SA Advice

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Mar 21st, 2005, 01:56 PM
  #1
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SA Advice

Hi,

I think my fiancee and I are going to go to South Africa for our honeymoon in mid to late November.

We're thinking about staying for 2 weeks and we would like to spend a few days on a safari, few days in Cape Town, and a few days just relaxing somewhere.

If anybody has any advice or suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it.

TIA,
shahnm77
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Mar 21st, 2005, 05:44 PM
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shahmn,

It would be helpful if you were to state your budget. I mean you can stay at a B&B in Cape Town for $150 per night or you can stay in one of the top 5* hotels for upwards of $500 per night for a standard room.

Also, your budget will make a great difference to your safari. Do you want to spend $2,200 per night at Singita, $1,200 per night at an alternate South African lodge, or are you willing to travel to a nearby exotic place like South Luangwa, Zambia, where you will be able to stay in a luxury lodge, such as Luangwa River Lodge, for less than half the price (or one-fourth the price of Singita) in November?

www.luangwariverlodge.com

This would combine nicely with a visit to Victoria Falls, Zambia, staying at a romantic place such as Stanley Safari Lodge.

http://www.stanleysafaris.com/

Not knowing your budget, but with the best interests of your honeymoon in mind, I would suggest the following itinerary:

Westcliff Hotel, Johannesburg (2)
This would be a nice way to start your honeymoon, in my opinion. Joburg gets a bad rap, but there is great shopping, fine dining, interesting tours, and just the chance to recuperate from the long flight for a couple days.

Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa, Zambia (4)
South Luangwa is one of the finest game parks in all of Africa. You will enjoy complete exclusivity at an uncrowded park like South Luangwa all while being pampered at a luxurious lodge, the only lodge in all of South Luangwa offering massage! There is probably not a nicer looking lodge in Zambia, and the owners are a younger British couple who operate the lodge. My experience has always been very positive when the owners are onsite.

Stanley Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls (2)
This must be the most romantic looking place in Victoria Falls.
http://www.stanleysafaris.com/lodge.htm

Cape Town (4) Where you stay all depends on your budget and whether or not you want to be in the middle of all the action or whether you wish to have a more exclusive location. For example, if you want a 5* hotel in the middle of all the action, you would likely choose either the Cape Grace Hotel or the Table Bay Hotel. But, if you wanted a 5* hotel in a more exclusive setting, 15 minutes away from all the action, but with a wonderful location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, with waves not breaking on the rocks not more than 50 meters away from your balcony, then I think the Twelve Apostles would be excellent.

Cape Winelands (2) There are different choices here as well, and your budget will dictate where would be best for you. I do think this would be a perfect way to wrap up your honeymoon at a place like Le Quartier Francais, for example.

Feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] if you have any questions or would like a referral for a good agent.

I do think the above would be an amazing honeymoon!

Congratulations!
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 08:51 AM
  #3
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Roccco,

Sorry, I forgot to state my budget. Anyway, I would like to spend no more than $5000 USD.

I should be able to use miles to fly down there, but I need to double check.

If I can't fly for free, then it would make it little tighter budget.

Thanks
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 08:58 AM
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Shannm,

If you are flying on SAA, you will be able to get a free add-on flight to anywhere in the region SAA flies, including Lusaka, Zambia.

I do think that you would be unable to stay in a luxury lodge in South Africa, but if you are able to fly using your miles to Lusaka, you would still be able to enjoy Luangwa River Lodge for four nights. Your price would be around $1,320 per person ($2,640), and this would still leave you with about $260 per night for say 9 nights split between Joburg/Cape Town/Cape Winelands. This would be more than sufficient.
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 10:26 AM
  #5
 
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I'm going to piggyback onto this question, if that's ok. I'm planning my honeymoon (although we've been married for almost a year) for late Aug/early Sept. We'd like a couple days in Johannesburg, a few days at a game reserve, and then about a week (2 weeks total) in the Cape Town area, including the Winelands and Garden Route. Our budget is also about $5,000-$6,000 and we will not be using miles for the tickets from the US. Any suggestions for the game reserve? It does not need to be luxury, just a clean room and bed with a private bath and the ability to see great animals. After reading all of these boards, I'd love to include Victoria Falls, but I'm not sure if our time allows it. We definitely want to have enough time at each stop to explore and relax.
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 01:39 PM
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joboe,

In all honesty, your budget will not get you very far. You will likely be down to $2,500 or less by the time you get to Johannesburg for possibly $3,500 depending where in the USA is your starting point. Throw in another $500 for your Cape Town flights and now you are down to $2,000, or about $150 per night. If you decide to visit Victoria Falls, deduct $800 from your $2,000, and now you are down to $1,200, or less than $100 per night.

