Advice on trip for Safari and Cape Town

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Nov 13th, 2004, 07:28 PM
  #1
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Advice on trip for Safari and Cape Town

My husband and I are looking to go to SA for our 10th anniversary next October (2005). We definitely want to visit one/two of the game reserves in the north and are also interested in Cape Town. We will have about 10 nights or so in SA. After doing some research on the internet and reading several posts here, I think we are leaning towards doing Cape Town first and the game reserve second.

Our budget is not set yet, but for the game reserves we are looking for a luxury level lodge, but unfortunately can't do something like Singita cost-wise. I found that Londolozi at the Safari Lodge is about 1/2 of the price of the other Londolozi rooms - about 3500pppn (rand). Has anyone stayed there - most comments seem pretty positive? Or, any other suggestions? We are looking for something in this price range for the reserve part of the trip. How many nights do you think is good for the reserves? Should we go to more than one place?

For Cape Town - what are the top 3 places near/around CT to visit? We would like to go to one of the winelands (Franschoek). If we have 5-6 nights in CT - would a good plan be 2 nights in CT, 2 nights in winelands, and 1-2 nights elsewhere (please provide suggestions!). For accomodations - we generally prefer something on the more luxurious side, but a small hotel/resort with fewer rooms than a big hotel (less than 30-40 rooms). Cost wise in CT and surrounding areas, would like to keep it to under $300US per night.

Also - what is the best way to travel from CT to other surrounding destinations?

How far in advance should I begin making reservations, etc.

Thanks in advance for all the help.

- Lori
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Nov 13th, 2004, 10:16 PM
  #2
 
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Lori,

Live a little and look beyond South Africa for your game experience.

There is a wonderful luxury lodge in South Luangwa, Zambia, called Chichele Presidential Lodge, that would be perfect for a 4 night stay, and would not set you back more than about $425 per night. It is my personal favorite lodge, and the managing couple is the best I have yet come across.

Take a look at this link:

http://www.star-of-africa.com/circuit6.htm

With an early flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, you could likely be in Lusaka, Zambia by about 3PM, for your 1 hour light air transfer to Mfuwe. The flight to Lusaka will likely cost you about the same as a flight to Hoedspruit (Sabi Sand Game Reserve where Singita and Londolozi are located), and then the round trip flight to Mfuwe should be $300 pp.

Service is immaculate at Chichele and there is a lot more freedom to do things at your own pace, rather than on a strict schedule as will likely be the case at a South African lodge.

South Luangwa is an amazingly beautiful park full of elephants, giraffe, buffalo, lions and leopard. October is the very best game viewing time, as it is very hot, but with your game drives coming in the early morning, and late afternoon/early evening, the game drives should be tolerable and also yield amazing game viewing.

Chichele boasts beautiful rooms with amazing views and also has air conditioning (adjustable with a remote control as they are individual units in the rooms).

I think it would be perfect to spend 5 or 6 nights in Cape Town, followed by about 4 nights in South Luangwa. Everybody goes to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, but few are fortunate enough to discover the magical place that is South Luangwa. There are direct twice daily flights from Joburg to Lusaka on SAA.

With the South African Rand at 6.10 or so, I would imagine that even the second tier lodges in the Sabi Sand will likely be over $1,200 per night ($600 pppns). So, Chichele at $425 pp per night sharing, is a true bargain.

In case you are interested here are some photos, many of them taken at Chichele during my last visit in June, 2004:

http://www.ofoto.com/BrowsePhotos.js...1&sort_order=0

Personally, I think it would be a shame to pick a second-tier South African lodge over Chichele Presidential Lodge.

For whatever it is worth, I have struggled for hundreds of hours designing my September 2005 itinerary, and in the end, I decided to make Chichele Presidential Lodge part of the itinerary, hoping to duplicate or surpass the excellent experience I had there this year. Should you consider visiting Chichele, I strongly suggest that you request Nic as your guide, as he is the best guide I have yet come across. Nic and his wife Traci are the managing couple, and Nic leads every game drive and game walk as if he is on camera being filmed for a Jeff Corwin type show. He is really engaging yet really knows what he is doing also. If you look at my pictures you will see a lot of relatively close elephant photos I was able to get from my sole game walk with Nic, yet he always kept us out of danger's way. Awesome experience and great memories from my time at Chichele. I rank the experience every bit as high, or higher, than my time at Singita.
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Nov 13th, 2004, 10:38 PM
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Hello Lori,

About Cape Town ......

Two nights is way too short a time for Cape Town, IMO. I think the best distribution of time is 4 nights / 3 full days in Cape Town, 1 night in the winelands, and 1 night in Hermanus. (That said, the winelands and even Hermanus can be visited as day trips from Cape Town.)

