Help Me Begin To Plan My Trip To Africa

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Sep 22nd, 2002, 09:37 AM
  #1
John
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Help Me Begin To Plan My Trip To Africa

I'm in the very beginning stages of planning a trip for spring or fall of 2003 and have so many questions, many of them answered here.

I'll have about 3 weeks and would like to see:

- CapeTown
- Kruger National Park
- Serengeti or Masai Mara
- possibly Garden Route to Port Elizabeth

Is this too much for 3 weeks? I may be alone, I may have 2 boys 12 & 14.

Where sould I start and end, and what would be the best way to travel between each place?

Should I choose either Kruger or Serengeti but not both? Is it difficult to get from S. Africa to Tanzania? Can you fly?

I think a private game lodge will be too expensive for us. Are there alternatives around $150 per night or less? What about renting a car and traveling to Kruger and staying in the Park's accomodations?

Do cars have automatic transmition? (Can't drive stick!)
 
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Sep 22nd, 2002, 09:47 AM
  #2
John
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A few more things...

If we fly from JFK to Jo'berg is it best to fly right on to our final destination or spend a night or 2 there?

Any pros or cons about planning a trip like this independently vs. through a travel agent or tour operator?
 
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Sep 22nd, 2002, 09:58 AM
  #3
jim
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You can do it without a travel agent. We've been then on our own three times in the last seven years. Cars are automatic. Driving in SA is about like driving in the US 40 years ago. Accommodations in Kruger are better than, on average, accommodations in US National Parks. You can see the big animals there and several other SA parks. Take the boys! It's a trip of a lifetime. email me if you want, [email protected]
jim
 
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Sep 23rd, 2002, 10:12 AM
  #4
Celia
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With three weeks, I would omit Kenya and concentrate on South Africa.

One possible itinerary is to fly into Jo'burg, spend a day or two and go to Gold Reef City to see the mine dancers (which I think your boys would find fascinating), then fly up to Kruger. The accommodations in the park are good, as are the restaurants. From Kruger you could either fly to Port Elizabeth and rent a car there and drive the Garden Route to Cape Town, or rent your car near Kruger (which would be good, you could do your own driving in the park that way)and drive down through Swaziland, and then along the Garden Route.

This is just one possibility; others may have other suggestions. Driving is easy in SA, once you get used to being on the left; the travel infrastructure is excellent, the weather is heavenly, the natural beauty splendid, and the people wonderful. You'll have a great time!

If you do some searching and shopping on the web, and deal directly with the places you want to stay, you won't have to pay the high prices that so many tour companies charge in the US for trips to SA.
 
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Sep 23rd, 2002, 12:21 PM
  #5
Michael
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Frankly, I would skip the Garden Route and concentrate on Cape Town, Kruger and Serengeti (I have been to all 3 but not on the same trip). You could start by spending a few days in Cape Town (and sightsee based on your interests), then fly to Kruger (via Johannesburg). You can arrange through Avis to pick up an automatic rental car at Skukuza (the airport in Kruger) and stay at camps within Kruger (I stayed at Skukuza and Satara, but there are many excellent camps -- the accomodations are comfortable and the food is fine). If you really want to visit Masai Mara/ Serengeti you would need to fly from Johannesburg to Nairobia and arrange a tour. The Serengeti/Masai Mara is much different than Kruger, and if you can time your visit for the migration it will be one of the best things you've ever done. Serengeti/Mara during migration is much, much more impressive than Kruger, and that's saying a lot, becaues Kruger is also excellent. You could see it all during three weeks, but I'd skip the Garden Route, especially with two teenagers.
 
