July 2005 South Africa Safari / Honeymoon

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Apr 16th, 2005, 04:45 PM
  #1
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July 2005 South Africa Safari / Honeymoon

Hello!

Long time reader, first time poster. We're planning a July 2005 honeymoon to South Africa, and are suffering from analysis paralysis. There is so much information, we've been trying to wade through it for some time now, and this is the incomplete itinerary we have so far. We'd really like to book soon, as in within a week, so any help the Fodorites have would be great. We need it.

July 2005:
11th NYC->JBerg->CPT
12th Wine country (either Stellenbosch or Franschhoek)
13th Wine country (either Stellenbosch or Franschhoek)
14th Capetown
15th Capetown
16th Capetown
17th Capetown
18th CPT->JBerg->Sabi Sabi (Selati)
19th Sabi Sabi (Selati)
20th Sabi Sabi (Selati)
21st
22nd
23rd
24th JBerg->NYC

Depending on the wine country destinatin, we have a couple of mid-level hotels or b&b's selected. (La Couronne, Franschhoek Country house, Village @spier) Because of budget constraints, we are scaling back a little on the first week of our trip, and splurging on the safari leg.

For our time in Capetown, we'd like to be somewhere in the Centre City area, within walking distance of most of the restaurants / action. Considering staying in the Metropole, which was classified as a luxury boutique hotel on Long St.

Moving on to the safari options, we have 6 nights set aside for game viewing. We would like to spend 3 of them at Sabi Sabi, and are looking for ways to fill the remaining 3. Is it worth it to fly up to Botswana, and finishing our trip at the Luangwa River Lodge http://luangwariverlodge.com or similar? Or just staying in SSGR, and spend the remaining 3 nights at another lodge? Is the variety of game viewing worth the travel time when we only have 2 weeks?

Eventually, budget will come into play for us, and we'd love to be able to leave those last days open, and make a last minute booking on a deal from http://www.mtbeds.co.za/index.xml, but is that realistic? Can we expect there to be as many opportunities available come July? The discounts are so deep, it is tempting...

Looking forward to some help filling in the gaps!

Thanks.

-jpl
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Apr 16th, 2005, 07:20 PM
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What about going to Victoria Falls? I would say either that or go to Botswana to the Okavanga Delta. Of course this is just based on what we are going to be doing in June. BTW, we will be at Victoria Falls with my parents on their 51st anniversary! I planned our dates so that would be where we would be on that day. Just seemed like a wonderfully romantic way to spend the day.
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Apr 16th, 2005, 08:43 PM
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jpl_all,

I do not know if you are taking the weather into consideration. It will be pretty cool, if not cold, in the Western Cape, but it will be tolerable.

Visiting the Sabi Sand in July, on the other hand, may be so cold that it is uncomfortable. On the other hand, visiting South Luangwa will be perfect in July.

A combination of possibly 4 nights at Luangwa River Lodge and 2 nights at Victoria Falls would be perfect for a honeymoon, in my opinion.

Alternately, you could do something like 3 nights at Luangwa River Lodge and 3 nights at Kasaka River Lodge in Lower Zambezi.



Keep in mind that South Luangwa is about 1,000 miles north of the Sabi Sand (and 1,000 miles closer to the equator), and for this reason it will be much more comfortable in July than anywhere in South Africa or Botswana would be in July.

Also, in case you are not aware, Sabi Sabi is the most densely populated private game lodge out of all the Sabi Sand lodges. Sabi Sabi has a very little concession, yet they manage to stuff three different lodges within its borders.

Here is a map that will show Sabi Sabi's concession and from this map you will see that Sabi Sabi lacks any valuable river frontage.

http://www.djuma.co.za/map_3.htm

In parting, it is my opinion that whenever a lodge is owner-operated that it is a much better experience for its guests. Luangwa River Lodge is personally run by Barry & Tara Vandermaas, the owners of the lodge. I just don't think you will get nearly the attention at Sabi Sabi as you would at Luangwa River Lodge.

In my opinion, you should make the most out of the weather in the Western Cape, enjoy Cape Town and the Wine Country, but that you deserve to have an intimate safari in a basking sun and with night-time weather that is not going to leave you shivering in the back of the vehicle buried under blankets.

