Family holiday to South Africa

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Apr 13th, 2005, 12:43 AM
  #1
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Family holiday to South Africa

We are a family of five (children 9,7 and 5), planning to travel to South Africa at the end of October 2005 for 10-14 days. I've found this forum very useful so far, and would like to ask for advice. We want to spend some time in Cape Town and also in Hermanus to hopefully do some whale watching. Then to either Knysna/Plett or around. After that, either to Addo (Elephant House); or back to CT and then to Jaci's (Madikwe) for 2 nights and possibly Sun City for a couple of nights at the end.

Questions:
- What weather can we expect? We want to be able to go up Table Mountain, what is the likelihood of having poor weather over 3 days? Also for the Garden Route, should we be looking at accomm with a pool, or will the weather not be good enough for that? Re safair options, I understand that we may be hitting the rains - what effect will this have? I am assuming that it would be warm enough in Sun City to enjoy the pools etc.

- On the safari options: bearing in mind the age of our kids, would going to Madikwe be worthwhile for the extra costs involved? Can anyone tell me how the Elephant House/Schotia 'Tooth and Claw' game drives would compare for the children? We are more interested in the kids' point of view; we have been to Kenya/Tanzania but this is the kids' first safari.
- Can anyone recommend mid range accommodation in Knysna or Plett suitable for us (interconnecting rooms, family room/suite to sleep 5) or self catering near the centre of either Knysna or Plett so that we can walk to restaurants in the evening.

Any other advice/comments welcome! Thanks.


mandyj is offline  
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Apr 13th, 2005, 09:58 AM
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Hi Mandyi
We just returned from So Africa and I will eventually post a trip report but for now I wanted to rave to you about our experience staying 2 nights at Schotia. It was raining and quite cool the beginning of March but it was wonderful. We also eventually stayed in Mala Mala and I thought the value of Schotia was fabulous....great animals, great lodgings, food,etc. Our ranger Gary was amazing...learned more from him than the MM ranger! Due to the rains, we saw ONE elephant in Addo, but that was just a fluke...too much water allows them to stay hidden in the back country; they don't have to come to the water holes. We spent a week on the Garden Route and loved every minute of it. The kids would love Monkeyland outside of Plett; we also saw lots of monkeys and baboons in the wild. But, I don't know the temps that you would expect in Ocotber.
Both Plett and Knysna have enough accommodation options to make your head spin...the choices are endless.
Good luck and happy travels!
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Apr 13th, 2005, 10:33 AM
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Thanks azmngal. We were planning to do the Schotia 'Tooth and Claw' trip from Elephant House, but I'll look into staying at Schotia too now.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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Mandyyi,

I concur fully with Azmngal about Schotia. It is a wonderful journey and your kids will love it through and through. Note that Amznggal stayed on Schotia in their rondavel houses (Wonderful). I would suggest that you look into this too. If you stay at Schotia a ranger from Schotia will also take you to Addo and they will show you all that you should see. In the latter part of October you should not have a rain problem and I reckon it will be wonderful on Addo.

In terms of weather in latter October you have a 70/30 chance of good weather. The problem is that our weather patterns in Cape Town have been rather erratic over the past few years thus making it difficult to predict. My feelings are that if you have three days in Cape Town on at least one of those days you should be able to ascend Table Mountain.

In terms of Garden Route accommodation I would not rate the need for a pool essential in your accommodation plans in latter October.

As far as Elephant House is concerned I must mention that this is a fabulous place to stay however if you are looking for a different adventurous experience for your childern I would opt for the Schotia total package.

When it comes to Knysna I would still strongly suggest the tried and trusted Overmeer Guesthouse. Amongt others they have a family suite you could hire at a very reasonable price. Another attraction is that the owners (Luwig and Riette Fechter) have two sons who are the same ages as your children and on many occasions when staying at Overmeer I have seen the Fechter children having great fun with visiting children. Note that you will need a car to travel to restaurants if you stay at Overmeer. With that said even though there are many places to stay in Knysna to my knowledge there are no great places in Knysna central where one could reside which are within walking distance to restaurants etc. To see more about Overmeer please go to http://www.knysna.com/overmeer/.

If you write to me I will be quite happy to approach Ludwig and Riette to give you a special rate at their guesthouse that is if you opt to stay there. I will also be quite happy to do this for you at Schotia where I know that I could obtain a substantial discount for you.

If you need any further help please dont hesitate to ask questions by posting your queries on this web board

Hope all of the above makes your stay in our great country a better one.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
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Apr 13th, 2005, 01:07 PM
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Thanks very much for the information Selwyn.

I've had a quick look at Schotia, and it's the sort of thing I would love to do if it were just my husband and I, but I'm not sure whether the rondavels would work for us as a family. As far as I can see, one of the boys would have to sleep in their own rondavel and the other two share a double bed in the other. Unless extra beds can be added? I'd be a bit worried about them wandering about in the night too! I had looked at the guest houses in Addo which sleep six. But the Addo guided safaris will only take children over 6, whereas the Elephant House was happy to take our 5 year old.

I had read your recommendation of Overmeergh before but we are finding that a lot of 'family rooms' will only take 2 adults and 2 kids maximum. If Overmeergh can accommodate us all then that could work well. I need to think things through and may take up your offer and email you. I have noted your comments about needing to drive to restaurants in Knysna, would the same be true for Plett, or would we be more likely to find good central accommodation?

