Cape Town + Safari and what else?

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Feb 12th, 2015, 05:21 PM
  #1
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Cape Town + Safari and what else?

My husband, 18 year old son and I will be visiting our daughter at University of Cape Town in May and are looking for guidance for a two week visit to the area. We will likely spend 4+ days in Cape Town and surrounding area including Garden Route, etc., 3-4 days on safari and are looking for guidance for the balance of the trip. Since we'll be with our son for part of the time without our daughter, we'd like to be sure there are adventure related activities that appeal to him. We are all scuba certified, but it seems odd to travel that far and spend time scuba diving.
Also, we're looking for guidance on where to go on safari. Is Krueger the best place for animal viewing in the "area" - recognizing that means flying into Johannesburg rather than Cape Town. And if so, there there seem to be innumerable options , how does one choose? Thanks in advance for your help!
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Feb 12th, 2015, 06:18 PM
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Top ten diving in the world around Sodwana Bay. You will see creatures you've never seen anywhere else. Isn't that the point of diving? Sounds similar to why we safari.

3-4 days is good for Cape Town, but you could spend the same or more on the Garden Route. Not enough for both. Cape Town - Robben Island, Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope and penguins are all things I wouldn't miss. We enjoyed the Hop-On Hop-Off bus so we could get off where we felt like to explore. Somewhere around there they do sand surfing which might be fun for son.

The private reserves around Kruger are considered the best in SA to see wildlife. It is spectacular, but there are other places to go. Addo Elephant Park and the nearby private reserves are highly recommended just west of Port Elizabeth. There are some adrenaline activities on the Garden Route.

How to choose a lodge near Kruger? Start with budget. On the higher end I would recommend Mala Mala, Kirkmans and the two really ridiculously luxurious Singita and Londolozi. At the lower end there is Arathusa (my personal choice because of the waterhole in camp) and Elephant Plains. I think Nottens and Cheetah Plains would fit in the lower end, too. Granted, none are inexpensive!! But some are just more affordable than others.

If you want to do Sodwana Bay, you could safari near there, too. There is Phinda at the high end and Zululand Rhino Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park in the affordable range. ZRR is my current favorite place - we did a rhino conservation outing (dart, take DNA, "rhino LoJack") there that was my best day ever - one of them, anyway. Doing that with young people would be even better. You can arrange cultural activities too. We stayed at Rhino River Lodge and really loved the staff and rangers. Lots of lion and cheetah babies last year. Very unusual to have both do so well.

Hope I didn't make it harder for you. So much to do/see in the Rainbow Nation. Careful - you will be making plans to return before you land at your home airport. I'm jealous of your daughter having that opportunity. Have fun planning!
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Feb 12th, 2015, 07:23 PM
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I am so delighted to learn that your daughter decided to go to Cape Town. I remember when you asked about safety in CT, and whether she should go. How is she enjoying UCT?

Regarding the above - while you are based in CT, your son (and daughter) might enjoy surfing lessons. Have a look here: http://www.garysurf.co.za/
When we lived in CT, we took all of our young Canadian visitors to Gary's.
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Feb 13th, 2015, 12:01 AM
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There is so much to do and see in Cape Town that you could spend a week there easily. I'm not sure what is odd about spending time scuba diving, I went scuba diving last week in Simons Town to see sharks and swim with seals. It was a great experience. It's completely different to scuba in the Caribbean, for instance.

If you are short of time and want to do a safari, there are reserves not far from Joburg which you can easily go to yourself in a rental car as a day trip or overnight. Joburg often gets missed out but there are some things to see there for a couple of days.
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Feb 13th, 2015, 05:14 AM
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I had only 10 days, and spent 4 nights in Cape Town, 2 in the winelands, and 3 at Elephant Plains in Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Doing my trip over, I would have moved one more night into Cape Town and one additional night on safari. I loved my safari experience: very good value, excellent guides and trackers, nice food. Even though I went in January, and it rained quite a bit most days, all of the Big 5 was sighted along with an array of other animals (hyenas, jackals, zebras, a variety of antelopes).

With three or four more nights to add in, the Garden Route might be a nice add in.

You'll have a fantastic time, South Africa is a beautiful and fascinating country!
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Feb 14th, 2015, 08:24 AM
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DW and I were in SA for a month a few years ago when son was teaching Un. of Witz in Jo'burg. We did enjoy Kruger Pk. staying at a small lodge Abangane (www.abangane.co.za) (www.krugersafari.com). And while north traveled over to Blyde River Canyon where our son did some hiking. Also the old mining village Pilgrim's Rest.

Another suggestion north of Jo'burg is the museum at Maropeng featuring early human remains and also there is Sterkfontein Cave in the area (www.maropeng.co.za) (www.cradleofhumankind.co.za) And another interesting possiblity: a festival at Shangaan Village, dancing around a fire, eating in a hut. etc. (www.shangana.co.za)

I mention the above in case you spend time in Jo'burg where there is the excellent Aparteid Museum and visiting Soweto including the Mandella house. I could add things to see and do in Cape Town and over to the east where we did various things. One being a whale watch at in the Bitou community east of Plettenberg where we stayed for a week. Others have already chimed in about the Cape area. Glad to say more if interested.
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Feb 20th, 2015, 01:06 PM
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Thanks to all for your suggestions. We are still processing are options, but your input has been enormously helpful!
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Feb 20th, 2015, 01:10 PM
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Christabir - Any other recommendations for accommodations in
sodwana bay?
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Feb 20th, 2015, 01:21 PM
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Christabir or others who have done diving in South Africa - Any details to share regarding location, wheter you stayed, etc.?
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Feb 20th, 2015, 04:21 PM
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Sorry, can't help with accomodations much. Thonga and Rocktail Bay are the all-inclusives in the area, both very highly regarded with good diving, but the real dive centers around Sodwana I don't know anything about. We've stayed in St Lucia and they have day trips to dive, but I am unfamiliar with the dive lodges in other parts of iSimangaliso. Here's a website with many dive lodges:

http://isimangaliso.com/tourism-info.../scuba-diving/

I hope someone else has good info for you. I'm a big fan of the area. I hope you get to spend some time there.
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Feb 23rd, 2015, 09:54 AM
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Still sorting out our plans, but hoping for some reactions.

