Feedback on 2-Week South Africa Itinerary?


Nov 30th, 2017, 10:53 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2017
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Feedback on 2-Week South Africa Itinerary?

Hi everyone! My husband and I (late 20's) and possibly my mom (early 60's) are planning a trip to South Africa, from California, for 2 weeks in late May-early June. We would like to go to Johannesburg, Durban, a safari in George, and Cape Town. My mom is worried that we should go with a guided/planned tour since none of us have been there, but my husband and I would rather explore on our own and not be tied to a specific schedule.

I've done a lot of research and planning over the last 2 years for this trip, and I came up with this itinerary:

May 17 - Fly overnight Virgin Atlantic to London
May 18 - land in London; 4 hour layover, direct flight to Johannesburg
May 19-May 21 - Stay in Johannesburg at the Hilton Sandton hotel
May 21 - Fly to Durban
May 21-May 24 - Stay in Durban at the Durban Hilton hotel
May 24 - Fly to George for safari
May 24-May 27 - Stay at the Garden Game Lodg
May 27 - Fly to Cape Town;
May 27-June 2 - Stay in Cape Town at the Marriott Protea North Wharf
June 2 - Fly to Johannesburg
June 2-June 3 - Stay in Johannesburg at the Marriott Protea Hotel Fire & Ice Johannesburg Melrose Arch
June 3-June 4 - Fly to London (4 hour layover) and SFO
June 4 - Arrive at SFO

I know it's a lot of movement. I am thinking about taking Durban off the itinerary to give more time in Cape Town or on safari. We are interested in foods, wine tasting, and seeing cultural/historical landmarks.

Any advice on this itinerary? I would appreciate any feedback!
missminimama85 is offline  
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Nov 30th, 2017, 01:50 PM
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I would take your days in Durban and add it to your safari days. I'm not familiar with safari options near George, but I am able to say that my time at Sabi Sand was spectacular. If you enjoy food and wines, consider spending a couple of nights in the Cape Winelands; I really liked Franschhoek.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 02:06 PM
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I can't comment on the Garden Route Game Reserve, but I can compare my experiences at private lodges in Sabi Sands and Timbavati (by Kruger), Pilanesberg, and Hluhlue-iMfolozi. The game viewing experiences in Sabi Sands and Timbavati were amazing while the other two were nice. I see the reserve uses open vehicles, which to me is part of the amazing experience.
While others here can stay on safari for weeks, my husband and I were happy with 3-4 nights.

If you go to Durban, I can recommend a local guide who can show you the sights and foods there or take you to what was the highlight of my last trip - the San rock art in the Drakensberg--Shanil at Kimburi Tours.

Are you spending any time in Joburg June 2-3 or just overnighting between flights? If you don't have much time, I've stayed at the City Lodge hotel in the airport parking garage and it works great for flying in, having dinner, and flying out--not as nice as the Marriott, I'm sure, but reliable.

For your day in Joburg at the beginning of the trip, I really enjoyed the Apartheid Museum. Tour to Soweto and the museum there is also interesting. You can hire a car/guide for the day or else arrange a driver through your hotel.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 06:56 PM
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Thank you both! I was thinking about cutting Durban and adding more time to Cape Town or to the safari. After more research, I don't know if there are enough sites in Durban that I'm interested in to justify the few days. I was thinking about doing a few days in winelands so I will look into that!

@Kay2: June 2-3 will just be an overnight between flights. Thanks for the hotel recommendation though! We're getting a free night at the Marriott with our credit card, but I will keep that in mind. And we're hoping to go to the Apartheid Museum for the first few days in Joburg. I'm looking forward to it!
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Nov 30th, 2017, 06:59 PM
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Absolutely do your safari in the Greater Kruger area, so much better.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 10:28 PM
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I wouldn’t stay in Durban but the area north of the city in KwaZulu Natal is my very favorite part of S Africa. I love the public and private game reserves, the beaches (though it’ll be pretty chilly then but they’re still beautiful, the water is warm and the whales should be around!) and the fun in St Lucia and Oribi Gorge. Plus the San Art in Giants Castle, the Drakensberg Mtns... I do love it. But Durban City isn’t great.

I’d do safari in Kruger or KwaZulu Natal. Or both. Since you’re just going to George for safari, I’d leave it out. The winelands are pretty but a day trip was plenty for me. S African wines are proudly served everywhere, try many! Don’t miss the penguins or Robben Island while in CT.

