Initial Planning for November/December Trip

Mar 27th, 2019, 03:01 AM
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Initial Planning for November/December Trip

After much deliberation on where to recommence our travels, we have finally (I think!) decided upon South Africa, mainly because of an article I read in Wanderlust magazine re KwaZulu - Natal, which piqued my interest. We will likely have between 4-8 weeks in the country depending upon house/pet sitting commitments that may come up. Timing wise, we could likely start our trip anytime from the last week of October onwards. From what I read so far the weather seems to be ok at that time. We could conceivably delay until the Xmas - New Year period but from what I read prices are hiked up and availability of accomodation reduced. Is the truly the case?

At present I am thinking of flying into Cape Town and out of Durban or vv or maybe just a straight return if internal flight sor trains are reasonably priced.

At this stage I just have in mind to spend a week in Cape Town at one end of the trip, a couple of weeks driving the Garden Route (or any other routes anyone can recommend) and spending some time hiking and on self drive type game viewing. Not especially interested in high end safari camps etc, as we have done that in Kenya and Tanzania, more interested in beautiful scenery, great food, culture, museums.

Any suggestions for guidebooks would b appreciated as I have yet to buy one. Any thoughts on Hotels and B&Bs versus AirBnB? We are mainly interest in mid range places with the odd splurge. From what I see, in SA that means £50-70 / $65- $80 per night.

I am sure I will have lots of other questions as time moves on but any initial thoughts, opinions and suggestions would be much appreciated.
crellston is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 04:02 AM
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Sounds like a good trip! The rainfall pattern in Cape Town is the reverse of farther north, with summer being the dry season. When I was in CT a year ago October the weather was dry, but still a bit chilly. October would be better for whale watching if you can fit that into your trip:
https://yellowzebrasafaris.com/south...E&gclsrc=aw.ds
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Mar 27th, 2019, 12:00 PM
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Hi crellson..was just in Cape Town and Kruger in February. No experience with other regions.
Yes you want to avoid Festive Season as they call it. If you start your trip in CPT in October you might catch the tail end of flower season in West Coast National Park and elsewhere.

I used Flysafair for internal flights which saved some money from one-way international fares. None of the Cape Town locals I met use SAA anymore for intercity flights, too expensive. Most use Mango or Kulula. I think even BA contracts out a lot of the internal flights. Virgin Atlantic runs nonstops to JNB using 787's which were comfortable even though 100% full.

Your estimate for midrange Airbnb and B&Bs is about right for off season. Hotels seemed to start at about $100 a night. One of the quirks of bookings in SA seemed to be that you paid quite a bit more for a refundable room (even if 'refundable' meant 2 weeks out). OTOH Airbnb and booking.com-type B&Bs often required checkin by 6pm.

Really liked SA, if it wasn't 24 hours away I'd go back often.

In Seaforth (near Simon's Town) I rented a "flatlet" on Airbnb (called SALT) which worked out well. The location was great for visiting the penguins and Cape Point as well as the starting point for driving up Chapman's Drive in the opposite direction of most of the traffic.
I also stayed several nights in Muizenberg at The Muize BnB because I was doing some birding nearby. There were people who were spending their entire stay there. It's relatively well located for getting back up to Cape Town on most days, while avoiding some of the bottlenecks created by the peninsula geography. Both averaged about $60- 70 a night by the time you threw in the taxes and fees.

In Cape Town central I spent first and last nights at Cape Heritage Hotel, which could be had on certain nights for less than $150 including breakfast and fees. Great location and staff. Avoid Friday nights if you want to sleep. Lot of clubs and restaurants nearby.

Sorry no guide book recommendations but I'd look at the SAN Parks website as well as Sibonya, even if you don't go to a private lodge there is some good info.

Last edited by mlgb; Mar 27th, 2019 at 12:06 PM.
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Mar 28th, 2019, 05:54 AM
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Well, 4 to 8 weeks is a long time and quite a spread, so if it was me I'd be trying to get a little more specific on time availability. We don't know your travel style; my own is such that 4-8 weeks would entail a lot more moving around than just KZN, the Garden Route and Cape Town, but maybe you like to travel then stay put and soak up the local scene. That's completely legit, of course, but let us know.

Some top of the head thoughts...

- In general I think starting in the north and working south is the best advice. By mid-summer KZN coastal areas can be getting fairly hot and humid, also buggy, so bear that in mind.

- The "wild coast" (part of the coast between the Durban area and East London) is quite undeveloped for tourism and at one time had a slightly negative reputation for road safety (mainly at night) so if you want to include Durban you might want to think about flying to and from, and doing any touring of KZN as a separate "loop" out of Durban.

