Is this too ambitious for a trip to Africa?

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Jan 30th, 2015, 08:43 AM
  #1
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Is this too ambitious for a trip to Africa?

My sister and her husband are planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa and need helping planning their vacation. Would visiting the places below be too ambitious for a 9-night stay in Africa?
They would be coming from the US, so I'm sure they will have lots of jet-leg (to keep in mind). Please let me know if you have any suggestions, or must-see places! Thanks in advance!

Cape Town 9 Jul 2015 (2 nights)
Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve 11 Jul 2015 (5 nights)
Victoria Falls 16 Jul 2015 (2 nights)
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Jan 30th, 2015, 10:10 AM
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What are the Cape Town plans? If the plans are to do one or two things in Cape Town, such as Robben Island where Mandela was held and walk along the waterfront, that's fine. But you can easily spend 4-5 days in Cape Town (or much more). If they have the time and they have an interest in culture, art, dining, gardens, beautiful landscapes, or Great White Sharks and penguins, do encourage them to spend more time in Cape Town.

5 nts Sabi Sands is good. That will allow enough time for some special sightings to materialize. They might even consider staying two places within the vast Sabi Sands region.

Back to Cape Town--they are going at a great time for Great White Shark viewing. Whether cage diving or viewed from the boat, these creatures fascinating. I spent a week going out to see the sharks, always viewing from the boat not the water, and had excellent viewing and photo ops.

If that's of interest, more info to follow. But with 2 nights, one shark trip would be just about all that could be accomplished.
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Jan 30th, 2015, 12:39 PM
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ok thanks for the info. I was considering doing another safari lodge rather than Cape Town. Wondering if Cape Town is worth viewing? What are your opinions and if you have any suggestions on other places to go then the ones I mentioned. Thanks for your help!
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Jan 30th, 2015, 03:16 PM
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I would skip Vic Falls. That's a long, expensive travel day both ways. I would do three nights CT and three nights in two areas of the Kruger ecosystem (Sabi Sands and another reserve). If Vic Falls is your most important thing to do, skip CT or SS and add Chobe or another nearby reserve in Botswana. For just over a week, you are trying to do too much.

I hate that question - "Is xxx worth it?" No one can answer that but you. I don't know what's important to you or what your interests are. All of those places have been "worth it" to me, but not in a week. You'll go back - Southern Africa is incredibly special.
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Jan 30th, 2015, 05:36 PM
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Three separate areas in 9 nights is too much travelling. All are worth doing, but I would choose either CT and Sabi Sands or Vic Falls and 2 nearby reserves.

This is enough time to get just a taste of Southern Africa. I found CT a great introduction to Sth African culture and history as well as having magnificent scenery.

Safaris are an obvious highlight of the trip and choosing two areas will provide a wider range of experiences. This will be enough to inspire the next trip of a lifetime.
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Jan 30th, 2015, 06:31 PM
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I agree the current itinerary is too much in 9 days.

I spent 5 days in the Cape Town area and could easily have spend a few more. It really is a stunning place.

Doing the drive to Cape of Good Hope (kinda the very southern tip of the African continent) in a clockwise direction via Kalk Bay, then Simons Town for the penguins, so you hit the sunset along Chapmans Peak is an absolute must in my opinion and that drive would take a whole day.

Then 2 different areas in Sabi Sands. If budget allows check out MalaMala - the wildlife is the most prolific I've ever seen.
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Jan 30th, 2015, 08:51 PM
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"I was considering doing another safari lodge rather than Cape Town."
If you want all safari and no city activity, then it would make sense to skip Cape Town.

"Wondering if Cape Town is worth viewing?" If your heart is set on just safari--and I can relate to that--then you may not want your limited time spent in cities. But to just answer your question. Oh my goodness, yes. It is a city unique in the world. The culture and history is moving. The Cape of Good Hope Drive mentioned above (and hiking) is spectacular. Don't forget those penguins and great whites, both seen from Simons Town. It is a destination on its own. Stunning from KathBC is a good term.


if you have any suggestions on other places to go then the ones I mentioned. I agree about Mala Mala having abundant wildlife and it is a large area. But other areas of Sabi Sands are great too. See this map:

http://sabi.krugerpark.co.za/sabi-sand-map.html

I figured Vic Falls was in the mix because that was a high priority on the once in a lifetime trip. If it's not a high priority, then I'd remove it for more days in Cape Town.

To turn around the "Is it worth it?" question,
"What would YOU like to see or do most on this trip?" That can lead to where to go.

Also is 9 days your max?
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Jan 30th, 2015, 09:58 PM
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I live in USA and would not go to Africa for less than two weeks considering the cost of flights, and travel time (24-30hrs) and time change/jet lag. If you live in Europe then that's a different story.

Cities - and if you live in Europe I can't see how Cape Town is going to interest you. Unless you just simply like cities.

Victoria Falls - ok if you love love love falls. And rather out of your way to go there. You would fly into and out of Africa from where?

I've been to Africa (8 times) always for the unique experience and thrill Africa offers. Safari. Only for safari.

regards - tom
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:55 AM
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First, a caution: A high percentage of those who plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa wind up deciding that they'll do whatever it takes to make a second, third, and fourth trip there.

That said: I too would skip VF. Not that it's awful, but I'd spend more time in the Cape Town area and on safari. With 9 nights, I'd start in Cape Town for 3-4 nights. I'd rent a car and spend 1 night either in the Simons Town area (penguins!) or in the winelands (Franschhoek is an especially pleasant town). Then I'd take the non-stop mid-morning flight from Cape Town to Nelspruit (Krueger airport) and spend the remaining days on safari.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 09:23 AM
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CAUTION CAUTION ALERT ALERT BEWARE BEWARE
If I could make this stuff flash, I would.

