Kavey?s 5 week South Africa trip (new thread)

Aug 25th, 2003, 11:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Kavey?s 5 week South Africa trip (new thread)

Continuing on from this thread which is becoming somewhat unweildy...



We visited Botswana and Namibia in 2001 for a fortnight and absolutely loved it. We vowed then we?d return and set the year for that return trip to be 2004 ? when some of our saving plans are due to mature!

In January this year (2003) I booked a 3 week luxury trip during which time we will also renew our wedding vows. It's definitely a second honeymoon. We'll be returning to the Okavango Delta and to the NamibRand Nature Reserve and we'll also be visiting the Linyanti area and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in the Kalahari.

The 3 week trip starts in June 2004.

Some months ago I talked to Pete about how much I really wanted to do an extended trip, something that could be measured in months rather than in days or weeks. That kind of duration can give an entirely different slant to a trip and I hadn?t taken a long trip like that since student days.

We decided to extend the trip we?d already booked by an additional 5 weeks to be spent in South Africa. This trip will be a self-drive, budget holiday. Our existing Agent (Steppes Africa) will be booking international and internal flights for us. They may also book car hire, but have advised me to check other car hire deals independently. We will probably book accommodation ourselves directly or with Selwyn?s assistance (thank you so much for that kind offer, Selwyn).

What I?m now asking for is further input on the itinerary. I know some of you must be sick of this by now but for those who aren?t, I do really appreciate all your help on this so much!

Current itinerary

6-7 nts Cape Town

2 nts Western Winelands
1 nt Hermanus
(May combine into 1 x 3 night stay)

1 nt Swellendam
1 nt Oudtshoorn or Calitzdorp

QUESTION: Swellendam is an extra one night stop that was suggested by someone somewhere along the line but do we want/ need to stop both here and in the Oustshoorn area? If we don?t then which is the best place to stop of the three listed? Swellendam? Oudtshoorn? Calitzdorp?

4 nts Knysna area

2 nts Port Elizabeth/ Addo

fly to Durban

2 nts Durban

4 nts Hluhluwe ? Umfolozi

NOTE: Reading some responses to the thread I posted on Lonely Planet?s Thorn Tree forum, I decided that a 2 night stop in Mpila Camp sounded better than a stop in the Fugitive?s Drift area ? neither of us were quite keen enough on that to retain it.

5 nts St Lucia, Sodwana and Mkuzi area

QUESTION: We found we really enjoyed the bird viewing element of our last trip and I understand this area is prime territory for that. I was thinking of splitting this into 1 x 3 night stay and 1 x 2 night stay.

2 nts Itala

4 nts Kruger

QUESTION: How long a trip is it from lower areas of Kruger to Jo?burg airport? How much is a flight for that same trip?

Lastly, we?re setting ourselves a pretty low budget (compared with our usual average) ? we?re hoping to spend no more than £140 per day between us and that needs to include car hire, petrol, accommodation, entrance fees, any guided tours or drives we take and all our food. Since we?ll also have at least one internal flight each, plus some nights when accommodation is a little more costly, and we?ll also want to eat out as much as we can, we want to really find some low cost accommodation where we can.

I?ve read about backpackers that offer ensuite double rooms at great prices and have also seen some nice looking places that cost only a little more than that in Portfolio Collections. Does anyone have any input into any specific ones? Selwyn, any recommendations?

Can anyone give me more information on specific camps to choose within the game parks/ reserves listed?

Any other advice or thoughts?

Many thanks again,
Kavey is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 12:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 723
I have no input per se, Kavey, except to ask might I join you and Pete? I know is it a "honeymoon" of sorts, but I'll just turn my head when you two share your private moments. On a trip of this length, you will have to take lots of big suitcases - one of which I am sure I can squeeze into!!!
SusanLynne is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
Kavey, Mpila camp has a beautiful setting, but did you consider (and reject?) Hilltop Camp? It's more luxurious than Mpila, unless Mpila has been upgraded -- which is quite possible, as it's been several years since I was there. On our next visit there I am thinking of staying in the safari tents at Mpila, and a bungalow or something at Hilltop. The safari tents are new since my last visit there, and it sounds so African and romantic!