- I would strongly suggest a driving tour of the southern Drakensberg mountains out of Durban. These are stunning mountains, some close to 10,000 feet, which form the border between SA and Lesotho, and driving around gives you a real sense of why the Zulu are the "people of the sky." Google Cathedral Peak, King's Castle among other places. southern-drakensberg-natal-midlands-map.pdf





Load up on some Johnny Clegg sounds for the car.


- I would start the Garden Route drive from Port Elizabeth, specifically Addo Elephant National Park, just inland. Addo is a self-drive park, meaning you can drive around in your own vehicle (although there are lodges and inclusive accommodations there too.) The wildlife viewing is superb, with (obviously) a lot of elephants but also plenty of predators, birds, and dung beetles



- The drive from Addo the rest of the way to Cape Town is stunning. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/NgzMPer56cK2 . Stop in Jeffreys Bay ("J Bay") a surfing destination made famous in the iconic movie Endless Summer from the 1960s, in Plettenberg Bay (IMO the nicest town along the route) and then travel through the Cape Winelands (more stunning scenery) into Cape Town. With as much time as you have I'd also extend the trip up the Atlantic coast from Cape Town, at least to West Coast National Park and the pretty fishing village of Paternoster and the beautiful nearby St. Helena Bay.

Pics -

Jeffreys Bay



Plettenberg Bay sunrise



Garden Route scene (typical)



Paternoster



St. Helena Bay



Happy planning!

Last edited by Gardyloo; Mar 28th, 2019 at 06:08 AM.
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Mar 28th, 2019, 06:29 AM
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Another modestly priced lodging recommendation, if you need a night arriving or departing from JNB. About 10-15 from the airport and they include pickup in the price. Enjoyed the dinners (I think about $10 USD for a buffet not including the extra $3 for a beer). In Kempton Park so not really convenient for sightseeing. By the way, given the other places I know you've traveled, I don't think you'll need to worry much about the weather in South Africa. All of the Fodor's doom and gloom about summer travel proved unwarranted. Not even close to Indonesia or the Amazon! October-November should be fine.

The only sight in JNB that I found even moderately interesting was the Apartheid Museum. There is a trendy block in downtown JNB, Maboneng, but quite honestly not my "thing". More for shoppers and foodies, I think.

https://www.sunrock.co.za/

Last edited by mlgb; Mar 28th, 2019 at 06:32 AM.
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Mar 30th, 2019, 03:47 AM
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Heimdall, thanks for the link to the Whale watching site. Sound very similar to our experience in Southern Argentina - even the same southern right whales! May have to include that.

Mlgb - Given that our travel tastes are very similar, your comment "Really liked SA, if it wasn't 24 hours away I'd go back often." Has sealed it for me!

Thanks for the heads up on internal flights, v. Helpful. Will probably use BA for international flights, if only for the points and that we like their PE class. Virgins
always seems to be considerably more expensive, at least from the U.K. I will probably now wait until the summer sales before pressing the button. Will have a look at those Airbnb suggestions and thank aging for the heads up on advance booking on booking.com Etc.. Looks like my usual MO won’t work in SA!

gardyloo - thanks so much for all the input and the photos! As you asked, our style of travel is very varied. Our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com will likely provide a better idea of how we travel. Basically we have tend to go for extended periods. In the past this has been 6-12 months. The last couple f years we have been doing shorter trips. Our last was to Mexico for a month which we then extended to two months, which is why the big spread on this trip. I am thinking already that we are most likely to go for the longer period and, based on our house/pet sitting commitments, this is likely to commence the last week of October.

We do like to move at a slower pace than most and would likely spend a week of our time in Cape Town and the beginning or end and maybe a few days based in Durban. I like your suggestion of thinking of this as two loops from Durban and CT. I don’t know how long people spend on driving the Garden Route but we would probably want to spend 2-3 nights at each location rather than move on each day.

I do like the idea of self drive safaris and will have a good look at Addo and at te San website suggested by Mlgb. Will also have a look at heading up the Atlantic Coast from CT.

Thanks to all for your help so far, a lot to think about, keep it coming!
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Mar 30th, 2019, 04:49 AM
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We do like to move at a slower pace than most
Then the laid back atmosphere of Cape Town is perfect for you! You don’t have to be on the go all the time.
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Mar 30th, 2019, 08:11 AM
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Thereís plenty to do in Cape Town and a week or two would not be too much. If you are into wine, I would highly recommend some time in the Cape Winelands region; we absolutely loved it. Itís not just wines but awesome food and nice walks and day hikes. I agree with mlgb about Johannesburg; I could have easily skipped it.
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Apr 5th, 2019, 11:23 PM
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Have now booked the flights! Emirates had a flash sale and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I jumped on flights into Durban 27 Oct out of Cape Town 12 Dec. This should give us enough time to see what we want at a leisurely pace.

