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Prelim itinerary for 06/06 trip (JNB/CPT/KNP/Botswana) -- Need feedback

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Aug 30th, 2005, 09:09 AM
  #1
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Prelim itinerary for 06/06 trip (JNB/CPT/KNP/Botswana) -- Need feedback

We are traveling to JNB the third week in May 2006. I will have a total of 30 days to work with (outside of travel days). This is my longest trip and DEFINITELY the most complicated to plan. I CLEARLY need a lot of help planning this trip. I have learned a LOT from the board already (after reading for weeks on end!). I am trying to structure a workable itinerary first. Then I can move on to getting quotes from operators. I need suggestions on the best way to arrange the itinerary. Right now, my airfare is in/out of JNB. I 'may' see if I can switch it to fly into CPT and depart from JNB. After reading dozens of trip reports, I was considering including the following:

JNB -- 1-2 days -- (beginning or end?)
Kruger NP or Sabi Sand -- 5-7 days -- self drive/independent
George to CPT -- 5-7 days -- self drive/independent
Namibia -- 3-5 days (a "maybe")
Botswana safari -- 9-11 days -- will arrange w/operator
V Falls -- 1 day -- independent

In general -- How does this sound for an itin?

Namibia -- Can't tell if it is impractical to try & fit in Etosha or Sossusvlei or not.

Botswana -- Don't know which areas besides the Okavango Delta to focus on yet -- have Okavango Delta/ Chobe/Linyanti/Moremi/Kwando to further review.

Fly/drive -- Because I don't really know how great all the distances are, I am not sure which parts (besides flying to Maun) can be driven and which definitely require flights.

Which part first -- I am not sure if it is more practical to do KNP/Sabi Sand or the Garden Route/CPT first.

Days in each spot -- These numbers are just an estimate -- I am open to suggestions there.

Tour vs self drive -- It seems we can do most of the trip on our own, except for the Botswana portion -- yes? Does it make any sense to include the KNP/Sabi Sand part when sending out for quotes?

I am figuring we can be 'budget conscious' on all parts except Botswana. Originally, I was going to aim for 3 weeks, so now that it is longer, I am trying to not overspend. I do not have a concrete figure in mind yet.

Hope I have included all the pertinent info!

Thanks thanks thanks for feedback & suggestions
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Aug 30th, 2005, 09:32 AM
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Hi!

sounds like a great trip. I just got back from SA and Zambia. I would maybe do a day in Jo'burg. From what i've heard, its a lot like other big cities and from my time there, i can see why that would be the case.

For Kruger, we stayed in the Sabi Sands area and were there for 3.5 days. I think that is ample time unless you go to another area of Kruger. I would do the private lodges as they have your days planned out and they have the ability and knowledge to take you off road - something that may be difficult if you drive yourself. They are very pricey but my wife and I found them to be worth it given what it includes and the fact that they cater to your dietary needs etc....

We saw Vic Falls from the Zambia side. I would maybe add an extra day to your stay in that area. We really loved it and the people in Zambia were great. If you are looking to go to Zimbabwe as well while there, make sure you get an open ended visa or visa waiver. This is something your travel agent can help you with.

Given how far things can be in SA, i would try my best to fly into one destination and depart from another so you don't have to back track. We flew into CPT and left from Jo'burg and even then, it was still a lot of flying when you add in Livingston, Zambia and Nelspruit.

Have a great trip!!
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Aug 30th, 2005, 09:33 AM
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by the way, sorry i can't help with the other countries.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 10:12 AM
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Thanks for the feedback

As for doing private lodges in KNP -- maybe. I just thought that this would be an good opportunity to experience it on your own and then in Botswana you get to try the private camps, guides, etc.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Hello,

I did a very similar trip two years ago. Note that the Cape and Garden Route get their rain June-August, unlike the rest of southern Africa, so it may be chilly and rainy when you're there, but it can also be nice and sunny -- it's a matter of luck.

Since you are doing essentially two separate safaris (in SA and Botswana) it may be nice to break them up by having the Cape Town/Garden Route portion in between. BTW, I noticed that your itinerary doesn't allot any time for Cape Town or the Winelands. Do you plan to visit these areas? What about the Panorama Route?

Here's what I would suggest:

Fly into JNB and on to MQP (Nelspruit). You may need to overnight in Joburg depending on flight schedules.

2-3 days on the Panorama Route -- the scenery is beautiful, and this will enable you a nice, gentle recovery from your jet-lag, so you will be well-rested for your safari.

4-5 days in the Sabi Sands. If this is your first safari, I would highly recommend going with a private game reserve -- the rangers and trackers will be able to spot things you never would have seen, and they can go off-road and at night. Notten's Bush Camp is a nice camp which is in a great area (next door to Mala Mala and Londoz) but is relatively inexpensive.