I have misplaced (temporarily I hope!) the journal of our trip to SA the year we went to Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn, and Swellendam. I will try to find it and report exactly how we did that leg of the trip and what our reasoning was.
Celia is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 01:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Susan! <blush>

I was thinking of a couple of nights in Hilltop and a couple of nights in Mpila. I had some lovely feedback on Mpila on my thread in Thorn Tree and it sounds lovely so I thought perhaps it might give a nice contrast to Hilltop. Price is also going to play heavily into accommodation on the SA trip as the 3 week lux trip is the opposite, in budget terms!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097
Hi Kavey,

You asked: If we dont then which is the best place to stop of the three listed? Swellendam? Oudtshoorn? Calitzdorp?

The three town s tae you down different routes to travel the Garden Route. Assuming you stay over in Hermanus then you would travel what we label the "low road" and that takes you past Swellendam. A good place to stay in Swellendam would be Adin and Sharon's hideaway ( http://www.adinbb.co.za/ ) however there are so many different B&B's to choose from in Swellendam that I would not worry about where to find accommodation in this town especially in the months of May and possibly June. If you travel the low road then for you to travel past Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn would be slightly out of the way.

If on the other hand if you travel the high road or better known as Route62, then Calitzdorp falls directly on this route with Oudtshoorn falling slightly out of the way considering that your next stop would be Knysna. Calitzdorp is an interesting little village and a great place to stay would be Port Wine Guesthouse. http://www.portwine.net/index.html

If you elect to stay in Calitzdorp after staying in Hermanus you can cross from the low road to the high road by going through the wonderful Tradouw Pass. This in its own right is worth the ride. Spectacular to say the least. The turnoff to the Tradouw Pass would be at Heidelberg.

Swellendam, Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn all have their own little uniqueness to offer the visitor so there is no function such as which place is better than the other. With that said I would opt for saving on travelling as you will only have one day on hand before you arrive in Knysna. Once again with you staying in Hermanus Swellendam would be my number one choice purely because of location.

Kavey I dont know where you have found backpacks that have en-suite rooms. They could well exist in Cape Town but I dont know of them. I dont think that on your budget you will have to stay in backpacks though as accommodation in Cape Town as well a the garden Route is very cheap in the off season at most good guesthouses and that is where I reckon you should home in on. I reckon you could bank on the fact that you will be able to find good bed AND breakfast accommodation for about R450 (40 Quid)for two per night in an en suite room. Needless to say once you have finalised your dates of stay in each city or town I will help you further in this regard.

Hope all of the above helps.

Selwyn Davidowitz
Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 144
Kavey, I am so happy for you that you have been able to extend your trip. We will all be enjoying it vicariously.

I don't have too much to add. You asked about travel time from Kruger to Jo'burg. I think the drive time is about 5 hrs and flight time is 1 hr. fflights go out of Kruger Mmpumalanga International airport which is near Nelspruit (about a 2 hr drive) Apparently there are flights also out of Mala Mala which is closer to Kruger but I don't know enough about it to comment.

I will be waiting for info and reviews on Namibia. After looking at your photos of a previous trip, you sold me on that part of the world. We will be organising a return trip for our group of friends for 2005 and that will be something new for me. Our only problem will be to keep our group size manageable as our friends who came to SA in 2002 all want to come back and others who did not get to come on that trip also want to come.

I think with your sterling budget you will be fine. As Selwyn says, once you get away from the private game reserves, your accommodation will be very reasonable as long as you don't hit Durban and the Natal coast in the school holidays. See http://www.gov.za/sa_overview/schools.htm
Waverley is offline  
Aug 26th, 2003, 12:08 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Thanks folks,

Selwyn, I've been looking at a lot of backpacker/ hostel websites for places in CT and alongt the garden route and have found a number have just one or two double or twin rooms that do have ensuite facilities. I have to admit to worrying that noise levels may be high given the natural exuberance of young travellers so B&Bs would be my first choice provided we can really keep the cost down. Ideally I'd like to keep costs even lower than 450 Rand a night on some occasions as I know I'd like to have some spare budget in hand to splash out on meals, guided drives and accommodation during the latter part of the trip.

