capetown mini safari

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Oct 29th, 2004, 04:35 PM
  #1
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capetown mini safari

Help! I want to go on an overnight safari out of Cape Town but don't want to waste my time. I have contacted Aquila Private Game Reserve. Any feedback from Fodorites? Any other suggestions. We will be there in September. Also, i heard the Holiday Inn Waterfront was the best loer-priced, safe central hotel. Any comments??
Thanks so much.
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Oct 29th, 2004, 10:10 PM
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A whole overnight??? Why not just an hour or two???

Sorry, but I don't see the point in going someplace that doesn't even have elephants. Plus, from the photos on the websites, what do the giraffes eat, bags full of leaves??? It sure doesn't look like there are many trees to be found in this very inauthentic looking "game reserve."

If I sound completely critical, well, that is my intention. It seems as if you are just trying to check off safari from your to do list without giving the magic of the bush and the wildlife the respect they deserve.

It would be possible to have a fly in safari to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve for three nights, if you really wanted to have a genuine safari experience.

Quite honestly, I believe that this may be the first time that I remember the Aquila Private Game Reserve being mentioned on this board, as it is probably something that few Fodorites would consider (and the same holds true with the Holiday Inn). It all sounds like a really bad budget tour to me.

(I am racking my brain trying to figure out Zimbabwe or Botswana, Botswana or Zambia, Kafue NP or South Luangwa NP, Mana Pools or Lower Zambezi NP, Sandibe or Kwara, Robin Pope Safaris or Kaingo & Puku Ridge, 10 night safari or 12 night safari, this many light air transfers involved, night game drives with guide & tracker or without guide & tracker, private mobile camping safari or trusted lodges...so, this subject does get under my skin about as much as a deer tick does, about the equivalent of a person patronizing a celebrated gourmet restaurant, asking to speak the chef, and ordering a Hot Dog).
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Oct 30th, 2004, 06:36 AM
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Rocco
You may not see the point but that's no reason to belittle someone else's ideas. I am sure many don't see the point of half of your ramblings but show you the respect of discussing your ideas without insulting them.

I agree with you that one night is a very short taste indeed of the safari experience (and shorter than I'd personally recommend too) but it may be that one night is all someone has time for/ can afford/ desires to do. And perhaps Phil will be motivated to return to Africa for a true safari experience in the future?

Phil
How many nights are you in South Africa and what is your itinerary? Will you be spending all your time in Cape Town or will you also be visiting other parts of the Cape area? Will you also be travelling elsewhere (Victoria Falls? Johannesburg?)

If you have more than a few days in total perhaps we will be able to offer ideas that allow you to choose the best safari experience you can within your limitations.

If you are touring the Garden Route a number of people have spoken highly of Botlierskop. I myself had an enjoyable experience at Addo Elephant National Park, which is further along the cape.

If you are passing through Vic Falls or Jo'burg you have lots of options open to you, especially if you can spare one more night.

One night won't allow much game viewing as you need to take into account travel time to and from the camp. Most camps offer one activity in the morning and one in the afternoon. If you time your transfers well you could at least do both of those, though of course that will eat into the preceding day and following night.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 06:47 AM
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Kavey,

I disagree with you on this one. It is not as if I am criticizing someone that is saying that their budget will only allow for camping in KNP and that they are really interested in seeing South Africa. Rather, it seems as if the original poster is just trying to check "safari" off the list and be on his way.

I just think that this forum should have certain standards. Just as I would get run out of the Lonely Planet forum if I went on enquiring about Singita (and spending $2,000 per night, while many of the individuals on that forum will make $2,000 last for an entire month), this forum should be protected by its core members, and that includes you and I, both. I do not think I need to point out that I very likely spend more time on this forum helping out newbies than anybody else, but, frankly, I am insulted by this thread, although I am sure that was not the intention of the original poster.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 06:56 AM
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You're reading an awful lot about the thoughts and motivations of a complete stranger into just a few short lines on an internet forum, Rocco.