At this point my outline plan ( I think) is to divide the trip into three sections:

1. A loop out of Durban to the Drakensberg, game parks and coastal areas like isimangaliso, St Lucia and maybe Kosi Bay. I had though of a side trip to Mozambique but have seen the devastation wreaked by cyclone Idai, so will put that on hold for the time being.
2. Drive or fly to Port Elizabeth and start the Garden Route winelands etc. from there ending in CT. I would like to include a foray into the Karoo.
3. Maybe a couple of days in CT before heading north west maybe to the Cederberg Mountains , returning for our last week in CT.

A reality check. Is this feasible or advisable in the 48 days we have?

Mlgb I have had a look The Muize BnB you linked. Exactly the sort of place we love. My first task is to find somewhere similar in or around Durban for a couple of days after arrival.

Off to Waterstones today to get a guidebook. Have finally decided that downloaded guidebooks on my iPad just don’t work. Probably don’t need one really but find I need teh "comfort blanket" of a paper guide. As this is mostly going to be by road, I think 8 may invest in a map as well.
Thank you all for your help so far.
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Apr 6th, 2019, 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
Have now booked the flights! Emirates had a flash sale and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I jumped on flights into Durban 27 Oct out of Cape Town 12 Dec. This should give us enough time to see what we want at a leisurely pace.

At this point my outline plan ( I think) is to divide the trip into three sections:

1. A loop out of Durban to the Drakensberg, game parks and coastal areas like isimangaliso, St Lucia and maybe Kosi Bay. I had though of a side trip to Mozambique but have seen the devastation wreaked by cyclone Idai, so will put that on hold for the time being.
2. Drive or fly to Port Elizabeth and start the Garden Route winelands etc. from there ending in CT. I would like to include a foray into the Karoo.
3. Maybe a couple of days in CT before heading north west maybe to the Cederberg Mountains , returning for our last week in CT.

A reality check. Is this feasible or advisable in the 48 days we have?

Mlgb I have had a look The Muize BnB you linked. Exactly the sort of place we love. My first task is to find somewhere similar in or around Durban for a couple of days after arrival.

Off to Waterstones today to get a guidebook. Have finally decided that downloaded guidebooks on my iPad just don’t work. Probably don’t need one really but find I need teh "comfort blanket" of a paper guide. As this is mostly going to be by road, I think 8 may invest in a map as well.
Thank you all for your help so far.
I think you should be fine with 48 days, sounds more than ample even if you want to stay put for some time in the various areas.

Re the Karoo - Why not drive all the way, Durban > Drakensberg > Karoo > Addo> Garden Route > Cape Town? Here's a map of the route we took; the driving was easy and the landscapes quite varied. https://goo.gl/maps/ZW2sX7KqVVG2

We stayed on a Karoo farm at Kulfontein near Colesberg - Kuilfontein Stable Cottages | Kuilfontein Portfolio - which was very comfortable and in stunning surroundings.



We thought about transiting Lesotho on the way, but chose not to because we weren't sure we had the proper documentation for the rental car, and then the forecast was for snow in the mountains, so we passed on the chance. (This was in August IIRC.)
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Apr 6th, 2019, 06:06 AM
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That sounds like all of the places I'd want to visit on a return trip. My only comment is that commute traffic in and around CPT is a B**** That's why I had split my stay all over the place since needed to be at specific places when traffic was going to create a problem The family who runs Muize is great. They have preserved some of the old bathing sheds on their property. The dad manages a tour company, the mum the B&B, and the son knows all about windsurfing. He gave me a perfect marine weather forecast a half week out.

You're lucky to have access to proper bookshops in the UK with I'm sure a far better selection than we've got here. I think once you're in SA you will find some specialized guidebooks for things like hikes and more detailed maps.I really only had about 10 days to plan so only used online resources.

The authority for the Western Cape Reserves outside the WCNP is https://www.capenature.co.za/ They have some cottages as well as campsites.

