One Week to Go -- South Africa and Lesotho

Jun 21st, 2006, 06:47 AM
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One Week to Go -- South Africa and Lesotho

I wanted to post my itinerary for my upcoming safari (leaving New York on Wednesday, June 28, one week from today). My preference is to visit new national parks and new countries, where possible, and on this trip I will visit some less visited parks.

June 28 -- depart JFK to Durban (via Johannesburg)
June 29 -- land in Durban and transfer to Pietermaritzburg
June 30 -- pick up rental car, and drive to southern Drakensberg, from where I will cross the Sani Pass into Lesotho
July 1 -- Hluhluwe
July 2 -- Hluhluwe
July 3 -- Greater St. Lucia Wetland Reserve (before driving to Durban for late flight to JNB)
July 4 -- fly to Upington and drive to Kgalagadi (Twee Rivieren camp)
July 5 -- Kgalagadi (Nossob camp)
July 6 -- Kgalagadi (Kalahari Tented Camp)
July 7 -- Kgalagadi (late return to Upington)
July 8 -- fly Upington to JNB to JFK (seven hour layover at JNB and likely visit to Cradle of Mankind)

This will be my sixth safari (seventh if you count Madagascar), and its getting more difficult to find new easy-to-access parks, and I am beginning to look into a trip next year to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (Lope and Monte Allen parks).

My past safaris have been to:

August 1999 -- Masai Mara and Amboseli(Kenya) and Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti(Tanzania)

June 2000 -- Kruger and Sabi Sands(South Africa)

August 2001 -- Okavango Delta and Chobe(Botswana), Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), South Luangwa (Zambia) and Lake Malawi (Malawi)

August 2002 -- Mkhaya (Swaziland), visit to Maputo (Mozambique) to use airport, and Ongava, Etosha and Sossosvlei (Namibia)

August 2003 -- Queen Elizabeth NP and Bwindi (Uganda), Parc Nacional Volcans (Rwanda) and Samburu (Kenya)

May 2005 -- Perinet, Kirindy and Berenty (Madagascar)

I will post a trip report when I return. I have very high expectations for Kgalagadi, and its interesting to see how few visitors make it to South Africa's second largest national park.

thit_cho is offline  
Jun 21st, 2006, 06:53 AM
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Here's wishing you safe and happy travels!!! Sounds like a gr8 trip, have fun!!!

Jun 21st, 2006, 07:21 AM
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Michael: looks like a great and exciting trip -- enjoy!

I am especially looking forward to hearing your report on the Kgalagadi, I am interested in driving this area myself too.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Jun 21st, 2006, 08:27 AM
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Have a wonderful trip!!!

I am very curious about your stay at Kgalagadi.


Jun 21st, 2006, 03:30 PM
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Have a great time Michael! Take lots of pictures and travel safe. EnjoyQ
matnikstym is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 11:21 AM
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Two days to go. Purchased a new digital camera yesterday, so I will bring Nikon print and digital SLRs (which can share lenses). And I received some pills that should knock me out for the flight, hopefully until I awaken in Dakar for refueling (I intend to stay up from Dakar to JNB since I will be flying that leg in the African day, and I want to quickly get on local time). I am in the middle of "Crime and Punishment," which I started last month when in St. Petersburg, and I hope to make a significant dent over Africa.
thit_cho is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 11:36 AM
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I've been thinking about your trip as the itinerary (which you posted here once finalised) definitely interests me.

I wish you a fantastic trip and can't wait to hear all about it and to see the photos!

Travel safely, Michael!
Kavey is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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Have a fantastic time Michael - can't wait to read all about it!

OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 05:15 PM
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Another facinating trip again, so soon? Oh to travel as much as you.
You do seem to go to the most interesting places Michael.
Enjoy and please report back!
cybor is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 03:14 AM
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This reply may be too late for you, but I hope not.
Please bear in mind that you are only allowed up the Sani Pass in a 4x4. You will be stopped at the South African border post and not be allowed to proceed in a 2x4. When you do go up you will understand why this is so.
I am also a little concerned about your planning to be at Hluhluwe the next day (July 1). I do not know which route you will be taking to get there, but it is going to be a very long day. Returning to Durban and then heading north will probably be the most practical route.
Be warned that the northern section of Lake St Lucia, including False Bay, is at present bone dry. I was there recently, but did not go south to the town of St Lucia where there is presumably still water. I do not know whether you will be able to take the MV Santa Lucia up-river to see the hippos, crocs and the mangroves.
Kgalagadi is always great and one does not neeed a 4x4 (although it is sometimes more convenient to have one). It is a game reserve with a difference in that it is a desert landscape and wonderful for photography.
The sites to visit in the Cradle of Humankind (I also prefer the word "Mankind") include the new interpretation centre called "Maropeng" and, of course, the Sterkfontein caves where Mrs Ples and Little Foot were found (the full skeleton of the latter is still being recovered). But this is a long way from the airport (I estimate approx 90 kilometres)and I do not know whether you will have time to get there and back. To take a taxi will cost and arm and a "little foot". I suggest that you choose some other way of using the time at your disposal. (Do the seven hours take into account that you have to check in 2 hours before departure, and that it will take a good 30 minutes after touch-down, before you can get to your vehicle?).
Enjoy your visit.

