Driving route and times - SA

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Jul 14th, 2004, 08:42 AM
  #1
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Driving route and times - SA

We're in the early stages of planning a 2005 round-the-world trip and plan to visit South Africa sometime around mid-September. We'll be flying (from London) into Cape Town, out from Johannesburg (to Sydney). A couple of questions:

The route for the moment (subject to change based on all your excellent advice) is to get a car and drive from Cape Town up the Indian Ocean coast - through the Garden Route, and up to Durban, probably detouring inland to the Drakensberg mountains for a time, then by some route not determined inland for a two or three nights at a game lodge, currently looking at Mala Mala thanks to Roccco's (and others') great posts.. Then (directly? some other route?) to JNB to drop the car and fly out.

My timing is pretty flexible at this point, so I'd appreciate any insights on how long to budget for the coastal drive. We like road trips and are not put off by the distances or logistics; I just don't know how many nights to allocate, for example, for the coast between Port Elizabeth and Durban, or whether to continue north and through Swaziland, in which case how long/where for the coast north of Durban, vs. turning in at Durban for the run up to the Kruger NP area. Obviously we'd like to include as much diversity of landscapes and towns/people as we reasonably can into the visit.

Sorry for open-ended questions. I know everyone's style is different, but thanks for any insights or for pointers on where to look for more planning tools.

We are totally stoked about the prospect, and reading your posts only makes it worse. Thanks in advance.
Gardyloo is offline  
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Jul 14th, 2004, 11:28 AM
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Hello!
I just wanted to point out a really helpful map/website that I found as I try to plan out our Garden Route roadtrip.
It really helps to know the mileage between all of these places.
http://www.go2africa.com/top_destina...rden_route.asp
Right underneath this map is a little mileage chart.

I'm sure you will get a ton of excellent responses.
jen79 is offline  
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Jul 15th, 2004, 01:13 AM
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Gardyloo
I can tell you the itinerary we just followed on self drive and how we found it for timings, number of nights etc. if that would help?
However we hopped on a flight from PE to Durban and rented a second car when we landed, so slightly different.
Kavey is offline  
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Jul 15th, 2004, 06:13 AM
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It would definitely help, Kavey - thanks.

Nothing is set in stone at this time.
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Jul 15th, 2004, 06:46 AM
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6 nts Cape Town
Stayed in Greenpoint which we loved as a location. Space for the car, easy to drive around. Glad we had 6 nights, I'd recommend an absolute minumum of 4 ? we like to take it easy and include time to chill so 6 worked for us. The time here included a full day down to Cape Point and back as well as the normal CT sights such as Table Mountain, Robben Island, the city centre, Kirstenbosch plus a tour of the winelands and a visit to a township with Selwyn.
12-May 3 nts Franschhoek, winelands
So glad we stayed in Franschhoek. It's all about personal taste but we went through Stellenbosch a few times and while it's pretty and has numerous historical buildings we didn't like the atmosphere as much. On Saturday night it seemed overrun with drunken students. Franschhoek has some incredible restaurants and is a great base for the winelands area. We went to Hermanus from here too.
15-May 1 nt Swellendam
An overnight stop to break up the drive though we probably could have done one looong day of driving right through to Oudtshoorn. Not much to see (to my mind) but the drive itself is beautiful and our accommodation was lovely. Not sure you need a stop here.
16-May 2 nt Oudtshoorn
Whilst we really enjoyed visiting the Cango Caves and the Wildlife Ranch we didn't love the town at all ? we stayed a few km outside of it. Evening meal at Jemima's was a highlight. There are some stunning mountain pass roads near here that are worth seeing.
2 nts Knysna
The landscape around here is just beautiful and we enjoyed a boat trip out to the Heads as well as driving around the area. I'd opt for a guest house out of the centre rather than in it since the centre seems to have become a backpacker destination whereas the suburbs retain the elegant ambiance Knysna is known for.
2 nts Addo
Stayed in an ensuite chalet with it's own kitchenette within the park itself and really enjoyed the park more than I feared we might. Saw a big herd of eles plus lots of other animals.
1 nt Ballito
Stopped with KimWhits (a Fodorite poster) for a night. Really enjoyable though didn't see much of Ballito itself. This was more about resting and chilling with a friend.

