Need help with South Africa trip

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Apr 15th, 2003, 04:54 AM
  #1
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Need help with South Africa trip

We will be flying into Johannesberg in June and will have 6 days. We will have a car. Can't afford luxurious game lodges since we are bringing kids. I've been trying to look for places that have either special per-room or cabin rates and/or specials for time of year. Also trying to decide if its worth it to take malaria meds or just stay in malaria-free areas. Not really interested in staying in Johannesberg or Sun City. We get into Johannesberg early AM. Need help with what to do!
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Apr 15th, 2003, 11:48 AM
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Have you thought about Pilanesberg? It's not far from Jo'burg, is malaria free. You can stay there at thier lodges or you could stay at one of the terrific B & Bs in Rustenburg. There is one I know of that takes you to Pilanesburg and knows the place so well he found a lot of animals for us in the short time we had - about a half a day. But more time is better. He has a web site -www.golf-in-africa.com but you don't need to be a golfer I don't think. Or you could go to ananzi.co.za and type in B & B or guest house and Rustenberg and there should be several to choose from. I do think Pilanesberg has special off season rates and June is off season. Bring a sweater or even a jacket for evenings though it should be nice during the days.
Hope this helps
golfer
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Apr 15th, 2003, 12:25 PM
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Ella,

You may be able to afford a couple very reasonable game lodges in the Sabi Sand Reserve. One that I know about in particular is Elephant Plains Game Lodge which you can get for as low as $150.00 USD per night per adult sharing and about $90.00 USD per night for child sharing. That is about as low as it gets in the Sabi Sand Reserve.

The website address is: http://www.elephantplains.co.za/rates.htm

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Apr 15th, 2003, 07:46 PM
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If you decide to go to the Pilanesburg, try Kwa Maritane. We spent two night there last year for a total R 450 per night(party of 4 adults). The game drives cost extra. They have an underground tunnel out to a waterhole 100 yards out from the hotel. There is a camera at the waterhole and you can view it from your room to see what's there. They are supposed to have the big five. We saw quite a few elephants, hippo and plains game, but no cats. I don't know how wet the year has been, but the annual burnoff in the highveld begins in June and the results of a major burn are not pretty. This is not as much a problem in the Kruger area.

Another option is to stay at one of the government camps in the Kruger park. These are self catering buildings (not tents)and sleep from 2 to 6 persons. I'm told they are inexpensive. The camps are fenced and the gates are closed during the hours of darkness and you aren't allowed in or out after dark. They have a restaurant and a convienence store(I haven't stayed here, but one year when we stayed at a friends private lodge south of Kruger we drove up to look). The roads in Kruger are paved and people drive around in their private cars looking for game. There were huge herds of impala, zebra and wildabeest. Lots of elephant and two small lion prides (the prides were small, the lions were huge)When you see a traffic jam you know you've found lions sleeping by a water hole. To me it is like driving around in a zoo with no fences. The drive to Kruger is 6 hours from Jo'burg and it is better not to do it on a weekend. We returned to Jo'burg on a Sunday and were in slow moving traffic that included what must have been 100 large boat trailers returning from a weekend of fishing in Mozambique.

If I rated what has been suggested. I would always take a game lodge first. Second I'd choose the Pilanesburg because of it is near Jo'burg and Kruger third because it is further away.

We saw a lot more game in Kruger than the Pilanesburg, but it was in different years and there is no guarantee of what you'll see anywhere.
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Apr 15th, 2003, 10:46 PM
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Hi there,
We recently spent a couple of weeks in SA on a fairly limited budget too. Drove to Kruger and stopped off at Blyde River Canyon in a gorgeous lodge called the Blyde River Canyon Lodge (what else!) (http://blydecanyoncountry.com/accommo/blydelodge.html). The rates were excellent (about 390 ZAR per person I think), the rooms were pleasant (all leading out onto the garden), and there were even zebras and gnus strolling around the grounds and coming up to the swimming pool while we sipped our sundowners!!