North of the WCNP I stayed at a posh B&B, Le Mahi, in Langebaan (gorgeous inside and great breakfast even though I had to arrive by 6pm). It can be reasonable in low season especially if you can pick it up on booking.com etc. I think I booked on their own website vs one the booking engines so I could select a particular upstairs room and make sure they would let me in around closing time. Worth checking booking.com closer to your date to see if you can pick it up at a discount. Or maybe you'll be wanting a splurge by then. Inside the West Coast National Park the Duinepos Cottages were recommended to me, but they were already booked for my nights https://www.duinepos.co.za/

I also used the maps on the Cape Bird Club website for maps some of the reserves. A word of caution on the Paarl reserve though.. a number of the birders I met in Cape Town won't go there any more due to safety concerns. I'm sure you will ask for local advice for recent updates on safety, etc. as experienced world travelers. As the elections approach this year, it should be interesting to see how things develop.

https://www.capebirdclub.org.za/best...nd-cape-town/#

Last edited by mlgb; Apr 6th, 2019 at 06:30 AM.
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Apr 7th, 2019, 12:25 AM
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"commute traffic in and around CPT is a B**** “ I gathered that from reading some of your other posts. Whilst it is our usual style to end these trips with a long stay in one place, I may well do as you did and split the location based on what we want to see in CT. I am assuming that we will return our rental car on arrival in Cape Town and rely on buses, taxis and Uber. Good move?

Didn’t appreciate there were elations happening this year. Can’t be any worse than the political chaos that is Brexit Britain at the moment!
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Apr 7th, 2019, 12:42 AM
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PS. You are right about the bookshops here. I am off into London next week and will pay a visit to my favourite bookshop in the world Maps, Atlases, Travel Guides, Travel Books and Globes | Stanfords . Paradise for any travel addict!
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Apr 7th, 2019, 08:05 PM
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A car is best for touring Cape Point. I had mine parked for days at a time. Ubered back to the airport.
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Apr 8th, 2019, 02:12 AM
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Sorry about the bold.I might keep the car to do Cape Point first perhaps from Simons Town, then drive via Chapman's and return it to a city office. Depends on where you settle in. Car rental was pretty cheap so I just had it for other than the city center night's,
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Apr 8th, 2019, 06:52 AM
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I stay with relatives in Cape Town, and haven’t noticed much of a commute problem, except when going to or from the airport on the N2 during rush hour periods. Camps Bay is very busy during the Christmas - New Year period, but apart from that traffic is a lot less hectic than in many other large cities, e.g. London. You will certainly want a car for Cape Point, and perhaps for the winelands too.
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Apr 10th, 2019, 11:39 PM
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Thanks for the additional info guys. My guidebook has now arrived so planning can now really start. Having started to explore routes with google maps (I may invest in a paper map too!) I can see the logic of retaining the car for cape point and also for gardyloo’s suggestion of driving from Drakensberg to Addo. The more I read about Drakensberg, the more time I want to allocate there. After all the time we have spent in South America, I think we have turned into mountain people!

As you say mlgb, car rental costs are incredibly cheap but for our last week in Cape Town, I think I would rather rely on Uber / Taxi/ walking to get around.

I will come back with a draft itinerary for comment in due course.
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May 19th, 2019, 06:34 AM
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You don't absolutely *need* a car in Cape Town but we found it a great convenience.
We always rent flats through Air Bnb and found many places, esp in the central business district, come with secure indoor parking.
A car is useful not only to visit Cape Point/ Cape of Good Hope but also:
Suburban restaurants such as Myoga
Kirstenbosch gardens
Groot Constantia and the other Constantia vineyards and restaurants
Winelands locations, including Vergelegen and Boschendal
Other day trips e.g. Breede River Valley.

I also strongly second the recommendation that you visit the semi-desert region of the Klein Karoo, which is spellbinding and so different from the W Cape coast.
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May 19th, 2019, 11:15 PM
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Thanks tegdale that is very helpful. Our itinerary is developing, albeit slowly! I had decided to follow the suggestion of gardyloo and circumnavigate Lesotho ( and maybe take a short side trip their via Sani pass or another entry point. I had missed the point re Klein Karoo and had almost decided on a sop in Hogsback en route to Addo. I had read good things about the Moloti- Drakensberg driving route so definitely wanted to include that.

I get what you are saying re a car in Cape Town but I am not a fan of cars in cities and prefer to rely on public transport/taxis/Uber . Plus, by the time we reach CT will have been in the car for 6 weeks, some non-car time will be long overdue. We plan on covering the winelands and the peninsula on our way to CT.

So many places, so little time. As Mlgb predicted, I am thinking a second trip is already on the cards..
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May 19th, 2019, 11:37 PM
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Tegdale - I meant to add, any chance you could share which Airbnb places you used or at least which locations you found most convenient? Thanks.
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