Questions about Planning and Booking Trip to SA

Old Jan 27th, 2009, 11:13 AM
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Questions about Planning and Booking Trip to SA

A friend and I are planning a trip to SA this July (2009). I've contacted a couple travel agents as well as a couple safari companies including: Go2Africa and The Africa Adventure Company. We're on a budget ($5000 including ALL airfare) interested in visiting Cape Town, going on safari and possibly Vic Falls.

My question is this: Is it cheaper to book everything on our own over the internet (inter Africa airfare, hotels, safari lodges...)? There are just so many options and so much fine print with a lot of the tours I'm getting confused.

Thanks!!!

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Old Jan 27th, 2009, 02:08 PM
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Where are you flying from/home? Is that $5000 total or per person?

regards - tom
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Old Jan 27th, 2009, 02:23 PM
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If you are considering a tour, please share the itinerary here. Many people would be happy to help you understand the fine print.

Here is what I found for South Africa: The Cape Town part was easy and economical to do on my own. I booked directly with Cape Town guide, Wayne of Take2Tours. If you just rented a car and went on your own and stayed in hotels, you'd pay even less. But I was not comfortable doing that alone.

For the South Africa safari lodging, I found using an agent to be the same cost as going direct. That is not uncommon with accommodations. Sometimes an agent can even get you more of a discount or throw in a little something extra.

I've only used an agent for Vic Falls, but I think that would be easier to do on your own than a lot of places.

If you find you are going way over budget, I bet you could find a group trip that does Cape Town, a safari, and Vic Falls. You might be able to save more with a group departure.

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Old Jan 27th, 2009, 02:51 PM
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I'd second much of what atravelynn has said; i.e., Cape Town is fairly easy to plan yourself, assuming you do a bit of research, and using an agent for safari lodges appeared to me to be the same cost as booking directly. Besides perhaps saving some money, booking Cape Town on your own will allow you to do everything on your terms. I've rented cars from Budget on several trips and done the Cape Peninsula, the Garden Route and the wine country on my own---getting around is fairly easy provided you tell yourself over and over, "Stay left, stay left."

Others may wish to weigh in on this, but I've found that having an agent in SA buying tickets for in- country flights on S. African Air was cheaper than using the internet in the US.

You haven't specified your allotted time, so I wonder whether flying up to Vic Falls is worthwhile for you or whether you'd be better served visiting Cape Town (and if the whales are in Hermanus (1-1.5 hr from CT), you might want to see that---great land-based viewing) and then heading to Kruger for a day or so followed by several days at a lodge or two in Sabi Sand.

Don't fret---it will all work out well and you'll have a fantastic time.

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Old Jan 27th, 2009, 03:44 PM
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Some friends of ours just loved their trip to SA with Friendly Planet. They were also considering one with Smartours. We've taken other trips with that company and were very happy.
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Old Jan 27th, 2009, 03:53 PM
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I'm waiting to see a sample itinerary for two people, flights from USA, two weeks SA with car rental for $5,000. Anyone?????

$5,000 per person, $10,000 total, yes.

regards - tom
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Old Jan 28th, 2009, 10:21 AM
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Thanks for the replies!

$5000 per person flying from Washington, D.C.

Our itinerary from Africa Adventure Company includes the following:

Day 1 - travel
Day 2 - arrive Johannesburg
Day 3 - Arrive Lion Sands River Lodge
Day 4,5,6 - safari Lion Sands River
Day 7 - Arrive in Cape Town (The Cape Cadogan)
Day 8,9,10 - Capetown with one Cape Peninsula Group Tour included
Day 11 - Arrive Victoria Falls (Ilala Lodge)
Day 12 - Victoria Falls
Day 13 - Depart Vic Falls and head home

The total cost of this tour EXCLUDING international airfare is $4290.

We are two women in our early 30s and definitely don't mind basic lodging. We are not going to Africa for luxurious hotels etc. We really just want simple and safe.

We've though about renting a car and doing the Cape Town and Winery area on our own. Is it safe for two young women to travel on their own?

