Please critique my S.A. itinerary


Dec 18th, 2003, 11:36 AM
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Please critique my S.A. itinerary

My wife, brother (onetime Johannesburg resident), and I are about to take a 3-week trip to South Africa over the holidays.

Dec 22 overnight New York to London on United (upgraded business, $370 r/t)
Dec 23 Lufthansa award ticket (75,000 miles in business + $160 taxes) via Frankfurt ( day layover with friends near FRA), then overnight via JNB to Cape Town.
Dec 24 Cape Town arrive noon, compact car from Budget (net $300/week) - day off to recover; Holiday Inn Express
Dec 25 Drive to Knysna (perhaps via Hermanus and Cape Agulhas); Ocean View Lodge
Dec 26 Knysna & area (cage diving with sharks?); Ocean View Lodge
Dec 27 Oudtshoorn - caves, ostriches; Queen's Hotel
Dec 28 Drive to Stellenbosch; Jonkershuis
Dec 29 Winelands; move to D'Oewe Werf Stellenbosch (only one night available there, alas)
Dec 30 Cape Town; Villa Via Gordon's Bay
Dec 31 Cape Town & peninsula; Villa Via
Jan 1 Cape Town, aft. fly to JNB on kulula($160 o/w), intermediate car rental from Thrifty (net $250/week); Sheraton Pretoria (award stay)
Jan 2 Day trip to Sun Ciy/Pilansberg; Sheraton Pretoria
Jan 3 Soweto & Johannesburg, dinner at Linger Longer; JB Hyatt (award stay again)
Jan 4 Drive to Kiepersol; Blue Mountain Lodge (4-night full-board package on for an embarrasingly low price)
Jan 5 Full-day safari in Sabi Sands (with a TBD private lodge there, based on availability, that's how Blue Mtn arranges them)
Jan 6 Day off, evening safari, same deal.
Jan 7 Explore Mpumalanga area, Pilgrim's Rest et al
Jan 8 Leisurely return to JNB. Overnight to Munich, then to London.
Jan 9 24-hour layover in London. (Brick Lane for dinner, drinks at the Sanderson Hotel, and The Jerry Springer opera, yee-hah!); Heathrow Renaissance
Jan 10 afternoon return to NYC.

Base cost (air, hotel, ground transport, meals) -- thanks to miles and hotel points -- will be about $2000/person for a 19-day trip. Leaving us $50-$100/day for activities and shopping (I've yet to break $200/person/day anywhere.) Beaucoup time shopping online (and frequent referrals to Fodors forum!), but I'm pleased with what we've got.

I'd welcome any comments or suggestions. Thanks!

New York, NY, USA
BoondoggleKing is offline  
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Dec 18th, 2003, 01:12 PM
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David -

With 4-days before you depart, what can anyone say. But I guess one can't beat $2,000 person. Enjoy yourself.
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Dec 18th, 2003, 02:09 PM
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It sounds lovely! Have a wonderful time!
Celia is offline  
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Dec 18th, 2003, 03:36 PM
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Glad it slows down toward the end...but this is a great way to spend the holidays! Have a great time!

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Dec 18th, 2003, 05:23 PM
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Glad to see you were able to make Luxury Link work for you. I would never return to South Africa without booking a major portion of my trip on Luxury Link.

Last time around, out of ten nights in South Africa, six nights were at Luxury Link properties, for as you said, an embarrassingly low price!

Once my air was removed, my ground package to South Africa was not much more than yours, and this staying at some pretty slick places.

Michelangelo Hotel (Premier Suite), Johannesburg. 2 nights through LLink.

Kafunta River Lodge/Island Bush Camp, South Luangwa. 5 nights.

Twelve Apostles Hotel (Sea Facing Suite), Cape Town. 4 nts through LLink.

Lanzerac Manor, Cape Winelands. 1 nt.

Djuma Vuyatela, Sabi Sand. 3 nts.

Total price per person sharing, including air, about $3,000 USD ($200 per person per night).

Back to your itinerary...please post a report as I am unfamiliar with most everyplace on your itinerary and one day soon I may just want to disappear to South Africa for a month or so with just a little pocket money and whatever credit card works!
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Dec 19th, 2003, 11:48 AM
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Looks like a great trip. I find a lot of one night stops tiring, I prefer to include as many 2 nighters (or longer) as I can. But it looks like a great itinerary and I hope you will come back and let us know how it went?
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Dec 20th, 2003, 07:50 PM
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Thank you everyone for replying!

Yes, Sandi, this was too short notice for any meaningful critique, I was just fishing for specific ideas about those places or on the routes we'll be on (restaurants, activities, anything I might not have picked up from the half-dozen guidebooks I checked out from the library).

And Roccco, I absolutely would have booked both 12 Apostles and Michaelangelo but they blacked out the holiday period. (We even came close to booking the Mazaruto Island, Mozambique package, but on short notice we couldn't shift things around enough, and my 3-month-pregnant wife wouldn't have gotten enough out of a dive destination to justify the extra flights.)

But that's what I get for going in high season. By the way, I waited til last week(!) to book this -- except for Blue Mountain and the international flights, which were in place 3 months ago. I wouldn't recommend this, but putting together an affordable itinerary, even in high season, is totally doable! I just set aside two late nights online and blanketed *every* hotel on a given website in our short list of destinations (I chose, and for good measure also directly emailed every $75-$200/night hotel recommended by my guidebooks (Fodor's, Frommer's, DK, AAA, S.A. Handbook, Rough Guide). From about 200 emails over the next 2 days I got some 50 "yes" responses, from which I picked out our 5 places. And after bracing myself for high season price-gouging, I was very nicely surprised at the rates and services on offer. Plus everyone was so pleasant in their replies! I'm really looking forward to visiting such a hospitable country!

(Now here's hoping our South African hosts respond positively to a black/white American couple in their midst!)

Kavey, yes, moving every night (or every other night) takes alot out of you, but hey, we gotta squeeze the most of our vacation (and pre-parenthood) time! I envy your upcoming 3-month self-drive tour; this 19-day trip will be our longest ever.

I'll post a detailed (but not verbose) report on returning. Thanks again, all, for your replies, and in general for contributing to the Fodor's Forum.

New York, NY , USA
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Dec 21st, 2003, 12:24 AM
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David, it's only 2 months (5 weeks self drive and 3 weeks flight transfers between camps) but I'm still very excited about it. Thanks so much for your well wishes.

Look forward to hearing about your trip soon.
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