We stayed in the rest camps at Kruger and found them to be excellent (and *very* good value). I wrote quite a long trip report describing it all - I'll try and find it and top it for you.
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Apr 16th, 2003, 03:28 AM
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Thanks for all the great information, keep it coming! Lots to think about.
Even though some of the game lodges like Elephant Plains seem to have reduced rates, kids 12 and over are charges as adults, so that ends up being about $700 per night which is too steep for this trip. I'm thinking we could maybe spend a couple nights at one of the cheaper game lodges and a couple nights at a self-catering type place and get our own meals.
Pilanesberg area vs. Kruger----any more comments??? Any other suggestions for Pilanesberg? Is it worth it to take the malaria meds and go to Kruger? And do you need them for June which is listed as a low risk month?
Swaziland---any more comments? After reading Hanl's trip report, one night in Swaziland sounds like it might be nice to combine with Kruger if we go that way.
As to the Kruger camps, price looks good, would like more comments on which ones.
Harold- could you exlain a litte more about the annual burnoff in June?
Thanks guys.
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Apr 16th, 2003, 11:34 PM
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Hello Ella,

Re malaria-low risk means that there is "still" a possibility so unless it is NO risk, I wouldn't take the chance.
Please look at www.nkorho.com and you can e-mail Jacqui at [email protected] Some people I know that live there(real adventurers like you wouldn't believe)went & enjoyed themselves. Have a look
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Apr 17th, 2003, 02:03 AM
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Hi Ella
Do you have a figure of what you have in mind spending on the land arrangements, and what is the total size of the party? It would help for suggestions, otherwise it could be a question of how long is a piece of string.
Personally - Kruger is far superior to Pilansberg. Quite honestly, I think that Pilansberg has had so much traffic through it (and it is really small) that the animals know when and where to hide out. It would be very disappointing to come all this way and hardly see anything.
To pre-empt Harold about the burn-off: this is not a co-ordinated or organised program. Winter is the dry season and the possibility of veld fires is high. Paradoxically, winter is the best time to go game viewing as the undergrowth is sparse and the animals cannot hide as easily. About two years ago there were very unfortunate run-away fires in the Kruger area and large tracts of land were damaged and many animals died. If memory serves there were also some human deaths. It was very tragic, but I believe that the areas have recovered.
About the malaria issue - don't take a chance. This summer there have been a lot of cases of people contracting malaria, it's just not worth the risk. Unless you've had a bad adverse reaction previously, or cannot take any medication for other reasons, it's smarter to rather suffer through the side effects.
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Apr 17th, 2003, 01:27 PM
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I understand that the highveld is generaly meant to be the savannah type area above 3,000 feet in altitude. The high veld is primarily in the central part of South Africa and the highest part is the Johannesburg area which approaches 6,000 feet. It has a wet hot summer and a cold dry winter.

Depending on how wet the summer may have been affects the veld fires in the winter (Jun-Aug). The vegetation is primarily plains type grasses with occasional thorn trees. The lighting from late summer thunderstorms most often is the cause for lighting the veld on fire, although smokes flicked from cars windows helps out. These fires burn, on and off, from late May until the rains come in September. As you drive around in the Jo'burg area you'll see plumes of white smoke here and there on the horizon, all veld fires. By mid-August the high veld is an awful looking place and the smell of acrid smoke is invasive.

You might be unlucky enough to have this have to you in the Pilanesburg in June, but you should consider that it will happen to you in August.

