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Limited vacation time - is 8 days enough to S. Africa?

Limited vacation time - is 8 days enough to S. Africa?

Feb 8th, 2010, 10:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 220
Limited vacation time - is 8 days enough to S. Africa?

I've been dying to go to South Africa but my boyfriend has much less vacation than I do. I'm trying to decide if we can do justice to a S. African trip and not kill ourselves with the travel/distance/time change. We'd be flying from Atlanta and can take a direct flight to Jo'burg. With travel time, we would leave on a Thursday night (arriving Friday at dinner time) and take an overnight flight back the following Saturday night, arriving back in the US on Sunday morning, to return to work on Monday. So this gives us basically 8 full days to really enjoy ourselves and not be traveling (10-11 days if you count travel time). I would split this time between Cape Town and a game reserve and save everything else for another trip. So the big question - is the trip long enough to justify the travel time and really get to enjoy ourselves there?

We're 30 year old professionals, need our vacation time (!) and will be active but not running from here to there seeing absolutely everything.

Our alternative is Argentina/Chile but I'm just not getting as excited about that trip...

LM3682 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 406
I have done this exact type of trip - 8 days in-country and 10-11 days total with travel time- to Botswana and Zambia 4 times and about to do my 5th with this itinerary this month. I also have done this from the east coast of the U.S.

It works for me and this would be my absolute minimum. I think you have targeted the key factor in trying to minimize the travel once you arrive. I now try to "stretch" the feeling of the trip by staying in one place for the full 8 days and that works for me. It makes it seem more like 10 days than 8 days.
GreenDrake is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 408
Hi, I travel to Africa a lot for just one week (albeit from the UK). Yes, you can have a great trip for one week but try and just stay at two places and limit your travel between as much as possible. You'll have to think about the time of year as the weather in Cape Town is good when the weather at somewhere like Kruger is the low (rainy) season but you might be able to balance this at certain times of the year.

As a first timer, Kruger is a good choice for a safari and there's a range of accommodation but do book early for the good value lodges.
Lynneb is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Just my 2 cents. Have you ever experienced an eight hour time shift/jet lag?? If you have and can handle it ok, then fine. If not then you may find some of those eight days uncomfortable. Depends.

regards - tom
ps - if I went to SA for only eight days it would be all on safari.
cary999 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 01:16 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
I second tom's post. I have a tough time with jet lag, but even then we just did 10 days in June. We had a blast. I think any time spent in S Africa is time well spent. It won't be your only time to S Africa so it'll be nice to just get your feet wet on a short trip.

If you are comfortable doing a self drive safari in Kruger then go for it. I would do a private reserve around Kruger in Sabi Sands and/or Timbavati and/or Phinda as a first (and short) timer.
christabir is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 02:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
If that's all the time you have, then just visit Capetown and Kruger, preferably one of the private reserves - Sabi Sands, Manyaletti or Timbavati; different direction at Phinda.

Jet lag can be an issue and if it doesn't hit you next day, don't be surprised if it does 4 to 5/days in (as mine did). If/when it does... go with the flow. Slow down that day and catch up on the Zzzzzzzs.

Have fun!
sandi is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 07:45 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Go for it!

Cape Town and Sabi Sands would be a nice combo. Personally, I'm with Tom on doing just safari time in 8 days.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 05:14 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 408
As a few others have said if it were my choice I'd just go on safari (I haven't even made it to Cape Town yet!) but I understand if you want to visit Cape Town.
Lynneb is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 05:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 378
Go for it. It's worth the jet lag. If you live in Atlanta, you would only be dealing with 6-7 hours of time change (depending on whether we're on Daylight Savings Time here or not). You'd travel to Europe for a week, wouldn't you? It's nearly the same time difference, just a longer flight!

I've found that I get over jet lag within 2-3 days when I get to South Africa--must be the excitement of the trip and the early morning drives. DO NOT plan any career-defining job tasks for the first few days after you return!
Gritty is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 04:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,533
I don't seem to have a jet lag problem until a day or two after I get home so I vote GO! The shortest trip I have done in Africa was 7 nights. 1 night at Notten's Bush Camp and 6 nights at MalaMala (MM not available all 7 nights). Totally worth it (to me).
sundowner is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 06:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 220
Thanks everyone, this was very helpful and sounds like it's do-able. We went to Maui for a week last year (9 hour flight and 6 hour time change) and managed fine so it sounds like this will just be a little bit worse.
I'm surprised that so many people said to do a safari for the whole 8 days though! I had planned 5 days in Cape Town and a 3 day safari, but maybe I'll reverse it now. Would it make sense to go to two different game reserves in 5 days or just stay at the same place? I'd prefer to stay at the same place to cut down on travel time, but would transfer reserves if there was a compelling reason (i.e. very different experiences from reserve to reserve).

Thanks again.
LM3682 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 10:14 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 294
Agree - the jet lag is worse on the depressing return to work.
I would do 3 and 5 on safari in one place. I hate moving camps, unless its from MM Main Camp to Rattrays which I can handle
napamatt_2 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 12:19 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
How long you spend in a city or on safari depends on your interests, obviously. I've never been to CT because for me it is another European culture city. And near me is San Francisco and other great cities. Not to mention the wonderful cities of Europe that are "only" one 10 hour flight away. I go to Africa for mainly the wildlife/safari and also occasionally African (not European) culture. But, as they say, YMMV.

For 5 days/nights on safari I'd stay at one good camp in the Sabi Sand Reserve. You may possibly get a discount if you stay 5 nights. If you were staying 8 nights, then break it between 2 camps. Don't get to hung up on it, you will have a wonderful time either way.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
If this was a return trip to SA or a second, third, or fourth safari to any country, knowing what you enjoy about game viewing, or not... I understand where some suggest spending your entire time game viewing.

However, as this is your first trip and with Capetown being a "keeper" of a city, it does deserve at minimum 3/days. There's plenty to do in and short distances from the city center. Split your time between both CPT and safari, whether 3/5 or 4/4.

As others suggested and with the economy still struggling, when deciding on which camp for safari inquire about "specials" such as "stay 4/nts, pay 3/nts" or similar. If being offered, put the additional time into safari.
sandi is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 05:38 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Even though I'd prefer all on safari, if you had 5 days worth of Cape Town activites, which is easy to do, then the 5/3 setup would be fine.

If you do 5 nts on safari, you could stay in one spot in the Sabi Sands area and have very different sightings each time out. You might also consider two camps/lodges not so much because they offer different regions, but because lions may be scarce at one place and wild dogs are denning at another, for example.

Some people, like Tom/Cary999 (above) have had good experiences at Sabi Sands and Timbavati. These two reserves are near each other.
atravelynn is offline  

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