2 weeks in south Africa. Need help to begin my plan

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Oct 24th, 2003, 08:21 AM
  #1
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2 weeks in south Africa. Need help to begin my plan

Hello all,

I am planning a trip to south Africa in august 2004. We will stay there 2 weeks.

I would like to visit :

1. Kruger National Park
2. The garden route
3. And Cape town.

I am sure that there is a lot omre to do. Any suggestions are welcome...

We travelled by our own in Australia this summer. Is it possible to do the same in South Africa. I prefer to book everything without a travel agent. Is it a good idea ?

Thanks,
Olivier
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Oct 24th, 2003, 08:55 AM
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Hi Olivier. We will be in South Africa for a little over 2 weeks in November and are travelling on our own. Coincidentally, we were in Australia last November and did that on our own as well. So when I get back I can let you know how they compare. When we started planning this trip we had the same wish list as you and about the same amount of time. In the end we decided to save the Garden Route for another time as we didn't want to feel rushed. We are spending 9 nights on safari (6 in Kruger at Olifants & Lower Sabie rest cams, and 3 nearby in Sabi Sands at Chitwa Chitwa Safari Lodge) followed by 6 nights in Cape Town. We booked it all ourselves except for the three nights in Sabi Sands at Chitwa Chitwa, which we booked through a local agent in Johannesburg who was able to get us a better rate than we could get ourselves.

Good luck and enjoy your travel planning.
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Oct 25th, 2003, 12:57 AM
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Hello Lisa,

Thanks for your prompt answer. That's amazing because we plan the same trip.

In Australia, we stayed 5 nights in Sydney, 3 nights in the red center, 5 nights in port Douglas and 6 nights in the top end. We loved Sydney (we should have stayed there more time), kings canyon, uluru and the great barrier reef. We were a bit disappointed by the top end. People said the Kakadu NP is worth a visit. That's true but not for three nights.

Anyway, when you come back, email me to compare your trip.

Thanks,
Olivier
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Oct 25th, 2003, 01:00 AM
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Lisa,

I forgot to ask you what is your budget for your trip ? I want to compare if it's possible for us to do the trip.

Thanks,
Olivier
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Nov 9th, 2003, 01:05 PM
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Hi Lisa and Olivier
I booked part of our trip to Australia through a travel agent and the rest on our own. The "on our own" was better! We are now going to South Africa in May, 2004.
We want to do the booking ourselves again where possible. We are planning a similar itenerary to yours but for 3 weeks. Lisa, I was very interested in your statement about using a local agent to book Sabi Sands. Who did you use?
There are 4 of us so budget is an issue. Any savings will be greatly appreciated.
Have either of you thought about renting a car in Capetown or to go to Kruger? If yes which agency are you booking with?
Thanks
Alison
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Nov 10th, 2003, 11:10 AM
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Hello Alison & hello again Olivier,

I believe you can plan a trip to SA at almost any budget. We are staying in quite a range of places. Our least expensive accommodation is 2 nights at a Holiday Inn in Cape Town for 350 ZAR per night (we booked this ourselves through the main Holiday Inn website and got a special rate; their regular rates are around 890 ZAR I believe). We are also staying 4 other nights in Cape Town at the Twelve Apostles hotel which we got by bidding on Luxurylink.com, for $552 total including a superior sea facing room for 2 people for 4 nights, all taxes, daily breakfast for 2, one dinner for 2, a bottle of champagne, etc.

Our most expensive accommodation is at Chitwa Chitwa Safari Lodge which at this time of year is 1650 ZAR per person per night including all meals, game drives, etc., but we reserved it through Taga Safaris and got a slight discount for reserving 3 nights or more. Taga also booked our internal flights from Jo'burg to Hoedspruit and from Hoedspruit to Cape Town, which were around $150 USD each, per person -- you can see the prices of the flights on South African Airways' website. We could have booked the flights ourselves but the price was the same as booking through Taga. (By the way, the person at Taga we've dealt with is Mark; their website is www.tagasafaris.co.za, and they have safari videos to view at www.tagasafaris.com. We found Taga here on Fodors when they were recommended by someone else.)

