Itinerary Suggestion for SA


Sep 28th, 2004, 09:54 PM
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Itinerary Suggestion for SA

I need some help on planning a trip to SA. We would have about 8-10 days in Feb. We could fly into Johan and out of Cape Town or the other way round. What would an ideal itinerary be to cover most of the must-see places? Of course we would like to do a safari. However we do not have a $1000/person/night budget to spend on luxurious lodges. Are there nice ones in the $100/person/night region? We don't like tour packages but for security reasons, should we consider them instead of doing the tour on our own?

Many thanks for your advice.
whiting is offline  
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Sep 30th, 2004, 01:47 PM
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Why cant the itinerary be discussed on this forum? The whole object of the Fodors web forum is to share and not to help on an individual basis. Many an itinerary that is much larger than the one that Whiting speaks of has beem discussed openly on this forum. By doing this all Fodrites gain from the help and not only the individual. Furthermore it opens the debate for all to have their say about what is being discussed.

Thus if you truly want to help start rattling off all the information you so keenly speak of when it comes to below $100/night accommodations but please do it in the forum and not out of the forum.

Just my twopence.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
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Oct 1st, 2004, 01:17 PM
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Hello Whiting,

I think it would be ideal if you were to split your time more or less equally between the Cape Town area and a safari.

You need 3 days to do justice to Cape Town and its environs, and you need another day or 2 to visit the nearby winelands. That can be done either as an overnight trip or as a day trip from Cape Town.

Cape Town has a mediterranean climate. You can expect the weather in the southern hemisphere summer to be dry and hot to warm.

Which spot would be best for your safari is somewhat open to question. The provinces of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal are considered to be the premium safari destinations.

With the short time frame you have, I would suggest going to only one safari destination (perhaps split between 2 nearby game lodges or split between 2 camps within a large game reserve such as the Kruger National Park).

I don't think your budget will permit you to go on the kind of safari on which you accompany a game ranger in an off-road 4 x 4 vehicle. I think it will be more feasible for you to do a self-drive trip through a national park.

An Internet search suggests that you may be able to rent a cottage or bungalow with a private bathroom and self-catering kitchen facilities in a national park somewhere in the US$80 per night range. From what I can tell, that price would be per couple, not per person.

Keep in mind that, if you go that route, you will need to pay for a rental vehicle, so you need to factor that into your budget as well.

If you stay in a rather inexpensive national park, you can supplement your independent game viewing by hiring a guide for some of the time.

I haven't worked out the math precisely, but I think this would come in close to the budget you have stated.

Visiting South Africa's national parks on a self-drive basis is okay from a safety point of view. But that's only true of South Africa, not East Africa where the conditions of the roads are more iffy.

Another option to consider is to visit Cape Town and the Garden Route (the stretch of coast from Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth). Although they usually are not regarded as "classic" game reserves in the sense that the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal game reserves are regarded, the game reserves along the Garden Route also can provide you with an opportunity to see African animals. The largest of the Garden Route game reserves is Addo Elephant National Park.

The Garden Route game reserves have the advantage of being malaria-free, so would not necessitate anti-malarial medications.

The Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal game reserves would require anti-malarial medications and are likely to be as hot as Hades in February.

Here's a website about South Africa's national parks

And here is Selwyn's classic itinerary of Cape Town, the winelands and the Garden Route

Although I've only "met" Selwyn here on the Fodors forum, Fodorites who have taken his small group guided tours have said many complimentary things about them. The day trip that seems to blow many travellers away is the visit to Kayamandi Township.

You can check out Selwyn's offerings at his "I Love Cape Town Tours" website at

I don't think it matters, in February, whether you start in the north and work southwards or vice versa. February is full-on summer, and the approaching coolness of autumn or the receding coolness of spring is not an issue.

If you choose to do your game viewing in Mpumalanga, the Kruger National Park is accessible from Johannesburg. It's a 5 hour drive. There also are flights between Johannesburg and Mpumalanga airports, such as Nelspruit.

Driving between Johannesburg and Mpumalanga would be fine but, with your time frame, you definitely should not drive between Johannesburg and the Cape region. The distance is too great for such a quick trip, and it would eat into your premium sight seeing time too much. You should fly between the north (Johannesburg or one of the Mpumalanga airports) and the south (Port Elizabeth, George or Cape Town, as the case may be).

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
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Oct 5th, 2004, 01:15 AM
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Dear Judy

Many thanks for your detailed reply. I'm overwhelmed by all the info and choices to make! Here's what I've came up with:

Day 1 (2 Feb)- Day 3: Cape Town (Table Mountain, Chapman's Peak Drive, Cape Point, Wineland)
Day 4-7: Garden Route to PE (Knysna, Swartberg Pass, Treetop Canopy Safari, beaches)
Day 8: Depart PE (a) to Jo'burg and drive to Madikwe or Welgevondon; or (b) to Cape Town for flight to Hoedspruit or Nelspruit (SAA site down, can't get info) and drive to Elephant Plains in Sabi Sands
Day 9-10: Game drives (3 nights in game lodge)
Day 11: Bldye Canyon Canyon, overnight in Graskop
Day 12: Depart Jo'burg for home

Given the time constraint, we do not want to drive around too much from Jo'burg to Mpumalanga, hence the option do go to Madikwe or Welgevondon instead. If flights to Mpumalanga are reasonable (unfortunately none from PE) we would stay in Sabi Sands for better chances of spotting the Big 5. Despite our little budget, I hesitate to stay in Kruger rest camps as I'm worried the game sightings will not be as good in Feb. Moreover they seem to have rather basic rooms and the nice ones are booked up months in advance. Elephant Plains seem to be the cheapest of the lot.

One big question. The rates on are unbelievable! I would love to take advantage of them. Is mid Feb a really busy period or can I take the risk and make a booking via mtbeds 1 week before I depart?

One smaller question: Is it worthwhile to stay at a B&B outside Kruger and go in for the game drives? It's so much cheaper this way.

Would appreciate all comments. Thank you!

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