Perhaps it's the phrase "waste of time" that got your back up? My understanding of that was that Phil realised that one night was very short and wanted to find a solution that would still give him a halfway decent mini-taste of safari without being a complete waste of time. Not that he didn't want to waste much of his time on something such as a safari.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 06:59 AM
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And the standards of this forum, as far as I am concerned, are simply to provide an arena for discussions related to travelling in Africa.

I don't recall any additional criteria such as luxury travellers only, no backpackers allowed, only travellers who have the same desires and motivations in travel as Rocco to be permitted to ask questions. Nor do I recall anywhere that the number of posts an individual makes elevates them to the post of content approver.

Phil is going to Africa. He has questions about aspects of his trip. He's come to the right place.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 12:34 PM
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I wasn't aware that this was an elitist site, Roccco. I have been helped a lot on various threads (and also given advice).
Kavey, thank you for adding the voice of reason.I will be on a 30 day cruise prior to landing in Cape Town. I have to be back in the US for a certain date, so only have 4 full days and three nights (plane leaves at night on day 4). I don't think it's unreasonable to want to get a taste of a safari. I asked about this particular reserve as I really want feedback if anyone has visited. I believe I got the name from Fodors, but could be wrong. The Cape Town tourist office referred me to Aquila also. My phrase 'waste of time' related to the fact that this is a 21/2 hour drive out of Cape Town and if it so far removed from a 'safari' experience that it is not recommended, then I would appreciate advice. We will have an overnight in Mombasa on the cruise and a day in Zanzibar, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Any advice, Kavey, would be most welcome.
This will be my first time in Africa (as it will be in India) and we plan to travel back there soon. We cruised from Buenos Aires to Santiago in February/March and loved Soth America so much that we leave for 3 weeks in Peru and the Galapagos this coming month.
Thanks again.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 01:06 PM
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Phil
With only a few days in Cape Town I personally would drop the safari idea for now. You have plenty to fill your time - Table Mountain, Robben Island, a walk around the town centre, a visit to the Cape via penguin colonies etc, an excursion into the winelands and perhaps a visit to a township with a company or guide who can really give you an accurate insight into life there and history too. Not to mention a little time to shop (if you're there on Sunday Greenpoint market is excellent). Where are you staying in Cape Town.

Port Elizabeth isn't a town with many obvious attractions so you could look into the possibility of spending your time there visiting Addo Elephant National Park. Though it's not far from PE it may prove to be a touch too far but it depends on just how long you have in PE. Does the cruise ship offer any excursions at PE?

Alternatively, how long are you in Durban? If it's more than a night or two you could get over to Imfolozi Park for a safari but if it's a short stop you won't have time.

Let us know more and I'm sure others can give better advice.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 02:38 PM
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I have to agree with Kavey, in that the four days would better be spent enjoying Capetown and the area. There is so much to do as Kavey mentioned above; more than enough to fill your days - and you'd be visiting at a lovely time weatherwise (coming out of winter going into spring) - take advantage of that.

Two hours out of Capetown isn't all that long, but I don't feel that one day on safari will give you any idea of what to really expect. From the Aquila site it appears more like a "day in the country - with wild animals"

I think that if you want to experience safari, whether in Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Victoria Falls) or East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda) any of which can be safari only or in combination with beach and cities - you should take your time and plan for this type of holiday.
 