In Kruger our accommodations are 460 ZAR per night for a river view bungalow for 2 people, ensuite, with A/C, kitchen, etc. We booked those directly through South African National Parks by phone -- their website is at www.parks-sa.co.za. We booked some guided game drives & game walks at the same time -- game drives are about 100 ZAR per person, and game walks are around 180 ZAR I believe. The accommodations and activities at Kruger get booked up far in advance (up to 13 months), especially the units with river views -- we reserved in January for this trip and didn't get our first choice of dates for the accommodations we wanted, so book early. You can see lots of photos & info at www.krugerpark.co.za.

You can book rental vehicles through Avis.com for pickup at Hoedspruit Airport, but we wanted a particular type of vehicle Avis didn't offer, so we ended up booking our vehicle through Taga as well. It was more expensive than booking through Avis, but we know for sure what type of vehicle we're supposed to be getting which is important to us this time because we wanted something that sits high enough to facilitate game viewing.

In Cape Town we've reserved a Toyota Corolla or similar through Avis.com, for $140 USD for 6 days (this includes taxes but not insurance).

Our flights from the U.S. to JNB and from CPT back to the U.S. are free except for the taxes, because we used frequent flier miles.

I hope this answers some of your questions. Have fun planning your trips! I will post a report when we get back.
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Nov 10th, 2003, 11:35 AM
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Great post, Lisa -- will look forward to your trip report. We're thinking about combining an independently-planned 5 nights in Capetown with a packaged safari trip in Botswana next May. Which Holiday Inn are you using in Cape Town -- I noticed that they were pretty well-priced via their own site (it's so much easier to think in dollars per room than Rand per person ) The car rental price sounds quite reasonable...I usually charge with Diners or Amex so I don't have to pay the extra insurance, either.
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Nov 10th, 2003, 12:34 PM
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The Holiday Inn we are staying at in Cape Town is the Holiday Inn Waterfront. We got it on Holiday-Inn.com. Someone here had recommended it, and we couldn't beat the price. I'll let you know how it is.
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Nov 10th, 2003, 11:55 PM
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Lisa
Which park(s) did you choose for the stay in Kruger?
So far I've made reservations in Addo and Umfolozi and really need to get moving on reservations in St Lucia area, Itala and Kruger parks.
Kavey
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Nov 11th, 2003, 06:50 AM
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After a great deal of research, the rest camps we chose in Kruger National Park are Olifants (which is in the central section of the park) and Lower Sabie (which is in the southern section) -- 3 nights in each. We chose them based on a combination of their locations near rivers (both offer accommodations with river views for game viewing), moderate size (not huge like Skukuza, but large enough to offer amenities like a restaurant and store -- and Lower Sabie has a pool and shows wildlife films in the evenings), activities such as game drives and game walks (and Olifants offers mountain biking), and availability of creature comforts like kitchens and air conditioning. You can see photos & details on Olifants here: http://www.krugerpark.co.za/olifants...mmodation.html, and on Lower Sabie here: http://www.krugerpark.co.za/lower-sabie-camp.html. The number we called for reservations is 011-27-12-428-9111. A very helpful book is the Globetrotter guide to Kruger National Park by Dr. L. E. O. Braack -- we got it on Amazon.com & you can see it here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books. Other resources we've used to plan are the Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, Fodors, Eyewitness, and Frommers. We found Frommers' descriptions of the Kruger rest camps particularly helpful -- you can read the one on Olifants here: http://www.frommers.com/destinations...n&search_type= and on Lower Sabie here: http://www.frommers.com/destinations...n&search_type=.
It seems like one great thing about Kruger is that there are so many accommodations options that there is something for everyone -- everything from camping all the way up to big luxurious guest houses.
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Nov 11th, 2003, 07:21 AM
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Hi

