Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page > One week South Africa Photo Safari & one week of "what else"? Help!
Notices

One week South Africa Photo Safari & one week of "what else"? Help!

Reply

Jul 29th, 2012, 09:17 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 7
One week South Africa Photo Safari & one week of "what else"? Help!

My wife & I are going to South Africa for the first, and probably, the last time, sometime from May to August of 2013. We are going to plan for a two week trip. When would be the best time for weather concerns? We would prefer more warm weather, as opposed to being there in thier coldest time of winter. Also, does anyone have some good suggestions for an additional week to spend in Africa. Perhaps, we could fly to another country, there, to get more of a wonderful experience. I am a chef, so we would also like to experience some great local foods.
jswolfman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 30th, 2012, 01:53 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 813
South Africa has a dry but cold winter (game drives early morning can be very chilly), and it has a wet and hot summer (humidity can be killer). If I were you I'd opt for their fall (April, May) or spring (September, October).

The fall = still greener due to recent rains, but perhaps a bit less easy to see all animals. Spring = all is tinted brown and yellow, and it's very dry. So not so nice colors for photography, but a bit easier to see all animals.

If you're looking for one week of safari, and one week of "something else", then you can combine Kruger area with Drakensbergen or combine the Cape with Addo + nearby private reserves near Port Elizabeth.

Or you could even do the Cape and Kruger, but then you'll need an extra local flight. For the Cape, do try to stay as close to their summertime as possible (while still in spring/fall of course), as that's the coldest part of South Africa.

Ciao,

J.
pixelpower is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 30th, 2012, 02:02 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 813
More info on Drakensbergen;

Just Google for: three rondavels, Gods window, Blyde rivier potholes, Pilgrim's Rest etc. Plenty to see and to there, and fantastic landscapes. Hence why they call it the "panorama route" It's easiest to do it by self-drive. A good place to stay is Blyde River Canyon Lodge.

Another cool thing is that you can rent your car at Hoedspruit Airport. So no need to rent a car at Jo'burg and lose almost a full day getting to the Drakensbergen. Even cooler is that you can save considerably (in time & money) if you choose lodges in Klaserie and Timbavati reserves. These reserves are very close to Hoedspruit airport; no need for expensive transfers. Klaserie and Timbavati are both open to Kruger, and offer similar things as the lodges in Sabi Sands ...but they are more affordable. I'd go for at least two lodges. Mu favourites are nThambo in Klaserie, and Shindzela in Timbavati.
pixelpower is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 30th, 2012, 02:19 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 813
More on Cape Town + Addo:

Plenty of things to do at the cape; Robben Island, Cape Point, Kirstenbosch Gardens, the Cape Winelands, Table Mountain, etc...

But I'd combine it with a drive along the garden route, so you can throw in even more; Featherbed Island & Knysna, Stellenbosch, Swellendam, the little Karoo, visit an ostrich farm, Cango Caves, whale spotting and the Diaz museum at Mossel Bay, Outeniqua Choo-tjoe Train, ... the list goes on & on.

Again, this all can be done by self drive but you need to get your rental car at one airport and drop it at the other (ic Port Elizabeth). And then fly back.

As for the safari options near Port Elizabeth; there's of course Addo NP which is nice to see. Gorah Elephant Camp and Riverbend Lodge are top choices imho. Note that both are in private concessions of Addo NP, so they offer very similar things as the lodges I mentioned in previous post (ic lodges on private reserves near Kruger). For example; they are allowed to go off-road and do night drives.

There's also some other private reserves a bit further away. Amakhela and Shamwari are worth mentioning. Lalibela and Pumba are a bit smaller and even further away. The furthest that's still reachable via transfer is Kwandwe. I like Shamwari the most; Amakhela is split by the highway, which spoils the atmosphere sometimes. In Shamwari, go for the lodges furtherst into the reserve; Eagles Crag or Lobengula.

Note; all reserves near Port Elizabeth are malaria free, so that's a little advantage as well.

If you decide to do the garden route, it's obvious that spring is better than fall ;-)
pixelpower is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 30th, 2012, 02:26 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 813
One last thing; for all the above, choose a good local TA that is SATSA registered.

SATSA is your safety. And local means they know the lodges and attractions, and can provide a better itinerary (choice-wise). It also means a considerable saving when compared to using a US- or EU-based TA.

I recommend Sun Safaris, based in Cape Town. Not just because they got a good reputation, but also because they co-own some lodges in the Kruger reserves (like nThambo), which means again a small price reduction.
In all, this makes their itineraries very affordable. I recently compiled an itinerary of two weeks in Drakensbergen + Kruger, actually using the lodges mentioned in my Kruger-post above, and came to about 2500€ pp total. This also included local airline tickets, the rental car, and even all Drakensbergen activities ("prepaid"). Hard to beat.

Ciao,

J.
pixelpower is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 30th, 2012, 07:57 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Pixelpower's Primer gives you lots of good info.

Here's a weather chart
http://www.uyaphi.com/afriweather.htm

Note June/July can be rainy in Cape Town. Also these are the coolest months. I've been in SA in both June and July and early morns were cold on game drives so hat, gloves and scarf to warm the neck are needed, but it got hot by midday.

Also check rates during your potential travel timeframe. For example, Phinda, a cheetah sanctuary and game reserve near Richard's Bay (which you might also want to consider) has this rate structure:

May 1 to June 20 low rate
June 21 to Sept 15 mid rate
Sept 16 to Oct 10 high rate

Check what rate structure the lodges have that you're interested in. You may want to adjust your dates accordingly.

