Advice on 12 night itinerary from capetown,please

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Jul 3rd, 2005, 02:26 AM
  #1
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Advice on 12 night itinerary from capetown,please

I'd be glad of some thoughts on the following itinerary (starting April 9th) that I've put together as a result of searching other very helpful postings :

Day 1 Arrive Capetown 10.20 am, 3 nights self catering at Village and Life.

Day 4 drive to Boggoms Bay, 2 nights at Sandpiper Cottage.

Day 6 drive to Knysna, overnight at Overmeergh.

Day 7 drive to Tsitsikamma, 2 nights self catering at Storms River.

Day 9 Drive to Addo, 2 nights staying in rondavel in park.

Day 11 Drive to Oudtshoorn via Swartberg Pass, overnight ???

Day 12 drive to Franshoek via route 62, overnight Cathbert.

Day 13 spend day in Winelands area before returning to Capetown for 17.30 flight.


Would it be feasible to go directly to Storms River from Boggams Bay, missing out the overnight in Knysna ? we could then bring things forward a day and put in an extra night after Addo. We could then return via Knysna staying 2 nights and drive through the Swartberg pass the other way, or stay just one night in Knysna and one night elsewhere.

I haven't booked anything other than the flights yet, but have based accommodation on suggestions made by other posters. Oudtshoorn is the bit I'm most unsure of. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Gaynor
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Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:14 AM
  #2
 
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Hi Gaynor: We just returned from two months wandering in South Africa. We had a rental car for 45 days, put on almost 5,000 miles. I take it you are picking up a rental car in Cape Town. Let me pick up on a couple of your ideas
Tsitsikamma - I would make that one night there; and put the other night to Oudtshoorn. Unless you are more into hiking than animals. True, Oudtshoorn is more commercialized, but then one can pat a cheetah, and get close and personal with an ostrich.
Addo - did you know that with a night's accommodation, you can go into Addo early morning, and take a drive before checking into the rondavel. Also on the day you leave you can spend all day there. So, if you are short of time, you could have one night there - giving you two full days in the park, and that would be enough to do all the loops, the best more than once. We stayed in the tents - very comfortable and overlooking an area where ostriches, warthogs and elephants roamed.
Addo to Oudtshoorn via Swartberg Pass - you would have to go to Prince Albert to go that way - a little out of your way. Swartberg Pass is "not suitable" for a rental car, though we did it in our Toyota Corolla. By the time we realized how bad the road was, there was nowhere to turn around. It is a truly spectacular drive, especially from Die Top (the top of the pass) down towards Prince Alfred - in fact THE most spectacular of our journey. Starting in Oudtshoorn early in the morning, you can drive the Pass and return to Oudtshoorn by lunch time, giving you time for Cango Cheetahs and an Ostrick farm.
I am not sure where Boggams Bay is - we left Cape Town at noon, drove leisurely to the Cape of Good Hope, and north to Simon's Town by the same night. Good roads. Boulders Beach (penguins) is worth a look see.
Bear in mind that the main roads are nothing like the interstates in the U.S. They are for the most just two lane roads, with robots (traffic lights) in the towns. So do not expect to cover the same distances you would here.
Franschoek to the airport is a quick drive, but remember you need to be at the airport two hours ahead. BTW - from South Africa to the U.S. I took a walking stick (from Victoria Falls) on the plane and others were taking the tall wood giraffes in the cabin - but when we got to Atlanta, I had to check the walking stick for the next flight!!
If you cannot get exit rows from Atlanta or wherever to Cape Town, then when you get to CT, go to the reservations desk and request return exit rows. What a difference they made to the nineteen hour flight.
When in Cape Town take the first opportunity to go up Table Mountain - the clouds settle in very quickly.
Happy to send you the relevant parts of my journal if you are interested. It is 90 pages, too long to put in the message board.
Now I can understand why all the posters rave about South Africa - it is not just the wild life, but the scenery that is so spectacular, and the people so friendly.
Are you into self-catering (accommodation with kitchen), or bed and breakfast. We self catered the whole trip (except for one night), and our lodging averaged $48 a night for the two of us. In Knysna, for instance we stayed in an apartment overlooking the Estuary with living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, for $50.

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Jul 3rd, 2005, 10:54 AM
  #3
 
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Hi Gaynor,

Here are my thoughts re your itinerary.