I have some pretty good contacts, so if you are looking for an agent recommendation, please feel free to e-mail me.

Congratulations.
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Apr 17th, 2005, 02:48 AM
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Hi there

May I suggest that if you are planning to stay either in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek - to rather go for Franschhoek, it's so much more intimate and romantic. La Couronne is absolutely stunning as well as Le Petite Ferme. Spier is lovely although very commercialised. The restaurant there Mojo is a definite visit for the true African experience of food. The tree houses are awesome too.

A very intimate guest house in Franschhoek is L'Auberge Chanteclair run by Robert and Lesley, in fact my husband and I stayed there for part of our honeymoon too.

Have you considered staying in Camps Bay at all instead of in the city Centre. Camps Bay is really beautiful and within close proximaty to Table Mountain, the Waterfront, City. Guest Houses drop their rates drastically too. If you wish me to put some guest houses to you within walking distance to the beaches and restaurants let me know.
Thanks
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Apr 17th, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Thanks for all the info so far!

As for our stay in wine country, it seems Franschhoek is going to be more what we are looking for. From the pictures, La Couronne does seem to be stunning. Looks like a great place to start our adventure.

While in Capetown, I think we'd like to be in the center of town. We live in NYC, so for us it would be fun to experience life living in the heart of another city, and compare and contrast experiences.

Lastly, moving on to the safari choices... hhmm, we do understand that we will be in SSGR during the middle of the winter. But to be so close, and not spend a night or two, I think we'd feel like we missed out. Rocco has a great point about the river access of Sabi Sabi, so perhaps we should revisit our selection in the SSGR. Perhaps Mala Mala, or Londolozi for 2 nights.

That would leave us four nights to spend in Zambia / South Luangwa, in particular the Luangwa River Lodge. Are there any extra precautions that we should adhere to while travelling in Zambia? Beyond perhaps the increased malaria risk over SSGR?

While planning this trip, (our first to africa btw), we havent focused much on anything beyond SA. What type of weather can we expect in Zambia during July?

Thanks again to all who have helped. Our plans are so fluid right now, it will be great to firm them up.

-jpl

(Email sent as well, hoping it makes it past the spam filters.)
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Apr 17th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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I agree with Dillion comments on staying at Camps Bay...we just had a wonderful experience at The Bay Atlantic Guest House (www.thebayatlantic.com). We could walk to the beach and restaurants plus the views!! We moved on to the Cape Grace for 3 more nights and it was fabulous too, but I would have been content to stay at the Bay Atlantic for the entire stay. My point about staying "downtown", versus the waterfront or Camps Bay, Sea Point, etc., is that all the guides, etc., told us to leave the downtown streets after 3 PM!! I was happy being at the Cape Grace (or any other waterfront hotel) as there were no warnings about safety walking around any of those areas....lots of people all the time. Now, granted, we never were downtown after 3PM and so I don't know what the warnings were referring to but we heard it several times. We later learned that a dear friend got mugged in NYC while we were in Cape Town; you just know that it can happen anywhere in the world, but we did choose to listen to the locals.
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Apr 17th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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Zambia has very moderate winters. Lower Zambezi does get pretty chilly but it is not as cold as the Sabi Sand or Botswana, since it is further north.

South Luangwa never really gets cold at all. Certainly, though, for July, you will need a light jacket, but you will likely never be freezing in the back of the vehicle on your nighttime game drives.

South Luangwa is very nearly in Central Africa and it is actually further southernmost point of Congo.

June is the coldest month for Zambia, but by mid-July it starts warming up. Even so, last June it was perfect daytime weather to go swimming in Chichele Presidential Lodge's unheated swimming pool.

I would not say that there is an increased malaria risk in Zambia compared to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. In July you should be relatively safe in each the SSGR and Zambia, as this is wintertime for both places. This is not to say, however, that you should ignore taking precautions.

I sent you an e-mail to further answer your questions.
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Apr 17th, 2005, 06:54 PM
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From your schedule, I see you're allowing a generous amount of time to do things, so, if you’re like us, running around too much in the last days might not be too much fun.