The current plan for what is now a two+ week is to go directly to Tanda Tula when we arrive for 4 nights (I know better to get over jet lag, etc., before proceeding to safari, but our daughter has limited availabilitly and this is the only time she can meet us and we want to do safari together).

We originally were considering a second safari, but this will be our son's 2nd safari and he'd prefer a different experience. So, we're considering possibly going to Victoria Falls. I recognize it's quite a distance to travel and with all the "activities" there my husband says it sounds a bit Disneylike. So, wondering from those who have been there whether they'd recommend it.

From there, we'd possibly head to Johannesburg. Along with visiting our daughter in Cape Town, I'd like this trip to combine wildlife, scenery and sence of hisory. So wondering whether a tour to Soweto would be worthwhile. Reactions?


Lastly, we plan to spend a week +- in Cape Town. PLenty to do there and leaning against Garden Route since it looks like a lot of driving and I'm sure not sure how appealing it will be to our son. We've traveled to Costa Rica in the past and done zip-line, etc. venture activities so not sure this is that different.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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Feb 23rd, 2015, 11:14 PM
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I'm struggling to understand why there are constant comparisons to Costa Rica. South Africa is nothing like Costa Rica. Scuba diving in Costa Rica is not like scuba diving in South Africa, different sea, different animals/fish/different water temps (esp in Cape Town) etc. You don't have to drive the entire Garden route, but there are reasons why people do and why the route is so famous. It's a bit like saying you will not see the vineyards in Stellenbosch because you have seen the vineyards in Napa Valley.

Only you will know if a trip to Soweto will be worthwhile, in the same way that a trip to Robben Island is worthwhile. The posters on this thread have given many great suggestions already. Victoria Falls is not "disneylike" but I am sure the thought of getting a visa for Zambia will put you off.
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Feb 24th, 2015, 02:26 AM
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Cape Town & Garden Route: All the beautiful places to visit in Cape Town and spending time with your daughter will keep you busy for at least 4 days. Then you’ll need at least 5 days exploring the Garden Route, which has so many activities and scenic places that you really don’t want to rush it.

Safari: it’s a very long way from Cape Town to Kruger and the famous private game reserves in that part of the country. If you are not absolutely set on that and haven’t really got time anyway, why not go to a game reserve in the Eastern Cape. There are many (and they are malaria free) and places like Shamwari are good enough for celebrities like Tiger Woods and wildlife TV documentaries. You aren’t guaranteed daily sightings of lion or leopard like you’ll get in Sabi Sand, Kruger, but you will have a fantastic taste of safari and it’s the logical end to a Garden Route tour with a 1-hour flight from Port Elizabeth back to Cape Town. Do a bit of Googling on Eastern Cape safari lodges to see which ones attract you.

Fair Trade Safaris, a Not-for-Profit African Safari & Luxury Travel Operator, alleviating poverty through leisure travel.
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Feb 27th, 2015, 04:15 AM
  #14
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Again, thanks so much for the input. When there is so much on the wish list, it is always difficult to really compare opportunities and pare the possibilities down..it is always helpful to get the perspective of those you have the good fortune to either live in the area or have traveled there.
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Feb 27th, 2015, 06:27 AM
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We went to SA a few years ago and took the opportunity to go to game park. Because we didn't want to travel all the way across to Jo'burg from CT, we eventually plumped for Shamwari with a short flight from CT to PE.

We were picked up at the airport by a car from Shamwari and spent 3 nights there in Long Lee Manor. The accommodation was top notch as was the food and the staff were very helpful. They offer two standard game drives each day, one at 6am and one at 6pm. This was in October and times might vary according to daylight.

Just a heads up on clothing. The vehicle we were in was an open Toyota Landcruiser and once it picks up speed, it gets very cold. You need gloves and hats, layers underneath your coat and good walking shoes.
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Feb 28th, 2015, 04:08 AM
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Roadrunner4,

If history is of interest, you can get some of that out of a visit to Victoria Falls. You can stay on either the Zimbabwe side or the Zambia side. Activities offered are similar. Btw, they have recently lifted the yellow fever vaccine requirement for Zambia. I recommend you take a look at Shearwater Adventure, a highly reputable provider of activities in the area. Great to deal with and they are accommodating. Our clients have always been pleased with them. Besides adventure activities, there's cruising on the Zambezi (sunset and game viewing), day trips to Chobe (Botswana), fishing for keen anglers and the Flight of the Angel (helicopter ride over the falls - really breathtaking).

Sounds like a great family trip and certainly visiting your daughter is such a sweet bonus. I would start to look at the logistics of moving from one area to another and whether the flights/transfers start to squeeze time out of your trip. There are advantages to seeing a lot. Some people like to move around and see as much as they can if they have traveled so far. Others start to get weary at another plane trip and transfer. Trust how you like to travel and see if it works. No matter what, it will be a great trip.

Happy to help in any way.

Best
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
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