If you go mid June through Aug, that's a great time for Great White Sharks off of Cape Town. The breaching sharks in False Bay are especially interesting. You can cage dive very safely with no scuba experience or just enjoy these magnificent creatures from the boat, like I did. I used African Shark Eco Charters with Rob Lawrence out of Simons Town. Simons Town also has Boulder's Bay, the penguin colony. You can get to Kirstenbosch Gardens (as renowned as Butchart) and spend a day at the magnificent Cape Nature Reserve from Simons Town. Simons Town is about a half hour from Cape Town by either car or train so all the Cape Town attractions are available to you too.

I did not drive myself for any of the Cape Town activities. I used Wayne of Take2Tours.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 5th, 2012, 01:21 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 184
You could combine South Africa with Namibia, I agree with June or September, avoid August in the Cape
braaiseason is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 5th, 2012, 11:36 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
I wouldn't add another country, except maybe Botswana.

I was on the KwaZulu-Natal coast last June and it was much warmer than Kruger area or Cape Town. The Indian Ocean is gorgeous and warm. There are many big five reserves including Phinda, Zululand Rhino Reserve, Thanda and Thula Thula. Combined with a beach camp and Durban might be a nice option for you. Transfers by professional drivers are available if you are not comfortable self-driving (I was not until trip three).

We all try to do too much in too little time on our "once" to S Africa. Try to stay a minimum of three nights in each place and spend the time to enjoy it. It's a big country and isn't called "A World in one Country" for nothing. Each area has it's charms and if given the chance, gets into your heart. "Once" could easily turn to many. There's nothing like it.

Enjoy your planning.
christabir is online now  
Reply With Quote
Aug 5th, 2012, 12:19 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
I was in South Africa for 20 days this May 2012, near Kruger, at Kings Camp. Weather perfect. Cool (not cold) mornings and warm afternoons. No rain.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 8th, 2012, 09:09 PM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 7
Thank you all for the informative responses. Based on your info, we will be planning a May-June trip. We are booked at Zulu-Nyala Safari Lodge. Have you heard of it? The other week, I am still up in the air, on it. I will have to research what animals we can expect to see at Zulu-Nyala. The Shark comments by atravellyn in Mid-June is interesting. I had not thought about that.

Thanks again!!!!
jswolfman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 9th, 2012, 02:00 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 813
I never heard of it. Had to Google it. It looks great luxury/comfort-wise, but it wouldn't be my choice.

First of all because of the type of accommodation; I like wood & canvas in the actual bush. Brings you closer to nature than stone walls in a manicured garden.

Secondly; because of it's location. Looks to be sitting in it's own private reserve, but it looks as if that's very small. IOW iconic animals @ camp; that will be a zero or near-zero. And it also means that what they offer are "simple" visits to the main national park (in this case Hluhluwe) where they must drive on the road like everyone else. To me, being able to go off road for the key animals is an absolute must. And the lodge being IN the park is a necessity as well, as I don't want to lose time (in prime lighting conditions) driving to and from the park.

Even if I would go for a lodge like this, I'd chose one that's near Kruger instead of Hluhluwe. Not that it's a bad park, but Kruger is much better for predators. Hluhluwe's main attraction is it's rhino population. But a couple of days in Kruger, and you'll see them there too.

Ciao,

J.
pixelpower is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 9th, 2012, 07:00 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,885
We are booked at Zulu-Nyala Safari Lodge. Have you heard of it?

By any chance did you win a stay there in some sort of charity auction? Zulu Nyala seems to receive the bulk of its visitors via that channel. Some friends went there and while they thought it was quite nice, they determined (later, based on more exposure) that the reserve was very small and the animal sightings quite repetitive (same animals, same locations.) You might want to look at the reviews on Tripadvisor; many seem to agree with our friends. One common suggestion is that you book a car so that you can tour the area if and/or when you tire of the same daily routine. There are some very interesting areas not far from Zulu Nyala - Hluhluwe park, the St. Lucia complex (hippos, birds) and lots more. Or, if you haven't confirmed to Zulu Nyala, you might want to expand your inquiries.

If one of your two weeks in SA is limited to Zulu Nyala, then I really think you should add a couple of nights in some other reserve within the Kruger complex, then include a few nights in Cape Town before heading out. As a chef, I suspect you'd be knocked out by one of the medium - higher end lodges in, say, the Sabi Sand reserve, followed by the incredible culinary scene around Cape Town - adventurous cooking, fabulous raw materials, the Malay influence... magic.

My wife & I are going to South Africa for the first, and probably, the last time...

Ha ha. Just you wait.
Gardyloo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 10th, 2012, 06:10 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
ZNSL is a large (lots of beds, not large property), commercial camp. Not sure I'd choose it for a week. Tembe (newly renovated), phinda and Zululand Rhino Reserve are also in the area. Plus St Lucia, beaches and Hluhluwe are nearby. Too much to do to spend a whole week in one place.
christabir is online now  
Reply With Quote
Aug 10th, 2012, 06:26 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 415
I agree with the "once" comment.... Don't count on it. Africa gets under your skin or into your soul. I am currently working on plans for third trip in three years.
Neuman605 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 10th, 2012, 04:20 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1
i myself have been to Africa on a couple of occasions now, beautiful place. we have done a couple of tours and safari's etc. What an experience that was! might i suggest for your second week a safari? if it is something that you have thought about you could try these guy's they do some good deals on their photo safari's http://through-the-lens.co.za/

hope this helps
Razzla is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:12 PM.