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Oct 30th, 2004, 04:10 PM
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Thanks for the replies Kavey and Sandi. I had been feeling that I should not have asked my initial question at all after the first reply. Maybe I have the wrong idea about Fodors.com and it has been established to meet the needs of a specific group of people. We travel a large part of each year, but I felt very 'put down ' by the first reply and would hate anyone else venturing onto the site to feel that way. I stay everywhere from the Ritz to Mandarin Oriental to Best Western and don't need to justify my choices, and feel that anyone who loves to travel loves to share experiences with all groups of people no matter what their time frame or resources. I have learned a lot from both your responses.
If you are familiar with California then I was hesitant about the reserve I mentioned being akin to a hotel within the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I like to go there and we are members, but I don't want a "fake" (for want of a better word) safari experience. However, I hate small planes and therefore the thought of a mini experience so close was tempting.
I had already emailed the ILoveCapetown site, Kavey, when I saw you had used the same person on your trip. I like the thought of the township and the Peninsula tours.
Tentatively I am staying at the Holiday Inn (waterfront) much to the horror of Roccco. I read that this is the safest place (the Waterfront) but have had other suggestions.
We cruise a lot but hate ship's tours. My husband has been on a 3 week safari, (what stories he has to tell with the small group starting a civil war within their 2 vehicles etc!!!!), but I am traveling with my son this time so it will be different (although he is an adult).
We are only in Durban one day, but I am looking into your PE suggestion, Kavey.
Thanks for the helpful advice.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 04:26 PM
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If you can connect with Selwyn, I have no doubt you will get some great suggestions for your time in Cape Town. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the entire Cape area -- with penguins and an astonishingly beautiful winelands -- is quite remarkable and different from anything you've ever seen before.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 05:06 PM
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Kavey,

As you can see, it is not a matter of time, but a matter of choice. 30 days of insulation on a cruise ship and 3 days? for Africa.

In retrospect, I think Aquila will be the perfect fit for this individual, as will the "Waterfront" (and I use that term loosely as it is not really on The Waterfront) Holiday Inn.

Too bad that with even five weeks of travel that this person will never see Africa, save for a four hour mass group tour a couple times during the cruise.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 10:02 PM
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Kavey, Sandi, uhoh:
Would you suggest that I need a full day for the peninsula tour? Selwyn is out of town but will be back any day. Did you use him for one day Kavey for the township and ??. I enjoyed reading your report but have not had time to finish it. Uhoh..did you use Selwyn too? I got that referral initially from CruiseCritic..seems many people on that site have toured with him.
Thanks as always for all the feedback.
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Oct 31st, 2004, 03:30 AM
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Philbill - Not knowing where you were from, I couldn't provide an exact example of my thought re Aquila, but you did fine with:

>>I was hesitant about the reserve I mentioned being akin to a hotel within the San Diego Wild Animal Park<<

Enjoy Capetown and the surrounding area and I'm sure as soon as you connect with Selwyn he will have great recommendatins as to where to stay, what do do, with own car or with him or other tour provider. Though Selwyn is best for the township experience.

While we stayed at The Grace when in CPT, friends with us stayed at The Commodore which was quite lovely and only a block away from the V&A.

As to the Peninusula/Capt Point tour - it is a full day but you also stop to see the Penquins, can have a lovely lunch, and on the return from the Point a stop at Kirstenbosch Gardens is well worth it. And local things you can do on your own. I'm sure this will be a perfect ending to your holiday. Do let us know what you decide.
 
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Oct 31st, 2004, 07:18 AM
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Rocco-It seems to me you did not understand Philbill's question at all...
Let me translate it for you- it was not a request of permision,nor a question of'how long' it was simply 'what to do in ONE DAY'. Do you with all your experience can just help Philbill with that one?
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Oct 31st, 2004, 07:20 AM
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PhilBill,

Firstly I will reply to your email in personal capacity as soon as I have completed this posting.

Roccco I think that your opening remarks to PhilBill are rather unkind to say the least. What makes you think that your kind of tour or safari is the so called correct one? Furthermore what standards exactly do we uphold on this board other than transferring information to each other in the most honest way possible? I think the concept of elitism on this board would be a disgrace and I have never seen it being practised as yet so why start now? Not that I am in agreement with overnight safaris I must tell you that I can report that I know of many people who have done these type of journeys and they have enjoyed them a lot more than lets say a full three day safari. Its all a case of horses for courses and I do believe that we all need to respect this fact on this forum. Enough said.

