Department and loved every minute. Again there was a lot of travelling, however, there was always at least 1 internal flight, or train journey which this trip lacks. There seems to be a lot of options if you want to do the 'Fly/drive' but we really don't want to have to drive over there. We would like to see as much of the country as possible as it probably will be a 'one off'. I did look at a couple of other tour companies and might refer back to them depending on future comments. It seems that we won't get to see much of Joburg alright, but it looks like we will probably arrive at the hotel late morning or early afternoon and probably have time for a rest before meeting the other guests that evening and it's off early the following morning.

    Kay2. Yes, it is a bit confusing. I will need to check that with the tour company. When it says 'our closed vehicle', it's unlikely to mean the tour bus!! The full day open vehicle safari seems to be an optional one at extra cost. We are both 48 years old by the way and quite fit and healthy, thank God.

    Celia. Yes, I think one of the other tours I had glanced at had 2 days in Kruger. It seems there is an option of an afternoon open safari in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, so I don't know how this would compare? The other tour didn't include Durban, Swaziland or Drakensberg either.
    I did check with the tour company to see if I could add on an extra couple of nights in Cape Town. If I do this trip, I will definitely do that as we want to visit Robben Island and do the winlands tour and Peninsula tour.

    Has anyone any knowledge of iKapa tours or any other tour company based in South Africa? We would do a small escorted group tour either.

    Thanks again for your comments so far!

  • Report Abuse

    As a Canadian who lived in Cape Town for two years (and has visited everywhere you mention), this itinerary strikes me as being far more suited to someone who has already been to South Africa at least a couple of times and seen the highlights. The places the tour is taking you - the Garden Route, St. Lucia, the Drakensberg, Oudtshoorn, PE, Durban - while all wonderful (well, except perhaps Durban and PE :-) ), are places I might visit on a 2nd or even 3rd tour - certainly not my first. I would want to spend far more time on safari (a minimum of six nights at two different camps and preferably longer) and more time in Cape Town, seeing the Cape Peninsula, the Winelands, Table Mtn etc.

    I have no problem with an escorted tour, especially for a first visit to SA but, if it were me, I would pitch this itinerary and look for one with less travel and more safari (look for a Kruger/Cape Town combo)! CR

  • Report Abuse

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments. I've located a different travel company called Riviera Travel. I think this itinerary is better. Anyone use Riviera Travel before?

    Itinerary
    Day 1

    You should arrive at the airport to take your overnight flight to Johannesburg.
    Day 2 - Johannesburg

    After our morning arrival, we transfer to the four-star Indaba Hotel in a prosperous suburb, north of the city. On the way to our hotel we take the opportunity to visit the Apartheid Museum, a truly fascinating exhibition charting the apartheid years and the struggle against it, culminating in the first democratic elections. It is a superbly presented walk through contemporary history using original material, riveting eyewitness accounts, photographs and film. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore the pleasant leafy district of Fourways and nearby Montecasino shopping mall.
    Day 3 - Blyde River Canyon & Kruger National Park

    After breakfast we depart for the open spaces and farmlands of the highveld, following the Panorama Route to Kruger National Park, one of the most scenic drives in South Africa. We follow the spectacular rim of the Blyde River Canyon, an amazing 20-mile long and 2,300-foot deep gorge cutting a vast swathe through the Great Escarpment separating the temperate grasslands of the highveld and the drier savannah beyond. Deep circular rock formations created by years of erosion and many excellent vantage points offer superb photo opportunities of some of the most breathtaking views in Africa. Our hotel for the next three nights is the three-star superior Hippo Hollow Country Estate, beautifully located in the midst of lush forest on the banks of the Sabie River on the edge of the National Park. It has lovely gardens, two pools, a very cosy bar, an excellent restaurant and an open-air terrace overlooking the grounds and river where you can actually watch the hippos! A more relaxing spot would be difficult to find. Dinner is included tonight.
    Day 4 - Kruger National Park