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Apr 18th, 2003, 04:19 AM
  #10
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There are 2 adults and 3 kids. For rate purposes, usually considered 4 adults and 1 child, which makes things expensive. I would like to keep prices down as much as possible. If we stayed a few nights at Kruger, that would help, and maybe allow us to spend a few nights at a private game lodge if we ca find an affordable one. Which camps and locations that can accomodate 5 are best? Anyone stayed in one of the larger accomodations at Skukuza, Lower Sabie, Olifants? Can't tell much from website.
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Apr 18th, 2003, 06:14 AM
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Ella,
Have you posted your question or searched on any other travel boards? When I was planning my trip, in addition to this board, I got a lot of mileage out of the Lonely Planet Thorntree messageboard (http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/ca...es.cfm?catid=9) - lots of info to be found there on budget-conscious travel in South Africa, Kruger accommodation, etc.
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Apr 20th, 2003, 08:30 AM
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Kruger is very popular with South African families as the rates of the private game parks put them ou to fhte price ranges of most families. We have done Kruger many times. Yes, it is a totally different experience to a private game park as you cannot go off off road and have to rely on your own powers of observation. They are also a LOT less luxurious.It is mostly self catering and while you can eat at the restaraunts you will probably be doing some of the meals yourself.It is still a lot of fun and if the private game reserves are out of your price range, then it will still be a great trip with lots of memories for your family. You can still do night rides with game rangers at extra cost.

If you will be in SA over school holidays, the Kruger Park gets booked up quickly.

I would also recommend Kruger over Pilanesberg.

Otherwise check out some of the specials that are offered on MTbeds.

If you do a combination of Kruger and a private reserve, try to do Kruger first.
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Apr 20th, 2003, 09:02 AM
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I can't find the web site for MT beds. Do you have it?
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Apr 20th, 2003, 06:20 PM
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Mariacallas-having trouble
www.mtbeds.co.za
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Apr 22nd, 2003, 03:56 PM
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I'm thinking of spending 1-2 nights at two different Kruger camps, then 2 nights at one of the cheaper private game reserves. Has anyone stayed at or seen the family cottages or guest houses at Olifants, Lower Sabie, Skukuza, Berg en dal, or Satara?
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Apr 22nd, 2003, 11:39 PM
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I can't really help with the cottage question as we stayed in 2-person accommodation... but I can give you my impressions of the camps! My favourite was Olifants, simply for the location, the layout of the camp and the scale (not overwhelming). Our hut there was extremely comfortable, so I would assume that family accommodation is of a similar standard. We passed through both Satara and Skukuza for lunch on different days. We thought that Satara camp seemed pretty dull (flat, no great views, the caf�/restaurant looked out onto a fence) compared to some of the other camps, but then the game viewing in the area was very good. We didn't like the look of Skukuza much either, and didn't like the fact that it was so big, with so many people milling everywhere. But some people choose this camp for precisely that reason, as it has by far the most extensive facilities. And again, game viewing in the area was excellent. We liked the accommodation at Berg-en-Dal, and the camp facilities were among the best we experienced - lovely big swimming pool, excellent shop, very good grill/bar/restaurant, pretty views overlooking the dam, game drives in small vehicles (but booked up fast!!). The bungalow we stayed in was comfortable and roomy - but there were a lot of bugs as i mentioned in my other post!! The other downside to Berg-en-Dal is that because its so close to the edge of the park, and is up in a hilly area, you can see the lights and buildings of "civilisation" outside the park when you drive rouund the area, and that kind of spoiled the "wilderness" atmosphere for me. But we had some incredible sightings!! I have been told that Lower Sabie is an excellent camp but can't elaborate on that I'm afraid.
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Apr 24th, 2003, 04:37 AM
  #17
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Any comments on Kruger camps? Should we try to drive there the first day after a long flight arriving in AM or stay somewhere along the way? All suggestions welcome.
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Apr 24th, 2003, 09:59 AM
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Ella, I haven't even been to Africa yet but I would not start a drive in a foreign country after a long flight. It's too easy to be jet-lagged and have an accident. Others will be able to suggest where to stay.
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Apr 25th, 2003, 12:28 AM
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From JIA to the camps in lower Kruger that you are looking at is about 500km. Except for once you are in the actual Park this route is on the N4 highway all the way, nice, wide, mostly dual carriageway toll road. If you do decide to take a break then the village of Dullstroom is a short detour off the track and very quaint. It's filled with reasonable B&B's and other accommodations. I had an e-mail address somewhere for the local tourism office who would be able to help with more info - I'll try to find it.
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Apr 25th, 2003, 02:10 AM
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I found the details:
web: www.dullstroom.co.za
e-mail: [email protected]
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