Before I talk about Aquila may I please explain something to all on this forum with regard to safaris in the Western Cape. 250 years ago there were many animals roaming all of the Western Cape region. Not only were these animals to be found in large quantities they also made up many, many species. Then man arrived on the scene and he decided to do make money out of the territory by planting vines so as to grow grapes and make wine. In doing so he destroyed most of the renosterveld (rhino bush) so as to plant vineyards in its place. By doing this he took the staple food that the animals ate and lived on away from them and they migrated to the northern parts of South Africa where they increased the already strong animal population. In the process the Western Cape lost its animal kingdom because of mans greed. Now we move on to today?s times and suddenly to some farmers and developers tourism is becoming more viable than the wine industry in the Western Cape. This has resulted in quite a number of so called entrepreneurs wanting to jump onto the bandwagon and bring the animals back. Needles to say with this goes the concept of safaris for tourists. The problem is that you cant simply press a button and presto you have a safari farm. One needs to do intensive eco-studies as to see whether the region can cope with the various animals and much of the food that the animals have to graze on has to be pre-grown for this purpose. All in all it can, and should take the best part of ten years PLUS to establish a really true and good game farm. What is happening in the Western Cape is that most of the players in the region are trying to take shortcuts to riches and this results in nothing other than a glorified zoo ride when it comes to a safari. I would label Aquila as well as its nearby neighbour viz. Inverdoorn as such. It is for this reason that I would not promote these establishments as true blue game farms. As a matter of fact I would not promote any game farms within 400 km of Cape Town as a true blue safari experience.

30 Km from Cape Town there is a farm called Clara Anna Fontein. This farm does NOT profess to be a safari type venue. The owner, Justin Basson, has very patiently been building a game farm by planting the correct food for animals, ensuring that the eco-function on his farm is correct and slowly but surely importing animals to the farm. He is an eco-purist supremo. Presently he has over 20 specie on the farm and overall the growth pattern is very slow. It will probably take another ten years before Justin imports predators to the farm. He does NOT sell his farm off as a safari, he simply says that it is a place where visitors can see animals in the wild. In effect his product is as Sandi so aptly names it a "day in the country - with wild animals". Needless to say he does not charge extravagant prices and makes no bones about what his product truly is. Furthermore if one visits Justin?s farm one attains a strong knowledge of not only what animal behaviour and looks are about but also what animal eco needs are. Believe it or not there is a place for this kind of product as he does very well on his farm. In time to come his venue will eventually reach safari status and he will deserve every success that comes his way purely because he has put in the effort. I respect Justin highly for his attitude and know that his product will become a success in the long run. When it comes to the Aquila?s and Inverdoorn?s of this world my attitude is totally different. Needless to say Cape Town Tourism's official body does not agree with what I am saying as they are promoting Aquila as an example. Why are they doing this? Simple - They need something called a safari so as to sell the Western Cape product relative to the big game farms up north. I think that this is quite stupid as the Western Cape has so much else to offer other than a safari and it is my belief that the local tourism authorities have completely missed this mark.

When it comes to the Garden Route (500km from Cape Town) I do believe that Botlierskop, Schotia, the Addo Park as well as the very expensive Shamwari do have products that are somewhere between Clara Anna Fontein and the safari camps in the northern territories. Once again it is a case of horses for courses as I can quote you tons of visitors who are not interested in travelling on Land Rovers twice a day for three days to see animals as they would rather have a 3 hour package to do this function. The mere fact that Schotia is growing in popularity at a rate of knots is proof of this even though I must add that I feel that their ?Tooth and Claw? safari is a wonderful top class event that many of the safari camps up north cannot equate in value. Furthermore by the end of 2006 the Addo Park will be greater in size than the Kruger Park and I do believe will be much more popular purely because of its location.

So with all of the above said I would not recommend Aquila however I would suggest that Philbill and her son spends their one day in PE by going to Addo in the morning and hopefully Schotia for their evening tooth and claw safari. By doing this believe me she and her son will attain a lot more than many attain in the northern parts of South Africa when it comes to game viewing in one day. Needless to say PhilBill I will be recommending this to you in a private email.