What do you guys think? Thanks SO much!
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Old Jan 28th, 2009, 11:18 AM
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You can certainly do it all yourself, for less than $5000. My husband and I have arranged our own trips to South Africa for the last 20 or more years. Renting a car and doing your own tour of Cape Town and the winelands is a great way to do it; you can spend as much or as little time as you want on any particular activity or place. The tourist offices in all the major (and most of the minor) towns in South Africa will be able to help you plan anything you want to do, and if you don't have hotels booked in advance, they can definitely help with that too. Their services are free.

If you google something like "Cape Town accommodation" you'll get a bunch of useful websites. Also try things like "south african safaris" or such. One thing I might suggest is to stay in Kruger Park itself, rather than in the private lodges within or near Kruger. The accommodations are fine, some very nice, and you meet people from South Africa as well as from other countries. They cost between $60 and $120 per day for two people. In the private lodges you probably won't meet many South Africans, as the cost is so much higher than in the national parks. But if you can afford it, I think it's a good idea to spend some time in the Kruger Park camps, and some in the private ones.

Doing it yourself takes time -- you have to look up all this stuff on the web, and e-mail the places you're interested in. And it might be useful to use an agent for some parts of the trip. But doing your own planning is a lot of fun, I think.

If you do decide to do your own research, I can suggest some web sites to start at. Whichever you decide, I know you'll love South Africa.

Celia
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Old Jan 28th, 2009, 01:08 PM
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I did a solo trip to South Africa June/July of 2008 which I booked myself over the internet. This trip had 6 nights in Cape Town and 8 nights in safari (Exeter River Lodge and Phinda). Total including everything (intnl airfare, internal airfare, taxes, fees, tips, insurance) came to $6766. Since this was a solo trip, I ended up spending around $500 in supplements - almost entirely for camp-to-camp airfare. So, for two people, that would drop to $6200.

A side trip to Victoria Falls is a budget buster and eats up a lot of time, so carefully consider that. I tried to include it my trip planning, but the logistics and cost of airfare made it prohibitive to me. Airfare JNB-LVI is $520 round trip, and Ilala Lodge is around $162 a night. Plus, you have to have a night in JNB before and after the trip. Figure $1000 and 5 nights for a weekend trip to Victoria Falls.

I had some advantages in that Delta had a airfare sale, so I got my intnl airfare SFO-CPT for $1600. And CCAfrica had a sale where you stayed 3 nights, get 1 free.

If I had to drop $1200 off of my budget to get to $5000, I would have kept my camp-to-camp transfers to a minimum and reduced safari time.

Unfortunately, I don't see many discounts for your time frame on CC Africa's website.

I put an itinerary into my planning spreadsheet that had 5 nights in the Cape Town Area, 4 nights at Phinda, and the side trip to Victoria Falls, and including everything, it came to $3800 not including intnl airfare. Intnl airfare would bust your $5k budget.

If you drop Victoria Falls and do something else like rent a car and drive up the Garden Route, then you can probably get it under $5k - say 7 nights Cape Town/Garden Route, 4 nights Safari. Or, you could do self-drive safari in Kruger and really save a lot of money.

But, you would have to do it yourself. Booking through somebody like AAC is going to be expensive with their markup.

Here's my planning thread from last year. My target budget was $6000 which I exceeded by $700.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35118658
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Old Jan 29th, 2009, 08:38 AM
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I saw your post yesterday and then today browsing the most recent edition of Budget Travel on line found this offer for just over $4000. http://www.budgettravel.com/bt-dyn/c...012201772.html The company 2afrika may have other reasonably priced ideas for you too.
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Old Jan 29th, 2009, 01:04 PM
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Try flysaavacations.com. Their prices include airfare (not taxes) and look like they are priced well. At least it will give you an idea of prices for what you want to do. Their itineraries are varied and quite good.
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Old Jan 29th, 2009, 02:48 PM
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hi, km00

we did an 11 day trip to SA in July 2007. for 4 of us, excluding airfares [from the UK] it cost about U$12K ie U$3K each. this covered 4 nights in Capetown, 5 nights along the garden route, and 3 nights eastern cape safari, and included all accommodation, car hire, and an internal flight to Jo'burg. food, drink, petrol etc. are relatively cheap and cost about another U$2,000 between us, if that.