Downtown Cape Town and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront can keep you occupied for a day without a car. After that, you need a car to do justice to Cape Town and its surroundings, or else you need to go on guided day tours. For example, one of the "must do" day trips is the one to Cape Point. It absolutely requires a rental car or a guided day tour.

The South African summer school holidays are in December - January, and that is when accommodation is most heavily booked. You shouldn't have to book Cape Town accommodation too far in advance of October. HOWEVER, if you want to get into the guest house or boutique hotel of your choice, I think it's best to be prudent and book a fair amount of time in advance. When I say "a fair amount of time," I mean something like 3 months ahead of the trip.

Hope that helps.
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Nov 14th, 2004, 05:16 AM
  #4
 
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Hi Lori,

Have to agree with Judy when she says that 2 days in Cape Town would be too little. 4 nights in Cape Town with 2 in the Winelands would be a great breakdown of your time. If you wanted to you could also do 3 nights in Cape Town with two in the Winelands and one in Hermanus (to see the whales)

I have said the following before on this page but let me repeat it. I ALWAYS recommend that my visitors stay in guesthouses and not hotels. I do this because owners of South African guesthouses are generally marvellous hosts. The ones that I use as a tour guide definitely are as such. Bear in mind that guesthouses represent excellent accommodation that is much more personalized at MUCH better rates than hotels. Guesthouses in Cape Town and on the Winelands are marvellous venues to stay in and their rate also includes a fantastic breakfast. At most guesthouses you enjoy this meal in the wonderful, friendly breakfast room. When you are in a guesthouse you have total freedom of movement. It is a wonderful free and easy style of holidaying. What also is most important is that because of the size of the guesthouse you will NOT be in amongst the hordes of tourists as you might only have a couple of other
guests at the guesthouse while you are there. Thus you get great accommodation, personalised attention as well as wonderful value in a very safe place to stay when you reside in guesthouses and that is why I
recommend them so highly.

In the price bracket that you are talking of I would look at the following venues in Cape Town:

Les Cascades
http://www.lescascades.co.za

Extremely well appointed guesthouse with wonderful views in a very quiet setting. Top class accommodation.
___________

Ocean View House
http://www.oceanview-house.com/

Well located and well appointed. Close to all and lovely views too.
___________________

Camps Bay Terrace
http://www.campsbayterrace.com/

Great place to stay with unbelievable views and fabulous position. Be aware that the main house is a self catering function however this only means that you will have a local breakfast in the very popular Camps Bay area which is 300 yards down the road and where there are many restaurants and coffee shops.
________________

Craigrownie Guesthouse
http://www.craigrowniehse.co.za/

My favourite choice! Wonderful venue. 50 yards from the seafront. Well
appointed. Friendly staff. Near the sea. Reasonably close to all. Away from
all the action yet close to it. A new facility at the guesthouse is a free
broadband internet connection.
_________________________

De Waterkant Lodge.

http://www.debergkant.co.za/De%20Wat...ape%20Town.htm

Great guesthouse excellently located near to the city.
____________________________

Romney Park.
http://www.romneypark.co.za/index_02.htm

Excellent venue at excellent prices. Well located. I know that this is a
mini boutique hotel which goes against the guesthouses format that I have suggested however this hotel has a totally "different to hotel" type atmosphere hence my recommendation. Overall this is a mini boutique hotel which is exquisitely laid out. My only problem with the venue is that they do not have a non smoking room policy and on one occasion have had visitors who had to fend with a smoke smelling room. I want to add that this is NOT the norm for this venue as on all other occasions of usage the rooms have smelt wonderful.


Village and Life - De Waterkant

http://www.villageandlife.com/dewate...ommodation.asp

Fantastic self catering cottages. Very quaint and well maintained. Right in
the middle of where it is all happening near the city centre as well the
Waterfront. Close to many great little coffee houses and restaurants where
you can have your morning breakfast seeing that these venues are self
catering places of stay.

If you want to stay close to the city and are prepared to self cater Village and Life definitely is the way to go.

Btw self catering means that your rooms can be services daily however you
will have to make your own breakfast hence the suggestion of the coffee shops.