If I understand you correctly, you're suggesting we make only one overnight stop between Hermanus and Knysna? I like the sound of driving through the Tradouw Pass you mention. We'd also want to make a brief visit to an Ostrich farm and am I right to think there is an area with lots of San cave art that is open to visitors? We're not interested in caves that are just pretty because of all the "dripping" stalachmites and stalagtites but would love to see the cave paintings.

Lisa, I'm delighted that my 2001 photos were able to interest you in Namibia - I am absolutely confident you'll love it. I believe Celia also visited after my 2001 trip and enjoyed it very much. It's such a photogenic country and one feels so much in awe of the beauty. Thanks for the information on flights from Kruger - I need to look into those further.

My main decision to make ASAP is date to land in CT, number of nights before I take the flight from PE to Durban and number of nights in that area before flying to Maun to join the rest of the trip.

I want to do that this week.

Kavey is offline  
Aug 26th, 2003, 12:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Tracy was having problems posting to Fodors, the board just doesn?t seem to accept posts sometimes, and kindly sent me the following by email instead: Copying here so others can also benefit from her advice and can also follow my thought processes in response to it.

You asked about the journey between Kruger and Johannesburg ... As you don't have a camp selected, I can only guestimate, but it is about 500km from the lower Kruger to Johannesburg International Airport. Once you are out of the park you will be on the N4 and then the N12, where the speed limit is 120kph. You will literally go past the airport on this route, if landings are in a northern direction final approach for charlie runway is directly over the N12 - try not to duck! I did this trip last week from Dullstroom - the road is very good and you can easily average more than 120kph. You are driving through coal-land and the horizon is dotted with huge power stations so there is not much to make you drive slowly. Even at the speed limit the journey to JIA will take just over 4 hours.

SAA (in the form of SA Airlink) are quoting today R927 including taxes per person for a one way trip from Nelspruit (lower Kruger) to Johannesburg. Remember that you will be very strictly limited on luggage on this flight (15kg), you need to be at the airport at least 50 mins prior to departure and you still need to travel from the lodge to Nelspruit which could take as much as an hour depending on where you are.

Do the maths: for you and Pete to fly will cost R1854 plus some mileage. To drive: you will be in for the car hire cost already that day, working on a per km rate of R1.76, x550km plus a full tank of petrol, the cost for both of you will be about R1318.

Personally - I'd drive it.

Slightly off the topic, the SA budget airline Kulula have just started flights from Johannesburg to George. Maybe by the time you get to fly they will have the PE/Durban route as well. It may be worth your while to contact them and find out if they are considering it in time for your trip.

Kavey is offline  
Aug 26th, 2003, 03:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216

Portwine looks great with excellent rates (if we can secure their low season rates). Adin and Sharon's place looks equally nice but the rates are too high.
We're hoping to really spend as little as possible in the Cape area so we can splash out a couple of nights on places such as Hilltop for a couple of nights later in the trip (that would be about £90 per night).

Looking fwd to any thoughts you can share after you re-read your journal from your own trip. Thanks again!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 26th, 2003, 05:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097

In response to your mail I want to double up with the statement that yes I am suggesting only one stop between Hermanus and Knysna. Swellendam is very close to Hermanus and if you want to see the Tradouw Pass then I would change my original suggestion to you and advise you to why dont rather travel to Calitzdorp via the Tradouw Pass. Andrea at Port Wine guesthouse is very helpful and should be able to make suggestions to you as far as visiting a local ostrich farm is concerned. She will also be able to tell you more as to where you would be able to view bushman paintings etc.

On leaving Calitzdorp I would detour slightly by travelling in a north easterly direction as opposed to a south easterly manner when travelling to Knysna. I know this is a totally roundabout way of doing things but I would travel from Calitzdorp the next morning via the Swartberg Mountains to Price Albert. Then I would make my way via Meiringspoort to Oudtshoorn and then travel on to Knysna. This is a long ride but I guarantee you WORTH EVERY MINUTE of the journey. The Swartberge are unbelievable to ascend and travelling through Meiringspoort is like travelling through a mini Grand Canyon. Spectacular journey.