I would say that unless you can expand your budget by a minimum of about $2,500 (for a total of $8,500 minimum) that you are not going to have the most enjoyable time on your honeymoon. IMO, you must have a minimum of $5,000 besides your international flights. That would allow an average of $350 per night, and that is not yet even counting additional flights within Southern Africa.
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 04:53 PM
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Roccco,

Thanks for your honesty. For clarification, our budget does not include spending money or meals while we're down there; it's for the basic up-front costs: air, lodging, car rental, game drive. I've seen many people discuss decent hotels for much less than $100 a night and like I said, we don't need fancy. Just a clean bed with a private bath. Does this make a difference? I'm sure once we're there we'll spend another thousand or two, but I'd have a really hard time convincing my husband to go there if we were to spend more than $5,000 on the itinerary arrangements.

Another question, are there any good, inexpensive big game reserves near Victoria Falls I can research? I've found some reasonable ones in Kruger but I know we won't have time for Kruger and Victoria Falls and everyone on this site has made it sound as if it can't be missed. But I know I can't miss seeing the big cats!
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 05:03 PM
  #8
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joboe,

I called United this afternoon and found out that do not have any rewards seats available to South Africa, so it looks like I'm in your boat.

If you find any good useful information, let me know.

Thanks
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 07:57 PM
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Really, Africa would not be the same without at least 3 or 4 nights on safari. Even if you were to fly to Kruger National Park and stay at the most reasonable private game lodge, such as Djuma Safari Lodge or similar, I still think you are talking about a minimum of over $2,200 for even a 3 night stay by the time you include your flights and road transfers.

I don't see what the point would be in coming all the way to Southern Africa without enjoying a safari.

Beg, borrow or steal the money, but somehow you would each be wise to try to expand your budgets. As far as the tight fiance goes...it's not too late!!! Although I may be way out of line, not to mention off-topic, if someone is this tight for their honeymoon, the rest of the ride does not look too promising.

I do think that there will be some better deals to be found in the Western Cape and Kruger National Park/Sabi Sand in late August/early September for joboe, but unfortunately, still not within the desired budget.

For shahnm, there will be no deals to be found in the Western Cape or Sabi Sand/Kruger in November, as this will be high season as the holidays approach.

While it is true that you will each be able to find accomodations in the $100 per night range in the Western Cape, I am afraid that you will be stuck in the Western Cape for your entire honeymoon if the budgets are not able to be inflated. Yes, the Western Cape is beautiful, but in my opinion there is nothing quite like a safari at a private game lodge.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but $1,500 - $2,000 for your ground package is not going to get you very far.
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 08:57 PM
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Shahnm,

Check out this website: http://www.pacificdelighttours.com/a..._2005_2006.htm. A girl on another message board did the 11 day Johannesburg, Kruger and Cape Town trip and said she had a great time. They also offer a Victoria Falls extension. My only concern is all the tours they schedule in Cape Town because we're not into group touring, but I guess we could always skip those and rent a car and do our own thing. I've emailed them to ask about flexibility in adding days to either Johannesburg or Cape Town, so I'll let you know what I hear. I also emailed go2africa, as I've heard good things about them as well. I'll keep you updated!
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 10:10 PM
  #11
 
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You each could also consider something along the lines of this:

http://www.skyauction.com/action/offer/963261

A word of caution about Pacific Delights...I traveled with them on a 15 night tour of China. While, overall, it was a very nice experience (for an incredibly great price), they almost shove the shopping trips down your throat and in China they were raking in 40% commission from the stores they shopped at (as one shopkeeper confessed).
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Mar 23rd, 2005, 11:56 AM
  #12
 
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There are ways to see South Africa without spending $1,000 or more anight on safaris.
My husband and I are going to Southern Africa for two months in April/May on a budget of around $10,000. Yes, we are planning on hostels on occasion to keep expenses down. We are hiring a car for six of those weeks.
Sure, we are using frequent flier miles for Atlanta/JB/VictoriaFalls/JB/Capetown and back to Atlanta.
While in Victoria Falls we are going to Chobe National Park for two days and one night for $200. Otherwise we are going to self drive in wildlife parks
In Cape Town we are planning on a one bedroom self catering apartment near the waterfront for $60 a night.
We are both seniors who have seen a lot of the world on budgets.
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Mar 23rd, 2005, 12:51 PM
  #13
 
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Shahnm,

I received a quote from go2africa.com that is very reasonable and exactly the itinerary we were looking for, without group tours and stuff that doesn't interest us. It includes all transportation, lodging and game drives. So far, my experience with them has been good and I've heard positive things about them from other message boards, as well as here. Thanks, twoaussies, for your post. My husband and I have always been able to travel on a budget in the past. It takes a lot of research and pre-planning, but it's possible. I think there's still hope for Shahnm's and my trips to be amazing and what we want from it!
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Mar 23rd, 2005, 03:01 PM
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joboe,