Firstly I would turn the whole itinerary around if I were you by starting in Addo and ending in Cape Town. I.e the itinerary would read:

Fly into Port Elizabeth (not Cape Town)

Day 1 Rest in PE
Day 2-3 Addo
Day 4-5 Tsitsikamma
Day 6 Knysna
Day 7-8 Oudtshoorn
Leave out Boggoms Baai
Day 9-10 Franschhoek
Day 11-13 Cape Town

My reason for suggesting this turnaround in route is that I feel that one should always do the Garden Route ahead of Cape Town as the journey is a crescendo of events where Cape Town is the climax. If you travel making Cape Town your first port of call then the Garden Route falls slightly flat. I am not being arrogant when I say this and please trust me on this issue. I know that most tour books will tell you differently but what these writers write about is what they hear and see; what I tell you is what I have experienced over and over and if you want me too I will send you tons of names of people to contact who will tell you that what I am suggesting to you is correct in that they have experienced this already after originally wanting to go the Cape Town - PE way. Thus I am suggesting that wherever you land in SA on arrival from your origin you travel straight on to Port Elizabeth be it by car or plane. I think that if you are arriving in CT at 10h20 you are probably on a direct flight to Cape Town and believe me I would even go as far as saying that if you land in Cape Town then spend the extra and fly on to PE immediately, book into a local PE guesthouse and sleep till the following morning whereafter you can go to Addo to start your journey. This means that you will only have 2.5 days in Cape Town however with you having already experienced the winelands this should be fine.

With this all said I do want to mention that I am assuming that you will be on a long flight from your point of origin and this is going to mean that you will be very tired on arrival inclusive of being quite jetlagged. With that being the case I might suggest that wherever your first place of stay will be you take it VERY EASY on your first day as you will gain from the rest time that you put in at the beginning of your journey for the rest of your journey.


If you do not take the above advice and stick to your original plan then you can make the drive to Boggoms Baai from Cape Town in one day quite easily.

If you take my advice then you can use the day drive from Tsitsikamma to Knysna to explore the a Plettenberg Bay as well as village of Knysna on Day 6. On Day 7 while travelling to Oudtshoorn you can first explore the Wilderness region and then travel on to Oudtshoorn. DO NOT try and do the Swartberg pass on the same day as the day that you travel from Knysna. It will be a very long and hard drive. You obviously do not realise that the Swartberg pass is on the other side of Oudtshoorn when travelling from Knysna i.e you need to travel through Oudtshoorn and then about 40 Km before you even reach the base of the pass. With that said you should take a leisurely day 7 to get to Oudtshoorn and on Day 8 you should do a full day trip crossing the Swartberg Pass and incorporating Prince Albert as well as Meiringspoort (DO NOT leave this out of your journey) into your round trip back to Oudtshoorn.

Btw you can cross the Swartberg Pass in any form of vehicle. You will have absolutely no problem doing this. The road is a gravel road and takes a couple of minutes to get used to in that it is virtually a single lane dust road over the pass where you need to wait at self made lay-byes for oncoming cars, however please bear in mind that the pass is driven by many people in all kinds of vehicles on a daily basis without any problems.

I have travelled the above route on many occasions with visitors to SA and I can tell you that it does work. Hope that this advice helps you to gain the same enjoyment that they have attained in doing so.

If you need any further advice feel free to write to this board and I can assure you that I will do my best to help you as I am sure many others would too.

Enjoy our country when you visit us.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Jul 4th, 2005, 08:49 PM
  #4
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Thanks for the advice - it is good to get information from people that know the area. Please could you clarify somethings though ?

The advice on driving the Swartberg Pass seems to conflict a little - if the road is "not suitable for rental cars" as twoaussies state, will the rental car insurance be invalid if we travel this route ? Also, both replies to my post seem to indicate a round trip to/from Oudtshoorn - is it not possible/desirable to make it a one way journey (N1 to Oudtshoorn or the reverse) having travelled the N2 route one way already ? (We are not particuarly interested in the Ostrich farm or petting the animals - that part of the itinerary would just be to travel the Pass - I don't know whether this would make any difference to your advice).

Selwyn, I knew from researching many of your posts here that you are passionate that the the journey should start in Port Elizabeth and end in Capetown and we did look long and hard at this. The price, timings and connections led us to book CPT return. We are happy to drive our itinerary in reverse as you suggest and, as we are coming from the UK, jetlag will not be a problem as there is no significant time difference. We don't have much of a journey to the airport at this end and usually manage to sleep enough on an overnight flight to make driving a fair distance once we get to Capetown an option, though I guess getting to Oudtshoorn might be too ambitious - what would you suggest ? I will look at taking a one way flight from CPT to PLZ and one way car hire back, but this will put our costs up considerably.

