Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Africa & the Middle East (
-   -   Need help with 10-day South Africa itinerary! (

Desidero Nov 30th, 2009 10:38 AM

Need help with 10-day South Africa itinerary!
Hello Fodorites!

I am in desperate need of trip planning assistance. I am making my first trip to South Africa in early February and have just begun researching my itinerary. I will have 10-days on the ground in South Africa. I have friends staying in Cape Town and would like to spend at least 4-5 nights there. I would also like to go on a safari (in Kruger National Park?) and see Victoria Falls.

A few questions:

1. Is this too ambitious an agenda in 10-days?

2. Are there any top sights that I would be missing with this itinerary?

3. How would you structure a 10-day itinerary in South Africa?

4. Can you recommend any discount airlines that I can use to take me to these destinations (provided I need to fly)?

I will be flying in from the United States, so my understanding is that I would have to pass through Jo'Burg.

Any and all thoughts welcome.

Many thanks.

atravelynn Nov 30th, 2009 06:26 PM

Anything more would be too ambitious. This would work.

Assume you have 4 nights in Cape Town. There are early morning South Africa Air flts from Cape Town to Johannesburg so that you could get to Kruger by pm. Then spend 3 nts Kruger. One night back in Joburg. in transit. Then British Air or SAA to Vic Falls for 2 nights. That's 10. You could even do just one night in Vic Falls, which is enough to view it. That could free up another day.

Just how you'd accomplish the safari part of your trip in Kruger is up to you. Once you settle on a camp/lodge they can help you with the logistics of flights to the area. Your Cape Town friends probably can offer you good advice, but so you are aware, there is Kruger and then the neighboring private reserves of Sabi Sands. Self driving in Kruger is common, while Sabi Sands uses trained rangers and sometimes spotters in the vehicles and limits the number of guests. There are lots of choices in Kruger and Sabi Sands that you can decide on when you have more specifics and know your budget.

Your plan would include a nice variety of some great and memorable places in Southern Africa. You could easily spend many more nights in Cape Town and the surrounding areas. The Kruger area is huge and many people spend more than a few nights. But most people don't linger in Johannesburg.

SAA or BA are the only ones I've used. They'd work internally.

Right, fly to Joburg and on to Cape Town that night on SAA, taking 2 days. BA may be 2 overnight flts that end up taking you into the 3rd day.

Good luck!

sdb2 Dec 1st, 2009 05:44 AM

1. There are those who would say you should take at least 2 weeks if you're making that flight from the U.S. But I've made several trips of about 10 days from the U.S. (East Coast) and it's certainly doable. If you're doing only Cape Town and the Kruger area the 10 days are certainly fine. I would drop off Vic Falls because it will stress your itinerary. A visit to the Falls is better done in conjunction with a visit to Botswana.

2. In my opinion the top two places to visit are Cape Town and the Kruger region (which includes Kruger National Park, and the Sabi Sand and Timbavati private reserves). Other popular areas include the Garden Route and the Drakensberg Mts.

3. Ordinarily I would recommend 3 nights in CT, with visits to Table Mt. and the CT area on one day (which could include a visit to Robben Island), a second day touring the Cape Peninsula with a visit to the Cape of Good Hope and a stop in Simon's Town to see the penguins, and a third day visiting vineyards in the wine country. It all depends on your interests. A day will be lost to travel to the Kruger region. I would recommend a day or two at the great KNP (you can stay at rest camps and do self-drives) and then several days at one of the reserves if your budget can stand it.

4. I recommend your going from CT to the Kruger region by air. You can fly to Nelspruit and drive up to Kruger (about 1.5 hrs). I used to use Nationwide Airlines in SA for cheaper flights but they shut down a while back. The last time I was planning on going through SA I noticed that good fares on South African Airways could be had by purchasing in SA rather than here in the U.S. I contacted a travel agent in Jo'burg whom I use and she got me excellent fares for moving in and out of Jo'burg.

