Need help planning S.Africa Itinerary

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Oct 16th, 2005, 01:38 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Need help planning S.Africa Itinerary

Hi!

My husband and I are planning a trip to South Africa for two weeks in December. We are totally overwhelmed with all the information available. I've spend the last 4 hours reading all the posts on here but I'm still not sure how to maximize our time there. We would like to spend some time in Capetown and also explore the wineries in the region. We would also like to spend ~ 1 week on safari. We have friends that used Honeyguide camp and they were happy with them but their website isn't all that great so I'm not sure if they are the right way to go.

We are young and active and want to make the most out of our first trip to South Africa. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance


Maya

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Oct 17th, 2005, 03:36 AM
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Hi Maya,

Glad to hear that you are planning a trip to SA -- I have visited several times and really enjoyed it.

I'm not sure what your budget is, but you should note that December is the high season in South Africa, so be prepared for some higher prices, especially for the safari portion of the trip.

You could easily spend a week in Cape Town alone -- there is so much to see and do there. Depending on how much you like wine-tasting and food (the cuisine in the winelands is heavenly) you may want to do the winelands as a day trip and focus primarily on Cape Town. However, if you really enjoy wine and food, you would probably want to spend a couple of nights there. Whatever you decide, you will want to book soon, as places are rapidly filling up.

If you want to explore both Cape Town and the Winelands, I might recommed 4 nights in Cape Town and 3 in the Winelands, or a 5/2 split depending on your preferences for city sights versus wine and food. In the winelands, I would recommend staying in Franschhoek -- it is the most centrally located of the winelands towns and has more of the best restaurants.

A great source for accommodation in the Cape is the Portfolio Collection, www.portfoliocollection.com -- I spent a month in SA using only Portfolio properties and was never disappointed. They have a wide range of options for all budgets -- from cosy B&Bs to luxurious boutique hotels. The hospitality is warm and inviting, and these places have much more character than a bog-standard international five-start -- whilst saving you a lot of money as well. If you have a car, you can stay pretty much anywhere -- if you won't have a car, you will probably want to stay more centrally, in Tamboerskloof, Gardens, or Green Point.

If you don't want to self-drive, consider hiring a private guide -- Selwyn, who posts here occasionally, is private guide in Cape Town, and many Fodorites have travelled with him and had a great time.

In terms of safari, December will be very hot and humid in the Sabi Sands/Kruger area, so you may want to pay a bit more to stay somewhere with air conditioning (or at a bare minimum, fans) unless you're comfortable in very hot, humid conditions.

Guiding will be very important, as you are there in the height of the green season and the animals will not be easy to spot -- there's just too much bush around. Another reason to pay a bit more for a camp where the guiding is known to be superb.

Based on their website and what I know about the camp. Honeyguide looks like a relatively basic camp by South African standards without fans or A/C. I wouldn't stay there in the height of the hot season. The game-viewing in the Manyeleti area is okay, but not anywhere near as good as it is further south in the Sabi Sands.

For a week on safari, I would recommend splitting your time 4 days/3 days between two camps -- perhaps one tented option, and one non-tented option. Again, budget is an important consideration here, as the camps vary widely in terms of cost.

Honeyguide is in the Manyeleti reserve -- it's a nice area, but the game-viewing is not as good as further south in the Sabi Sands. I've looked on the web, and they do not appear to have either fans or A/C, so I wouldn't stay there in December.

I've stayed at Lonodolozi many times, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it, for elegant surroundings and superb gameviewing even in the green season. However, it's not inexpensive. If you do stay at Londoz, the chalets at Bateleur Camp have private plunge pools (very nice to have in high summer in SA). At the other camps, only the suites have private pools.

Some less expensive options are Notten's Bush Camp (a tented camp, with fans) close to Londolozi, and Simbambili.

A sample itinerary might look something like this:

5 nights Cape Town (guesthouse)
2 nights Winelands (guesthouse)
3 nights Nottens Bush Camp
4 nights Londolozi

Cheers,
Julian
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