Help to chose best game reserve to go

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Jan 28th, 2012, 04:38 AM
  #1
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Help to chose best game reserve to go

My older son is going SA next Feb 10th for rugby tour with his team and we re traveling together to support them during the matches, but we d like to know South Africa as well.
Our travel agents are saying we must skip one of the three matches if we want to go to Kruger or Mala Mala, or if we want to be in all three matches then chose Shamwari or Amakhala.
Anyone can give us some advice please?
We think that going SA means going Kruger, but our heart is with the team also... The other suggested reserves are equally good so we wont regret missing Kruger? Or any other can be suggested as equally good? The matches will be near Cape Town and in Sedgefield
Thanks everyone!
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Jan 28th, 2012, 05:22 AM
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Feb 10, 2012 or 2013?
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Jan 28th, 2012, 05:40 AM
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Despite a love for all things related to travel, as someone involved in sports throughout my life, I would not allow myself or child to abandon the team and miss a tournament or touring match for an outside activity. And it sounds you feel that way too.

In addition to the date, would you be able to tell us what days the matches are set for? There are some very clever forum contributors who I am sure can help with ideas/strategies to get you to experience some great game viewing.
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Jan 28th, 2012, 06:44 AM
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To get this straight--you the parents might miss watching one of the matches to go to Kruger or the young man on the team would miss playing in one of the matches to go to Kruger/Sabi Sands (which are the private concessions next to Kruger with no fence separation)?

Is it possible to extend your time in South Africa so that you can attend the entire rugby tournament AND spend time in Kruger? Under these circumstances, just a 2-night stay in Kruger/Sabi Sands would work. Normally, I'd suggest 3 or more nights.

Could you post the itinerary required by the rugby tournament and suggested by the travel agent? Sdb2 asked similar and also mentioned the clever folks who could help. Even if the flights are a rugby package deal sponsored by the agent, South Africa Airways always has offers for air or air/safari you can book by yourselves and therefore determine your own dates. Or use an Africa specialist travel agent.

Right now much of Kruger is underwater due to unusual rains and flooding so if for Feb 10 2012, the floods should be a consideration. Not likely to be floods again in 2013.

Have you considered placing the safari part both before or after the tournament, which might allow for one more day to play with? It is possible to fly between Cape Town and Johannesburg almost hourly throughout the day. Most flights to Kruger/Sabi Sands leave from Johannesburg.

Though I have not been to Shamwari or Amakhala, I have gone to other small fenced operations and while there are animals to be seen, it is nothing like Kruger/Sabi Sands.

Though I have not been, Aquila is another smaller reserve near Cape Town, which you might want to check out.

You think "SA means Kruger," but you can easily experience unique aspects of South Africa by just staying in Cape Town.

Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve--driving and hiking
Boulders Bay penguins
Chapman's Peak Drive
Kirstenbosch Gardens (as renowned as Butchart on Vancouver Island)
Table Mountain
Robben Island--prison where Mandela was held
Great White Sharks viewing or cage diving

...to name just a few

Good luck in your planning and the rugby games.
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Jan 28th, 2012, 09:32 AM
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If you have to skip a match for one safari camp, then that camp should be MalaMala. End of story.

regards - tom
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Jan 29th, 2012, 04:29 AM
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Thank u all people for so many good answers so fast, we appreciate as we re leaving on Feb 10th, 2012
My son will be with the team and of course they will have all their three matches.

Problem is we d like to be with them in all the three matches too, but it seems the only way we can be at the matches and have time to do reserve is in Shamwari or Amakhala that are closer to the cities they ll be playing

Sedgefiled on Feb 14
Stellenbosch on Feb 18
Cape Town on 21st,

We re returning on 24th early morning, unfortunately cant extend our stay

atravelynn mentioned heavy rain and flooding in Kruger now -a point totally overlooked with the thrill of preparing the team travel, thanks for the comment-

My choice all things straight would have been Mala Mala of course, but I guess the rain and flooding is affecting it as well

Totally we ll stay 14 days and of course we ll spend time in CPT and do some beaches.

Have your recommendations for CPT, your suggestions on beaches will be also appreciated.

Better to stay in a resort style for a couple of days or drive along to visit different ones?

