First time in Southafrica - Suggested itinerary

Reply

Nov 15th, 2015, 08:20 PM
  #21
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Hey Franco -

No worries about the Spanish. It made me think.

There is a charter between Kirkmans and Phinda. They are owned by the same company. There are no direct commercial flights, but the drive is easy - just two half day drives. Kirkmans-Phinda has a fly free offer right now and 15% off for long stays - contact them for details. Google Phinda fly free and click on the &beyond or andbeyond result. They are excellent at getting back to you, so email them for help.

The flights go through JNB and then you'll need a road transfer from the airport. No matter what you choose, do the Sabi Sand lodge last. It will be the highlight! You can start in Cape Town, fly Durban and transfer to Phinda or Rhino River Lodge, hopefully spend a little time in my favorite town St Lucia, fly to Kruger (maybe from Richards Bay), stay Sabi Sand lodge, fly JNB and home.

I think a lot more people would combine Kruger and KZN if there were a few non stop flights. There are direct flights from CT to Durban.

Or CT, fly HDS, road transfer Timbavati lodge, road transfer Sabi Sand lodge, fly Skukuza to JNB to home.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 18th, 2015, 04:43 AM
  #22
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 47
Hello again!!

I was looking for information on the web and i was thinking not to visit the KZN area. We don´t like too much the idea of so many transfers and long trips... and it´s a little difficult going from a lodge in Sabi Sand to a lodge in KZN...

Insted of this we are thinking about staying some days (2/3) in another reserve (for example Timbavati, other?) and other days (3/4) in Sabi Sand... what do you think about it? Is it worth it to change lodges in closer areas?? are there differences???

About the trip I think we will be starting from Johannesburgo becuase of the travel connections... We don´t have direct flights from Buenos Aires and we prefer the long trip at the end (from Cape Town)...

I have some questions about transfers...
- How do we go from Johannesbourg to the lodges in Kruger area?
- Is it possible to transfer from a lodge in a reserve to another lodge in another reserve?? how??

We prefer not to rent a car on our own.

And finally... We would like to visit the Blyde Canyon... how is the best way to visit it? are there day tours from Johannesbourg or from the lodges in Kruger area??
francolf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 18th, 2015, 09:43 PM
  #23
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,374
for me, switching reserves after a couple of nights is a good thing. since these transfers are handled by others, it's just really easy. i liked meeting and being with new and different guides/trackers... and seeing how meals are handled differently at different lodges.

our trip organizers, wildwings safaris, used 'gap'transfers for most of our transfers. i'm sure they were reasonable, because we were on a budget trip. i reviewed on T.A. and their reviews are pretty flawless. also recommended to someone on this forum, and got a big 'thanks.' give them a call and see what they can offer.
kawh is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 19th, 2015, 01:58 AM
  #24
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 33
Hello Franco,
Experiencing two lodges is always a good idea. Although the standards remain the same (and these are high in Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve/Timbavati Private Game Reserve), it is always nice to see things from a different perspective, to meet new people, to sample a new environment, a change of style and scenery, which the change between lodges will do.
Transfers between lodges are commonplace, and easily arranged by whomever is doing your bookings for you. If your lodges are close to each other the transfer will be by road and can be seen as a game drive in itself.

In terms of traveling from Johannesburg to the Kruger Park, there are a three options -
* Self-Drive or Arranged Road Transfer with Driver
Dependent on your driving speed and the number of stoppages along the way, drive time from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park can be anything from four to six hours.
A road transfer is the least expensive option, but also the most time consuming.

* Flying to a Regional Airport closer to Kruger National Park (Hoedspruit/Eastgate Or Kruger Mpumalanga International)
There are several daily flights operating from Johannesburg to either Hoedspruit or Kruger Mpumalanga International airports. Taking one of these flights removes a large portion of your drivinge time from Johannesburg.
An escorted road transfer is then available from either of these regional airports to your lodge, the transfer is ordinarily around two to three hours each way.
An alternative to the latter mentioned road transfer would be to take a charter flight of approximately 25 minutes to the airstrip closest to your lodge.
This is not a cheapest option, but it does save a few hours.

Flying Directly to Your Lodge
Many of the private lodges surrounding Kruger National Park operate airstrips. The daily flights servicing these lodges take around 90 minutes from Johannesburg, and will deliver you directly to the airstrip closest to your lodge.
From the airstrip a waiting ranger will escort you to your lodge by vehicle.
This is the easiest and most convenient way to access the park, but it is the most costly.