    Today we have a full day’s game drive in specially adapted 10 seat 4x4 vehicles. There is simply nothing to beat that rising feeling of anticipation and excitement as we enter the nearby park in the half-light of the spectacular African dawn, surrounded by the noise of a unique ‘dawn chorus’. Which animal shall we spot first? Perhaps an elephant, a family of warthogs or possibly even the elusive cheetah. Our experienced game rangers know the best tracks and waterholes whilst their stories will amuse, inform and fascinate you. Most have lived here all their lives, accumulating a vast wealth of knowledge. One minute they can be talking about the constituents of elephant dung and the next about the mating behaviour of hippos or the latest UK football scores!
    Day 5 - Free Day, Kruger National Park

    This is a day at leisure for anyone who just wants to take it easy by the one of the pools at the hotel or do some hippo-spotting from the lovely lawn overlooking the river. Alternatively, you could try elephant-back safaris, exciting helicopter flights or even river rafting (all subject to weather conditions), as well as sunset safaris or night safaris where you can experience the unique thrill of an open 4x4 vehicle game drive by spotlight.

    Exclusively for Riviera guests, there are also a limited number of places available to stay the night at a tented camp and go on a bushwalk ending with sunrise in the bush. Our camp is a real ‘back to nature’ experience, with no electricity or en-suite facilities – we use portable ‘bush’ showers and toilets. Our chef will create excellent wholesome cuisine and you can listen out for any nocturnal visitors whilst sitting around the campfire! Prices from R 2700 ( around £170 per person) sharing a two-person tent, including an afternoon game drive, sunrise bush walk, dinner and breakfast. You rejoin the main tour on the morning of day 6.
    Day 6 - Swaziland & Kwazulu Natal Province

    Today we leave Kruger on our way to the battlefields of Zululand. After breakfast we’ll drive south , entering the small but scenically beautiful country of Swaziland. As the road climbs through the interestingly-named Piggs Peak we descend past lush green fields and rolling hills interspersed with small farms and drive through the country’s small capital Mbabane, passing the parliament house and Royal Palace en-route. We cross back into South Africa in the afternoon and enter Kwazulu Natal province, staying at the simple three-star Battlefields Lodge for two nights on bed and breakfast basis.
    Day 7 - Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift

    After breakfast we visit the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Brilliantly dramatized in the films Zulu Dawn and Zulu, these two battles, just a day apart, became a defining moment for the British Empire. In 1879 at Isandlwana, a depleted force of 1,300 were surprised and outmanoeuvred by a 20,000-strong Zulu army armed with cowhide shields and spears. Only a handful survived. The next day, just 9 miles away, about 140 British soldiers, some wounded, held off 4,000 Zulus for over ten hours at Rorke’s Drift, an action earning eleven Victoria Crosses, the largest number ever awarded in a single engagement. Isandlwana particularly, remains a haunting and lonely place, with mass graves marked by simple white stones. Our specialist Zulu guide will really make those desperate encounters come alive. We return to our hotel in the afternoon. Lunch is included today.
    Day 8 - Knysna

    After breakfast we return to Johannesburg airport, flying to George in the Western Cape and at the heart of the gorgeous Garden Route. We take the short drive to the coastal town of Knysna and our hotel, the charming three-star superior Knysna Hollow Country Estate. The comfortable rooms are all whitewashed and thatched and many overlook the two swimming pools. There is an excellent restaurant, with an extensive wine selection and a convivial bar. Dinner is included this evening.
    Day 9 - Knysna & Featherbed Nature Reserve

    Knysna has been called South Africa’s favourite small town and with its stunning lagoon location, numerous art galleries, craft shops and the excellent Knysna Quays marina shopping and dining complex, it’s not hard to see why.

    The Garden Route, as its name implies, really is a scenic treat! This magnificent stretch of coastline encompasses mountains, lagoons, pristine beaches, indigenous forests, wetlands teeming with birds, lakes and mountains, all blended together in a feast of sheer natural beauty: it really has it all. This morning we take a ferry across the lagoon to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, a South African Natural Heritage site which we explore by 4x4 vehicle. We stop at some magnificent viewpoints whilst our guide describes the area’s fauna, flora, history and shipwrecks, followed by an easy downhill guided walk and delicious buffet lunch under the canopy of the milkwood trees.
    Day 10 - Winelands & Hermanus