I'm also interested to know why you think we should leave our your hidden secret of the Sandpiper cottages (it looked like an experience we would enjoy) and we had thought of visiting the Botlierskop Reserve while there. I suppose something has to go though !

This will be our third visit to SA (though our first to this area)and we really love your country, Selwyn. I hope you don't mind answering these questions for me.

Many thanks,

Gaynor

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Jul 4th, 2005, 10:45 PM
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Hi Gaynor,

The advice on driving the Swartberg Pass seems to conflict a little - if the road is "not suitable for rental cars" as twoaussies state, will the rental car insurance be invalid if we travel this route ?

I donít know where twoaussies obtained their information from but I can assure you that it is incorrect. I can fully understand that twoaussies probably felt daunted when they saw the mountain for the first time and then made this statement however I have crossed the Swartberg over 100 times and base my following answer on this past experience. No rental car companies exclude the Swartberg Mountain in any way and any size of car will be able cross the mountain road. In simple words there is absolutely nothing to be perturbed about crossing the Swartberg Mountains when it comes to the type of car you will be driving and your insurance using car hire should not be affected at all.

Also, both replies to my post seem to indicate a round trip to/from Oudtshoorn - is it not possible/desirable to make it a one way journey (N1 to Oudtshoorn or the reverse) having travelled the N2 route one way already ? (We are not particularly interested in the Ostrich farm or petting the animals - that part of the itinerary would just be to travel the Pass - I don't know whether this would make any difference to your advice).

I am not sure if I fully understand your question in that I donít really know in your itinerary where you will be coming from on the N1 to Oudtshoorn however do not underestimate the time that it takes to cross the Swartberg mountain. Once can cross the Swartberg in 1 hour or 3 hours. It is my opinion that the 3 hour crossing is preferable if you really ant to enjoy what the mountain offers. Then you need time to spend in Prince Albert and I believe you should put at Least one hour if not 2 aside for this. Finally you need to make your way back to Oudtshoorn via Meiringspoort and once again this can be done in 1.5 hours or possibly 2.5. I opt for the 2.5 purely for the magnificence of the terrain. Thus the Swartberg Ė Oudtshoorn trip can be done in 3.5 hours or 7 hours however if you really want to do the event qualitatively the 7 hour journey is the way to go in my opinion.With that said you need a full day to do the event.

I'm also interested to know why you think we should leave our your hidden secret of the Sandpiper cottages (it looked like an experience we would enjoy) and we had thought of visiting the Botlierskop Reserve while there. I suppose something has to go though !

You have answered this one yourself viz you only have a certain amount of touring days available and want to do so much during these days. Your original plan I slightly unpractical and as you have said something has to go. It is a pity that it has to be Sandpiper but thatís the way the cookie crumbles. #39;(

This will be our third visit to SA (though our first to this area)and we really love your country, Selwyn. I hope you don't mind answering these questions for me.

Absolutely no problem at all. If you will leave my country happy with the realization that you have seen one of the most beautiful places in the world then that will be what will make me happy, especially if I have helped you to do this so keep firing the questions if you are unsure about anything.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa



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Jul 5th, 2005, 04:29 AM
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Selwyn said: "I donít know where twoaussies obtained their information from but I can assure you that it is incorrect."
My comments were related from personal experience on April 29 of this year. We were driving a rental car - Toyota Corolla. The mountains certainly were not daunting, it was the condition of the 'road' from the foot of the pass to Die Top. The road was very rough, rocky, and the Toyota struggled in some parts in first gear. Had this been my own vehicle, I would have had serious concerns. Perhaps Selwyn drives a 4x4 or a larger vehicle.
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Jul 5th, 2005, 04:34 AM
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Strange I always advise people to start in Cape Town and drive along the Garden route to the Eastern Cape the highlight of the trip.

Darlington Lake Lodge at the North of the Addo Park is a great inexpensive place to stay, elephants were reintroduced from Kruger Park in the last couple of weeks and are currently close to the lake.
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Jul 5th, 2005, 09:52 AM
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As long as driving a rental car through the Pass is not a problem with the insurance my husband will want to give driving it a go. Everyone seems to agree that the scenery is exceptional - maybe the weather just makes it less driveable at some times.

I wondered about driving one way through the pass to the N1 because I thought that that might be a faster option and enable us to do more on our itinerary. I obviously need to buy a better map than the one I've got!

Where is best to stay in Oudtshoorn ? We enjoy self catering, but tend to stay occasional nights in hotels too.

Thanks,

Gaynor
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