Visiting the Blyde River Canyon on the 'Panorama Route' is a lovely and easy add-on to your main Kruger National Park trip. You can do this either on your way to the Park or on the way back.
Depending on the transport you choose to get you to/from the Kruger Park, in one direction you could choose the road trip option with a transfer company in small tour vehicle. The transfer/vehicle will take you via the highlights and sights of the Blyde River Canyon. You may wish to do the drive in one day, en route to or from the Park, you may wish to stay a night in one of the quaint towns on the route.

On your request, as per your instruction, your travel consultant will easily be able to assist you with these arrangements.

Hope this helps, happy Travels,
Deborah - Travel Guru - Southern Destinations
Deborah_WH is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 19th, 2015, 04:55 AM
  #25
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 201
Hi franco!

I noticed that your itinerary starts in Jo'burg and ends in Cape Town. You've also expressed an interest in the Panorama Route, going on safari and seeing Cape Town. Such a great trip in the works!

I'd recommend that you start your trip from Jo'burg with a guided tour of the Panorama Route and I would perhaps consider that you spend one night along the way for a couple reasons. The Panorama Route is incredible: Blyde Canyon, Three Rondavels, God's Window, etc. The vistas are spectacular and, as others have pointed out, it can make for a very long drive. If you want to enjoy the views and perhaps some local activities, such as a boat tour or a hot air balloon ride over the canyon, microlight flight, the Tufa waterfall etc then I'd consider a one night stay along the way so as not to rush it. You may also feel a bit of jet lag and you'd perhaps benefit by doing this guided tour over 2 days rather than a straight shot to the bush! On your second day, you would finish the Panorama Route and arrive at your first safari lodge!

I would start your safari at a lodge in either Timbavati or in the northern part of Sabi Sand. After a few nights, I would recommend that you then transfer to another lodge in Sabi Sand for your second lodge (perhaps the southern section of Sabi). I always recommend a minimum of 3 nights at any one lodge to my clients. If you can pick one lodge with traversing rights or access to the Sabie river, it's an added bonus as the river provides for great game viewing as do other larger permanent waterholes, especially in their winter.

Based upon the 6-7 nights total on safari that you outline, I'd spend 3 nights at your first lodge and 3-4 nights at the next. It's really hard to do only 2 nights anywhere. As others mention, it takes a little time to settle in and get the "feel" of a lodge, its staff, food/kitchen, and guides. Each lodge has a distinct atmosphere to enjoy!

As for lodges, there are plenty to pick from! It will mostly depend upon your preferred travel style and budget as well as your travel dates since availability at certain times of the year is more popular.

After your 6-7 nights on safari, you could fly direct from the reserve airport closest to your second lodge. For example, if your second safari lodge is in the southern part of Sabi Sand, then you could fly out of Skukuza directly to Cape Town.

In Cape Town, there are so many wonderful things to do and see. In your allotted 5-6 nights, you could explore not only the city but its nearby surrounds. Special things to do include Table Mountain, Robben Island, Penguins/Cape of Good Hope guided tour day trip, Kirstenbosch Gardens/Canopy Walk, Wine Lands, District 6 Museum, Township Tour, Hop On Hop Off (aka HOHO) bus to explore the different neighborhoods etc. Just some ideas...

This would be a great trip! It's got a wonderful balance of natural beauty, wildlife, food/wine, history, culture etc.

As others have indicated in previous posts, a SA travel consultant/operator would be able to put this trip together for you seamlessly using reputable transfer/tour companies as well as doing a targeted search of accommodations that meet your style and budget. It's perhaps something that you should consider, if you haven't done so already, as there's a good amount of logistics here in terms of transfers, flights, guided tours, safari lodges/hotels to book.

Hope this helps! Great trip in the works!

Best
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
diannelovestravel is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 19th, 2015, 05:21 AM
  #26
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 47
Thanks for the lot of information!!

- Are there lodges inside Kruger park? Instead of staying in two private reserves, what do you think about combining a lodge inside Kruger and a lodge in a private reserve? are they similar??