if I were to do the same trip again, instead of the eastern cape safari, I would go to Kruger. but I would not miss the garden route - the area around Knysna and Plettenberg Bay is lovely and the chance to see the whales should not be missed.

if you want to look at the kruger possibilities, it is run by www.sanparks.za, as are all the national parks in sa.

regards, ann
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Old Jan 30th, 2009, 08:49 PM
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The South African National Parks website has changed to: www.sanparks.org.
Robin
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Old Jan 30th, 2009, 10:12 PM
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Hi

I think it may work out cheaper booking everything yourself, but looking at your budget, you should be abel to find a good operator that can give you a good value for money tour. I would recommend working with someone, just to make sure that you are not dissapointed. As with all other industries, the internet can sometimes misrepresent a place and leave you dissappointed once you get there. We also offer all inclusive tours in Zululand and Maputland, this is in norhtern KwaZulu Natal and borders Mozambique. Go and have a look at our site - if this is not what you are looking for, I can always recommend a realiable opertor in that area. Good luck in planning your trip!

Bhejane Nature Training
www.bhejanenaturetraining.com
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Old Jan 30th, 2009, 10:33 PM
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Heck. I just thought I would throw in some variety. For that you can see Capetown, Vic Falls, do a canoe safari on the Zambezi River and camping with bushwalking in Mana Pools with tons of game viewing all day, within the budget.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2009, 12:48 PM
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I don't know about airfares from the US, but I feel certain you can do it. You say "We are not going to Africa for luxurious hotels etc", so I am sure it is possible - still with nice (if not luxurious) accommodation. Four of us just returned from 4 weeks in Southern Africa. Excluding international aitfares we did the following (including car hire throughout): 5 nights JHB, 5 nights near Stellenbosch on a wine farm (and easy 40 minute drive into Cape Town), 5 nights Knysna, 2 nights Victoria Falls, 4 nights Kruger Park, 2 nights Gomo Gomo, 5 nights Didima in Drakenserg, and flights JHB - Hoedspruit, Nelspruit - JHB, JHB - Vic Falls return, JHB - Cape Town, George to JHB. It cost us about R130 000. With the exception of the Kruger Park, which was looking a bit "tired", all our accommodation was very nice (often self catering). We did some booking ourselves, but got a quote from, and booked most oof the trip through, Selftours www.selftours.co.za . They were very helpful, came up with some great places to stay, and we found them to be well priced.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2009, 04:57 PM
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My recommendations would be to drop the Victoria Falls portion of your trip; that is indeed the budget buster.

Definitely check out www.sanparks.org to see what self-driving in Kruger is like.

Bottom line--your budget shouldn't prohibit you from really enjoying Africa. I've met too many people our age (I'm in my early 30's as well) that want to go but get hung up on the fine print or don't get past the well-promoted expensive places.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 04:19 PM
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Victoria Falls may be a budget beater, but IF you can include it I would do so. We just returned from 4 weeks in Southern Africa and all agree that Vic Falls was an absolute highlight! Just amazing!! Try to pick up a package to Vic Falls from SA for a better deal.
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Old Feb 8th, 2009, 04:49 AM
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hi all, we are doing a trip to south africa august and we are using gate 1 travel from the usa. 16 days all inclusive with non stop airfare $4900.00 per person with insurance. trip takes us to capetown, both city and peninsula johannesburg, haxyview, garden route, soweto, swaziland, kruger national park,kwazulu-natal, hiuhluwe-umfolozi game reserve, st lucia, oudtshoorn, cango caves, ostrich farm, featherbed nature reserve, tsitsikamma forest, and many other highlights.seems like a great tour. the tour group is using the Protea hotels in most places which all look to be 3 star plus hotels.
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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 08:00 PM
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km00

the itinerary you are taking is a good price. lion sands is owned by rob more. rob also owns the cape cadogan. they have a special every year from may 1-aug 31 in which three nights at lion sands gets you two free nights at the cape cadogan. i use this special all the time for my customers traveling may 1-aug 31 with a budget similar to yours. mark nolting owns AAC (the company you booked with). he has a good book called africa's top wildlife countries. funny thing: i am expecting rob more at my home (in MN) in about ten minutes. bottle of jameson is waiting... he'll be happy to get your business!
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