Best of luck and have fun planning.

cwn Dec 1st, 2009 02:24 PM


We did a 10 day trip to Zim/South Africa in March/April of this year that sounds something like what you are looking at doing.

We flew from Bangkok to Victoria Falls. It was a long 20 plus hour day with three flights, probably close to flying from the US, but without as much jet lag.

We only spent about 24 hours in Victoria Falls, but it was enough for us to do what we wanted..see the Falls and do a sunset river ride. The country is really suffering and not in the best of shape for tourist, but the people, for the most part, are very gracious and try their best to make sure you have a good time. I am glad we did that leg. We had also talked about doing more ..a safari, but given the conditions when we were there, I am glad we didn't.

We flew back to Johannesburg, rented a SUV and drove to the Highlands (Beautiful!) for the night and then on to Kirkmans Kamp for a night which was great. From there we then did a fabulous self drive safari to Kruger National Park for two nights. That was the highlight of this part of our trip and we will definitely go back to Kruger..we loved the freedom of the self drive!

We then drove back to Johannesburg and flew to Cape Town for five nights. Cape Town was OK, not our favorite city, but worth three days anyway. Wished we had taken a day from Cape Town and added it to Kruger though. From there we flew Tanzania by way of Johannesburg and Nairobi.

If you would like to read a detailed day by day trip report with pictures go to our trip blog...

on the right click on April and scroll down to March 28. That begins our time in ZIM. We leave Cape Town on April 6.

Happy Travels!

sandi Dec 1st, 2009 02:42 PM

It's doable, but realize the trip to VFA will be expensive with flights to/from, Visa, departure fee and hotel/meals and tours for maybe 2/nts.

Otherwise, you can visit CPT 3-4/nts, then fly via JNB to VFA 2/nts, back to JNB and off to Kruger (saving the safari for last). If you catch a morning flight out of VFA you can connect to flight (or do car rental and drive) to Kruger*; if it's a late flight you'll have to overnight in JNB and head to Kruger next morning.

*you can do self-drive thru Kruger; there are some nice accommodations at reasonable prices; or if flights, consider the private reserves - i.e., Sabi Sands, Manyaletti or Timbavati.

Desidero Dec 7th, 2009 10:48 AM

Thank you for all your terrific responses. I usually plan my own trips, from soup to nuts, but planning a trip to South Africa is more than I can handle, so I decided to get a travel agent. My friend in Cape Town put me in touch with Bespoke Tours, which is based out of CPT.

After reading you responses and giving my proposed itinerary some additional thought, I have decided to forego Victoria Falls on this visit. My travel agent has recommended the following itinerary: Stay in Capetown for 4 nights; drive through the Little Karoo (along the scenic Route 62) to Outtshorn; spend the night in Outtshorn; drive back to the coast along the coast to along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth. She has me staying for 2 nights at the Amanzi Lodge in Knysna and for one night at the Fifth Avenue Beach Guesthouse in Port Elizabeth. I would then fly to Johannesburg and then from Johannesburg to Nelspruit. She recommended the Nottens Bush Camp in Sabi Sands for 3 days.

So, a few more questions:

1. I would like to spend a 5th night in Capetown. Would you recommend shaving a night off of Knysna or is there another part of this itinerary I could cut?

2. What's there to do in Outtshorn? Is this the Vinelands?

3. Has anyone stayed at the La Plume Guesthouse in Oudtshoorn, the Amanzi Lodge in Knysna or at the Fifth Avenue Beach Guesthouse in Port Elizabeth?

4. Is Sabi Sands the best private game reserve in Kruger?

5. I was quoted a rate of R 4650/night for the Nottens Bush Camp in Sabi Sands, roughly equivalent to $650/night USD. Is that reasonable?

6. Has anyone stayed at Nottens Bush Camp?

7. Are there better options in Sabi Sands?

Although I will be visiting friends in Capetown, the remainder of my trip, I'll be on my own. With that in mind, does this sound like a good itinerary?

Any and all thoughts about this itinerary are welcome.