Fly from Nelspruit to Port Elizabeth (you may need to go via Joburg). Take 5-6 days for a leisurely exploration of the Garden Route. It is winter and can be chilly and rainy occasionally, so be prepared.

Fly or drive from George to Cape Town. Spend 7 days in Cape Town, and maybe 3-4 in the winelands. If you don't want to do Cape Town, you can fly from Cape Town or Joburg to Windhoek for Namibia.

Fly from Cape Town to Joburg. Your flight to Maun will leave from Joburg. Fly to Maun.

Spend 3 nights in the Linyanti/Kwando area (these reserves are neighbours).

Spend 4 nights in the Delta/Moremi (Moremi is in the heart of the Delta).

I would spend at least 3 nights at each camp in Botswana if you can. You could obviously spend more time in Botswana, but your budget will be most likely be begging for mercy by this point.

That should be approximately 30 days, give or take a bit.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 30th, 2005, 11:15 AM
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Oops, left out Joburg -- at the end, 1-2 nights in Joburg will give you a chance to relax and do some shopping before flying home.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 30th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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Thanks a lot, Julian

I guess I have underestimated the time required for CPT & vicinity. My original estimate of 5-7 days was (naively?) including the Garden Route, Winelands, and CPT...

Will re-review your suggestions.

Thanks

PS: I had originally thought to do the Garden Route first to ensure best weather...
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Aug 30th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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Hello,

One thing to remember -- there's no 'required' time for anything, as it all depends on what you're interested in! Personally, I like to take a relatively relaxed pace, and I felt that a week in Cape Town was not enough. The Garden Route has lovely scenery and outdoors activities, whereas Cape Town has lots of historical sights (and outdoor activities as well, with Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula).

If you're not into wine-tasting, you probably don't need 5 days in the winelands, but it's a lovely area and the restaurants there are great (I've noticed that food in wine areas is often particularly good).

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 30th, 2005, 11:45 AM
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Will have to give it some thought. We ARE into wine tasting, but as there are so many places near us (California) to do that, I don't know that we would want to devote a 'lot' of time in the trip for it. Thanks
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Aug 30th, 2005, 11:48 AM
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Out of curiosity, where are you in California? I grew up in Marin, and my family still lives there.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 30th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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Unlike the other recommendations, I would save my money and not stay in the Sabi Sands private reserves, but would spend those days in Kruger. The price difference is enormous, and in my opinion, its more fun to self-drive and plan your own day. Kruger is also much, much larger than the Sabi Sands, and contrary to what the operators will tell you, there is much more wildlife in Kruger and its easy to see (we went in May and found the Big 5 easily and all sorts of other animals).

Save your money for Botswana, where its impossible/impractical to self-drive.

For Kruger, you can fly into the airport at the southern end (I forget its name) and make a northern path through the park to Olifants or Letaba in the middle and depart from the airport near the middle portion.

Kruger is easy.

Namibia is easy -- you can fly to Windhoek from CPT and rent car to visit Etosha. Then you can add on short fly-in trip to Sossosvlei. Its worth visiting Namibia which is very different from the other countries. If it was me, I'd sacrifice a few days on drive from George to CPT to visit Namibia, if you have to. Or cut out day or two from Kruger or Botswana -- Namibia is a highlight.

Michael
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Aug 30th, 2005, 12:06 PM
  #12
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Michael -- Thank you for the very helpful info, esp. re: Namibia.

Julian -- I'm in So Cal (Laguna Niguel). We have spent time in Sonoma, Napa, Santa Rosa, and Santa Ynez (Sta Barbara) wineries I am native to California, but my hubby grew up in England (boarding school)
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Aug 31st, 2005, 01:19 AM
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A practical route would be to fly into Cape Town first. The weather gets increasingly worse from May to August and I would, therefore, do the Cape first. That includes the garden route which has very similar weather to Cape Town.
Once you have done that fly directly from Cape Town to Maun in Botswana. I would recommend that you use Wilderness Safaris to organize your Botswana plans as they are by far the top safari operator in the area. You could also use them in Namibia (and you should be able to fly there from Maun)and I would highly recommend a trip into the Kaokoland with them. Skip the Etosha as you will see plenty of wildlife in Botswana and Kruger.
From Windhoek fly to Johannesburg and travel to Kruger from there (by plane or 5 hours by car). Definitely do the self-drive safari in the Kruger Park staying at main camps like Lower Sabi, Satara, Shingwidzi and some of the private bushveld camps, also run by the National Parks Board, such as Byamiti, Shimuwini, Bateleur, and Talamati. Book early for these as June is peak season.
As far as time is concerned I would spend 5 to 7 days in and around Cape Town, including wine area and 5 or 6 days on the garden route. I would allocate at least 5 days to Botswana (more if you can afford it as it is very expensive), 4 -5 days to Namibia, at least 7 days in the Kruger Park - book a minimum of 2 nights at each rest camp.Ideally spend a few days in the area west of the Kruger seeing you are so close (Blyde River Canyon, Pilgrims Rest, etc.)
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Aug 31st, 2005, 08:17 AM
  #14
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Thank you for the feedback. I get the impression that Botswana is the highpoint of a lot of trip reports, so I am kind of surprised that you suggest expanding the Garden Route & CPT to 12 days and possibly cutting Botswana to 5 days.