"First, a caution: A high percentage of those who plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa wind up deciding that they'll do whatever it takes to make a second, third, and fourth trip there."

I belong to the club Don Topaz describes.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 09:42 AM
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Me too! We have our retirement neighborhood in SA picked out, too!
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Jan 31st, 2015, 11:41 AM
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And me! "whatever it takes" could not ring more true!

@christabir - curious to know if we'll be neighbours in retirement. Where were you thinking?
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Jan 31st, 2015, 12:26 PM
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I too belong to the 'return' group. None for ever less than 12/nts whether South or East Africa.

We were able to get Vic Falls in, but this was 1/nt and next day we were off to Chobe in Botswana. For 1/day it simply isn't worth it with airfare and hotel, besides it takes only 1-1.5/hrs to walk the Falls... be realistic. Save it for your next visit to Botswana and/or Zambia/Zimbabwe. Nine (9) days just isn't sufficient time to visit South Africa or surrounds (disregard any 'group' tours you might have seen that show that you can... you'll be 'go, go, go, constantly.... sure no way to enjoy a holiday most anywhere).

All you can do is visit CPT which is a 'winner' of a city with lots to see/do and the remaining time at Kruger.

Suggest you rethink your time and where! It's not like a visit to London or Paris.

P.S. Recently returned from East Africa, but due to being offered a free 'award' ticket via JNB, took it... 16hrs is a killer from JFK... never again even if they paid me.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 10:19 PM
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KathBC - we are not going to go the normal ex-pat route (Cape Town). We will likely retire to KZN and the warm, gorgeous Indian Ocean, along with being within a day's drive to Kruger and a couple of hours from a few spectacular parks. We are still torn on whether to live in/almost in a nature reserve near the ocean or away from a nature reserve but oceanfront. It's 6 hours to JNB and a full day to Kruger, which are both important. DH wants a truck with a snorkel! What does he need a snorkel for?! Those seven years are ticking by really slowly....

Where are you thinking of? We had first considered Marloth Park on the south end of Kruger, but they don't allow pets. I am actually thinking of starting a very small pet boarding (think babysitting more than boarding) biz to help pay the bills, so that won't work. We also have made friends with a Zulu community who we would like to partner with to get some of their gorgeous beadwork sold in the US. Plus, I want a dog.

Oops, TMI! Just excited!!
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Feb 1st, 2015, 10:13 AM
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christabir- that all sounds great! I'm still researching - which means more excuses to go back to Africa!
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Feb 1st, 2015, 02:10 PM
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KathBC - my biggest problem is health insurance. With a pre-existing condition, it's difficult and very expensive. SA is talking about creating a more fair medical system so more of their citizens can use the great private doctors and hospitals. I'm hoping that goes well. Also, it's very hot and humid in KZN. The weather might be "better" in CT. But the real estate prices are reasonable outside CT. Ocean views for well under R5,000,000! If want to stay within driving distance to Kruger, but the Garden a Route would be a great choice for most people. Let me know when you're going back to look at 'hoods. I'm really nervous about the snorkel.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 04:16 PM
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"I'm really nervous about the snorkel."
Can't say I blame ya! Altho if he's referring to those trucks where the exhaust pipe is pointing up and are the height of the windscreen - that could mean he's really ready for adventure!
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Feb 1st, 2015, 08:22 PM
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Like this:
http://www.bikcloud.com/born4x4/raiderB.jpg

I won't survive the trip. Maybe he wants to cross Pont Drift to get to Mashatu when the river is running. Yikes.

Sorry for hijacking this thread! See - S Africa is an addiction.
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 06:42 AM
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Hi!

I agree with others. Three places in 9 nights is a lot of moving around and if jet lag is definitely of concern, then 2 nights on the front end is not enough IF you also really want to enjoy your first stop, wherever that may be.

For example:
If you only did 2 nights in Vic Falls as your first stop and were dealing with jet lag then the first day there or your arrival day, you certainly might not be ready to go bungee jumping or hop in a helicopter. This will leave you only the next day (your 2nd day) as your only FULL day to take advantage of activities because you'd most likely fly out in the AM on the 3rd day. So again, if you are keen on not just looking at the Falls but doing even just some of the activities and you think you'll need more time to settle in then you need 3 nights there.

Here are some alternatives depending upon your interest in the city of Cape Town and exploring the Cape Town surrounding area AND how much you want to take advantage of the many adventure activities of Vic Falls:

1: 3 to 4 nights in Cape Town followed by 5 to 6 nights on safari in Sabi Sand.
2: 3 nights in Vic Falls followed by 5 to 6 nights on safari in Sabi Sand.
3: 3 nights in Vic Falls followed by 3 nights in Cape Town followed by 5 nights on safari in Sabi Sand. This is still a lot of moving around but if you are willing to extend the trip, have the budget, and are well-seasoned travelers then it's a possibility. Traveling from VFA to CT to SS is the easiest order.
4. 3 nights in Vic Falls followed by 5 to 6 nights on safari in Botswana but a Botswana safari is much more expensive and I don't know your budget but it's worth putting out there.

Finally, I recommend that you investigate exactly what you want to see and do in VFA and CT to help you move through this itinerary decision. This is completely based upon your interests and your budget and only for you to decide. There is certainly many incredible things to do and see -- that's for sure!

Let me know if you'd like further help. Happy to do so.

All the best,
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 08:09 AM
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>>"First, a caution: A high percentage of those who plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa wind up deciding that they'll do whatever it takes to make a second, third, and fourth trip there."<<

I did my first to get it off the bucket list. My second just to well and truly get it out of my system and am now planning my third in 3 1/2 years because I have the itch that only having another safari will scratch! It will also ruin you on anywhere else you USED to like to go. Travel isn't the same anymore....
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