- About the panorama tour: We aren´t thinking in renting a car. I understand that may be is the best option but I find it a little hard... Here in Argentina we drive in the other side so I think is not a good idea haha... Is it possible to hire a tour that take us from Johanesbourg to a private lodge in a day visiting the canyon en route?? Which tour operator does this kind of trip?? And is it a general tour or a tailor made tour??
francolf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 19th, 2015, 08:09 PM
  #27
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,374
i'm sure your transfer company can stop at the canyon along the way. get a good idea of what you want exactly, then write to a couple of tour organizers... they will put it together and quote the prices.
kawh is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 21st, 2015, 07:26 PM
  #28
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Franco - I think your best bet would be to contact wild-wings Safaris and/or Sun Safaris to help arrange a perfect trip for you. They can arrange transfers, lodges and hotels and answer all of your questions honestly. It will be flawless. You will love S Africa, no matter what you do.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 10th, 2015, 04:33 PM
  #29
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 47
Hello everyone!

Finally we bought the tickets! We will be arriving on May 8 to Johannesbourg and return May 23 from Cape Town.

Now we are looking for the lodges in Kruger. We decided to spend 7 days there in two different areas: 4 days in Sabi Sand and the other 3 days in Timbavati or Klaserie. Which one of this two do you recommend? Timbavati or Klaseri???

About lodges anyone have references of Motswari or Gomo Gomo?
francolf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 10th, 2015, 06:05 PM
  #30
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
I'm happy to hear you are going!! Did you contact an agent to help or are you booking it all yourself?

I would do Sabi Sand last - it has the best game viewing and generally very nice lodges. Where did you choose to stay in Sabi Sand? I don't think there is much difference between Klaserie and Timbavati. I would make my choice by the lodge, not the reserve. If you are staying in a higher end lodge in SS, I would stay in a higher end lodge in Klaserie or Timbavati as well.

That said, we all mentioned lots of options above. You will have to decide what works best for you.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 11th, 2015, 04:30 AM
  #31
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 47
We will be booking it all ourselves... I like orginising the trip.. I think is part of the trip!

Yes, we will do Sabi Sand last and we were thinking in Arathusa or Elephants Plain lodges. In Timbavati/Klaserie we were thinking in Gomo Gomo or Motswari. What do you think about this lodges??

I wrote an agent to ask about the trip from Johanesbourg to Kruger visiting Blyde river canyon en route but have no reply
francolf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 14th, 2015, 10:53 AM
  #32
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 31,841
Bookmarking
Dukey1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 14th, 2015, 10:58 PM
  #33
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Arathusa has a waterhole in camp and recently renovated, I prefer it over Elephant Plains. Get a bungalow on the dam - we watched animals visit all day between game drives. Just know at both of those lodges they usually are booked solid and will likely have up to ten visitors in each game vehicle - 3 rows, three across, plus one next to the ranger. It's difficult to take good pictures in a packed truck. It doesn't bother me much, as long as everyone is fun and nice (not always). If you choose a higher end lodge, they usually keep the number per vehicle to 6 max. If that's important to you, try a mid range lodge. If not, Arathusa wins because of the dam.

See all the options in Sabi Sand, which are all good at www.sabisand.za.co Check the map for locations (I prefer the eastern ones), and the traversing areas (how big the area they can do game drives on), of course bigger is better and permanent rivers attract wildlife. See the individual websites for rates and accommodations. I'd probably choose Kirkmans Kamp in the mid range, Mala Mala for best game viewing. Both are above my budget, but those are what I'd choose (or Djuma, which is spectacular but always booked).

Gomo Gomo will be fully booked and is very family friendly. Not sure if that's what you want. Not familiar with Motswari. I would consider nDzuti and nThambo, and Shindzela if you want friendly and personal but very rustic. Ngala Tented is very nice but pricey. If you combine with Kirkmans you get a long stay discount. (This is similar advice as given earlier!)

I have not heard of a tour that will take you to the Panorama Route and drop you off in Timbavati. Get in touch with Wild-Wings-Safaris. If it's available, they'll find it for you. It's easiest and certainly least expensive if you drive yourself. To be honest, the Panorama Route is nice, but for me, not nice enough to lose a day in Kruger. You'll go next time when you are more comfortable driving yourself.

Have fun planning.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 15th, 2015, 05:21 AM
  #34
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 47
Thanks for the very detailed explanation!! Very clear!!

