Help KwaZulu Natal or the garden route

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Jul 17th, 2004, 04:32 PM
  #1
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Help KwaZulu Natal or the garden route

We will be in SA in Sept. There seem to be so many wonderful choices that we are a little overwhelmed. Our trip so far is 4 days in and around capetown, one overnight in Vic falls and 4 nights in Botswana on Safari. We then have five more days and are uncertain how best to use them. Any suggestions. Kwa Zulu Natal and St Lucia and the Drackensberg sound like great options but so does the garden route out of capetown.We love the idea of learning about the culture of the Zulus etc. if this is not a touristy thing to do. Has anyone been in that area? Please help with our decision.
Thanks Judy
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Jul 18th, 2004, 05:05 AM
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I just got back from a trip that included 5 weeks in South Africa (split between Cape Town/ Garden route and Kruger/ Kwa Zulu Natal as well as just under 3 weeks in Botswana.

The answer depends a lot on your interests as both your options would be great.

The garden route is spectacular self-driving scenery - we loved driving the mountain passes in particular. It's very much about the landscape, whether that be caves, mountains or farmed areas such as the beautiful winelands. Accommodation and eating are excellent.

We didn't do any of the Zulu culture villages in KZN, didn't strike me as "our thing". Nor did we visit the "battlefields" for the historical visits that are quite popular. We concentrated on game and bird viewing and had a ball. But 5 weeks of safari back to back isn't for everyone. South Africa is a great place to see rhino so if that's important to you, you may like to include Hluhluwe, probably the best place to see them. Alternatively many private reserves have rhino stocks.

For me, 4 nights safari just wouldn't be enough BUT you can see from the above that my husband and I really do love safari!
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Jul 18th, 2004, 01:22 PM
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Hi Kavey,
I have been eagerly reading yo0ur postings and am most pleased to discover your reply to mine. I should have stated that we are also doing 3 nights at Kruger and 2 nights at Mashputo. Our trip is rather complicated because my husband and I are starting out together for the first 10 days and then our daughter joins us for the next 8 days and then my husband goes home and my daughter (age 24 ) stays with me for the last4 days. I am therefore, trying to please everyone and at the same time make sure tha each of us has a great experience. My daughter is not a great
passenger so the garden route might not be the best for her. Where did you go in KwaZulu Natal besides Hluhluwe and how did that safari compare to Kruger? I would really appreciate any info and tips you could give me. Thanks so much
Judy
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Jul 19th, 2004, 01:25 AM
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Hi Judy,
Well, you have a tough job of planning ahead - since hub and daughter don't stay for all of it you have to provide each with a diverse range of experiences whilst still enjoying the whole yourself! Phew!

In answer, we spent 2 nights at Mpila Camp in Imfolozi - staying in self catering safari tents (which are available for 4 people as well and these have 2 separate bedroom areas with a central kitchen). We loved this park, saw lots of animals (no big cats), found the scenery very pretty AND didn't come across many other people. We spent the day following first night in Imfolozi park and the next day in Hluhluwe. Also a beautiful park, scenery even more spectacular and the best place to see white rhino (6 different rhinos in one day!). We weren't lucky enough to see black rhino but people do. We stayed that night JUST outside the park at Ubizane, very very nice self catering accommodation and less expensive than Hilltop Camp.

I preferred both parks to Kruger, hands down.

Then we went to St Lucia (town) for 3 nights to relax and also to see the hippos and crocs on the estuary (great, close up views). Also went to Cape Vidal and just relaxed too.

Next stop was Ndumo. This park is stunning and we adored the scenery of yellow trees around still water pans but it's a hard drive to get there and a long way. For a short trip, you'd probably want to skip it. It's particularly excellent for birding.

Next was 3 nights in Ithala, my favourite park of all the ones in South Africa that we visited. We just LOVED it. It's so beautiful, it's hard to describe. We did see white rhino VERY close up but no cats or predators - mostly we saw plains animal, various ungulates, warthogs etc. Just stunning. And their SC accommodation is the best of all the camps.

Then there was Kruger. I thought we had to go since it's the famous one. Well we did enjoy it and the birding was excellent. We had glimpses of lion and leopard. We saw lots and lots of eles and hippo. It was lovely. But it was also much more crowded and the camps felt like entire villages and the tarmac roads, whilst more comfortable, felt less... wildernessy. If I did a return trip I'd skip Kruger for time in the other parks.

PS We also visited Addo and enjoyed it too. More cars, like Kruger, though, in June, neither park was REALLY crowded. Lots more animals than I thought, especially kudu. And of course we saw the eles. Also jackals, warthogs, mongoose and various other smaller mammals.

Ask me further questions if I can help further.
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Jul 19th, 2004, 06:49 AM
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Forgive me correcting minor spelling, but in case you're wanting to do web searches (and I've found www.aardvark.co.za the best for Africa) . . .

It's Drakensberg (without a "c") and Umfolozi (a "U" not "I").
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Jul 19th, 2004, 06:53 AM
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Arthur
Umfolozi Park has recently been renamed Imfolozi though the rivers and surrounding area is still known as Umfolozi. Don't ask me why but that's what KZN Wildlife are now calling the park.
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Jul 19th, 2004, 07:45 AM
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Kavey, I didn't know that. So a different apology needed! Jeez, and I'm a local!

But in mitigation, I don't think all that many others know that either. I did a local web search and the old word got 30 times as many hits as the new one. At least KZN Parks has changed it on their official site. But even they haven't changed their homepage map. It has a third spelling, "Umfolosi"!

But I'm right about Drakensberg! So that's 50%. But for a local that's probably not a pass mark!
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Jul 19th, 2004, 08:19 AM
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Arthur
No it's a very recent change so it's worth searching on both spellings. The official website will list it as Imfolozi but if you're looking for reviews from recent travellers as well as listings on travel agency websites it's still down as Umfolozi, as you said!
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