Is there really enough to see & do in CPT to devote so much time there?

I am going to have to look up Kaveys very detailed trip report again ~~ and possibly follow in her footsteps (tho I realize her trip was 8 weeks and mine is shorter).

Thanks
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Aug 31st, 2005, 12:01 PM
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It really depends on your personal interests. I have now been several times to South Africa and I really like Cape Town, but I've only spent a few days there each time, and I spend one of those days cage diving with sharks an hour outside CPT.

To me, the Garden Route holds absolutely no appeal. I'm sure its beautiful, but we have lots of nice coastlines in the US, and I just can't justify flying that far and spending all that time sightseeing by car.

But, many find it a highlight so it depends on what you like.

And, Botswana is incredible, and incredibly expensive, but you should try to spend as many nights there as you can afford, within reason. This is what I would do, if I had your time:

JNB -- 2 days (one day touring Soweto)

Kruger -- fly to Kruger and visit the park for 5 days in 2WD rental car (stay at two different camps in Kruger). Its very affordable, but bear in mind, its not as luxurious as Sabi Sands, but you'll see plenty of animals and I really enjoy the self-drive safaris.

George to CPT -- 5 days is plenty -- you can see CPT in 2 or 3 days (certainly not all of it, but the hightlights, including Robben Island)

Namibia -- fly to Windhoek and rent car to drive to Etosha for a few days. Drive back to Windhoek and arrange tour to Sossoslvei (by plane) for two nights. Etosha is a special place, and very easy to see lots of animals in large groups. Also very different landscape and worth visiting in addition to Kruger and Botswana.

Fly to Maun and Botswana safari for 9 to 11 days.

Vic Falls -- 2 days (there's lots of fun stuff to do and it merits more than one day).

But, you'll need to decide where your interests lie -- I think I'd be bored to death driving the Garden Route but I like wildlife and more adventurous stuff than looking out the window of my car at land- and seascapes.



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Aug 31st, 2005, 12:20 PM
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Thank you. That looks like a good general plan. Now that I have determined the distance of George to CPT, I see that it's not as great a distance as I thought.

I will definitely include the Garden Route as I've read so many great things about it and we'll be 'right around the corner'

Will review the Namibia areas to get a better idea of time needed there.

Thanks
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Sep 1st, 2005, 01:38 AM
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As previously mentioned Botswana is very special and warrants as many days as you can afford. However 2 or 3 days in Cape Town is far too little time. I live here and know that you would not even scratch the surface in anything less than 5 or 6 days. Remember that it is an extremely beautiful area and there is so much to do close by as well (day excursions). Johannesburg is a city you could miss (my daughter lives there) as there is very little to offer the tourist there. It is just a big commercial city with no mountains or scenery worth talking about.
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Sep 12th, 2005, 04:56 PM
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Nothing like a house projects to sidetrack you from important thing like TRIP PLANNING

I am still not close to a good itinerary and would REALLY appreciate feedback. I am also having a hard time deciding which ORDER to do things in to be most practical. Here are two revised possibilities.

Option A (JNB, KNP/Sabi Sands, Garden Route, Cape Town, Etosha, Botswana, VF, JNB)

Day 1 Arrive @ JNB late pm, overnight
Day 2 Fly in a.m. JNB to Nelspruit
Day 2-7 Kruger NP or Sabi Sands -- 5 nights (2 camps tbd)
Day 7 Fly to George or PE
Day 7-11 Garden Route -- 4 nights
Day 11-15 Cape Town -- 4 nights
Day 15 Transfer from Cape Town to Windhoek/Etosha -- what is the best option?
Day 15-18 Etosha -- 3 nights (camp tbd) (self drive?)
Day 18 Transfer from Etosha to Maun -- what is the best option?
Day 18-30 Botswana Safari -- 12 nights (3-4 camps tbd)
Day 30 Victoria Falls -- 1 night
Day 31 Fly from Victoria Falls to JNB, 1/2 day in JNB, evening departure

