Planning S. African Trip in Oct 2007

Old Jul 13th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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Planning S. African Trip in Oct 2007

We are planning to visit South Africa in late October 2007. We'll have approx 2 weeks. Our travel interests usually focus on wine, food and scenery; we particularly enjoy driving trips. We are seasoned and rather independent travellers, and generally flexible. Being this is a big country, would appreciate any help on where to focus, whether renting a car and driving is safe/advisable, and how to set up wine tastings.

We are on somewhat ambivalent about game parks, but could be persuaded otherwise.

Thanks.
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Old Jul 13th, 2007, 08:38 AM
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Stellenbosch is gorgeous; and I can not remember, but there is a wonderful restaurant that is in a cave setting and is stunning, as is the food. You should look for Shiraz wines; though not good value as the dollar is so weak against the Rand. Hope this helps
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Old Jul 13th, 2007, 08:40 AM
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Not sure why you are ambivalent to visit game parks, they are fabulous.

You should definitely rent a car, but be very aware of whom you rent from---and get insurance to cover theft and vandalism. Also, when driving, ALWAYS lock your doors as soon as you can in the vehicle AND NEVER leave anything of value in view in the vehicle. Ask the concierge at your hotel to set up wine tastings.
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Old Jul 13th, 2007, 08:55 AM
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The Cape winelands are lovely and are easy to visit by car. Roads are good throughout the country, they're well-marked, maps are readily available, and the scenery is gorgeous, especially great for a car trip. The winelands are full of delightful B&B's, as well as hotels that range from low priced to luxury.

I'd suggest that you look at several South Africa guidebooks to get a general idea of the winelands, and then ask here for more specific information. Many of the participants in this forum have visited the Cape and can give specific advice.

I think it would be a terrible shame to go to SA and not visit a game park! You can do it at any budget level, and it's an experience you won't get anywhere else in the world. Any particular reason for your ambivalence?

Have a wonderful trip!

Celia
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Old Jul 13th, 2007, 09:08 AM
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hi, suzanne,

can't give you any direct experience yet, but we are flying out on Tuesday 17th July for about 2 weeks, so if you can wait til beg. aug, you'll be able to read my trip report!

to give you a bit of an idea, our itinerary is as follows:

4 nights cape town

2 nights grootbos [western end of garden route]

3 nights plettenberg bay [eastern end of garden route]

3 nights eastern cape safari [split 1 night schotia, 2 nights shamwari].

knowing what I know now, I would probably have forgone the 2 nights at grootbos for another 2 nights in cape town, as it's close enough to do a day trip to that area. I got a lovely book from amazon called "7 days in Cape town" - there's enough ideas to fill 14!

as it is, we are planning, subject to weather [can't be any worse than ours here in teh UK at the momemt]

1 day table mountain and kirstenbosch gardens

1 day exploring CPT

1 day cape of good hope

1 day winelands, en route to Grootbos.

from what i gather, there is no need to book accommodations yet - there are several thread on this forum about good guest houses and B & Bs. but you might think of booking your international flights soon. We are flying into CPT, out of Jo'burg, via P. Elizabeth.

the first two flights would be just as vaild if you were going to go to Kruger after CPT, so you would not be limiting yourselves if you were to make those bookings.

regards, ann
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Old Jul 15th, 2007, 02:53 AM
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We had a fantastic two weeks in South Africa. Hired a car at Cape town airport and had no trouble and no concerns re drving throughout trip. Having read guide books and sites such as this we wondered before we left if we would feel a bit intimidated either by bad driving or by possibility of theft or mugging. Whilst we obviously took all the sensible precautions about locking doors and not going into townships etc at no point did we feel even vaguely worried. To us [albeit we are used to rush hour London] driving in that part of the world appeared calm, sedate and straight forward. Good well maintained roads and everywhere was well signposted with frequent petrol stations serviced by polite friendly staff.


We like being independent and stayed mainly in rented apartments/house which we found we could rent for just a few nights rather than a whole week. We just toured web sites and picked out ones we liked. The prices were cheap and we found we could stay at places we would not be able to afford in Europe.

We started in Franshhoek in winelands as we are serious foodies and there are many excellent restaurants all within walking distance of centre of Franschhoek [where there was no problem walking around either day or evening]. During the day we went on some amazing drives including to Hermanus [which we found very tacky but the drive to and fro and seeing the whales was great]. At the big wineries [e.g. boschendal] one just tipped up without appointment and they had well run tasting rooms. We had never done any wine tasting in vineyards before but again this all seemed entirely easy to enjoy. Most of the places also had outstanding restaurants plus also cafes for lighter meals.

We then moved onto Camps bay in Capetown staying in an fantastic apartment overlooking this stunning bay. Lots of casual dining in trendy restaurants along front of bay, great fun, great wine, great prices, but not serious food. Cape Town however is a must for Table mountain, the simply stunning drive around cape of good hope [don't miss penguins] and the Robben island tour [which was dignified, subtle and deeply moving]. Again easy to navigate and easy to park everywhere.

We then drove a hour and half North of Capetown to a place called Bartholomeus Klip

http://www.parksgroup.co.za/bk/index.html.

This was our compromise around game parks [which we were a bit iffy about] and we were so glad we went as it turned out to be our 'heaven on earth'. Peaceful, wonderful accomodation and food with game drives, a lake with boats, biking etc. We saw bonteboks, zebra, buffalo, widebeast and just miles of unspoilt country. Again this place seemed absurdly cheap by UK standards but obviously bear in mind that the £ is strong against rand at moment.









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Old Jul 15th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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hi, schoj,

we are planning to drive through the winelands between CPT and grootbos [just beyond hermanus] which is our next stop, after CPT.

as this wil be a sunday [in fact, next sunday!] do you have any recommendations for wine-tasting stops/lunch, bearing in mind that some places seem to shut on sunday?

thanks for sharing your experiences - it's very helpfulto read something from someone who's just got back.

regards, ann
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 09:58 PM
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We ate in Hermanus in a restauarant called I think Bientangs that was in a sort of cave right on cliffs. Great location, great views of the whales but simply terrible food [in fact the only poor meal we had all holiday and certainly not be recommended]. The marine hotel in Harmanus looked nice but was quite smart and we were in very casual clothing that day so did not give it a go.

We had sunday lunch in the winelands at a place just outside Franshhoek called Petit Ferme. This can be highly recommended, very relaxed, excellent country type food with spectacular views. They certainly served wine from their own vinesand I recall we bought some from the shop but not sure about wine tastings. It was very busy and would be worth booking in advance partiuclalry if you wanted a table with a view. We also had a very nice 'coffee shop' type of lunch at Boschendal [they also have a more formal buffet place which loked very nice]which definitely has wine tasting and is a lovely spot with an old Dutch house open to public. Not sure if this would be open on Sundays but they do have a good web site so you could check. Have a great trip and hopefully, even though it is winter there, you will get some of the sun that is evading us in UK this summer !







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Old Jul 17th, 2007, 04:42 AM
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hi, schoj,

really useful info - thanks.

we leave later today!!!!!

Hope you're right about the weather - forecast is mixed but changes every day.

regards, ann
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Old Jul 17th, 2007, 07:42 AM
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Annhig,
I'm looking forward to your trip report, since we'll be doing a one week drive in the Cape area in October and I don't know where to start. Got our ""Time Out Cape Town" book in the mail yesterday, but it doesn't have any suggested itineraries.

So have a wonderful time and please keep good notes.
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