14-16 day visit to South Africa

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Nov 5th, 2015, 10:09 AM
  #1
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14-16 day visit to South Africa

Hello all,

I am planning a visit to South Africa in December this year with my family (2 adults, 1 child). I dont want to take any domestic flight as I love driving. Want to cover from Cape Town to Durban.

Any advice regarding tour plan and cost.

Thanks.
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Nov 5th, 2015, 10:48 AM
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Hello again.

After doing some research, I have shortlisted following timelines.

Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg in afternoon.
Day 2: Mpumalanga Escarpment.
Day 3-4: Kruger
Day 5-6: Drive to Durban (via bus if available or car hire if available) and spend next day there exploring the surroundings.
Day 7-9: Thats interesting. Drive from Durban to Cape Town with two stops in between (any suggestions).
Day 10-14: Cape Town.
Day 15: Cape Town to JNB via train.
Day 16: Check Out.
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Nov 5th, 2015, 08:14 PM
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Sorry but you really need to rethink this whole plan unless you really just want to be driving the majority of your holiday. Driving distances are long and the roads not very good sometimes. 2 days Durban to Cape Town could be done if you drive for pretty much 2 day solid but you won't have time to see anything at all.

With only 2 weeks in country I really suggest 2 areas, Kruger and Cape Town. Fly into one, fly into the other and fly home from last destination. You could add Durban if you want to push it.

You are also talking about this Dec and if you mean anytime after Dec 15 it is going to be crowded and expensive as most everyone is on holiday here and have booked a year ago.

Sorry it's not what you expected to hear but there is no way I can see a trip like this being enjoyable and with a child as well, no way.
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Nov 5th, 2015, 08:20 PM
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Wow. That's a lot of driving. Although I adore KwaZulu Natal (it hurts me to even suggest this!), I might skip Durban on this trip. too much in too short a time. Plus, the drive between Durban and Port Eliz (or East London) is a bit on the dangerous side. It's windy (curvy) and lots of truck traffic on a two lane road. With your short time frame, I would also skip the Escarpment - get to Kruger and spend an extra day there.

So I would spend three nights Kruger, drive to Port Eliz (through the middle, not the coast), spending a night in any convenient stopover and add a drive through or a night in Camdeboo and Mountain Zebra NPs (much better scenery than the Escarpment plus aardvark!) and at least a night in Addo. Two-three nights to drive on Garden Route to Cape Town. Three nights is plenty in Cape Town unless you plan a day trip into the winelands (don't know about that with a child). Don't miss the penguins....

With your itinerary you don't leave any time to see or enjoy anything. If you choose not to skip Durban, spend a night in St Lucia - it's a really fun small beach town with tons of fun stuff to do. You can get there in a day from Kruger if you leave early - we drive through Swaziland. Durban is just a city, like any other city. But KwaZulu Natal is a destination itself - go next time.

Avoid driving at night. Just don't. Livestock graze on the shoulder and wander in the streets. Children walk to/from schools (and fetch water) on the secondary roads. Many roads are broken up, so be careful (they call them potholes, but they are not like our potholes).

If you are going during the holidays, and even a week or two before, expect a lot of traffic, much higher prices, crowds and difficulty finding accommodations. Kruger might be booked solid, Addo too.

Have fun planning. You'll be back, so if you miss something you can go next time.
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Nov 5th, 2015, 08:22 PM
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(I was writing while kellyee was posting)
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Nov 6th, 2015, 12:56 AM
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Thank you Kellyee21 and Christabir. Spent last night doing my research and after your valuable advise have rethought the trip.

I will have my annual leaves lapsed if I don't use them by December. But as it seems, I will have to push them to Feb.

I thought there will be good highways or motorways in between but as it seems, the road network is good but its not one where you can do 800 kms in 8 hours. So I have left all the driving in Kruger and revised the plan as follows.

Day 1 Johannesburg.
Day 2-6 Kruger.
Day 7-8 to Cape Town by train (it is safer than road as it seems).
Day 9-15 Cape Town and back home from there.

I have a week in Cape Town and I am not interested in winelands so it seems I have two-three extra days in between where I can visit any small town or skip the train and drive to Cape Town in 4 days with stopovers in between.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 12:57 AM
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To many seems in my comment
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Nov 6th, 2015, 01:06 AM
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Hi mnoman,

The new plan sounds much for doable. Not sure what you mean by left all the driving in Kruger? Are you planning to self drive in Kruger or stay at a private, all inclusive camp?

Why the train and not fly ? You will save so much time if you just fly of your short trip. My first trip to SA was 9 days safari (6 nights self drive and 3 nights private) followed by 6 nights Cape Town. If you want to add something between Kruger and Cape Town, you could fly to Port Elizabeth (probably have to go through JNB) and take 4 days to drive through the Garden Route to Cape Town. This is a good road but there is a lot to see. I spent 8 days doing this trip with 4 stops and that was a bit rushed for me. But you could do 2 stops of 2 nights each and still be able to see some. It is a beautiful area. You could also spent the time around St Lucia which christabir recommended above which is also beautiful and then fly Durban to Cape Town.