I will certainly keep my eyes open for anything to advise you on while we go on our recce on the Garden Route so watch this space in about 2 weeks time for further advice.

Selwyn Davidowitz
Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Aug 26th, 2003, 06:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Thanks Selwyn,
What you suggest makes a lot of sense to me. Also, we don't mind a long day's drive en route to Knysna since we are stopping there for 4 nights so will have time to recuperate!
Have a wonderful trip!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 26th, 2003, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
We were in the area around Calitzdorp in November 1999. We traveled from Stellenbosch through the Robertson wine area, stopping at Springfield and De Wetshof estates. Springfield was very personal -- the hostess gave us tastes right from the barrel, plus tastes of wines they were marketing at the moment. De Wetshof was quite different, very beautiful and formal. The wines at both places pleased us very much. We then drove to Montagu and had lunch at a small restaurant there. The town appealed to us because of its harking back to art deco times, and on our most recent trip (May 2003) we stayed at the Montagu Country Hotel. (Which we really liked! Faded glory, maybe, but glory all the same!)

We drove on to Calitzdorp, of interest because of the Boplaas and Die Krans wineries which specialize in port. We stayed at Die Dorpshuis, which is a notch or two below the Port Wine Guesthouse. We found the owner, Melville du Plessis, to be charming. The room had everything we needed, but as I recall the lighting wasn't great for reading, and the bathroom was pretty tiny. The food was excellent, and served on the stoop, a porch walled on three sides, sort of as if one room of the house was missing a wall. Dinners were delightful because of our conversations with the other guests, and because Mr du Plessis gives everyone a glass of port after dinner. Besides the wineries, the other point of interest in Calitzdorp is the Rooieberg Hills, which at sunset seem to glow red, and change colors as the sun goes down to become studies in shades of grey.

We made Oudtshoorn a day trip from Calitzdorp. We went to the Safari Ostrich Show Farm, which I noted in my journal as "touristy but not tacky". We learned a lot about ostriches and enjoyed ourselves. In the town, we liked the feather museum, maybe it's called the CP Nel Museum, which explains the whole feather boom and bust that made the town.

We left Calitzdorp in the morning and drove to Swellendam where we had lunch, enjoyed the restoration/recreation of the town as it was in the late 1700's, and looked at an antique shop or two. Then we drove on to Caledon, where we stayed at the Overberg Hotel which has hot springs. In your situation Kavey, I would not pick Swellendam for an overnight stay, as it took us only a couple of hours to see everything of interest to us. (Of course, everyone's different.)

We love St. Lucia; I'm sure you will too. If you want suggestions for where to stay there, I can look up the name of a B&B that we really loved.

Your budget seems quite reasonable to me; I'm sure you'll be able to live within it and still do everything you want. Most of our trips to SA have been in that budget range.

As you can see, I found my journal, and I'm once again so glad I keep them. They bring back a trip for me like nothing else can. When they're paired with photographs, it's really like being there all over again.

I'll be interested in what people have to say about the camps in Kruger; we're planning to go there our next time in SA too.
Celia is offline  
Aug 26th, 2003, 01:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Yes I'd love to know the B&B you love in St Lucia and any other accommodation recommendations.
This is just great, I've read it through once but it's past my bed time so I'm going to read again for better absorption tomorrow.
And yes, I love re reading my old travel journals!

Thanks again!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 27th, 2003, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
The name of our B&B in St. Lucia was Lalapanzi.
Here are some details:
Host: Hannes van Aswegen & Ansie
Telephone: +27 (35) 590-1167
Fax: +27 (35) 590-1167
Address: 7 Sandpiper Street, St Lucia, kwaZulu Natal
Booking Agent: Guest Net South Africa
E-mail: [email protected]
Fax: +27 (31) 765 7386

I don't really remember the booking agent "Guest Net", but I must have found them on the internet.

In 1999, we paid R370 per night for the two of us for a huge double room with balcony. Breakfast was included. Our room had a huge bath, with both tub & shower. There was a mini-bar in the room (honor system, and things priced just what they were in the shops), and a tea & coffee tray.

Lalapanzi has beautiful gardens, and breakfast was served there (it was in November). The pool was lovely, but as I remember it was too cold to swim.