I’d start in Cape Town (no overnight required in Johannesburg, recover in Cape Town!) for 3-6 nights, fly direct to the Kruger airport nearest your chosen lodge and stay for as many nights as you can. Decide if you want KZN or Johannesburg for a few nights. You can fly direct to/from Nelspruit airport near Kruger to/from Durban, direct flights between DUR, CPT, JNB.... I like to end on safari - it’s the highlight so save it for last.

Share an approximate budget and we can help with safari lodges. They are available in every budget. Availability might be starting to get difficult for May so let us know. Staying fewer than 3 nights per lodge feels rushed.

I understand staying in places for “free” but it’s not always the best value if the location doesn’t make sense. Like Sandton at the front end and in Durban.

In Johannesburg, the HopOn HopOff bus with Soweto is an excellent overview of the city. You can spend many hours in the Apartheid Museum. I do a night in JNB before my flight home - I prefer to be in my departure city the day before my flights home. The HoHo bus is a great way to spend that last day or 2.

No matter what you decide, you’ll love it.
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Dec 1st, 2017, 12:05 PM
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Thanks @ christabir! We've decided to cut out Durban and do a safari lodge in Port Elizabeth. I understand that Kruger Park is the best for game viewing, but their website indicates that they have had a recent increase in malaria cases. My husband and I have the worst luck with getting sick on holiday, so I would rather not chance it. We want to do 3 nights at a safari because I'm not really an outdoor person, and my mom doesn't really want to do a safari at all. 3 nights seems like a good compromise.

The budget for the safari lodge is up to $1500 (USD) for 2 people.
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Dec 1st, 2017, 05:52 PM
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May is very low malaria risk and that info for Kruger is pretty old. There was a small increase this past summer (our winter) but that was due to rain after a prolonged drought. Malaria is not a virus like the flu and isn’t airborne.

Then do safari in KwaZulu Natal (near Durban - very low risk malaria). The reserves on the Eastern Cape are quite small and highly “managed” due to the small size. If you insist on the Eastern Cape, then I’d do a self drive in Addo or one of their private concessions.

In KwaZulu Natal, check out Leopard Mountain and Rhino River Lodge. Both are on my favorite reserve - they do excellent community and conservation work. The reserve is quite large and in a great area to visit as I mentioned above. I would add more time in KZN, not skip it!

Or Madikwe. Malaria free and great lodges, great game viewing. Harder to get to but higher quality experience than where you plan.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 04:54 AM
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Pity to have removed Durban since one of your interests is food and culture. The food scene is not as fantastic as Cape Town, but there is one which is unique to Durban. I had really low expectations of Durban but was pleasantly surprised. My 1st visit, we stayed in Umhlanga Rocks and 2nd visit we decided to stay nearer central Durban, in a charming Cape Dutch b&b in Morningside, walking distance to Florida Road restaurants. 2nd visit location was much better. We drove from Joburg to Durban and that was a very interesting drive. You could go to the Drakensbergs or Midlands Meander.

Here is some more up to date advice about malaria in Kruger.

We took malarone which is a once a day tablet, had no side effects. I would not trivialise the risk but nor would I be be put off from going, just take the correct precautions.

I would go to Kruger/Sabi Sands from JNB, from there to Durban and northern KZN to see the other reserves, down to Durban and fly to CPT, then back to JNB and home. Or if you want to cut out DUR, go from JNB to Kruger or Sabi Sands, then to PLZ and onto CPT.

The Hilton Sandton is very nice, stayed there for 6 weeks a few years back. Convenient to the airport using the Gautrain. The Marriotts you have chosen are also fine, the location of the JNB one is very good. I also prefer to have 1-2 nights in JNB on arrival in ZA before moving onto the next destination.

The winelands in Franschhoek, Paarl etc are more than just pretty. The scenery and mountains are gorgeous and in autumn when the weather can be quite cold, the various inns and wineries are cosy with log fires and great food. I would visit CPT last, because it is the most spectacular destination.
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Dec 4th, 2017, 02:29 AM
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Check KZN wilderness tours if you want a real adventure. I went with my 2 grown children 23,25 and we had a fantastic time . We drove from Durban. After the primitively trail we drove to Kosi Bay and went on to Swaziland and then to Kruger park where we did a safari with Honey Guide. Fabulous trip. lots of big game to see.

Since we were driving and I wanted to make sure the drive times were doable I enlisted help from Sandy at Love Afrca Travel. She was extremely helpful! I hope you have a good trip!
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