First Ever Africa Trip!

Nov 11th, 2003, 03:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 6
First Ever Africa Trip!

I'm a newby Fodorite, so be gentle with me.

Man, oh man, I have been dreaming about going to Africa for at least the last 5 years. Been saving like crazy, and it finally looks like lift-off in June 2004. Brain is exploding from information overload. Have been reading the various posts with a lot of interest & enjoyment. Beats reading the guide books.

The hubster & I are looking to do a golf (yikes, I know) and safari holiday to South Africa & Botswana. Hubby hates to rough it, so it looks like private lodges and guest houses/B&B's.

Rough itinerary as follows -

1N - J'Burg (b/c we have to)
2N - Xigera, Okavango
3N - Duba Plains, Okavango
3N - Linyanti (my travel agent, who you might now have guessed is a Wilderness Safaris advocate, is coming back to me on whether Dumatau or Savuti Camp is the better option).
2N - River Club, Vic Falls
2N - Palace of Lost City, Sun City
3N - Cape Town (self-drive)
3N - Fancourt or George (self-drive)

This leaves about 4 extra nights, and I'm trying to decide whether to go to Phinda for 2N-3N, and Durban for 1N-2N respectively. Or maybe go to one of the Kruger private camps (is there any wildlife that I'm likely to miss in Botswana?), or extend our stay in Cape Town and/or stay a night in the Winelands.

Have read a lot of good reports on the WS camps in Bostwana, so pretty confident that they will deliver an awesome experience.

I'm a bit undecided about whether the River Club is the go for Vic Falls, or we should stay at one of the other hotels. The pictures in the WS brochure look pretty spiffy though.

Haven't quite nailed down the other specifics (accomm, car hire, golf tee times) for Cape Town and the Garden Route yet either. Will have to do this later.

In relation to the golfing, any tips or reports on the various courses would be welcome. Since we are planning to go to Botswana first, this leaves the dilemma of where to store 2 sets of golf clubs. Hubby is extremely leery of leaving his precious sticks at the J'Burg airport or the airport hotel. If anyone can offer any suggestions of where we can safely store them, or maybe even recommend a good golf-tour operator (to mind the clubs and organise the golfing bit of the itinerary), it would be greatly appreciated.

Phew!! Would love any suggestions in making this my dream trip.

Gus11 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2003, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,306
Well, I haven't been to Africa yet (leaving in 10 days -- woo hoo!), but one thing I've learned in my travels is that no matter where you're going, if you want to get any sense of the place at all and enjoy it, there is almost no point in going someplace for only 2 nights. The reason is because with travel the day before and after, it really only leaves you one day in the place. Moving around so often is exhausting and just doesn't facilitate real enjoyment, at least not for me. Only one night in Jo'burg is understandable, but as for the rest, I would narrow down your list of destinations. If I'm counting right, you have around 23 nights total? So with one night in Jo'burg, that leaves you 22 nights. And I think you've listed around 10 destinations other than Jo'burg. If I were you, I would plan on spending at LEAST 3 nights in each place you end up going (remember, this only gives you two full days in each place -- which for someplace like Cape Town seems way too short). I can't tell you which places to leave out of your itinerary (if it were me, I would definitely leave out Sun City, but that's just me), but I can tell you that I would certainly want more time in Cape Town. Just my two cents. Again, take it for what it's worth, since I've been to exactly zero of the places on your list. All I know is that in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica, and all over Europe and Canada and the U.S., the trips I enjoyed the most were the ones on which I slowed down a little and settled into a place for at least a few nights. I'll post back when I return from South Africa in December.
lisa is online now  
Nov 11th, 2003, 12:36 PM
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I agree with Lisa - ditch Sun City, except for the fact that you can get good golfing there.

In the Delta you should pick a "land" camp, a "land & water" camp and a "water" camp, so read the WS catelog and ask questions for what you'll have the time of year you'll be visiting and 6N total are better.

Personally, I don't feel Vic Falls deserves more than 1-day, but just getting there from the Delta can be a full day, so the 2-nts. works.