______________

Commodore Hotel

http://www.legacyhotels.co.za/asp/ho....asp?hotelid=2

If you really are insistent on wanting to stay at a hotel I would suggest
the Commodore as it is very central and well priced in comparison to the
Table Bay which you mentioned in an earlier mail. The Commodore is spotless
and well appointed and certainly has a great location.
______________

When it comes to accommodation in the Winelands there is only one way to go and I think that the regulars Fodorites on this board are already becoming sick of me lauding Cathbert Country Inn. (I do not have shares in this venue for those who might think that I do)

http://www.cathbert.co.za/

or go to a website that I have written for my own visitors to Cape Town viz http://www.swifttours.co.za/cathbert/cathbert.htm

The above website says it all however all I can tell you is that I have recommended and accompanied many people. (more than 100) to Cathbert Country House and without fail everyone proclaims it to absolute bliss to stay at the establishment. I had visitors from North Carolina at Cathbert last week for two nights and they cursed that they could not spend more time at the wonderful country inn. HIGHLY recommended

I also have to agree with Judy that to travel around Cape Town you should use a self drive option, a scheduled tour option or otherwise hiring a private guide to show you around.

I have to agree with Judy and that is that if you will be spending 4 days in Cape Town there would be no need to hire a car or a guide on your first or maybe even first two days in the our city. Thereafter you will need transport or a tour guide to help you.

The journeys that you should be undertaking in your 6 days should be a Cape Peninsula Tour, one or two Cape Winelands tour/s and a trip to Hermanus to see the fabulous Southern Right whales.

Well Lori I hope the above all helps. Feel free to ask all that you want to on this forum as I think you will be quite surprised how much help you will obtain so as to eventually make your journey to South Africa and maybe Zambia, if Roccco has his way , a great experience.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
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Nov 16th, 2004, 02:28 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 22
Dear Lori

While I agree with Rocco South Luagwa is great, I definatly think with only 10 nights South Luangwa's connecting flights from JNB etc it may take addittional time out of a 10 night itinerary.

The beauty about South Afric is that everything links and is inter connected, now to get down to your trip, this is what i would suggest:

Fly Atlanta Cape Town, 3 nights cape Town (many guest houses) Lezard Bleu is delicious and there are many others, I would then go to Winelands to Akademie Street in Franschoek, and then 2 nights at Auberge Burgundy in Hermanus or Kagga Kamma for some Bushmen paintings.You can then fly directly from Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga or to Hoedpruit and the Timbavati, in both areas you can have wonderful game lodge experiances in both areas, the game is good.
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Nov 16th, 2004, 08:26 AM
  #6
 
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Posts: 9,182
Lori
With only 10 days I'd also skip the sugggestion to combine Zambia with SA. Whilst Rocco is no doubt right that the value in Zambia can't be beaten it seems to be that with only 10 days to play with time is at more of a premium than every last cent.
That said your time will still be somewhat tight given that you want to see Cape Town, the winelands and safari too.
I'd suggest a split of either 5/5 (CT/ Safari) or 6/4 (CT/ Safari).
Regarding the CT time you have the option for staying in one place for the whole duration and touring into the winelands or splitting the time to give you a couple of nights in the winelands. I'd personally choose the latter just to get a different experience.

Example itinerary

Day 1
Table Mountain, Robben Island
Overnight in CT

Day 2
A full day excursion down the Cape Peninsula including Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope - with a tour guide such as Selwyn or on your own in a rental car (as we did)
Overnight in CT

Day 3
Additional CT touring (there is so much to see) plus shopping
Overnight in CT

Day 4
If you can book a day with Selwyn you can spend half the day being introduced to the wine region and the rest of the day visiting Kayamundi township, a really enjoyable experience.
Overnight in Franschhoek or CT

Day 5
Rent a car and tour the winelands
Overnight in Franschhoek

Day 6
Depending on the time of year, head to the coast and experience some of the beautiful mountain-passes and scenery as well as whale watching from the shore or a boat
Overnight in Hermanus

Day 7
Return to Cape Town and stay a night somewhere different to previous - how about Constantia giving you the chance to tour the area and visit Kirstenbosch?
Overnight in CT area

Day 8
Return to CT and make the journey (via flight and possibly also road transfer) to your chosen safari destination
Overnight in safari lodge

Day 9
Overnight in safari lodge

Day 10
Overnight in safari lodge
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Nov 16th, 2004, 04:43 PM
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Kavey,

With all due respect, South Luangwa will require an additional 3 hours each way, and for the amount of money to be saved, and to experience Zambia, rather than the more insulated Sabi Sand Game Reserve, it is definitely worth it.

Other than Singita ($1,100 per person per night sharing), Royal Malewane ($800 per person per night sharing) and Londolozi Tree ($1,100 pppns), I don't see too many South African lodges that will measure up to Chichele Presidential Lodge ($425 per person per night sharing).

I would be hesitant to recommend too many South African lodges that are under $500 pppns in high season, because they will be nowhere near the quality of a Singita, Londolozi or Royal Malewane.