We liked the restaurant St. Pizza, which has a lot of stuff in addition to pizza, and also a restaurant on the main street whose name I can't remember, but it has a big wooden porch with picnic tables and benches, and you can eat outside or inside.

On two previous visits to St. Lucia we stayed in a self-catering place called Villa Mia, where we had 3 rooms including kitchen. I don't seem to have kept the address or phone of the place.
Celia is offline  
Aug 27th, 2003, 08:51 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Fabulous! Thanks Celia...
I'd love to ask you some more questions, would you mind very much if I emailed you? Although I don't have your email address so I wonder if you'd email me at mine, above? Don't worry if you'd rather not, I can ask away on here instead but some are just general impressions and your preferences on St Lucia area and stuff that I think would just be so much clutter to add here!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 29th, 2003, 04:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Woo Hoo!

I've just contacted my agent to go ahead and book the international flights - we'll fly directly into Cape Town and we'll fly home from Windhoek via Jo'burg.

I've a decision to make regarding the journey from Kruger to Savuti (when we finish the budget SA trip and start the luxury 3 week trip).

Can anyone input?

We can either:

Drive from Kruger (setting off VERY early indeed) to arrive at Jo'burg airport in time for the 10am flight to Maun and onward flight to Savuti.

Fly from Kruger on the 7 am flight that connects to the 10am flight to Maun and onward flight to Savuti.

Leave Kruger the previous day (driving), stay overnight at a hotel at Jo'burg airport and catch that 10 am flight...

I'm loathe to give up a night at Kruger for a night at the airport but I know we can't realistically make the 10am flight if we drive from Kruger the same day and the flight from Kruger to Jo'burg will cost more than the accommodation overnight at Jo'burg airport.

Incidentally, the reason we need to catch that 10am flight into Maun is in order to get the flight to Savuti and arrive there nice and early to make the most of the daily drives etc.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2003, 12:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216

OK ok I'm topping my own thread to tout for any thoughts on the last post...
Kavey is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2003, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
If it were me, I think I'd drive to Jo'burg and spend the night there. Since you'll have a car, you could stay almost anywhere, not necessarily near the airport. A hotel with a superb restaurant is the Falstaff Inn, in Morningside, just off Rivonia Road. If you want to eat at the hotel rather than going out, this is a good choice. In 1999 we paid about $50 a night here. It was popular with business travelers and families. (That makes it sound less elegant than it is -- very lovely rooms with good art prints on the walls, and lots of room, nice bathroom, fridge in the room.) The food was French, and gourmet. The breakfast buffet was lovely too. They have secure parking too.

Falstaff Inn
Telephone Number: +27 11 784 8580
Fax Number: +27 11 784 8585
Postal Addres: PO BOX 2581 RIVONIA 2128 SOUTH AFRICA
Email Address: [email protected]

Or you could stay somewhere near the Randburg Waterfront, which is pleasant to walk around in the evening, and not as pricey as the Sandton Square area. Lots of good restaurants there too. I don't know of any specific hotels in this area, but I think there are lots.

If you do want to stay in Sandton, try the Sandton Park Plaza. We stayed there last year, paying about $75 for a 2-room suite with kitchenette (which we didn't use). We got this rate through Expedia, I think.

Celia is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2003, 08:24 AM
Posts: n/a
What about an alternate route? For instance, Kruger to Livingstone, then to Kasane, then to Savuti. Wish I could help, but I always look for alternate routes. Good luck. And a big WOO HOO for making international air reservations. You've done the most now. Just the details left. Quite a big job. Liz
Sep 3rd, 2003, 04:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 251

The Falstaff has a wonderful and far nicer and quieter sister hotel just one block away called the Quatermain Inn. In May the rates were about R350 per person sharing. I use it all the time for anyone who needs to stay in Jhb, it has a lovely atmosphere and you cannot fault the facilities or service. Say "Hi" to Vicki from me. You can contact the Quatermain on the same details as for the Falstaff. Re the restaurant - Chef Girard has since left the Falstaff, and IMHO the food at Quatermain is much nicer.
And Kavey if you should decide on this option, I live not 500m away and would love to meet for a drink!
traci_local_in_sa is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:05 PM.