So, stay close.

With six days in Cape Town, you have the flexibility to alter your timetable, rest up the first days if you need to, later visit the wine places and if you like, travel to Boulders near Simon's Town, to view a whole bunch of Penguins up close and personal and then, down that same road a bit, visit Cape Point.

Watch your belonging in your car at the Cape, the Baboons wait, poised and ready to grab your belonging the second the doors open. They are very skilled and experienced.

The weather is chilly and rainy, but when the sun shines it's great. Viewing Table Top is hit or miss, day by day and even hour by hour. So, be ready to go.

We also stayed at Selati, in the Ivory Suite. You will love that place.

Days before we arrived, the tree in front of the Ivory Suite was torn down by visiting Elephants.

Reaching over the fence, the Elephants tore at the tree, and as we were told, were chased away with frying pans.

During our stay, the Elephants were frequently just outside our window and at night, we would wake up and place our video camera outside and record the sound of Loins, Hyenas and whatever. It was loud, very very loud.

The food at Selati was great. We have a great fondness for South Africa and the all the people we met.

OK, in answer to your question.

After our three days at Sabi Sabi, we had ten days of reservations in Kruger, but after spending a few hours in Kruger Park, we left, going back to Swaziland and Hlane Park.

We had stayed a few days at Hlane before we went to Sabi Sabi.

Our SA friends thought we were crazy. Why leave the world famous Kruger Park for a small "caged" park in Swaziland.

I think it was the wide tarred roads in Kruger, so different from the wild bush at Sabi Sabi that scared us away. To be fair, (and save myself from being flamed) Kruger is 300 miles long so for sure there is a lot there, but for us, Hlane Park, a four hour drive from Sabi, was perfect.

With a banda directly in front of a watering hole, that was constantly filled up with Elephant, Rhino and other stuff, (Sable).

For us the easy going freedom of that small park was perfect. We could drive around, get out of the car, go on walks whatever. Everything was compact, (maybe a 30 minute slow drive to the far end) and comfortable.

Eating lunch on our Banda patio with the Elephants, baby Elephants, Rhino, baby Rhinos splashing around was perfect.

We could also park our car, (Toyota Corolla, $23 USD/day) at the edge of the watering hole and wait, or walk over a flimsy wire fence and sit at the edge of the water. A quick drive would always bring us up close to Rhino and everyday we saw something new.

Ok, not totally wild, but like a private zoo that is all yours.

At Hlane there is a large caged area that has Lions and another caged area for Cheetahs.

For a fee, the guides will take you in for viewing. You do have to drive around a bit, and might not see anything.

We got great Cheetahs picture from three feet away and the Lions roar at night.

Or, Sabi Sabi is just outside the entrance to Kruger, so go there. It will definitely be comfortable.

We traveled 42 days in SA by car, from Cape Town to Jo'ber in July/August.

Jon

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Apr 18th, 2005, 01:57 AM
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Hi there

I read your post with interest and thought I could give you some valuable information.

Looking through your itinerary, I would suggest as follows and to keep costs down:

12-14 July - Franschoek, there is the most gorgeous little guest house called Klein Oliphants Hoek in Franchoek that is gorgeous and offers the most mouthwatering food, dinner here is an experiance not to be missed, if you cannot get in the Akademie Street Guest House is just as gorgeous and down the road and they work well together!
Cape Town - As it is low season in South Africa a lot of the properties have specials on at this time of the year.Kensington Place is an awesom honeymoon destination aas is O on Kloof. Either of the two are great and all in close proximity to the main centre.
18 July - Sabi Sabi, please do not let anyone tell you it is to missrable up in this part of the world at that time of the year, the early morning and evenings are cold, however there are big snuggly blankets on the land rovers and stopping for hot coffee/tea is a special treat. Game in this area is phenomenal at this time of the year. I would suggest 3 days at Sabi Sabi (Selati) is okay, but my prefered venue would be Nottens Bush Camp and then followed by 3 days at Tanda Tula in the Tombavati, which cuts down on a lot of excessive travelling that could make your homeymoon seem very rushed.

I hope this helps!!

Debbi
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