Durban or Port Elizabeth for one night

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Apr 7th, 2012, 11:22 PM
  #1
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Durban or Port Elizabeth for one night

Hello,

I will be South Africa end of May to mid June. After spending 7 nights in St Lucia and Hluhluwe Umfolozi, we will be driving to Durban on a Sunday (3.5 hours if all goes well) to get a flight to Port Elizabeth to continue our trip along the Garden Route and then on to Cape Town.

We are trying to decide if it would be better to spend the night in Durban or in/around Port Elizabeth. The choice of flights would be leave Durban Sunday at 17:40, getting in to Port Elizabeth at 19:00. or spend the night in Durban and leave Monday morning to Port Elizabeth at 8:00, getting in at 9:20 and heading out (probably to Addo Elephant Park directly.

Leaving Durban on Sunday would still give us a few hours to stop in Durban before going to the airport. I am interested in trying the famous Durban Bunny Chow and seeing a bit of the Indian District, but this would mean parking the car and leaving the luggage in the trunk and carrying around all my expensive camera equipment, not sure either one of those is a very good idea.

Alternatively, we could either just skip Durban all together and maybe stop somewhere along the way to the airport (any ideas where) and sleep in Port Elizabeth (close to the airport maybe as we will drive directly to our next stop, probably Addo) or spend the afternoon and night in Durban and leave for Port Elizabeth in the morning.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Kelly
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Apr 9th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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Have you looked into flying Richards Bay to PE? It's a lot closer than Durban. Possibly better flights? I have no idea. I haven't done it, but many have said the drive from Durban to PE is not so safe. I'm not a timid traveller, but I don't think I'd drive it. The southern part of Hluhluwe-ImFolozi had better wildlife viewing when we were there in June. Try to spend some time there. Have a great time. We really liked the area a lot.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 08:43 PM
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Thanks for your reply christabir. I have looked into Richards Bay. It is a small airport, mostly charter flights and there are no direct flights to PE. You must go back to JNB first and the best I have seen so far is 4h40 minutes but 291€ each (Durban PE is 132€). We were going to fly JNB to RB on the way in to the area, I have found a good flight but now the issue is that I have yet to find a rental car place open on Sunday at 2pm. Avis opens back at 5 pm, but after already flying all night it isnt so desirable to wait 3 hours for the car. We would probably have to spend the night in Richards Bay and head to St Lucia the next morning as it will likely be dark by then as well (dont want to drive in the dark). We would likely face the same issue on the Sunday we are trying to get to PE. So now we are probably going JNB to Durban drive to St Lucia as well.

I have not seen anything yet about the drive being dangerous but I will keep reading. Thanks also for the tip about the southern part of the park. We are staying at Mpila Tented Camp in the southern part so hopefully it will turn out to be a good choice.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 09:26 PM
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We loved Mpila Tented Camp when we stayed there two years ago. The tents are spacious and well-furnished, with large verandas for sitting and dining. The bathrooms are really neat, but we warned -- monkeys can get in and steal your toothpaste. (I speak from experience.) And we saw lots of wildlife -- rhinos everywhere, of course, but also two or three sightings of lion prides, and a lone leopard.

I can't really advise about Durbs vs PE for your overnight.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 09:49 PM
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Hi Celia,

Thanks for your response, I am so glad to hear you loved Mpila. It was a hard decision to go there or back to Kruger (we really had a great time there) but decided to try something new. I have heard about the hyenas stealing off the braai and the monkeys getting into the kitchen but the stealing toothpaste is new to me, lol. It's noted !

I know the electricity is limited to something like 8 am to 10 pm, but how does the kitchen work ? Is the fridge on some other generator ? I haven't seen anyone adressing this in the reviews so I am assuming it isn't an issue.

Thanks again !
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Apr 10th, 2012, 05:47 AM
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I think the fridge is gas-powered. Your kitchen tent will have locks for all the cabinets. Be sure to use them, and to put everything comestible away. We had a box of wine which we left sitting on the kitchen counter. (Yes, I know it's lowbrow, but it was for cooking. For drinking, we had plenty of bottles of the good stuff!) While we were out, monkeys smelled the wine and tore the box open, effecting a re-decoration of our kitchen tent! Luckily the kitchen area was all stainless steel, so cleanup was easy. We never saw the monkeys; I expect they all had hangovers the next day and were spending the day in bed.
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Apr 10th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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Kelly - we drove from Tembe Elephant Park (northernmost part of KZN) to JNB in June. There was an incredible amount of road construction, and it took almost twice as long as Google said it would. I can't imagine they are done - the roads can be very bad. Just be prepared for delays.

