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Help planning an itinerary in South Africa for 17 nights

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Feb 8th, 2004, 04:47 AM
  #1
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Help planning an itinerary in South Africa for 17 nights

Hello all,

My wife and I are planning a trip in South Africa next august. We will stay there 17 nights. Here is my itinerary:

1. Joburg to visit a friend (1 night).
2. Golden Gate to visit the park (1 night). DO you know if it?s a good place to visit? Is it cold in Winter? Which accommodation should we stay?
3. Royal natal (2 nights) to visit the park and to hike. We would like to stay in the berg house. Is it a nice play to stay?
4. Durban (1 night) to visit the city. Does it worth it? I am not sure of that?
5. Hluhluwe-Umfolozi (2 nights).
6. Swzaziland (1 night). Does it worth it? I am not sure?
7. Kruger (3 nights) at Olifants and Sabie.
8. Blyde river Canyon (1 night)
9. Joburg and fly to Cape town for 2 or 3 nights for a week end. Some people said that there?s nothing to do in week end in cape town. Is it true?

Thanking you in advance for your advise.

Olivier from Paris
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Feb 8th, 2004, 05:19 AM
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Hello Olivier,

My information on South Africa is not current. I grew up in Swaziland, and have lived away from there for nearly 30 years. When we visit South Africa we stay with our family, so I don't have recent experience of hotels. However, some basic things haven't changed in 30 years, and I can comment on some aspects of your planned trip.

Your route in inefficient, and involves double backing on yourself.

Also, while the Drankensberg range is beautiful, and I just love it, it does get cold in winter (especially at night). Everyone's taste is different, but if it were my trip I would not go to Golden Gate or Royal Natal in winter.

Cape Town is a great place. I cannot imagine how anyone could have told you there was nothing to do there on a weekend.

The one downside of Cape Town is that it has a mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. You can be lucky and have pleasant weather. I've been in Cape Town in August and it has been nice. On the other hand, I've also been there when it has been rainy, cold, and WINDY.

Some people say Cape Town is so wonderful one should go there regardless of the fact that it's winter. I don't know about that. It's a risk, in my opinion.

If you do go to Cape Town, you really ought to spend at least 3 full days there (excluding travel time). I would even say 4 full days. Anything less than 3 days would be a crime, in my not so humble opinion.

So, this is the itinerary I would suggest. It does reflect my bias towards a slightly more relaxed pace of travel. But I think the more relaxed pace is justified. Every one of the places you've mentioned in your suggested itinerary has more to offer than a fleeting visit.

1 - Johannesburg

2 - Blyde River Canyon

3 - Blyde River Canyon

4 - Kruger

5 - Kruger

6 - Kruger

7 - Swaziland

8 - Swaziland

9 - Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

10 - Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

11 - Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

12 - Durban (consider staying in Umhlanga Rocks, a coastal suburb to the north of Durban)

13 - Durban

14 - Cape Town (fly from Durban to CT)

15 - Cape Town

16 - Cape Town

17 - Cape Town

When you return home, fly Cape Town - Johannesburg - Paris.

Hope you have a great trip.
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Feb 8th, 2004, 05:22 AM
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>>>>>>The one downside of Cape Town is that it has a mediterranean climate<<<<<<

That strikes me as funny in hindsight. There are many people in Calgary who would give their eye teeth to live in a mediterranean climate!!!
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Feb 8th, 2004, 07:54 AM
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Hi,

I am a bit confused. I don't jknow what should we do. Is it cold in winter in the royal natal NP? We love hiking. Do you think it's still possible?

Thanks for your comments.

Olivier
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Feb 8th, 2004, 08:07 AM
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We have our trip visiting S.A. in April this year, and since we booked there have been lots of useful articles and good reading, in The Guardian Travel Section link as follows

http://travel.guardian.co.uk/

Hope this helps
Rod
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Feb 8th, 2004, 12:59 PM
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Hi Olivier,

You might get nice, sunny days, with temperatures around 20 deg C, in the Drakensberg in August. On the other hand, August days also can be windy and cool. Nights will almost certainly be cold, and there's a good chance of frost at night.