Hope that helps a bit. There is so much to see in South Africa, but I really suggest taking your time and see a little, you will be back.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 01:07 AM
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Sorry, I meant to say in my post to do either the Garden Route or St Lucia, not both.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 04:07 AM
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Thanks kellee21.

That sounds good. 5 days safari 5 days Cape Town and 4 days Garden Route with 2 stop overs. Is it safe to travel at night? Many have suggested against it.

Let me discuss my travel plan and will let you know.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 04:21 AM
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The road between Joburg and Durban is very good but as others have said, you don't have enough time for all of it & I see you have skipped Durban. I would not travel by night personally unless it is local ie to restaurants etc, have done it in Cape Town and Durban but not Joburg. Even by day stopping at traffic lights, it's not 100%. In Joburg, I had someone sit on the hood of my rental car demanding money, it was unpleasant to say the least.

If you want to rent a car in Cape Town at Christmas, you must book it in advance as I found out one year that all the car rental companies can get booked up.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 04:35 AM
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Outside of cities it is not safe to travel at night for the reasons mentioned by christabir. Cape Town will be fine, it doesn't sound like you are planning time in Joburg but in most cases that is fine too (I live there and have never had an issue but you must remain alert to who is around, and yes we do stop at red lights).
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Nov 6th, 2015, 04:52 AM
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You were right Kellyee. two weeks are too packed for SA. I have revised my trip as below:

Day 1: JNB
Day 2: JNB to Kruger National Park
Day 3-6: Kruger National Park
Day 7: Back to JNB and fly to Port Elizabeth
Day 8-11: Garden Route to Cape Town.
Day 12-14: Cape Town
Day 15: Back to Karachi

I will be arriving in JNB in afternoon so will have to spend day 1 there. Will have to leave early on day 7 to get evening flight to Port Elizabeth. Will have night stay there onwards Garden Route to Cape Town. Still finding it difficult to fit everything in. Will try to increase my stay but lets see.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 04:54 AM
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Thanks Odin and Kellyee. There may not be many red lights on highways so need not worry.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 05:25 AM
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There are traffic lights getting on and off highways and there are some on highways too.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 11:08 AM
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Good to see you were able to change to February. The holidays are very busy.

You don't need to fly back to JNB for flight to PE - there are airports around Kruger and you can do a one way car rental. It's done a lot.

Instead of the Garden Route, I'd do St Lucia and KZN. Better beaches, wilder, lots to do, easier itinerary. The Garden Route is very tame, pretty but just not that interesting to me. Just do the one long day drive from Kruger to SL through Swaziland, do some of the fun stuff over a few days and drive to Durban, drop off the car and fly direct to CT. I could spend weeks in KZN and still find new things to do.

Check out the St Lucia tourism website for all the crazy fun activities available. Horseback on the beach, kayak with hippos, croc boat tours, gorgeous beaches, game drives to Camp Vidal, Lake St Lucia, much more - just fun. st Lucia is in a Unesco World Heritage Site - iSimangalisoWetland Park. It's just beautiful. Mkuze and Hluhluwe-iMFolozi parks are excellent, too.

You should avoid driving at night. In town, get a cab. Get to where you're going by sunset. Why chance a problem when you have no reason to. We experienced speed bumps on roads (not the main highways, but four lane secondary highways) that are generally well marked - occasionally a sign is missing and we've hit a couple going pretty fast. Stay alert while also watching for livestock and children.

Enjoy your planning.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 11:23 AM
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I would need separate visa for Swaziland thats why I did not consider that option. But KZN was off the radar. Let me check.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 02:15 PM
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KZN (KwaZulu Natal) is the area south of Swaziland to south of Durban. Like a county or province. You can drive around Swaziland and stay in S Africa - it only adds about 1.5 hours, so still drivable to St Lucia in a day. It's what most people do. Not sure why, but U.S. citizens don't need a visa.
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Nov 6th, 2015, 03:02 PM
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Hi mnoman!

I can't think of a flight that goes from the Kruger airports direct to Port Elizabeth airport. Therefore, you'd have to fly thru JNB... But I think you should consider changing your itinerary.

Have you thought about flying from one of the Kruger airports to Cape Town (direct flights are available) then do your Cape Town stay then drive the Garden Route ending in Port Elizabeth? You could then return your rental car at Port Elizabeth airport and take the short flight back to Cape Town for your international flight home. I still think you are rushing the Garden Route but I think changing the order of your itinerary makes more sense if you are sticking with these particular destinations.

Just another thought to add to the thread..

Best
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
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Nov 6th, 2015, 06:59 PM
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This is a very active thread! I hope we are helping more than confusing you.

I just wanted to add, I really like doing safari last. It is the highlight of any trip to S Africa, so if you can work it out, Kruger last.

I don't know where you fly in/out from Karachi, but fly into Cape Town and spend 3-4 nights, fly Durban and drive to St Lucia, have fun in St Lucia 3-4 nights and drive to Kruger 3-4 nights. You can drop the car off and fly out of a Kruger area airport to JNB to Karachi or drive to JNB - you might have a day to give to the Escarpment if that's a priority.

I just wanted to share a beautiful, well written article about KZN and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. It is as wonderful as they say. I'm totally enamored with it. I want to retire there:

http://magazine.africageographic.com...kwazulu-natal/
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