Mpila has a tiny store - don't expect to be able to buy anything but the basics. We made the mistake of not having plastic totes to store our food. A mini beast got into all of our food that wasn't in the cooler. Be prepared, as celia says. (she's a great resource! Take her advice!) We stayed at Hilltop, so we only spent one full day in ImFolozi - it was great. We watched 2 rhinos fight for a couple of hours (no blood). The roads within the park are not as well maintained as in Kruger - we needed a high chassis vehicle (not a 4x4) to get through a few times. Not sure if a sedan could do it. It might be worth the extra expense. We enjoyed it a lot.

Sorry about the bad RB advice. I should have looked into it before posting. My bad. The road from Durban to PE is rural. I got that advice from a Durban local to not drive it. I have seen it elsewhere, but I can't find it.

Where else are you going?
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Apr 10th, 2012, 09:26 PM
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Celia - cheeky monkeys ! the visual of some drunk monkeys trying to brush their teeth is too funny, thanks for the tips. How long did you stay at Mpila ? Glad to know there isn't a problem for the fridge.

christabir - thanks for all the suggestions. For the car we were considering something that is listed as Toyota Corolla or similiar. I am checking for a high-chassis model as you suggest but while I know what you mean, I am not sure what to look for on the rental sides to be sure it is one. On Hertz there is a class with a Kia Sportage or similar (says Berline, SUV, automatic). Do you think this would work ? It is about 2.5 times more expensive but if it is worth it or necessary it is still do-able. Not sure my partner would drive an automatic though.

Thanks for the food tips. We will make sure to stock up before we get in the park. I am hoping to find a smallish cooler too to use for picnics that we can leave behind.

For the moment our plan is like this :
Fly into JNB
St Lucia for 3 nights
Mpila : 4 nights
Durban or Port Elizabeth : 1 night (just to transfer)
Addo Elephant Park : 2 nights
Garden Route : 6 nights (currently looking at stays around Storms River, Knysna and Wilderness. Maybe all 3 maybe not)
Cape Town : 6 nights (including some time in Winelands but we may still stay in CT)

If there is something better than Addo for a couple more safari days that works into the itinerary for 2 nights I can still change that part, but so far I havent found anything. It would have to be of a self-catering option, around 100€ a night total or possibly 150€.

I know it isnt the best time to visit the garden route, but I am hoping with 6 days there we will at least have some nice days to do some activies.

We were in Cape Town last year for 6 days and did most of the touristy stuff so we will probably visit a bit more the areas around CT (winelands, Hermanus etc) though we may do so by staying in CT all 6 nights and just keep the car.

Thanks again to both of you for all the good ideas.
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Apr 10th, 2012, 10:25 PM
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We rented a 2x4 SUV at Avis - like the Sportage. It was a manual - tough for me driving on the left AND a stick (on the wrong side), but perfect to stay out of trouble. If you are in the US, I might have an international coupon you can use. If you do any of the beaches in KZN you may need the higher chassis, too. It's better for wildlife viewing anyway. We paid about US $1200 for three weeks.

There is an open air market just north of Hluhluwe on the west side of the highway. Well worth the visit. Fair prices, and I think most of the crafts were by locals - not the usual manufactured stuff.

The oceanettes at Storms River look spectacular. Definitely in my next trip. Can't beat the price for waterfront. I wouldn't do fewer than two at Addo. It's the second best park in SA.

Sounds like a very nice trip. I'd probably add more to KZN or GR and fewer in CT, since you've been there. I'm very jealous.

Our best luck for food and supplies was Pick n Pay. They had everything we needed. We also got a huge container of water at Oasis water. It was excellent water and the container was very appreciated by the young man we gave it to.
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Apr 10th, 2012, 10:32 PM
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Hi again Christabir,

I was just re-reading your post, and mine may have been confusing. We aren't considering the Durban to PE drive (I too have heard that it is somewhat dangerous, animals etc). For that leg we are for sure flying. We would also be flying from JNB to Durban (or RB if I can get it to work), then get the car for the drive Durban to St Lucia. Then driving back from St Lucia to Durban for the flight to PE.

Thanks again !
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Apr 11th, 2012, 10:18 AM
  #11
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Hi Christabir,

We are living in France so I am not sure we can use your coupon but thanks so much. It is good to know you had a manual SUV as my partner had the reaction I expected when I asked him if he wanted an automatic. I'll keep looking.

The Oceanettes are already on my short list of places to stay on the Garden Route, they do look really nice. I am also glad to hear Addo is a good choice, I keep second guessing that.

It is going to be a hard sell to get me to give up any days in Cape Town, tho my partner would be glad to. It is still in negotiations He goes to Cape Town often for work, but I have only been the once and just love it. Just my list of restaurants alone is more than 6 nights worth, lol.

Thanks again !
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