If you love hiking, you can certainly hike in the Drakensberg in winter. Just realise that it won't be summer, and take adequate clothing with you. It's best to pack layers of clothing so that you can wear as few or as many layers as the weather requires.

The area around Cape Town is the only part of South Africa that gets mostly winter rainfall. The rest of the country gets mostly summer rainfall. Hence the grass in all the rest of South Africa will be dry in August. (This, however, will be an advantage in the game reserves. There will be less foliage in winter than there is in summer, which will make it easier to see animals in the bush.)

To anticipate the temperatures you'll encounter in South Africa, it helps to understand that much of the interior of South Africa is occupied by a high plateau. Johannesburg, for example, is 1,760 metres above sea level. Most of the time this helps to prevent it from becoming unpleasantly hot in summer, but it also makes for quite cool winter nights.

The low lying coastal plain is hot in summer and warm in winter. Most of the places to which you would go for wildlife viewing would be at lower (and hence warmer) elevations, i.e., Kruger National Park, some of Swaziland, and Hluhluwe-Unfolozi.

In the almost treeless Drakensberg range (Royal Natal), you are not going to see the animals that often are associated with Africa (lions, giraffes, wildebeest, zebra, impala, and so on). But of course the Drakensberg scenery is dramatic and beautiful in its own way.

If you include Royal Natal in your itinerary, I recommend eliminating Durban. In that case use Duran only as a place from which to fly to Cape Town.

Hope this helps.





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Feb 9th, 2004, 10:45 AM
  #7
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Hello,

Thanks for your prompt answer and for your advice. It helps me.

I think that our trip will be :

1 - Johannesburg (to visit a friend)

2 - Royal Natal NP

4 - Royal Natal NP

5 - Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

6 - Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

7 - Kruger

8 - Kruger

9 - Kruger

10 - Blyde River Canyon

11 - Cape Town (flight)

12 - Cape Town (around ???)

13 - Cape Town (around ???)

14 - Cape Town ((around ???)

15 - Cape Town (around ???)

16 - Paris (flight)

What about Cape town and its region.

Thnaks,
Olivier
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Feb 9th, 2004, 09:27 PM
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Olivier, your itinerary is looking pretty good.

As for Cape Town, there are many previous discussion threads in which accommodation and activities have been discussed. If you do a search for Cape Town here at Fodors, you'll find loads of information. But, just to get you started, here are some ideas:

* Day tour of wine region

* Day tour to Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Cape Point

* Cable car ride to top of Table Mountain

* Ferry ride to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned

* Downtown Cape Town (gardens outside of Parliament buildings, Greenmarket Square (a good place to buy souvenirs if you wish), Castle of Good Hope

* Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

In Franschhoek, which is in the wine region, there is a beautiful memorial, the Huguenot Momument, to the French refugees who fled to the Cape of Good Hope in the late 1600s. They introduced viticulture to the Cape. You will notice several French surnames in South Africa (although in a few cases the spelling has changed slightly from the original French versions of the names, and in several cases the pronunciation has changed).
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Feb 14th, 2004, 01:32 AM
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Your itinerary is starting to look good Don't worry about the weather, it varies, but is never extreme. You will, however need a clear day for Table Mountain, so plan your Cape Town stay around the weather. August is whale time in SA, when Southern Right whales visit our Cape Coast day trip to view whales might be an option.. There are excursions to get up close and personal with the whales, a must if you are into whales.
If you have never been to Cape Town before I would recommend taking guided day trips. You will then enjoy the sightseeing without the worries of finding your way and traffic. Most operetors let you tailor the trips to suit your requirements.
You can enter Royal Natal from Drakensberg Gardens, last time I was there they had two very nice hikes into the Park. Drakensberg Gardens also has some shorter hikes on their grounds.

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Feb 14th, 2004, 01:36 AM
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I just want to add something. I would not go to Kruger without taking anti Malaria precautions. We prefer Larium, as you only have to take 6 pills one a week for 6 weeks. But consult your doctor, he will know best
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