    This morning, we take the long scenic drive to the Cape’s beautiful Winelands. During July to November we drive via Hermanus, the world’s best spot for on-shore whale watching. These gentle giants move in seemingly permanent slow motion and are a truly amazing sight as they playfully cavort in the water. You arrive in the Winelands by late afternoon, staying two nights on bed-and-breakfast at the excellent four-star Devon Valley hotel, which is a real find. This little property is set on the valley slopes offering breathtaking views, lush gardens, a relaxing shady terrace, a comfortable bar with dark leather armchairs, fireplace and a wide selection of single malt whiskeys. Some tours may stay at the nearby four-star Erinvale Hotel.
    Day 11 - Franschoek, Stellenbosch & Winelands

    Today we tour the awesomely beautiful Winelands. Set in a valley backed by majestic mountains, rows of manicured vines and orchards stretch into a distance studded by lime-washed, often thatched, 300 year-old wineries built in the unique Cape Dutch style, seemingly mirroring the undulations of the surrounding countryside. Our first stop is the small town of Franschoek in a magnificent setting at the head of a valley, then to elegant Stellenbosch established 300 years ago and home of South Africa’s most prestigious university. Period buildings and historic streets reinforce the town’s dignified atmosphere. We have time to explore this delightful town before enjoying a fascinating cellar tour and tasting at the award-winning Boschendal Wine Estate. Tonight we’ll enjoy an included typical South African BBQ or Cape Malay Buffet dinner at our hotel.
    Day 12 - Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain & Cape Town

    This morning, you visit the amazing Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Located just below Table Mountain, these are considered the best in the country. You soon arrive in Cape Town and your hotel, the four-star centrally located Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel, staying three nights on a bed-and-breakfast basis. The afternoon is spent at leisure, when you can begin to explore this beautiful city, within walking distance of the V&A waterfront.
    Day 13 - Cape Point & Boulders Beach

    This morning, we visit Cape Point and the legendary Cape of Good Hope, firstly driving past pristine beaches to the picturesque fishing harbour of Hout Bay. We continue along the breathtakingly scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive, full of rugged seascapes, to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, then on to Cape Point itself. We see the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean currents and the treacherous promontory of rocks and swells, the scourge of mariners for centuries. Finally we visit Boulders Beach and its penguin colony, returning to the city during the afternoon.
    Day 14 - Free Day, Cape Town

    Cape Town, featuring British, Dutch and Cape Malay influences, is simply one of the world’s most naturally beautiful cities with so much to offer the visitor! You could do some bargain shopping at the Waterfront, followed by a sumptuous seafood lunch. Or maybe go people-watching at fashionable Camps Bay? Obviously no visit to Cape Town is complete without taking a revolving cable car ride to the top of iconic Table Mountain which has announced the city to generations of sea-farers. The views are fabulous. You should also visit Robben Island (weather permitting and based on availability), where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27-year incarceration, and whose visitors since its opening have included Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gates and even Nelson Mandela himself. Perhaps though, simply wander where your feet take you, or relax a little, taking afternoon tea at the beautiful colonial splendour of the Mount Nelson hotel - the choice is yours.
    Day 15 - Free Day, Cape Town

    Our final day in Cape Town is at leisure before a transfer to the airport, at the appropriate time, for our return flight to Heathrow via Johannesburg.

    Day 16
    We arrive back after a truly unique tour.

  • Report Abuse

    The second version looks much better. I only know SA from PE across to CT and have seen most of the places mentioned. It does miss out George and Oudtshoorn, but IMO neither of them are worth the diversion.

    Loved Knysna and Stellenbosch and your Kruger trip sounds great.

  • Report Abuse

    I hate to continue to be so negative but I find this tour has many of the same weaknesses as the first - taking you to places (like the Battlefields) that I would not include on a first visit to SA itinerary - unless you are a real history buff.

    Again, there is a lot of driving involved to places that I have been but only because I lived in SA for two years - they would not be a priority on a first visit.

    How big is this tour? How many people? I envision you stuffed into a big bus. You want a small personalized tour.

    Again, only one day on safari with a second day offered (but at an additional cost)? For me, Africa is all about the animals, and I would want this to be a focus of any tour - certainly more important than the Battlefields/Zululand, Knysna (we did the Featherbed ferry/4x4 tour and it is over-rated - the tour groups are large), George, the Garden Route etc. I would want to be on safari for at least half of the tour.

    Also, a 10-passenhger vehicle (in Kruger) means that you may well be stuck in one of the dreaded middle seats where the view is poor. So, your one day on safari may not be the best.

