NEWBIE NEEDS HELP!

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Dec 8th, 2006, 07:21 AM
  #1
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NEWBIE NEEDS HELP!

Hi, I'm a newbie to this forum [often post on the Europe one] and hoping to find the same friendly advice i usually get there.
We are a family of 4, kids aged 19 & 16, thinking about a trip to southern Africa next summer, after DS has finished big public exams. We are particularly interested in wildlife, game, etc. and apart from DD's college trip to Botswana last year, this will be a first trip to S'Africa for all of us.
My tentative idea is to fly into Cape town, spend a week self-driving the garden route, [would like to do some whale watching] then do a safari of some sort, ending up back in Cape town again. [about 14 days in all].
Is this a sensible plan?
Are there snags i wouldn't think of for myself?
How much should i budget for reasonable accommodation?
What is the best source of cheap flight info from the UK to C/town?

Thanks in advance for your help,

Ann
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Dec 8th, 2006, 07:51 AM
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Here are a few comments based on putting together my first SA trip, which I have not yet taken.

Whale watching is best starting in August to November. But Great White Shark viewing is best June-July, with Aug-Sept being good too. You can go in an underwater cage to see the sharks. No scuba diving experience needed. Or just watch from the deck. The best views are actually from the deck.

Since you mentioned wildlife, there is a baboon habituation walk that you can do 20 minutes outside of Cape Town. And the penguins at Boulders Beach in Simonstown.

Safari of some sort--Here you would need to decide if the safari will be in SA or in another Southern Africa location. If you continue to self drive through Kruger, that could offer the least expensive option. Botswana would be the most expensive option, unless you considered a mobile safari. Wilderness Safaris, CC Africa, and Masson are all companies that offer mobiles. You could search for trip reports that used these companies. Zambia or Zimbabwe could offer exciting canoeing and walking options, plus traditional driving safaris.

If you just stayed in South Africa, to minimize your travel time/expense, you could add the Sabi Sands, which has the most wildlife in SA. Mala Mala is a favorite of Sabi Sands experts and it is where I have chosen to spend my time in the Sabi Sands. One less expensive Sabi Sands option that is mentioned often is Elephant Plains. There are many, many choices in the Sabi Sands, though.

The other South Africa safari destination Iím going--so the only other one I know much about--is Phinda, operated by CC Africa. They actually have an itinerary that spans one week and does a different activity each day. Of course you can stay a shorter time and pick and choose such options as rhino tracking, a village visit, a flying safari to look for whales and such, etc. You could pair Phinda with CC Africaís Sabi Sands camp of Londolozi and perhaps get a price break going through the same company.

To help you with budgeting, here is a site that lists a variety of accommodations and rates. You may be able to improve upon these with a good agent, but it gives you an idea. http://www.e-gnu.com/african-safari-...ion/index.html

Please post again as your itinerary takes shape and additional questions arise.
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Dec 8th, 2006, 08:52 AM
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Londolozi may not be part of CCAfrica in the future.
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34910620

For airfare kayak.com
http://www.premiertours.com/lowest-airfares.html
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Dec 9th, 2006, 01:44 AM
  #4
santharamhari
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Ann,

You need to deciede which Southern African country appeals to you more...for the safari segment. This depends on how many nights you want to go on safari. If you only have 3-4 safari nights......then the Sabi Sands would be your best option. Lots of top name lodging options available.....

If you have a week to 10 days for safari alone....i urge you to consider either Botswana or Zambia.

Hari
 
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Dec 9th, 2006, 08:44 PM
  #5
aby
 
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hi annhig

for Whalewatching u come on the right time. Hermanus is one of the best places, but there are more observation opportunities along the coast.
from July onwards, u can watch them all the way to Mossel Bay.
Sept Oct they go for calving at Walker Bay - world class whalewatch !

"How much should i budget for reasonable accommodation?"
i think you should define what is reasonable for you...
On Safari $500 pp pn is considered reasonable for many fodorites (for me only right after i win the lottery...)
many properties' prices r much higher.
as 'atravelynn' noted if you go for wildlife into Kruger NP it will be cheaper (you can also stay at accommodation out of the park, e.g. Hazyview)
don't mistake 'atravelynn's words
" to minimize your travel time/expense, you could add the Sabi Sands"
Sabi Sands means private reserves (not cheap), it may be cheaper than Botswana - i think that's what she meant...

along the way accommodation may be from $20 pp up or even less (there are B&Bs, Caravan Parks, backpackers' lodges but also hotels)
you can also camp

14 days ?
most people on this forum, would do a few days around Capetown then fly to either Sabi-Sabi/Sabi-Sands or Botswana for the "Safari" part
(btw original meaning of the word in kiSwahili is simply travel)
personally, i like itineraries that "waste time" on driving around (not 'parachuting' into highlight-sites without any perspective on the country visited) - especially when it is places like the Garden Route...
the problem is, it is a long way to drive to Kruger...
should probably fly from P.E./ East-london to Kruger and back to Cape-Town.
see distances:
http://www.routes.co.za/distance/capetown.html
Route 2: http://www.routes.co.za/route/N2/index.html

another excellent tool for planning your route & accommodation is:
http://www.shellgeostar.co.za/

all the best

aby


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Dec 10th, 2006, 05:59 AM
  #6
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thanks all of you for your thought provoking ideas. To cut down on costs I think we're likely to stay in south africa itself, which probably means Kruger, but I obviously need to do some serious research before I trouble u all again.

Thanks again, Ann
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Dec 11th, 2006, 01:36 AM
  #8
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Hi, Lynn - many thanks for going to so much trouble!

I have already sent off a couple of enquiries to tour operators accessed through those threads.

how have you booked the mala mala section of your trip? - i am reading very good things about it.

Thanks again, Ann
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Dec 11th, 2006, 05:57 AM
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Mala Mala with a travel agent Eyes on Africa. They also did the Phinda part.
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Dec 13th, 2006, 02:31 AM
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If you want to drive the garden route I would strongly recommend having a look at one of these destinations for your safari - Addo Elephant Park or Shamwari Game Reserve. Both are in the Eastern Cape, essentially at the other end of the garden route from Cape Town. The Garden Route is not to be rushed - I would plan to drive no more than 200km a day and spend loads of time checking out the beaches, shops, restaurants and little seaside towns. this way the Garden Route will take you about nine days. Then you do a 3-4 day safari (Shamwari is more luxurious than Addo but Addo has literally thousands of elephants which are very impressive), then catch a 2 hour flight from Port Elizabeth back to Cape Town. Stops on the way along the route should include Nature's Valley, Tsitsikamma and Knysna at the least. Just remember, its winter here during Europe's summer and the Garden Route can be quite wet.
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