Is it worthy? We did so in Oahu and loved it
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Jan 29th, 2012, 06:10 AM
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I wouldn't miss any of his games - that's why you're going. You have three days between each, and Sedgefield is just four hours from the Addo area. Assuming you land on the 11th, I'd rent a car and meander out to Sedgefield, seeing much of the garden route. Then after his match go to Addo or one of the reserves nearby. Then drop the car off and fly from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town and enjoy the six days you have there and relax and enjoy the games. Lots to do, and it's a beautiful area. Seeing the GR and Addo - a big five reserve - will whet your appetite for more. You'll just have to go back someday to visit Kruger!
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Jan 29th, 2012, 06:31 AM
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You could spend a night or two here, too while in the Cape Town area. I am a big fan of S Africa's national parks and they are a great value. The accommodations are pretty nice and a great value. Water views for under $200 US. There are a few parks nearby if you want to check them out.

http://www.sanparks.org/parks/agulhas/all.php

(Are you going next week or next year?!)
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Jan 29th, 2012, 03:41 PM
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Thanks christabir, we re leaving in two weeks (Feb 10th 2012)

Of course I agree, the main reason of the trip is being with our kid's team, we ve been supporting them since they were doing their first passes and this trip is kind of the top of their rugby as most of them will start University when they come back to our country probably interfering

At the same time, u never know if u can come back right? (world has some many places...) That s why we insisted on Kruger

In your personal opinion then u think the suggested reserves can be enough? (Amakhala is in Addo and Shamwari close there)
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Jan 29th, 2012, 04:02 PM
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Addo is the second best park in S Africa. There are no guarantees (it's not a zoo) that you'll see much - we've been on many very quiet game drives in the reserves around Kruger. But Addo will give you a good chance. Both of those reserves will be quite luxurious and you'll be well pampered. Can you get availability at either? You should contact both ASAP and check. I just think that it's a very good compromise so you don't miss those games. You could try to squish in a two night stay near Kruger, but that's a lot of effort for not a lot of possible gain, in my view.

Everyone says it's a once in a lifetime trip. I'm planning my fourth. Africa gets into your soul. I can just about guarantee that before you land at your home airport, you'll be planning your return. It's a big world, but... Some places deserve a two-fer (or many more!!).

Double check if either of those camps allow off road on game drives. If you can get availability at both, choose the one that allows off road (likely Shamwari).
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Jan 29th, 2012, 06:03 PM
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I don't recall ever seeing a fence in Shamwari & they do go off road here & max of 6 people per game drive.

Addo is about 45 mins drive away on a quite back road, worth a day visit if passing.

In Cape Town there are many beaches, Camps Bay is very popular but I prefer Llandudno it's a bit further out & you will need a car to get here, also Noordhoek beach is lovely but if it is windy forget it.

If your match is in Sedgefield then the closest airport for Cape Town is George. There is also a couple of game reserves close to Sedgefield have a look at this map. http://www.sa-venues.com/accommodati...ame_lodges.htm
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Jan 29th, 2012, 11:48 PM
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Given the dates and locations of those matches, it is indeed not really possible to visit Kruger and/or Mala Mala. You'd have to fly to the other end of the country (and back) for a really short safari. You'd spend more time en-route than in the reserves.

I'd stick to Addo and the private reserves nearby. After all they are much closer to the Cape area (where your matches are).

The "purists" on this board (this includes myself) will tell you that you need to go to a big unfenced area for the best experience. But let's get real; you have to work with what you've got here.

The REAL question is; National park or private reserve? In this case; Addo (big, no offroading) or Shamwari/Amakhela/... (smaller, offroading)?

I'd go for the latter. Again; you've got limited time. Choose a good private reserve (most aren't exactly small either), and jump in that jeep. The ranger will take you closer to the animals than can be done in a national park. And you'll have a lot more good sightings per gamedrive. You'll come home with good pics and a good story.

And the feeling you need to return, no doubt.

By the way; there's lots of reserves in that area. Here's a clickable map, taking you straight to detail maps per reserve, and from there to individual pages on all available lodges:

http://www.sunsafaris.com/south-afri...n-reserve-map/

Happy travels!