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Sep 24th, 2002, 12:17 AM
  #6
jenviolin
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Well, I wouldn't necessarily skip the Garden Route with teenagers. How about dolphin or whale-watching, boat trips, surfing, the highest bungee jumping in the world (you can always WATCH), beautiful hiking, ostrich-riding, Cango caves, Addo elephant park (Nat. Park accommodations are cheap and good, book a game drive separately), lots of other extreme outdoor sports, Stellenbosch, mountain biking?
If you can fit in Tanzania, do it!
I planned my trip (Aug. 2002) independently and inexpensively, with no trouble. If you want someone to organize it for you, try Gil at www.africatravelshop.com
I would start in Cape Town because I found it to be the most tourist-friendly city in SA, and a relatively safe and comfortable city to 'ease into SAfrica'. Jo'burg was fascinating and dynamic but could be a shock as your first stop. Lots of people just stay in Sandton, not daring to go anywhere else because they don't know what to expect.
 
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Sep 24th, 2002, 04:39 AM
  #7
evelyntrav
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Did you consider a direct flight from Newark to Cape Town?
 
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Sep 24th, 2002, 06:47 AM
  #8
Celia
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Is there a direct flight from Newark to Cape Town? SAA flies from JFK and Atlanta, I thought. Is there some other airline now flying direct to SA?
 
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Sep 24th, 2002, 08:34 AM
  #9
John
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Thanks all for the good advice.

My understanding is you can fly to Capetown nonstop from the US only from Atlanta (SAA). Otherwise you'll fly to J'berg. Am I wrong?

I guess logically it would make sense to fly into Capetown - then to Kruger - then to Serengeti. Maybe fly back from Nairobi?

Now my fear is all that flying is going to add up to lots of $$. Any airfare advice? I suspect that's too much driving to do it all by car?
 
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Sep 24th, 2002, 11:14 AM
  #10
x
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First, focus on S. Africa - Kruger and the Natal area. The lo9dges come in various price levels. To help you, contact Karell Travel in Coral Galbles, FL, and FishEagle in Houston, TX, and ask them to send you material. And by all means access their websites. And consider flying into Botswana and visiting the Okavanga Delta area - accessible only by small plane to a lodge. Certainly consider driving - but it will be on the left-hand side. Capetown is lovely, and you should include a trip the the Cape of Good Hope, only an hour or so away. Plan to spend as little time as possible in J.Burg and avoid like the plague Sun City.
 
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Sep 24th, 2002, 11:27 AM
  #11
evelyntrav
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Oops. The flight is from Newark to Atlanta to Cape Town. There was a short layover between the flights.
 
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Sep 26th, 2002, 09:05 AM
  #12
x
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You'll fly SAA #210 Atlanta NS to Capetown - leaves Atl. at 1030 a.m. and arrives CT the next morning. You can then continue on the same plane to J'Burg. Returning, you'll either fly NS CT to Atlanta (originating in J'Burg or CT, depending on the day of week). From J'Burg to Atlanta, you'll refuel at Isla DaSole about 2:00 a.m. One word of advice: once you have your seta assignments, call SAA every 1-2 weeks to make sure they haven;t changed you to the rear cabin. They do that! I'm going this weekend.
 
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Sep 26th, 2002, 02:44 PM
  #13
xxx
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x
What do you mean rear cabin? Isn't it all one cabin? Or are you flying Business or First Class? Would they just switch the seats within a class? Thank you for clearing that up. xxx
 
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Sep 27th, 2002, 05:48 AM
  #14
evelyntrav
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Another suggestion for SAA seats. Try to get the upper deck seats as they were much roomier because of an approx 12" wide, low compartment between the window and seat, plus with fewer people in the cabin there was little traffic in the aisle.
 
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Sep 30th, 2002, 05:16 PM
  #15
Stephen
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Well take this for what it is worth since I have not actually travelled to South Africa yet but have just finished up confirming itinerary for this November. I started earlier in the year on the internet with frommers.com to point me in the right direction and then went from there. I picked out an itinerary of South Africa, contacted the places I wanted to stay and waited too long to confirm. All three hotels/safari camps were fully booked. But hey I started again and believe I have excellent accomodations in Franschoek, Capetown and Kruger region. You should be able to find superior to luxury accomodations in Capetown and environs for $80-130 per night. Some of the websites that helped: sa-venues.com, lastminutetravel.com, & frommers For Safari I recommend mtbeds.com. Here you will find all kinds of accomodations in the parks and lodges with the rack rate and any specials they may have going. Great comparison shopping. I am sure there are many others. Good luck in your planning I hope this helps!
 