    The last part of the tour is better - at least they have hit the highlights of Cape Town (Winelands, Cape Point, Table Mtn, Kirstenboch etc).

    I would search this website for trip reports involving small/personalized Kruger tours and take it from there. Alternatively, try posting under a new title - something like, "Safari and Cape Town - suggestions please" and see what comes up. CR

  • Report Abuse

    Robin is right; this tour contains a lot that I would omit on a first trip to South Africa. It's trying to be a "see a little of everything", and not a "see a lot of the very best" tour.

    I guess if you want a comprehensive, but not in depth, trip, this one isn't too bad. But I would think about why I'd want to spend all that money and time before choosing this tour.

    Celia

  • Report Abuse

    Martina, hello
    Have you booked your holiday or are you still looking at various options? I lived in SA years ago and have just returned from a holiday there with first time visitors to the country (part organised by a local tour operator and part self organised). If you need more help and advice am happy to help but canadian_robin has told it very well. There are certainly better itineraries.

  • Report Abuse

    Sorry, I meant only one place stopped at as in Knysna, so much more to the Garden Route I think you might feel disappointed. Also its probably a 5 hour drive mostly along a boring route N2, to stop in Hermanus for such a brief visit before arriving late afternoon in Franschhoek, then next day it's only ½ day in Franschhoek & Stellenbosch.

  • Report Abuse

    For a first timer, would it not be best to concentrate on CapeTown and environs, and the Kruger area (assuming that one has an interest in animals)

    I don't think one needs an organized tour to do this..just a good local travel agent who can set up an itinerary based on one's budget and individual interests.

  • Report Abuse

    Thanks for your responses again. I've been in touch with the Irish company we had done some escorted tours with before and we may be able to get the last 2 seats on their coach. I will know tomorrow if they are still available. It's over €500 cheaper than the last one I posted. This is their itinerary:
    Day 1:
    Depart for Cape Town:

    Depart from Dublin for Cape Town. You will be met by our local representative in the arrivals area of the airport before being transferred by coach to your hotel to begin your fantastic South African adventure!

    Day 2:
    Arrive in Cape Town:

    After meeting your guide you will be transfered to Table Mountain lower cable car station. Enjoy the spectacular views on a cable car ride from Table Bay to False Bay. There will also be a short tour of the Cape of Good Hope en-route to your hotel.

    Day 3:
    Wine Tour:

    After breakfast at the hotel, you will enjoy a wine country exploration tour taking in local vineyards where you can sample some of South Africas favourite wines. Lunch is included.

    Day 4:
    Cape Peninsula Tour:

    Today you will be treated to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Following breakfast, you will be transferred by coach to Hout Bay and the Cape of Good Hope. Don't forget to bring your camera! Lunch is included.



    Day 5:
    Garden Route:

    Depart for the famous Garden Route, traveling past Betty's Bay and stunning Pringle Bay.

    Day 6:
    Garden Route & Route 62:

    Travel along Route 62 to the small town of Montagu, including a short stop at the small town of Swellendam en-route.

    Day 7:
    Garden Route & Route 62:

    Continue along beautiful Route 62, via the Outeniqua Mountain Pass to the coastal town of Knysna which lies on the Knysna lagoon, the mouth of which is guarded by two promontories known as The Heads.

    Day 8:
    Featherbed Nature Reserve:

    Today you will visit the Featherbed Nature Reserve with a ferry transfer and lunch included. The reserve lies on the unspoilt Western head of Knysna.

    Day 9:
    Garden Rote to Port Elizabeth:

    Travel to Tsitsikamma, where you will experience the dramatic coastal areas of the Garden Route where forest meets ocean. Visit the Tsitsikama National Park, comprising a glorious 10km stretch of wild and rocky coastline characterised by massive cliffs, narrow isolated beaches and shady indigenous forest along the river valleys.

    Day 10:
    Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg:

    Transfer to Port Elizabeth for flight to Johannesburg. You will be met by your local on arrival in Johannesburg. Travel to Soweto for a traditional lunch at a local tavern, followed by a scenic drive including sights such as the house of Nelson Mandela.

    Day 11:
    Bourkes Luck Potholes:

    Depart Eastward to Mpumalanga, also known as the Province of the Sun. Visit the Bourke’s Luck Potholes and spectacular waterfalls en-route.