Option B (JNB, Garden Route, Cape Town, Etosha, KNP/Sabi Sands, Botswana, VF, JNB)

Day 1 Arrive @ JNB late pm, overnight
Day 2 Fly in a.m. JNB to George or PE
Day 2-6 Garden Route -- 4 nights
Day 6-10 Cape Town -- 4 nights
Day 10 Transfer from Cape Town to Windhoek/Etosha
Day 10-13 Etosha -- 3 nights (camp tbd) (self drive?)
Day 13 Transfer from Etosha to Nelspruit
Day 13-18 Kruger NP or Sabi Sands -- 5 nights (2 camps tbd)
Day 18 Transfer from Nelspruit to Maun
Day 18-30 Botswana Safari -- 12 nights (3-4 camps tbd)
Day 30 Victoria Falls -- 1 night
Day 31 Fly from Victoria Falls to JNB, 1/2 day in JNB, evening departure

Which order is most practical? I want to fit in what I can, but I don't want to feel rushed & bedraggled throughout. Hopefullly, the only places we would be doing 'one night' stays would be our arrival at JNB, on the Garden Route, and at VF.

Maybe cut 1 night at Sabi/KNP and add it to Cape Town? Or eliminate the Garden Route to leave more focus for safari days? I haven't really allotted much time for the wineries because a) we do that often here and b) it would be complicated to find a lot of wine I like and want to ship it home!

Safari is definitely the priority of the trip, of course. But having never been to any of these places...you hate to miss things "while you're there" I want to end up with the feeling that we had a diverse, well rounded trip,

I still might be able to work out having my originating flight arrive into Cape Town instead of JNB, but I can't count on that yet.

Looking forward to help! Sandi? Kavey? Michael? Julian? You are all wonderful sources of info & a great help
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Sep 12th, 2005, 05:11 PM
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Also, I don't really see any info on Garonga Lodge, but the photos look wonderful.

http://www.garonga.com/

Is it not in a very desirable area? Or too out of the way?
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Sep 12th, 2005, 10:41 PM
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Hello,

A few comments:

From a logistical standpoint, Option 1 looks easier -- I believe there are flights direct from Windhoek to Maun, whereas going from Windhoek to Nelspruit would involve transiting through Joburg.

I'd pick a single camp in the Sabi Sands and stay for 5 days. You'll have a chance to really get to know the area, and equally important your guide will have a chance to get to know you and your interests so he or she can look for things which would be of particular interest to you.

From what I have read about Garonga (in Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast, among other places), it is more of a 'bush spa' than a real safari lodge -- the emphasis is on yoga, New Age treatments and a 'holistic experience' rather than game-viewing. This is probably why you haven't heard much about it here -- most of us on this board, myself included, prioritse game viewing. If I wanted to go to a spa, I'd go to Europe (or California) not to Africa.

In Botswana: I would skip Chobe and concentrate on the Delta and the Linyanti/Kwando region (they are neighbours and can be considered one area for planning purposes). IMO Chobe is rather crowded, and you'll have a much better experience in the other two regions. Do you have any particular interests, such as horseback riding or elephants? There are some camps in the Delta where you can interact with elephants, and others where you can ride (you need to be an experienced rider, however). Those interests might help you decide amongst the Delta camps.

In Botswana, I would stay 3-4 days in each camp -- with 12 days, this gives you 4 camps @ 3 days each or 3 camps @ 4 days each. Since this is your first time in Botswana, I would lean towards 3 days. Once you know what you like, you can go for longer stays on your next trip. You could do 3 Delta camps and one Linyanti camp. Make sure that at least one of your Delta camps includes water activities -- gliding through the Delta in a mokoro as the sun rises is an experience to be savoured.

I've personally stayed at Little Vumbura (Delta) and Duma Tau (Linyanti) and highly recommend both camps. Little Vumbura is a small, intimate camp located on an island in the Delta. It has both water (mokoro, boating, fishing) and land (game-drive) activities, which provdes a lot of variety. LV has great game-viewing, particularly for predators.

Duma Tau is a wonderful camp with excellent game viewing set on the edge of a lagoon. The Linyanti is particularly well-known as the Botswana stronghold of the rare African wild dog, and a stay here is your best chance to spot these endangered animals. I also had very good lion and leopard sightings whilst there. Cheetahs are often seen as well, though I wasn't fortunate enough to see them.

As a measure of how good both camps are, I'm returning to both of them in 2006 -- and adding five nights at Mombo.

An interesting option which would give you a great Botswana experience would be the following:

3 days Linyanti
3 days Delta camp 1
3 days Delta camp 2
3 days Jack's or San Camp (on the desert pans)

Cheers,
Julian
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