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Oct 2nd, 2002, 06:49 PM
  #16
chrissy
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I thought 12 days on the ground 2 days travel was just enough. Three weeks sounds like a long time unless you're a real trooper. I was 25 and a single female when I traveled to Tanzania. I wouldn't do it alone b/c too many bandits. Try to get in a tour group, I went w/ A&Kent was expensive but very top of the line. Which was equal to something we'd consider nice but not exceptional in the US. Also- don't bother doing tent tours b/c you normally travel in open trucks. So that means you get wet if it rains and dirty if it's dry (dust).
good luck
 
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Oct 3rd, 2002, 11:32 AM
  #17
Patricia
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We went with 2Afrika, which I'm sure was MUCH cheaper than A&K (which I wouldn't even consider using because of cost). Our accommodations were as you described with A&K, only maybe better. It wouldn't be outstanding in the U.S. but was REALLY nice. We paid only $2000 from Atlanta for 9 days total, including flying time. All meals and everything was included, except first and last meals in the country, as usual. I can't imagine needing anything better than where we stayed. We were actually pinching ourselves. Couldn't believe we were getting what we got for the price we paid.
 
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Oct 3rd, 2002, 11:33 AM
  #18
Patricia
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Forgot to mention. We were in Kenya. But I know A&K is several times the price we paid.
 
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Oct 3rd, 2002, 07:32 PM
  #19
angela
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John,
just to add a few thoughts...
1) I second the advise to skip Jo'burg...It's a very sprwling urban city not acessible to tourists and the events they have are like an African Disneyland. Last time I was in Jo'burg I did spend one night to catch an early SAA conection...if you do this a recommend the Grace at Rosebank which is close to a safe and attractive shopping area.
2)I love South Africa and with three weeks I wouldn't split my time between SA and Tanzania/Kenya...it will certainly add to the cost unless you take an air carrier through Europe... that flies into South Africa and out of Tanzania/Kenya...and will effectively price your itinerary as a round trip.
3)You also have to consider how much time you want to spend on safari? The last time I went we had 10 days in Zambia and I loved it but my husband found it too much after about 5/6 days. I could look at big game all year but he found it one dimensional.
3) I've also heard great things about 2 Afrika which another person mentioned although I haven't travelled with them.
4) If you want to do something in addition to Capetown and Kruger but don't want to add to the cost too greatly you could consider Namibia. It's a fascinating country....not heavily travelled by Americans...very safe with an extraordinary landscape and lots to do. Because of the historical connection between SA and Namibia ( SA controlled Namibia as a colony for many years) There are excellent flight connections and you could fly from Capetown to Windhoek (the capital) and return to Joburg.
5)If you don't have the kids and you do like wine tasting make sure you check out the wine growing areas outside Cape Town...it's just wonderful and very reasonably compared with Europe or the US both for wine, food and accomodation.
6)The agency I used was South Africa and I found them very helpful...you can arrange so much over the net they are at www.africansafari.co.za
7) One last thing... you said you were considering a trip for either the Spring or the Fall...One thing you have to think about if you are going all that way and the safari part of things is that it is important to consider the time of year and the visibility of the animals. In the Serengeti there is also the question of migration and certain times are better than others. In Zimbabwe and Zambia...and I think South Africa the dry season June-October, before the rains arrive in mid November, is considered high season for game viewing. The grass is low and the animals congregate around the water holes. The rain hasn't dispersed them and it's wonderful.
Hope this helps,
feel free to email if you have any further questions,
Angela
 
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