Thanks again for the advice.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 03:10 PM
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mandyj,

To my knowledge there is one rondavel at Schotia which can house a family of five. (there are in total only 3 rondavels on Schotia) Furthermore your children will NOT be able to wander around at night other than in the rondavel. Circumsatnces dont allow anything else to occur. I am just about 100% sure that Schotia will take children of all ages into their accommodation packages.

The family room at Overmeer can house 5 people.

The situation as far as accommodation and walking to restaurants in Plettenberg Bay is truly problematic due the the fact that restauarnts in Plett are firstly not that good and secondly pretty much widespread. Furthermore there is very little accommodation in the centre of Plett. Most of the accommodation is on the outer edges or certainly away from the town centre.

Comment: In my opinion it is MUCH BETTER to stay in Knysna than Plett especially for your children as there are more activities in Knysna for the younger set.

Hope this helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Apr 13th, 2005, 09:46 PM
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Thanks again, I'll certainly think about Schotia and Overmeergh.

Our thoughts for Cape Town and Hermanus were Cape Heritage Hotel or Der Waterkant in CT and 45 Marine Drive apartments. Do you know either of these?
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Apr 14th, 2005, 12:16 AM
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Mandyj,

De Waterkant guetshouse is closing down next month. Just in case you are refering to the Village and Life self catering units in De Waterkant and not the guesthouse then I would recommend these apartments highly.

Cape Heritage is excellently positioned, well priced and offers spacious well appointed rooms. Its downfall is that due to its location inbetween some noisy restaurants some of the rooms are rather noisy. The hotel has done whatever it can to soundproof the area but alas it does not always work especially on a Friday and Saturday night. Make no eror management of the hotel try very hard to please and service is excellent so if you can get past the potential noise problem I would recommend the venue highly.

45 Marine Drive is unknown to me however its location is excellent and from the pictures on their website it looks like a lovely place to stay. Furthermore it is ideally located for whalewatching.

Hope this all helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Apr 14th, 2005, 01:44 PM
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Thanks again Selwyn. It was the self catering units we were thinking of at de Waterkant.
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Apr 14th, 2005, 03:08 PM
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mandyj,

"We want to be able to go up Table Mountain, what is the likelihood of having poor weather over 3 days?"

I'm not sure whether you plan to hike up or get the cable car, but be warned that the cable car closes fairly regularly due to high winds. There is a number you can call (sorry, I don't have it now) which will tell you whether it is operating. If we had used it we could have saved ourselves some time - we thought the weather was far too nice for it to be closed but high winds were forecast. My advice is to do Table Mountain as early in your visit to Cape Town as the weather permits to avoid missing out and call in advance.

"Can anyone recommend mid range accommodation in Knysna or Plett"

On Selwyn's recommendation, we stayed at Overmeer in Knysna and would recommend it if they can accommodate your family. After visiting Plettenberg Bay one afternoon, we were glad we followed the advice on this forum to stay in Knysna - many more restaurants to choose from and a livelier atmosphere.
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Apr 14th, 2005, 05:11 PM
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Mandyj,

BermudaJo has highlighted a VERY IMPORTANT point that all should know when they visit Cape Town and that is the telephone number that one can dial to find out about cable way status on Table Mountain.

The number is 424 8181. This is an answering machine service giving you all the info that you will require to know about the operational status of the cableway.

I am sure this will help you and many others when you visit our wonderful city

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
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Apr 18th, 2005, 06:05 AM
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Hi Mandyj

If you are looking for a good game destination in the Eatern Cape there is a wonderful reserve called Amakhala Which is fantastic with kids and will give you an awesome experiance. The end of October is already pretty hot in South Africa so you should have good weather on your travels. As far as Cape Town accommodation is concerned there is so much to choose from and with kids perhaps you should look at something like Constantia Uitsig where they have huge lawns and vineyards to entertain them. I definatly think Madikwe and Sun City is an awesome combination for kids as it keeps them really busy, I would stay at Jacis in Madikwe as they are fantatic with kiddies!
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Apr 19th, 2005, 07:27 AM
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Thanks. We have looked at Amakhala (Woodbury) and have also had Kariega recommended. Do you know anything about Kariega? How do the three compare for children, and for game viewing generally? We are finding it hard to decide!
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Apr 20th, 2005, 12:54 AM
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Hi there

I prefer Amakhala for families, the staff there are really geared for families, Kariega is okay but the game is not that great and I have not heard good things on the food etc adn it is huge so the personal touch has slipped away a little. I found Amakhala a lot more personal and warm and fantastic with kids!!
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Apr 20th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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Thank you, Debbi1970, this is very helpful. When you are talking about Amakhala, are you referring to all the lodges, or any particular one?
We have heard both good and bad reports for most of the Eastern Cape game reserves, but nothing negative so far about Jaci's. So we are maybe leaning that way even though it is more expensive and harder to get to.
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Apr 21st, 2005, 01:16 PM
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Mandyj,

Why are you giving up on the Addo/Schotia experience? It outstrips all that has been discussed in the form of Amakhala and Kariega especially when it comes to price and quality of experience. I have already pointed out that Schotia WOULD be suitable for your children and that you as a family would be able to share one rondavel together.
Believe me you will have an amazing experience if you stay at Schotia and enjoy the Addo and Schotia experience while doing so.

I am slightly baffled as to why you have given up on this option??

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:57 AM
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We haven't! We are now hoping to do both. We've added another 4 days to our stay. However, we haven't yet had approval to take our kids out of school for the 4 days that we need to...so still waiting to finalise everything.
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