Many, many thanks.

sdb2 Dec 7th, 2009 02:41 PM

I haven't stayed at Nottens, which appears to me to be a small camp, but there certainly are more upscale properties in Sabi Sand (not sure if this is what you meant by 'better options'). For example you could take a look at Londolozi, Singita and Mala Mala. BTW, Sabi Sand is not in Kruger, which is a national park, but rather it is adjacent to Kruger. Sabi Sand is definitely a world-class safari area.

Your price for Nottens is the sharing rate + a 50% single supplement. You could take a look at &Beyond's website ( ) to see some of their properties in the region. They don't necessarily charge a single supplement and I believe you may be able to take advantage of their 'Stay 4, Pay for 3' deal. My own interests being what they are, I would shave a day off the Garden Route, which to me is geared to touring and sighting-seeing, and spend an extra night in Sabi Sand (assuming you could get the 4,3 deal) being pampered and watching wildlife.

Good decision on VF. I'm sure you'll want to go back to Africa and you can incorporate it into your next trip.

annhig Dec 7th, 2009 03:16 PM

hi desidero,

i like the shape of what your TA has come up with - you could look up the accommodations on Trip advisor to see how they rate there.

my only adverse comment is that i would prefer to spend a little more time either in Kruger or on the garden route itself rather than in PE - we spent half a day there and wished we hadn't. there are loads of flights from PE to Jo'burg - ours was at 6pm. so you could spend the night elsewhere then drive to PE during the day, in time to catch what I assume wil be your evening flight home.

have a great trip,

regards, ann

cary999 Dec 7th, 2009 03:37 PM

Good you are going to Sabi Sand. Why did you choose Nottens? I have not been to Nottens but have been to MalaMala, Leopard Hills and Kirkmans Kamp in Sabi Sand. Can recommend all three. Also all three have rooms available without a single supplement charge (although MalaMala's is limited). Nottens is hitting you for 50% SS charge as SDB2 says. Leopard Hills and Kirkmans also have deals like the pay-for-three-nights-stay-for-four. Which at Kirkmans would bring the cost down to about $350 per night I think, the other two are more $$$. You can also fly close to all three and the camp will pick you up off the plane.

regards - tom

SPECIALIST_RANGER Dec 7th, 2009 11:56 PM

I agree with Tom's advice - ask your travel agent to investigate options with lodges who DO NOT charge a single supplement, and are offering free nights valid for travel in February!
Mike Karantonis

kimssouthafrica Dec 9th, 2009 10:05 AM

Oudtshoorn is a charming little town where you will find Ostrich Farming, Cheetah Sanctuary and the darling little Meerkat Tours.R62 is lovely route, I second the thought that rather stay outside of Port Elizabeth, perhaps Tsitsikamma forest. It is a pity you did not arrange the trip yourself as it is so much more rewarding and a lot cheaper too. So many tourists that go this route are happy they did in the end.

nanciej Dec 9th, 2009 11:35 AM

I would agree, there isn't much to see in PE and you might enjoy more time around Knysna-lots to see there. You can drive in the next day.(Otherwise, take a look at The Aquasands in PE) I think it will be a long day from CT to Oudtshorn depending where you plan on picking up the 62. If you are planning on driving up in one day through the wine country (around Franschhoek), then be ready for lots of car time. If I remember correctly there are a couple of very narrow, winding pass' to go through. (Cogman's Kloof for instance) If you are taking the N2 east and then cutting up around Swellendam it will be faster, but less scenic. You will drive through Montagu Pass on the way down from Oudtshorn, which also can be slow going depending on weather and traffic. All of it is beautiful country though. We spent a couple of weeks from CT to PE and I remember well the driving times ALWAYS took much longer than maps suggested. (you can see our itinerary here:

If you have one spot to safari, then sabi sands is a very good choice. I agree-there are some good deals out there and you should not be getting a single supplement hit if there are other good choices. We couldn't believe the sightings we had at Mala Mala.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:30 AM.