PhilBill I will be writing to you in personal capacity soonest however let me at least mention on this page that I have to agree fully with Kavey, Uhoh-Busted and Sandi when they say that in 3 days you will have much to much to consider doing in Cape Town and still to have to think of an overnight safari too. Needless to say I will make all the relevant suggestions to you in my email however if you scan the pages of this Fodors web-forum you will find most already written up somewhere or other

When it comes to accommodation I would strongly recommend that you stay in a guesthouse as opposed to the Holiday Inn HOWEVER if you feel comfortable with the Holiday Inn rest assured that there is nothing wrong with the venue and I am sure that it will probably also suit your needs. It might not be in the Waterfront but it certainly is very central. More of this when we talk in private capacity.

Finally as far as this whole thread is concerned I think it is very important to recognise that all visitors have different expectations when it comes to travelling. There is no journey that can be labelled the correct journey, There is absolutely no factor such as standards in touring that have to be upheld as each individual traveller has his/her own standards to deal with. I believe that as contributors to this forum it is very important that we recognise this and simply tell others what we know of the areas that they intend visiting, make suggestions in this regard and hope that via our aid that we have passed on to them they will be ensured of having a wonderful journey through whatever terrain of Africa they travel.

Just my twopence worth.

I am back from Europe and still very proud to be part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Oct 31st, 2004, 06:54 PM
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Hello Philbill
I too am fairly new to the Fodors site. I feel very strongly that all desires, visions and needs should be discussed openly and freely. This group should not be reserved for the luxury traveller anymore than for the backpacker. We all share the same basic interests, a love of travel and Africa. If you are short on time, the advice you have received from Kavey and the others is perfect. Reserve your time in capetown for the sites and expriences of a world class city. Spend at least one day with Selwyn. My family and I did that with Kavey and Uhoh. It was a highlight! we learned so much about the area, the people and the history. We would never have learnt this on our own or through most tours.

I agree with Selwyn rearding the guest houses. Don't bother with the Holiday Inn. Go for one of the many beautiful guest houses. Selwyn can guide you as can many of the posters on this board.

Kavey is spot on with regards to Addo. We spent time there and loved it. It may not be able to compete with the "true safari experience" but it is a reasonable substitue AND it is close to PE.

Go and a have a wonderful time . You and your son are in for a thrill of a life time. Who knows,next trip you may decide to do the full safari. If not enjoy this one to the fullest.
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Nov 1st, 2004, 01:18 AM
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Adding back what I posted on the 31st, which has been deleted.

Phil, Selwyn will indeed be able to help you maximise the time you have in Cape Town and I'd recommend two days with him if possible - one to include both the winelands and a visit to a township where Selwyn is involved with a number of projects and has many friends that he will introduce you to - the other to be a drive around some of the towns and sights of Peninsula. You can do Robben Island, Table Mountain and sights within the city on your own.The waterfront is indeed a safe place to stay and is also convenient for getting around, however we found that the city very safe and you could certainly consider other locations if you wish. Depending on your preferences I'd recommend staying in a guest house in the Greenpoint area. This area is very close to the waterfront but is more residential and a little less "anywhere-anycountry". It's very nice to be able to interact with your hosts and most will be happy to spend time advising and helping with your plans. The thought of driving abroad terrifies many but you may find a car handy in Cape Town. If you prefer not to however, taxis are easy, not too expensive and can be called by hotel, restaurant etc or safely picked up at taxi ranks. Be aware that all don't charge the same flat rate and that it's worth asking for one at the lower rates.
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Nov 1st, 2004, 07:07 AM
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If you could spare two nights, you could visit Addo outside Port Elizabeth, and while I haven't been there, it does seem to provide a diversity of wildlife, includine members of the Big 5. The park has received accolades in a lot of travel magazines and there was a very favorable review in the New York Times travel section within the past couple of years.

renosterveld, I can't wait to work that word into conversation. Thanks, Selwyn.

Michael
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