Instead of doing the garden route, I would upon return from VFA, schedule time at one of the Lodges/Camps on the private reserves at Kruger (3N), on Sabi Sand or Manyaletti - there are many to choose from all depending on what you wish to spend. Ngala that has a lodge on the Timbavatti reserve, also as a new (3-yrs old) luxury tented camp (2N) right inside Kruger and "canvas" is a must experience in Africa. And you can also do time at Phinda (3N).

Between Kruger Private Reserve and Phinda you might choose a self drive thru Mpualanga along the Panorama Route which is absolutely beautiful and stay at one of the lovely lodges that way like Blue Mountain Lodge (and there's another lodge in the same category, but can't recall name just now) - 2D/2N, then connect for a flight to Phinda.

Once in Capetown you have many options, including spending a night or two out in wine country. And you can still drive some of the Garden Route going up towards Hermanus and maybe a bit further.

It's apparent you want to stop/see every main city in SA, but sometimes trying to do so, knocks the heck our of you - pure exhaustion. Believe me, if you miss Durban, no one will know. And sometimes you just need a day or two during a long trip to "just relax" no schedule to keep, place to go/be, take a break.

Think about a pure "leisure" day during your trip - but everyone travels differently and knows their own personal physical and mental capabilities on such a long trip. Keep us posted on your decisions.
Nov 12th, 2003, 04:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 6
Thanks Lisa & Sandi. Have taken your suggestions on board, and have tweaked the itinerary as followsbr />
1N - J'Burg (b/c we have to)
2N - Xigera, Okavango
3N - Duba Plains, Okavango
3N - Duma Tau, Linyanti
2N - River Club, Vic Falls
3N - Sun City (instead of 2N. We can also visit Pilanesberg NP. Is this worthwhile?).
6N - Cape Town & Winelands (self-drive)
3N - Fancourt or George (self-drive)

This leaves 3 nights, which I would like to spend in a 'canvas' camp as suggested. Is Honeyguide a winner? As altervatives, I've also sent an email to Phinda & Kirkmans to check out their rates & availability. Am I on the wrong track or is it about 5 hours driving from JB to either Kruger or Phinda?

What I am trying to weigh up both time & cost-wise if we should fly in to the Kruger or Phinda camp (with bus shuttle transfers to Sun City); or rent a car to go to the camp (whichever one it is), as well as drive to Sun City (even though it is in totally the opposite direction).

Any tips would be great!
Gus11 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2003, 04:44 AM
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'morning Gus -

Pilansberg is a small part near Sun City, maleria free, and if you have some time (morning) go out if there is nothing else to do. But after the Delta camps, doubt this will compare as far as animals. Pilansberg is more like an "extra" available to visitors to Sun City.

Yes, it is about a 5-hr drive to Kruger on good roads till you get to the park and then - fugetaboutit!!! - roads are a horror, rutted, bumpy, not very pleasant!

We stayed at Honeyguide on our trip, wanting to have an "under canvas" experience (our other accomm. had been hotels or lodges). Honeyguide is basic, no electricity (though lights provided in evening to dress - on nitestand and in bathroom) - but they have great bed linens, downfilled comforters. Camp management is great, as are rangers and trackers. Price is reasonable, but except for morning juice of coffee at tent all other drinks are extra (though don't really amount to much). We were very pleased with the camp and animal sitings. Honeyguide is located on the private reserve of Manyaletti and we never saw any other vehicles.

I would suggest flying from JNB to HDS (Hoedspuit) with transfer to camp and then from Manyeletti (back to HDS) arrange to fly to Phinda. While the drive would be through beauiful country, flights are so much faster and don't have to be that expensive. The drive from JNB to/fr Sun City is an easy one (do remember you're driving on left side of road).

Once back from Sun City in JNB you can fly to HDS then HDS to Phinda, then return to JNB (flights are only about an hour each vs. driving [who knows how long]) and I would suggest a 4-wheel drive. You'll have to check the flight schedules, and prices for these three legs.

Friends who had been living in Sandton decided on three days at Singita at Sabi Sands Reserve for their Anniversary - they jumped in their car and were on their way. Drive to Kruger was fine, but once in the reserve, well, the car needed a complete overhall once back in JNB. If they were to do it again - "they'd fly."

It's your choice.

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