2 nts Imfolozi
Really enjoyed self driving in this park and liked the self-catering safari tent accommodation ? very comfortable and a bit different to the normal chalets/ rondavels we stayed in elsewhere. Encountered only a few other vehicles when out driving (June) and thought the park beautiful. Spent one full day in Imfolozi and the second full day in Hluhluwe.

1 nt Hluhluwe
Hilltop prices are too high so after a full day driving in the park (which is just beautiful and quite different from it's neighbour) we exited to stay overnight in the Zululand Safari Lodge, located in Ubizane, a private reserve 10 minutes max from the park gates. The accommodation at Ubizane was absolutely wonderful (for the price) and very spacious and we made full use of the deep bathtub and copious hot water. Instead of self catering we enjoyed a good buffet dinner in the Tree Lodge restaurant a few minutes drive into the reserve. Would definitely recommend driving around both Imfolozi and Hluhluwe.

3 nts St Lucia
Stayed in a guesthouse in the town itself. Took it easy here but did take a wonderful boat trip on the estuary (fantastic hippo and croc sightings) plus a drive into Cape Vidal. 2 nights here would be plenty. We wanted a town for a couple of nights but you could choose another KZN rest camp within one of the wildlife areas instead.

2 nts Ndumu
Our posh nights in SA ? we opted for Wilderness Safaris' Ndumo Wilderness Camp and happened to be the only guests there. They were busy the night before us and after we left. Great for birding and absolutely breathtaking scenery around the waterpans. A really tedious drive to get there and some of the roads are B A D but we felt it was worth it.

3 nts Ithala
Initially booked to stay in Thalu Bush Camp but the website doesn't tell you that the bathroom is in a separate building down a path outside and the toilet in another one even further. Just too much for me to deal with in the night so we switched bookings to stay in a self catering chalet in the main camp, Ntshondwe. The chalet is one of the best ones with a huge kitchen and lounge and regular bedroom and bathroom. We loved lighting a fire in the living room fireplace. The rest camp is large and yet each chalet feels private. Ithala was my favourite reserve ? it's just so very beautiful. Low density of animals but we did see some (particularly plains ones such as wilde, warthog, antelope/deer, zebra, giraffe) and we saw white rhino a few times, close up. I enjoyed every minute here and didn't want to leave.

1 nt Berg-en-Dal, Kruger
This stop was to break up the long drive between Ithala and Olifants (and to avoid the potentially dangerous area around Hazyview) and we arrived here after a very long and tiring drive, via Swaziland. Didn't personally care for the design of the chalets but they are spacious (though with a tiny kitchen). Weird driving on tarred roads.

3 nts Olifants, Kruger
A lovely location overlooking the river, so glad we opted for an ensuite riverview bungalow with it's own little kitchenette. Enjoyed driving the park, saw lots of eles, hippos, great birding and lots of other animals. A nice experience but prefered Ithala and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi myself.

1 nt Jo'burg
Overnight before flight to Botswana.
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Jul 15th, 2004, 06:48 AM
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Missed out 1 nt in Storms River Village (not within the Storms River restcamp within Tsitsikamma but outside it in the village). We changed our reservation from 3 nts at Knysna to spend the last night here as it was more convenient for our Tree Tops Canopy tour - which was SO MUCH FUN!
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Aug 12th, 2004, 05:02 AM
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I see from an earlier posting that Kavey "hopped on a flight from Port Elizabeth to Durban". That was a good idea as the road i.e. the N2, from East London to the southern end of Kwazulu-Natal (via Umtata) is very poor.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 08:39 AM
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Another safari option is Kwandwe. It is north of Port Eliz. My wife stayed there for 4 nights and had an awesome time. It's definitely smaller (like 40000 acres) but can only accomodate like 30 guests at a time, so you never see another person on safari.

Definitely 1st rate and extremely flexible.
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