Possible Itinerary In S Africa

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Dec 28th, 2005, 09:45 PM
  #1
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Possible Itinerary In S Africa

Hi all -

I'm trying to plan an itinerary for South Africa from mid-August to early September 2006. I've done some initial research in guide books and on this board and would love to get people's comments - particularly in regards to my ideas on transportation. I've also tried to break up some of the wildlife viewing with Cape Town and snorkeling at Sodwana Bay, but I've read conflicting reports on wether it's even worth visiting Cape Town at this time of year.

Johannesburg (1 night to adjust) - maybe try to see De Wildt Cheetahs during the day?

Kgalagadi (4 nights through African Wildlife Tours - hopefully)
Cape Town (3 nights)
Fly to Durban and rent a car - is there a better way to do this transition?
Hluhluwe/Umfolozi (2 nights)
St Lucia (3 nights - include Sodwana Bay)
Ithala (1 night - driving up to Kruger - not sure how long this will take)
Kruger: Lower Sabie Camp (1 night)
Kruger: Letaba Camp (1 night)
Kruger: Wilderness Trail (3 nights)
Sabi Sands (2 nights at park yet to be determined)
Return car to Johannesburg and fly away

My husband really loves cheetahs and big cats, and I really want to go on one of the Kruger Wilderness Trails. Any comments would be outstanding. Thanks!
travelingtiger is offline  
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Dec 29th, 2005, 01:50 AM
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St Lucia to Ithala is a long drive and Ithala to Kruger is longer still - we managed to do it one day by leaving Ithala early, skipping through Swaziland and booking into the southernmost Kruger camp, Berg-en-Dal.

Our trip report and itinerary for SA is here, if it's of interest:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34511049
Kavey is offline  
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Dec 29th, 2005, 03:52 AM
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Dear Traveling Tiger,

Your itinerary looks very diverse and exciting! I am sure that you will have great fun with it. I have just a few comments on it that may help you:

Weather In Cape Town in August / September:
Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate and as such experiences much of its rainfall during its winter months. However the weather patterns have been changing so much recently that you can often experience great weather in August / September. An advantage of travelling to South Africa before the end of September is that many places offer special “winter” rates that are often much cheaper than those offered during the summer months. The average temperature in Cape Town during August/ September is around 18°C during the day and it generally gets dark at about 5.45pm.

Game Viewing:

Kalagadi:
Kalagadi Transfrontier Park. This is the last of the unspoilt, wide-open spaces in Southern Africa. Remote, raw, wild! It has a unique and fascinating landscape that can not be found anywhere else. With its large sand dunes and miles of terracotta plains, it is truly awe-inspiring. This is the home of the Nama people – descendants of the original hunter/gatherer San people.
Animals to be seen here include: Kalahari Lions, Cheetah, Meercat, Gemsbok, Springbok and a host of other smaller predators.

Hluhluwe/Umfolozi:
Hluhluwe Umfolozi National Park is the oldest game reserve in South Africa and is one of the most popular. The wide range of plant life in the park gives rise to a diversity of mammals, birdlife, reptiles and amphibians. This area is completely different form the aridness of the Kalagadi as it is much more lush and tropical. Besides the big five - elephant, lion, leopard. buffalo and rhino, there are elusive cheetah, wild dog and nyala along with many other well-known bushveld species offering visitors an excellent game viewing experience.

St Lucia:
Situated in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the coastal village of St Lucia is the gateway to the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, incorporating Mkuzi (a Big 5 reserve), Sodwana Bay (a world famous scuba diving destination) and Kosi Bay (a natural paradise).
The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park is a candidate for World Heritage Site status. Known as the jewel of KwaZulu-Natal, with five distinct ecosystems and a unique biodiversity found nowhere else on earth, it is not hard to see why the earliest name for St Lucia, given by Portuguese explorers, was "River of the Sands of Gold".
Along the natural and unspoilt coastline, golden beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, lapped by warm blue waters from the Indian Ocean and bounded by the world's highest vegetated sand dunes. Whales and schools of dolphins frequent this spectacular coastline, also the natural breeding habitat for the leatherback and loggerhead turtles.
This is my most favourite place and to me feels like paradise on earth!

Kruger Park:
Truly the flagship of the South African national parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.
This is where nearly 2 million hectares of unrivalled diversity of life forms fuses with historical and archaeological sights – this is real Africa.
It is an experience not to be missed!
Wilderness trails allow adventurous visitors a close personal encounter with nature by traversing large areas of unspoiled wilderness on foot, under the guidance of armed and experienced trail rangers.
There are 7 different trails to choose from all of them offering different aspects of the Kruger Park. The Olifants Trail seems to be the most popular trail.