    Day 12:
    Kruger National Park:

    The Kruger National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the world and the oldest one in Africa. It is 350 km long from North to South, 60 km in width and covers a surface of 1 948 528 hectares. The park is a diverse ecosystem home to 147 mammal species and 507 bird species. The park is also home to the Big Five game animals. Today involves early morning and afternoon game viewing excursions using open top four wheel drive vehicles.

    Day 13:
    Kruger National Park:

    There will be another early morning game viewing excursion today. You will have the afternoon free so you will have time to pick up some souvenirs for those back at home.

    Day 14:
    Return home:

    It's time to say goodbye to beautiful South Africa. You will be transfered to Johannesburg airport for your flight back to Dublin.

    Again I'd appreciate your comments. As I say we have travelled with this company before and found them to be excellent and I've looked at reviews from other clients who have taken this same trip and they were all very positive.

    Thanks again!

  • Report Abuse

    Martina, it sounds like you have already decided to go with this company. The very positive reviews are certainly reassuring.

    This is not a trip I would recommend for a first, or second timer. Keeping in mind that I've taken only two trips to southern Africa, and am now planning a third, and have perhaps a slightly higher budget than your own, here are a few thoughts:

    I would much prefer to concentrate on 2 general areas: The Western Cape, including CapeTown and the Winelands, and a destination nearest the Kruger area, selecting accommodation that fits your budget (many thread on this here).. I know this makes more work for you than just signing up for an already-arranged tour, but that is what I would do, no question.

    Your new itinerary is still a bus tour, giving you cursory views of many different areas. I would prefer in-depth views of just a couple of areas.. but then, this is usually my own travel style. Rather than take a trip covering Italy in 15 days, I would take one of the same time frame featuring only Venice and the northern Lakes. I have taken many, many trips, and also advised many people on how to schedule vacations, and these are the guidelines I always return to.

    You have 14 days with only 2 of these allotted for Kruger, which ranks up there as one of my own highlights in a life time of travels. Why not spend 5 days in and around CapeTown and 5 in and around Kruger/Sabi Sands?

    You DO NOT NEED a fully planned bus tour...there is a plethora of local agents specializing in SA who can help you plan a more personalized trip for a similar price than your bus tour....why not contact a few of them and get some ideas..then make your decision.

    What I say here is based on my opinion as a paying traveler who has taken but two visits (so far!) to SA, both of which I have paid for. Both were planned by an agent from CapeTown who came highly recommended to me. I believe the price was not much higher than I would have paid on a bus tour such as you describe, given the differences in lodgings and experiences, and I got so much personal information and hand-holding!! T

    here are so many great-sounding agents that often post on this forum.....why not get a few options before you make your final decision..give them a budget and see what they can plan for you!!

    Here is my latest report, the second of two on my trips to the country. It might be higher in price than you are looking for, but it can give you an idea of how geared to your own interests such a trip can be..for those of all budgets...

    I will add that I am now planning my third trip to Southern Africa, which will includes a return to Botswana, in 2016, inshallah!!



    http://www.fodors.com/community/africa-the-middle-east/glorious-return-to-south-africa-two-weeks-in-october.cfm

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    I was dreading being critical of a third itinerary, so I am grateful that ekscrunchy has jumped in for me. I agree with her entirely - this (again) is not a first-time-to-SA itinerary. Too much driving (in a bus!), too much time spent at places I would visit on a second or even third visit to South Africa (likely because it is cheaper to take you to those places rather than include a longer safari) and not enough time on safari. Have a look at the link that eskcrunchy has provided - her trip will give you a better understanding of what I have been suggesting all along - a Cape Town/safari combination. CR

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    Each to his own, but this is just so much time driving around on the bus - some of these daily distances are enormous. I can't imagine going all the way to Kruger and then spending only 1 or 2 days there. We've been twice and are going back later this year. We always allocate at least 5 days and still leave wanting more - the park alone is the size of a small European country.

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    Hi, sorry I haven't replied in last few days. It's just a very busy time for me at the moment. Well, I haven't booked anything yet. I've taken your thoughts into account and I really appreciate you all taking time to give me your advice. It looks like I have another few days before I have to make a decision on the travel department trip so I might get a chance to do a bit more homework over the weekend. Thanks again!

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