My wife and I have been to Cape Town on three occasions and we have also driven the Garden Route. Cape Town is a beautiful city and I'm sure you will have a great time there. I have posted trip reports and pictures from our trips to South Africa on my homepage. Maybe you can find s bit of useful information there. The address to the page is www.gardkarlsen.com

Regards
Gard
Stavanger, Norway
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Nov 11th, 2003, 08:28 AM
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Gard -- I enjoyed your trip reports and photos very much! Thanks for posting the link.
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Nov 12th, 2003, 07:06 AM
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Thanks Lisa
I was leaning towards Olifants also - so your post has helped tremendously. Of course, likelihood is we won't get it - we're looking at June next year - a busy time I think.
Lets give it a go.
Will email you re advice for other choice.
Thanks again
Kavey
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Nov 13th, 2003, 01:47 AM
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Lisa
Received email confirmation of availability at Olifants for my last 3 nights in South Africa (well, last three except the one by Jo'burg airport before the flight to Maun).
We have a chalet with ensuite bathroom, private kitchen and river view!!
Trying to get the price out of the slightly divvy girl I'm dealing with is not easy (I emailed same one who dealt with my Addo booking, which, in retrospect was not my best decision!).
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Nov 13th, 2003, 05:49 AM
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You should think about hiring Selwyn as your guide - he is very thorough and dedicated!
We spent five days with him in September
www.ilovecapetown.com
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Nov 13th, 2003, 09:20 AM
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What ever happened to "tignard"? who started this really valuable thread! Now that I have my dates for our safari pretty well confirmed (we haven't formally committed yet, but will this weekend) I think we'll split our time in Capetown to 3 nights before with 4 nights outside (the Winelands, etc) before we head back. Airfare in/out of Capetown is the same as JNB, so why not take advantage of that.
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Nov 15th, 2003, 09:23 PM
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One option to Kruger is Kalahari Transfrontier National Park. It is just as beautiful (but doesn't have hippos) is MUCH less touristy and an added bonus - doesn't have the serious malaria outbreaks that Kruger does.
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Nov 17th, 2003, 03:33 AM
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Lisa and Kavey, I hope you enjoy Olifants as much as we did (those river views are gorgeous and the chalet's are spacious and super comfy).
My only piece of advice is to make sure you wedge the fridge door closed (with a chair or similar) and weigh down the lid of the bin when you go to bed at night, as the kitchens are open sided and baboons regularly visit them for a midnight snack! They raided our fridge and the people in the chalet next door woke up to find food strewn all over their kitchen! It's all part of the fun, of course
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Nov 17th, 2003, 04:02 AM
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Thanks Hanl
Your descriptions of the camp in your trip report are one of the main reasons I chose it, together with some comments from people on the Thorntree forums.
As Lisa, I'd also been looking for a camp with a good choice of facilities and activities and I am opting for ensuite with private kitchen in each place.
I decided that this one would be the one where we splashed out on River View - at Addo I didn't bother paying extra for a view of the waterhole.

Can I ask a question - did you plan in advance where along your route you would shop for groceries to cook during the stays in the game park camps or did you buy most of what you needed at the small grocery stores in the rest camps themselves?
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Nov 17th, 2003, 11:00 PM
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Kavey, I'm looking forward to hearing *your* trip report when you return!
To answer your question, we didn't really plan our food-buying in advance, though if I could do the trip again, I probably would try to pick up a couple of things outside the park. We bought basics from the camp shops, such as bread, cheese, tuna, tomatoes and eggs, and ate mainly picnic meals, toast and omelettes, as well as trying out the camp restaurant on one occasion. We didn't try the braai option as I don't eat red meat and that's pretty much all that was available. On the whole, the selection of food at the camp shops was fairly small and the supply somewhat limited, so if you can pick up a few things on your way to Kruger, you'll not regret it!
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