4 nights at Chichele Presidential Lodge will cost as follows:

$1,800 per person (lodging)
$400 per person (Joburg - Lusaka)
$300 per person (Lusaka - Mfuwe)
Free road transfers
Grand Total = $5,000.00

On the return, you are just talking about throw away time anyway, time spent likely waiting in the airport for an evening flight home, so I really only consider a trip to South Luangwa to require waking up a couple hours early on the date of arrival in South Luangwa.

The difference is really in arriving in the Sabi Sand by about 2PM or arriving in South Luangwa by 4PM (in time to freshen up before the evening game drive).

Meanwhile, take a second-tier lodge such as Vuyatela (www.djuma.co.za).

4 nights = $2,200 per person
Joburg - Hoesdspruit = $400 per person
Road transfers = $50 per person
Grand total = $5,300 per person

While the prices are similar, the final outcome will not be. I have stayed at each Chichele and at Vuyatela and I would never rate Vuyatela in the same league as Chichele, but rather rank Chichele closer to Singita (Chichele had superior service, superior guiding and superior activities but Singita had slightly better game viewing and slightly better rooms although the rooms at Chichele are fabulous and may offer better views).

I understand that 9 out of 10 times, people, especially first timers are going to stay in South Africa. However, South Luangwa is a beautiful park and the Zambian people are the warmest people I have ever come across, and I have found the guiding to be superior (many former Zimbabwe guides who are regarded as the absolute best).

Honestly, although my experience is limited, I think that too many Sabi Sand lodges (and likely Timbavati, Thornybush and Kruger lodges) still have too many young white guides that may have a college degree in this or that, but do not possess the same experience as the guides I have experienced at the four lodges I have stayed at in South Luangwa (I've only visited Singita and Vuyatela in the Sabi Sand, and each time I had about 25 year old white guides that were only a year or two removed from college and lacked the overall depth of my Zambian guides).

But, it is not a matter of race, but of experience. My favorite Zambian guide is actually a white guy from Zimbabwe, Nic at Chichele, but with over 15 years experience, and still holding his Zimbabwean professional guiding license (the most treasured guiding license in all of Africa, I am told). However, there are also very good black guides at Zambian lodges that grew up in the area, and I have not experienced South Africans being provided with the same opportunities as in Zambia.

Things may be changing, but it seems like there is not as much diversity at the top Sabi Sand lodges amongst the guides, as if some lodges are afraid to place a black guide with people that are paying $1,000 per night, but that is a different subject and one that the South African government is already handling.

Anyway, while the Sabi Sand will offer game viewing every bit as good as South Luangwa, I believe South Luangwa will leave a much greater and lasting impression due to its people and its amazing landscapes. For an extra couple hours each way, it is well worth it.
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Nov 17th, 2004, 01:56 AM
  #8
 
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Rocco
You posted your opinion, I posted mine. Is it really necessary to come back again about it? I'm sure Lori can make a decision based on what's important to her. For me an extra 3 hours each way is practically a whole day and I wouldn't want to lose that time if I only had 10 days. If I had 20 I'd do it in a heart beat. If Lori likes your suggestion to go to Zambia I'm sure she will. If she doesn't she won't. But since she asked for opinions I gave mine.
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Nov 19th, 2004, 10:16 AM
  #9
 
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Husband and I are considering a trip to Africa in Oct. 2005. We are thinking about Cape Town and stay at a game reserve (14 days total). I have gotten alot of good info off the site/post so far. We do have some concerns...We have heard off and on about alot of violence and security issues in South Africa. What should we be aware of?
Thanks.
K
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Nov 22nd, 2004, 08:20 AM
  #10
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wow - thanks to everyone for all of the great advice. It does sound like Zambia would be great. How safe is Zambia compared to South Africa - that is a big concern of ours.

After looking more into Zambia - we may be interested in doing one of the side trips to Vic Falls on the Zambia side and possibly doing river rafting on the Zambezi. Anyone done this & with whom?

Also-for trip planning - who can you recommend for this? It seems like Taga is recommended on this forum. Anyone else?

Thanks,
- Lori
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Nov 22nd, 2004, 11:13 AM
  #11
 
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Hi, I traveled to Zambia in August 2001 (also using Taga) and it was very safe, and it has remained so notwithstanding what's happening in its sourthern neighbor.

South Luangwa is a great park, and you really get the sense of being in the wilderness, because you are.

There are also great lodges on the Zambia side of Victoria Falls and you can do all the adventure stuff from there.

For help, you may want to email Mark at Taga and get some suggestions. I'm sure others can recommend other operators, but I did a lot of research at the time of my safari, and Taga had the most knowledge and best prices (plus, they are based in Johannesburg and really know the area). I have used Taga for two different safaris in 2000 and 2001, and Mark is extremely patient and knowledgeable. Have a great trip.

Michael
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