RKR is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 05:38 AM
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RKR, thanks for the info. A few points of clarification:

1. I am not driving into Lesotho myself, but rather joining a tour out of Underberg (they will be using a 4X4 and I will leave my car in Underberg)

2. I intend to visit St. Lucia, and not travel to the northern end of the park, which I also understand is dry.

3. I am using a 2WD for Kgalagadi -- I understand the South African side is accessible by 2WD (and I do not intend to venture into the Botswanan side, where I would need a 4X4).

Thanks again for the information.
thit_cho is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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St Lucia the town is a fairly ordinary residential area set in a fairly pretty location. When we were there in 2004 they too were noticing the effects of lack of water but there IS still some water and lots and lots of hippos around. You can also visit nearby Cape Vidal park for a couple of hours.

If you haven't yet booked accommodation I can strongly recommend Avalone Guest House, provided Monica is still the host/ manager there. It's owned by some Europeans (possibly Dutch) who use it as a holiday home. The rooms are really lovely, it really does feel like a home from home rather than a hotel and Monica is one of the warmest guest house hosts I've ever come across.

Kavey is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 07:53 AM
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Thanks Kavey. I may do the drive from St. Lucia to Cape Vidal, or if the boat is running, I will do the boat cruise. I won't overnight in St. Lucia, but will visit on the way from Hluhluwe (which I'll leave around 6:00 am) on my way to Durban for a very late flight to JNB, so I'll have at least 8 or so hours in the St. Lucia area.
thit_cho is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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We enjoyed the boat cruise - could have been a bit hokey but our guide, Steve, a real old hand, was at the same time hugely informative and also had an excellent sense of humour.

Drinks on the boat were reasonably priced too, I seem to recall.

Have a good one!
Kavey is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 08:01 AM
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PS Cape Vidal isn't very exciting if you're just there for a few hours. We included 3 nights in St Lucia as a chill out stop in the middle of our 5 weeks self drive around SA which I'm glad we did and enjoying doing some gentle activities and tours.

Other than the high hippo numbers we saw from the cruise and perhaps a short visit/ walk along a coastal beach just for the change, I'm not sure there's much else worth including on a flying visit from Hluhluwe.

Oh, I think there's a great craft market on the road from St Lucia up to the North Eastern side of Hluhluwe - the main road.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 9th, 2006, 07:00 AM
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How quickly trips begin and end! But, I am back in NY watching Federer/Nadal in Wimbledon, while yesterday I was in the Northern Cape.

I will post a trip report, but the trip went very smoothly (South Africa has great infrastructure).

Some highlights include the snow covered ride up the Sani Pass into Lesotho; numerous white rhino and huge male lion in Hluhluwe (I was the only one with the lion, for 10 minutes or so, until he wandered into the bush); large pods of hippos in the St. Lucia Wetland Reserve; lots of wild cats, cape foxes and bat-eared foxes in Kgalagadi; and spending five hours with a pair of cheetahs in Kgalagadi, ending when they each brought down a springbok (I saw the chases but the long distances took the takedowns beyond the horizon, but when I drove up, the cheetahs were feasting on springboks).
thit_cho is offline  
Jul 9th, 2006, 07:27 AM
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Welcome back thit cho.
I, as always, look forward to hearing about your trip. You seem to always take a peek at the places that the rest of us dream of. Hope you have some good pictures for us.

You were the first person I thought of when a recent poster asked who amongst us has been to Gabon.
cybor is offline  
Jul 9th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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I'm particularly interested in your Sani Pass trip!
JaneB is offline  
Jul 9th, 2006, 07:56 AM
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Welcome back Michael - looking forward to reading your report! Glad things went smoothly.

cynstalker is offline  
Jul 9th, 2006, 06:41 PM
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Welcome back, Michael....kgalagadi sounds awesome!!!


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