J.
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Feb 8th, 2012, 08:25 AM
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Thanks to all respondents! we re leaving the day after tomorrow, finally take your suggestions and will go to Amakhala, 2 nights in Bush Lounge, 1 night in tent in Woodbury (think my younger son, 13, will love that memory despite the inconveniences we may find right?)
Would rather take Shanwari for the eco background and awards they received for that (also bigger and includes Born Free station) but they only have double accommodation and 13 year is not enough old for our idea to sleep separated in Africa, so we had to take Amakhala, that seems to be second to Shamwari
Also our travel agent said MalaMala has been damaged in the recent rains 3 weeks ago. Not more flooding now but some trees fell and damage lodge, etc
Thanks again!
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Feb 8th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Have fun! Enjoy the games and good luck to your son.
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Feb 26th, 2012, 02:48 AM
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Thanks christabir for your good wishes and suggestions. We returned yesteday and found this trip memorable in every respect, South Africa exceeding all of our expectations in every sense.
Regarding game reserve, after my personal experience and many dinner talks with people fm UK and Germany that have come many times to different reserves, and South Africans that are passionate to animals, the best suggestion seems to be Kruger BUT ONLY IF U HAVE A WEEK OR MORE TO SPEND THERE
Kruger is fantastic but too big, and u can easily spend 2 whole days or more without actually seeing any animal (or at least not any of the Big 5!)
Another usual complain is that there are too many operators and south africans call the rangers there "jockeys" as they keep comunicated by radio of their findings so everyone rushes from one point to another when someone reports seeing any of the animals people goes for.
Also as it s a national park there s no coordination between the different operators so they are distubing to animals as they can crowd around any spot
We had an EXCELLENT time at Amakhala and definitely this kind of reserve is the right suggestion if you re a little tight, as in 2-3 days u have excellent chances of finding all the species they have there. As I dont know the other ones, can only talk of Amakhala, but according to what I talked with the people we met, Shamwari is as good and also others can be found, u must check beforehand to be sure and the suggestions received here worked great for us
As per the conservation and respect to nature, we can only praise them for their care. They move slowly and carefully giving space to animals, not getting closer than needed -meaning, not pushing the animals- but still being close and keep the chance of them getting closer as it happened with a group of cheetas or a couple of rhinos.
Also they have a strict policy of only 2 jeeps at a time with a given group of animals, so maybe u have to wait until one of them leaves, or it can happen -as it happened to us- that u miss it -as a group of elephants kept walking while the previous 2 jeeps were with them, getting our of sight-.
As said, Amakhala is not small but u will have time to find them again, and 2 days later in our last day there we had a wonderful encounter with the group of elephants, and separately, with their older one.
Another good point was to spend 2 days in Bush Lodge and 1 in Woodbury as they are 10 kms away each other, and even when they are both in the same reserve, and rangers drive long distances everyday, we visited totally different spots in our 3 drives from Woodbury and the landscape was totally different.
Bush Lodge experience was a pampering one as anticipated by some of you, but far exceeding our expectation. Catering was awesome, attention excellent, every detail worth care
Another important point is WHEN u travel as people experienced with many visits to South Africa or south africans with many times in Kruger told us the best time to go there is Jun, Jul, Aug, and not Jan, Feb. Mosquitoes and heat are terrible, and in Jun, Jul animals are easier to found as they gather around water holes
Thanks again to all giving us suggestions for this trip that we ll keep in our minds forever

(PS: BTW we were able to attend all matches, they won 4 of 6, lose 1 and tied one! what else can we ask for?! )
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Feb 26th, 2012, 06:24 AM
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A successful trip on the field and in the field. Thanks for reporting back!
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Feb 26th, 2012, 04:26 PM
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Congratulations to your son (and you as the proud parent). S Africa has a way of exceeding expectations.

So when are you going back?
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Mar 10th, 2012, 09:25 AM
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atravelynn My DUTY after all your kind support! Thanks to u all!

christabir: hahhaha! that s a good one! Certainly the sooner the better!! Of course ZA was fantastic, we really hope we can go back there sooon, already missing it, but I m hoping our next destination can be New Zealand and Australia (as said before, world has too many things to see!)
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