Driving times:

§ Durban to Hluhluwe will be about 4 hours
§ Hluhluwe to St Lucia is about
§ St Lucia to Ithala is about 3 hours
§ Ithala to Kruger is about 5 hours *
v If you plan to drive through Swaziland mind the cows! There are no fences and cows and sheep often wander into the middle of the road.
§ Lower Sabi to Letaba is about 4 hours drive through the Kruger Park. As you will be stopping for game along the way, this can take as long as you want it to.
§ Letaba to Olifants Camp is about 1 hour
§ Olifants Camp to Sabi Sands is about 4 hours
§ Sabi Sands to Johannesburg is about 5 hours

Private Game Lodge in the Sabi Sands.
I would recommend that you stay at Simbambili or at Elephant Plains. Both offer good value for money. Simbambili is not the most diverse in landscape but they have great leopard spottings and many other big predators. While I was there I managed to catch a whole heard of elephant on the run with their babies in the middle and the matriarch elephant trumpeting the march. It was awesome!

I hope that this information helps you. If you need any further advise give me a shout or check my website http://africansands.com. Most of the pictures on there I have taken on various safaris.
I do not think there is anything more rewarding than seeing nature in its natural habitat – especially if as you are doing it, you are supporting the local conservationists in their good work.












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Dec 29th, 2005, 06:13 AM
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AfricaSands,

Have you been to Elephant Plains and what have you seen there? Thanks.
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Dec 29th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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ttt for research
merrittm is offline  
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Dec 29th, 2005, 06:32 PM
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Thanks Kavey - that trip report was excellent. I looked through it several times while forming this itinerary. You seemed to dislike the roads in Swaziland though - is it faster to go around or faster to cut through?

AfricaSands - Elephant Plains is one of the lodges I've narrowed our search too - it gets such excellent reviews on this board while the prices are still reasonable (comparitively). The driving times are exactly what I needed as well.

Does anybody have any opinion on skipping Cape Town/Durban and flying directly back to Johannesburg after Kgalagadi? I like the idea of checking out Cape Town, but it might be worth saving for another trip. Thanks!
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Dec 30th, 2005, 01:39 AM
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Elephant Plains is a great option if you are looking for a great safari lodge at a reasonable price. The accommodation is divided into 5 standard chalets and 6 luxury chalets.

Standard chalets are fine. They are comfortably decorated and have ceiling fans and mosquito nets. All the chalets have ensuite bathrooms too.

Game veiwing is good. They have access to the Kruger National Park and so have a wealth of animals on their door step.
While I was there we saw the Big 5. I managed to get some fantastic shots of Lions and Leopards. Sadly, we just missed seeing the cheetah which was reported to be in the area.

Because the lodge is quite small, you feel like you get extra attention. All your meals are included and the food is of a high standard. They also have good traversing rights which allows you to see good game.

I think, if you are not worried about chosing a "named" place such as Londolozi or Mala Mala or Sabi Sabi then this is a good option to go for.

A point to remember is that sometimes
local agencies can get better rates at these lodges than you as an individual traveller can. It might we worth asking an agency to get back to you with a rate for comparison.

Traveling Tiger -
Have you thought about missing Johannesburg out and arriving into Cape Town first?
Start you trip with 1 day in Cape Town, then leave all your luggage in storage at the hotel, just take what you need for the Kalagadi section and return to Cape Town after the trip?
This saves you having to move around so much?

If you have the time, Cape Town is great! It really is a beautiful city....

Enjoy your trip!

http://africansands.com







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Dec 30th, 2005, 06:19 AM
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Afrrica Sands,

Thanks for the Ele Plains Camp remarks and booking suggestions.

The names of where I STAY are not important to me. The names of what I SEE are. I want good wildlife encounters.

Can you explain traversing rights and how that works for Ele Plains Camp or others. Thank you.
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Dec 30th, 2005, 06:43 AM
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Just a quick note we stayed in Umlani bush camp and it was the most amazing experience we have ever had !
The hosts , guides and food was fantastic and it is not a particularly expensive option. I can not recommend it enough.
http://www.umlani.com

Also the drive up to the Kruger is quite spectacular; three rondavels south africa, gods window etc - I would recommend taking time to do this we did it in half a day from Joberg but it was a bit rushed
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Dec 30th, 2005, 12:00 PM
  #10
 
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Honestly, I don't know - we only did it the once so we couldn't compare. I remember looking at the maps and thinking it was quite a bit further to go around BUT the roads would likely be faster and no immigration delays either.

Probably a toss up...

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