Care to share the itinerary? You should make sure you are not comparing apples to oranges, and the best way to do so would be in sharing your itinerary and the quotation received with those of us who are familiar with the areas and lodges.
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Mar 24th, 2005, 02:51 AM
  #15
 
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Last year we spent 5 full weeks in South Africa and spent less than £5000 in total on accommodation, car hire and insurance (which is quite high in SA) and an internal flight between Port Elizabeth and Durban. Food and fuel costs were very reasonable too.
Admittedly the Rand is stronger now than then but... a private camp/lodge with guided game drives is not the only way to safari!
(And this comes from someone who has done both - including time in renowned camps such as Mombo in Botswana).
Self-drive safaris staying in the self-catering accommodation units in government rest camps in parks such as Kruger, Ithala, Hluhluwe etc is very rewarding. It IS a different experience to being guided but it's also wonderful and a LOT cheaper.
I don't know if this helps but... if you're on a low budget it's worth considering.
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Mar 24th, 2005, 06:55 AM
  #16
 
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My husband and I spent 3 weeks in South Africa in September-October 2003 and spent about $6500. That included 3 nights at Harry's Camp at Mala Mala (the game viewing was superb, and the accomodations, while not super-luxury, were just fine). We also took Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Cape Town (our splurge, and we got married in Matjiesfontein on the way). We stayed at a wonderful guesthouse in Cape Town, L'Auberge Burgundy in Hermanus, Overmeer Guest House in Knysna, Shades of Africa in Oudtshoorn, and Le Francais in Franschhoek (that was through Luxury Link). Every place we stayed was lovely and we had great meals and wine throughout our trip. We did use frequent flyer miles, though, and flew business class on Northwest and KLM. Did you check the other Star Alliance members for possible seats?
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Mar 24th, 2005, 07:02 AM
  #17
 
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I'm another one who never spends the kind of money Roccco does on safari. We self-cater in the national and provincial parks, and do game drives with the park rangers as well as driving ourselves for game viewing. We stay in Cape Town and Johannesburg in good hotels and/or B&Bs for $80-$100 a night, depending on the value of the dollar. Once we stayed at a mid-price private safari lodge and enjoyed it a great deal. I'm sure it would be delightful to stay at Singita or someplace similar, but on our budget it's not a possibility.

Spending what we do, we're able to go to Africa every 2 or 3 years, and also to Europe every 1 or 2 years. We'd much rather go frequently than blow several years worth of travel money on one luxury safari.
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Mar 24th, 2005, 06:46 PM
  #18
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Everybody,

Thanks for the advice, I will certainly have to spend time sifting through everything.

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Mar 24th, 2005, 10:17 PM
  #19
 
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Here's my proposed itinerary from go2africa. I'd welcome comments from those accustomed to travelling on a middle-class budget.

Fly from US to Johannesburg
2 nights at Holiday Inn Sandton City
2 nights at the Zambezi Sun
3 nights at Bongani Game lodge including all meals and game drives
Collect a Group B sedan with air conditioning, unlimited mileage and super insurance coverage in Cape Town
4 nights at Les Cascades Du Bantry Bay in Cape Town
2 nights at Village at Spier in Stellenbosch
Drop off the car at the airport and fly back to US

Total cost: ZAR 39500.00 ($6475 US)
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Mar 25th, 2005, 07:59 AM
  #20
 
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Joboe -

A couple of questions. Have you figured out the cost of each item and what the total would be if you purchased it yourself? I only ask to determine if the total is out of line with what you expected.

Next question. Did they break out the cost of the airfare separately from the rest of the quote? I'm curious mostly about the airfare to Vic Falls/ Livingstone and the airfare to Cape Town return. If they didn't break it out separately, did they mention who the carrier is? If the JNB/CPT/JNB leg is kulula, you probably can't do better on that airfare, but if not, you probably can.

Then specifically for the hotel in Sandton - you can probably get a better deal on Expedia for yourself than booking through the agent. Some of the deals out there are pretty good. If you look at Roccco's posting from today there is a fabulous rate at the Westcliff.

As far as the Bongani, I haven't been there and there are just a few comments about it on this board. From what I remember from last year, it only includes one game drive per day. This could be wrong or could have changed. You might think about looking into Chitwa Chitwa or Nkorho or Elephant Plains in Sabi Sands - all of which are the private game lodges, would include food and game drives, but are on the lower end of the cost scale. Elephant Plains is the least expensive of the three and I believe it is similar in costs to Bongani.
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