Unfortunately many of the lots i wrote are already full booked... Kirkmanks i found it a bit pricey...

Do you have references about Notten's and Simbavati Hilltop???
francolf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 15th, 2015, 01:27 PM
  #35
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Why do you keep bringing up new places? Do you check out the ones we suggest? Are you getting the available discounts? Contact Wild-Wings or any of the agents who posted above as I've suggested to you before, and they will give you best prices available. You haven't even added in transfers, which can be expensive too.

All the lodges are fine. If you go inexpensively, the vehicles will be full. If you go more expensive, most limit the number in the vehicle. There's not a lot of difference between them at comparable price points. Luxury, level of food presentation and included laundry and drinks depend on your price point. None of us, except maybe some local agents, have not been to all of them and depend on others to give advice. I haven't heard of anyone, except one who paid for low end and was expecting high end, who has been disappointed at any of the private reserve lodges. It's not like anything you've experienced before.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2015, 04:08 AM
  #36
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 47
Sorry!! Please don´t get angry! hahaha

Yes I have checked most of the lodges you mentioned but the ones I most like are full booked. I have already wrote to the agents you mentioned. I´m waiting their reply. That´s why i asked for other ones...
francolf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2015, 08:23 PM
  #37
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Here's a map of all of the lodges in greater Kruger. It's a good map, but unlike the Sabi sand map I posted earlier, doesn't show traversing areas. It it all of greater Kruger, though, and shows the rivers which attract lots of animals in dry season.

http://assets.sunsafaris.com/Map-of-Kruger-Camps.pdf

I would (honestly) stay at any of them and all of them have their pluses and minuses, but mostly pluses. Most are above my budget, however. I also prefer the lodges that people like me can afford - much more dòwn to earth guests. As I said before, you have to choose by budget and then narrow them down. Have you contacted Sun Destinations about nDzuti and nThambo? You can't get availability online, so you have to contact Sun directly to find out. Both, especially nDzuti, (really great owner/manager) are on my very short list for next time, along with Africa on Foot and Djuma (if family joins us). All have excellent reputations for game viewing and knowledgeable rangers. Sun is also Sun Safaris and they can help arrange your trip (like transfers) with all availability and discounts at any and all lodges, not just Sun properties, included.

It usually takes 24-48 hours (more on weekends and holidays) to hear back due to the time difference. If you haven't heard back, reach out again - there must be a problem of some kind with the original message. Sometimes a reply unexpectedly goes to our trash file and gets auto deleted. Agents are very good about returning messages, but stuff happens. Try again.

I know things sell out early, but May is usually not such a popular time. If you use an agent they can do provisional bookings and other things to try to get availability that doesn't show up online. Contact Sun and contact Wild-Wings again (the nice one, not the hunting one!). Even arranging a trip with help is lots of fun - and they can arrange transfers, tours and other stuff for you in Cape Town too, to make sure your trip goes as smoothly, efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible. Yes, it can actually cost less when using a good agent. I find without a car, an agent is very helpful for my arrangements.

Enjoy your planning.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 20th, 2015, 09:30 AM
  #38
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 664
ttt
cferrb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 20th, 2015, 12:42 PM
  #39
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 201
Hello Francolf

As the US agent for a South African based company, things really slow down at this time of year. This may explain why hearing back is not as prompt as typical. Do not despair. If you need help, please email me. You can find my email by clicking my profile. I'd be happy to check availability, arrange a Panorama tour etc. I hope this isn't considered soliciting; then again, this post may get deleted. I hope not because I have provided info to you previously in this thread and other posters, such as christabir, have encouraged you to contact operators who have previously provided input. I'd love to help you "wrap" things up (no holiday pun intended here!)!

Happy Holidays!
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
diannelovestravel is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 20th, 2015, 05:35 PM
  #40
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Dianne has always been very helpful with her suggestions and ALWAYS closes her posts with her agent info. I would not hesitate to contact her. Others as well (just to be fair).

Hey Dianne - I didn't know you can arrange a JNB to Kruger lodge transfer with a Panorama tour. Info please. Is it a day trip or overnight? We did a guided day trip from hazyview and it felt a little rushed having to get a flight at HDS late afternoon. Can you do a JNB - Panorama Route - drop off at lodge day? Thanks. Just trying to get info for future posters.

Merry Christmas!
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:55 AM.