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rhkkmk Oct 7th, 2009 07:41 PM

RHKKMK'S First trip to South Africa
Below is the beginning of our trip report:

South Africa and England, October, 2009

We have long had an interest in South Africa, but never really considered it seriously until a few years ago when we met a South Africa Airways pilot and his wife on Koh Chiang in Thailand…. He touted its many diverse offerings and claimed it was very reasonable to visit. We stored that away in our brains and about a year ago it reared its head and I started to look into the feasibility of a trip there.

I investigated the use of frequent flyer miles to get there from Boston and found that American Airlines had the lowest mileage level requirement of the airlines with whom I had miles…. I had almost enough miles for that so I put my sights on earning the additional miles needed… Next I tried to decide which season was the best to travel there in---spring or fall? We read some in guidebooks and read Fodors.. I also remembered that I had helped a woman from Capetown on fodors with her family’s trip to Thailand the year before, so I contacted her (Capetownfolks) and she was indeed helpful. We settled on an early Fall (spring in SA) trip. So we leave next Tuesday, October 13, 2009 for 3 weeks.

As we are a bit new to the Africa board, I will tell you about us a bit so you can better understand about our trip. We are both retired, age 65, I was a banker and Karen was a registered nurse. Our children are grown and we have 5 grandchildren. We travel frequently, or as often as possible, mostly overseas. The last few years we have been concentrating on SE Asia with Thailand as our favorite. In fact, 5 days after we return from this trip, we will be leaving for two weeks in Thailand with some other Fodorites.
We also continue to visit Europe from time to time with a visit to other places sprinkled in, and of course the USA too. Thus far this year its been the year of travel. In January we did a road trip which took us from Boston to Florida for a couple of weeks, followed by the LA GTG in March, followed by 3 weeks in Argentina and Paraguay in April, followed by St Petersburg, Russia, Estonia and Finland in late August and early September, now this trip and finally Thailand in November… The Thai and Baltic trips were not planned, they only happened because Finn Air ($477 inclusive) and Singapore Air ($677. inclusive) offered such low rates that we could not pass them up.

As usual we have found the help provided by Fodorites to be the major source of info for this trip. We also used people and postings from trip advisor and other internet postings to assist in the planning.
Keith and Lisa at Far and Wild Safaris assisted us with our stop at Elephant Plains Game Park in Sabi Sands and we used the South African National Parks Sans site for assistance with our visit to Olifants Park in Kreuger. The rest I did on my own using primarily the internet. We booked our flights with American on line. We will fly from Boston on an evening flight, with a layover of about 13 hours at Heathrow, where we will transfer to British Air for the onward flight to Capetown, also a nite flight. I have rented a car at Heathrow and we will go out and meet a Fodorite for lunch (Bluebella). After 4 full days in Capetown, we will travel along the Garden Route, before returning to Capetown for a day flight (Mango Air—purchased on line) to Johannesburg where we will pick up another car to drive to the game parks. We will stay one nite both before and after the game parks at Dullstroom. We will have 2 full days in each park, before returning to JNB for our flight back to London where we will stay with friends for 4.5 days. We then fly American back to Boston on Nov 4.

While reading fodors one day I saw a post from Mischka in Capetown asking if there had ever been a GTG in Capetown. I joined into the conversation and now there will be a GTG on Oct 16--- a full day tour of some interesting sights around Capetown, including a town-ship visit. Selwyn Davidowitz, a noted guide, and also a fellow Fodorite has volunteered to conduct us on this day long adventure in his van…. This has to be the first moving GTG. Eight of us will participate.

All of our hotels and B&B’s were selected off of the internet with leads coming from various sources.

I will be taking a notebook with me, so I expect to post as I go along. I tend to be a bit long winded so I hope you will bear with me, or just stop reading if not…

Friday, this week we will be hosting a GTG here in Boston with about 30 in attendance, so after that we will be ready to roll.

Look for more by the middle of next week.

Bob and Karen

DonTopaz Oct 8th, 2009 05:00 AM

Enjoy your trip! Hope you have some good sightings in the game parks, etc.

anom Oct 8th, 2009 05:51 AM


I am south african (living in Durban,Kwa Zulu Natal)- you have offered me advice on the far east forum - thanks very much.

The game parks you intend visiting (Eastern Transvaal/Mpumalange are wonderful. Hope you spot lots of game.

Cape Town is certainly the premier tourist destination of South Africa. If visiting the V&A waterfront be sure to dine on freshly fried or grilled hake and chips at one of the many seafood outlets.
The Garden route is certainly the most scenic and beautiful drives along any coastline in south Africa - lots of curio sellers along the route,too. We have done the route several time but I still marvel at he beauty of the mountains forming a backdrop to the sea.
Hope you will take a cruise to the Knysna Heads - well worth it.

Enjoy a safe and wonderful holiday in south Africa.

moremiles Oct 8th, 2009 06:29 AM

Have a wonderful trip! I am just back from SA, my 3rd visit there, and hope to return again someday. Looking forward to your report.

thit_cho Oct 8th, 2009 07:06 AM

Sounds like a great trip.

