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8 days 7 nights: Safari with Cape Town--Kruger vs Madekwe vs Shamwari

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May 12th, 2014, 11:48 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2010
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8 days 7 nights: Safari with Cape Town--Kruger vs Madekwe vs Shamwari

hi all!

we are a couple in mid 30s and we finally pursued our plans to visit South Africa for the first time. this is also our first time in the African continent. my husband will be celebrating his bday and this i think would be the best gift he would like to receive as he loves watching Nat Geo Wild. due to work, our best bet is to travel from Sept 28 to Oct 5. Our flight arrives Joburg at 7AM and Depart from Joburg at ____.

here are a couple of questions:

Option 1: Kruger then Cape Town--- drive to Kruger, drive back to Joburg, take flight to Cape Town, then back again to Joburg to fly out

1.) initially, we were set on going to Kruger. But with the limited time we have, we are not so keen on wasting time driving or flying (i hate small planes). but if Kruger is really the best then we will go through the 5 hour drive

2.) if we do pursue Kruger, the drive itself is monotonous. we would prefer if we can have someone bring us to Kruger. can you pls refer a company that can pick us up from the airport and drive us to Kruger?

3.) we plan to stay for 5 days 4 nights in Kruger. Possible hotel options that i am considering:
( we love value for money, we are not so much into super luxurious 5 star all the way. we like moderate luxury)

Sabi Sands:
a.) Elephant Plains
b.) Arathusa

Timbavati:
a.) Simbavati River Lodge

Pls provide feedback and insights if we should stay in 2 (two) different reserves for the 4 nights

Option 2: Madekwe instead of Kruger---same itinerary as number 1

The only reason we are considering Madekwe is because its Malaria free zone and it is closer to Joburg. but then the drive time doesn't vary that much. also, we heard you get a chance to see more in Madekwe because it is smaller compared to Kruger. pls comment

Option 3: Fly to Cape Town, drive the Garden Route, Stop at Port Elizabeth for Shamwari

This will be i think the most viable option since we can fly straight from Joburg upon our arrival. then we can stay in CT for 3 nights. then do the Garden route for 1 night while driving to Port Elizabeth for 3 nights before flying back from PE to Joburg to catch return flight.

Hotel Options:
a.) Shamwari --- quite expensive but if it is really worth it, i don't mind paying
b.) Amakhala woodbury tent--- we want to try tent-style accommodation
c.) Addo Elephant--stay in Gorah

Pls comment on this itinerary. thanks!
DianaDy is offline  
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May 13th, 2014, 01:42 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hi diana,

We did a version of option 3 few years ago but over a longer time frame. IMO you really need 3 whole days in Cape Town to make the most of being there, though 2 would do at a pinch, and you definitely need more than one night [ie 2 days on the move] for the garden route as there is a lot to see and take in in that time.

As for Shamwari it is expensive, but when we were there, there was an offer on which gave us 3 free nights at the Radisson in Cape town when we booked 2 at Shamwari. I think that 2 nights on safari is long enough for the first time, to be honest - it can get quite monotonous in the back of a jeep, and there is so much else to see in SA. If you get bitten by the safari bug, you can always come back.

with the time you've got, 3 nights in Cape town, 2 nights exploring the Garden Route and 2 nights at Shamwari would work, just about.

i can't comment on the other options as sadly. we've never been back to SA - too many other places to see!
annhig is offline  
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May 13th, 2014, 07:33 AM
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 197
I did a trip in October of 2012 in which we went to Sabi Sands using the commercial flights to Nelspruit and road transfers because, like you, I didn't want the small airplane flights. This was all arranged by our agent, Tanya Kotze of Africa Direct (the transfer was done by a firm she contracted with, but I don't recall their name). Tanya is highly recommended.
http://www.africadirect.co.za

We also had four nights on safari at Mashatu which is in southern Botswana. This had the similar advance of a commercial flight to Polokwane and a road transfer/border crossing. Tanya arranged this too, but the lodge can also arrange transfers. http://www.mashatu.com
Mashatu doesn't have the big 5 (no rhino or buffalo), so that may not be an option for you, but we enjoyed it and considered it a value (very nice but not quite luxury for not much more than half the cost of the Sabi Sand lodges). I had considered Madekwe, but chose Mashatu for the elephants (very large herds).

Agree with you need minimum of 3 nights in Cape Town (we had 4 plus our departure day), especially if you plan to go to Cape Point.
traveler318 is offline  
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May 13th, 2014, 11:23 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Madikwe is about 90 minutes less in each direction, driving, possibly even 2 hours, than the Sabi Sand. I'd opt for Madikwe and if you want to splurge, there is no better place than Mateya Safari Lodge. I've stayed there twice now and look forward to returning in the future one day (I have a toddler now and no children under 16, I believe). But, there are loads of nice places in Madikwe and you don't have to spend Mateya type money, but it is worth the splurge...I prefer it to even Singita which has been named #1 property in the world a few times by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
Roccco is offline  
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May 13th, 2014, 04:37 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
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Personally, I'd put off S Africa until I could go for two weeks, minimum. It is a really tough flight and S Africa is huge.

If you take a commercial flight to Hoedspruit or Nelspruit (airport depends on lodge) and get a road transfer from the lodge, no small planes. The drive is longer than five hours, anywhere from 5.5 to 8 hours, depending on the lodge, but not monotonous. You don't need an agent - the lodge can arrange a transfer. Commercial flights can be made yourself.

I really liked Arathusa. It was a very good value, and we had a lot of fun there. The private reserves around Kruger are great - I would go to the Addo area (and the other options given) next time or the time after that. If this is your only S Africa trip (doubtful!), you don't want to miss Kruger. We are going back to SA for our fourth time and will be going to the Kruger region for the fourth time. I would go to Cape Town first and do safari last, safari is the highlight!! There are direct flights CPT to Nelspruit and Hoedspruit. Saves time.

Enjoy your planning. It's fun.
christabir is offline  
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May 15th, 2014, 04:33 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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We've done all of these, a couple on multiple occasions, and bottom line is that you can't go wrong.

We don't know where you're coming from (western Europe? North America?)but with your limited time, I would probably avoid long road trips if jetlag is an issue. Driving from Joburg to the Sabi Sand area is quite a long journey, and if you leave Joburg in the morning there's no way you can make the evening game drive - which you're spending a lot of money for - the same day. With Madikwe it IS feasible if you get an early start.

We've been to Madikwe a couple of times and stayed at the Buffalo Ridge lodge - http://www.buffaloridgesafari.com/ which we enjoyed very much. The fact that it's community-owned is a plus in our books.

Either way, I'd probably put Cape Town at the beginning; you don't need a car the first day or two, and it's a fine place to hang out while your body clock unscrambles itself.
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