On another note, did you post any info on Paraguay (its the only country in SA that I haven't visited, and I'm considering a visit next year or 2011). I'll also check the SA forum.

LAleslie Oct 8th, 2009 02:03 PM

rhkkmk, Welcome to the Africa board! You will not have gpanda to kick you around over here.
We have made two trips to Southern Africa and it may well become your new favorite part of the world. We'll see. If you like wildlife, you'll be hankering for much more when you return to Boston. Hope you'll be able to try some good restaurants in Cape Town and maybe take a day trip to the beautiful winelands. You'll find much more to do there than you have time for.
Have a ball!

cw Oct 8th, 2009 02:51 PM

Bob and Karen,

You're off to a good start! Will be looking forward to your updates. South Africa is a wonderful place.

atravelynn Oct 8th, 2009 03:59 PM

Have a great trip!

rhkkmk Oct 8th, 2009 06:34 PM

thit--- i did post quite a bit on the south america board about our time in paraguay.... i will bring it back to the top of their board now for you

cwn Oct 8th, 2009 10:42 PM

Have a grest time!

You are doing something like we did in April on our round the world trip. We rented cars in JNB and Cape Town. We stayed in Dullstroom on the way to Kruger also.

We loved our time at Kirkmans but loved the self drive in Kruger even more! We will do that again. Be sure to picnic in some of the picnic areas. We had a great time visiting with S Africans and their families and got some good tips on places to check out based on what they had seen that day.

Happy travels!

Smeagol Oct 9th, 2009 04:12 AM

Good start Bob, Muffin and I are looking forward to seeing you in the 31st...

Elizabeth_S Oct 9th, 2009 04:21 AM

Hi Bob - hope you have a wonderful trip! We're spending a month in SA this coming February so I'm hoping you'll be publishing a Capetown restaurant list to complement your Bangkok one!

james_healy Oct 9th, 2009 10:40 AM

Have a great trip...will be anxiously awaiting your log entries.

I have just started initial plans for trip by my wife and I to S.A. in February or March 2010. Wife and I are retired teachers who live in upstate New York State. Wondered about several things ... safety issues if driving a rental...have heard and read several horror stories about car jackings and vandelism etc. Have heard that Capetown is fine but some areas are to be avoided???

Also how is the rand compared to the U.S. dollar (cost of a beer at a bar or restaurant, movie ticket, one nights stay in a motel/hotel, dinner for two w/o alcohol etc.) ?

When do their students go back to school from summer break and if one is to wait till that happens does it open up more rooms and accomodations? Are B&B's popular and plentiful there etc.

I'm sure you'll answer some of these concerns in your log entries. Thanks in advance for any help you might give us.
James and Eileen Healy

jcasale Oct 10th, 2009 08:01 AM

Hi Bob and Karen!
I am so jealous that you are heading to Africa. Bill and I LOVED our trip there - it still ranks #1 for both of us (although Thailand and meeting you two there is certainly up there in probably the #2 or 3 spot). You are also staying in our favorite lodge - Elephant Plains. I hope that Gideon is still there and that you get him as your guide for your safaris. He is great. We saw SO many animals there including most of the big cats. We missed seeing a lion (saw one later in Botswana) because we took a side trip on our way there and took in the Panoramic Region so we missed the first evening game drive. But we saw 8 leopards (including two 4 week old cubs) and 3 cheetahs (mom and two "teenagers"). You will have a fabulous time and I can't wait to hear all about it. I'll send you the link to our pictures.

taconictraveler Oct 10th, 2009 10:54 AM

rhkkmk: I too am jealous, but wish you a wonderful trip, as long as you send back your stories to those of us at home, those either planning a trip to South Africa, or just hoping and praying we get back there sometime soon.

I know it must be difficult while enjoying your trip, but I'm sure we'd all love to hear commentary any time you can do it.

cynstalker Oct 11th, 2009 07:01 AM

Have a great trip Bob - I look forward to reading about it!


rhkkmk Oct 12th, 2009 08:00 PM

cyn---we missed you saturday at the boston GTG...send me an e mail and tell me where you ended up..

tomorrow is the day....we are very much looking forward to what seems like a nice adventure.....sort of like the first time we went to asia...high hopes in any case...

jen thanks for the pics received today

driving....i'm just thinking we will be careful and respectful and not venture where we do not belong...its always worked before...

rand has slipped a lot this was 10 and now about 7+ per dollar since i started looking this time last year..

plus a GTG in capetown which will really be fun i am sure...

Gpanda Oct 13th, 2009 11:32 AM

Just when he disappeared freom the Asia forum, he pops up on another forum. Now you can deal with his ever-so-special reports.

tengohambre Oct 14th, 2009 04:08 AM

Bob and Karen,
Have a great time. Take lots of photos and don't worry about what the naysayers are telling you. Yes, you can indeed take an ostrich home for your backyard.

Let us know how the trip proceeds and if Panda is actually going to meet you over there. Tengo

hawaiiantraveler Oct 14th, 2009 02:07 PM

Have fun you two. I know you will. Hope you upgraded your camera equipment Bob.


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