SA itin review

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Jun 18th, 2016, 07:09 AM
  #1
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SA itin review

I have read, reviewed and tried to digest all the exceptional safari information on the site and would sincerely appreciate constructive feedback on our initial itin.

For background:

We are 2 adults in our early 60's, we have been traveling independently for 35 years. We recently traveled around the world for 10 weeks, independently, by planes, trains and autos! So planning is not new to us. We have only been on safari in Sri Lanka.

I am planning to travel August 2017 or even Sept. Based on my initial analysis we will want to be on the ground in SA for 32-35 days.

We will fly into Johannesburg and out of Capetown. My initial go at our itin looks like this:

Arrive Jburg and stay 2 nights to acclimate and sleep.

Rent a car and head to Kruger for the 6 hour drive.

Stay in Kruger for 6-7 nights

Drive to Timbavati for 4 nights

Drive to Sabi Sands for 3-4 nights

From Sabi Sands we would head to the coast and Swaziland for 2 nights

From Swaziland we would go to Hluhluwe game preserve for 3-4 nights

Then we would head to Durban and make our way to Port Elizabeth over 3-4 days

Port Elizabeth to Capetown over 3-4 days and perhaps some wine country

Stay in Capetown for 4 days and fly out on the 5th day.

Based on this itin, I am looking for assistance/guidance and recommendations.

Our budget is not as yet totally defined, we will make choices based on the options available. We want top see zebras and giraffes, don't need to see a kill and do want to see all the other animals, we like birds but are not big birders.

Thank you in advance for input.
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Jun 18th, 2016, 07:29 AM
  #2
 
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Hi - I think you need to look into the first two weeks - you may be spending too much time in areas that aren't that different. Timbavati is more to the North, but "Sabi Sands" has extensive borders with Kruger (where we just spend 3 nights in a private concession within Kruger) that shares a long border with some of the pricey Sabi Sands private concessions. Kruger National Park, itself, stretches a long way North to South. I'm in the midst of writing my trip report (!) so you can look for the one about our 40th anniversary.

You may want to take some of that time and spend more along the coast . Check out Isibindi's properties, Kosi Bay and Thonga Beach. We stayed 2 nights at the latter, and would happily go back, pairing it with the other property.

KwaZulu Natal is full of wonderful opportunities. Hluhluwe iMfolozi is also terrific, and a great safari experience to have along with Kruger, because the geography is so totally different.

My suggestion would also be to go in September.
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Jun 18th, 2016, 01:04 PM
  #3
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Thank you, I look forward to your trip report.
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Jun 20th, 2016, 11:44 AM
  #4
 
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Welcome to Fodor's!

People are different of course, but my first reaction to your plan is that you might be "safari'd out," i.e. too much. While there are differences to be sure between Kruger Park proper and the reserves nearby, they're all pretty much the same ecosystem, and as you'll be visiting them one after another, there's not going to be a lot of variety in the landscapes, the animals sighted, the weather, etc.

It's all about choices, but my feeling is that SA is such an incredibly diverse nation - cultures, landscapes, ecosystems... that if I were in your place I'd be considering options that might extend the number of days NOT on safari someplace, but spent instead doing other things.

For example, the Panoramic Route, with its incredibly dramatic mountain and gorge landscapes, is only an hour or so west of Kruger NP, but feels like a world away.

Or travel to the central Drakensberg mountains for spectacular alpine scenery, with Zulu villages at the bases of the mountains. (People of the Sky, after all.)

Or in September you could travel up the west coast from Cape Town to West Coast National Park to Namaqualand for some of the most amazing wildflower landscapes in the world. (Google it - OMG.)

The point being, it's such an amazing country that while you can't see it all, with as much time as you have you can see a helluva lot without short-changing any aspect.

Just my view, of course.
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Jun 20th, 2016, 03:14 PM
  #5
 
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Hi there --

Nice start and good questions. And excellent, excellent advice above. The previous posters have really helped to highlight the diversity of this spectacular nation.

Please consider doing more in Jburg than using it to acclimate and sleep. It is a wonderful city to begin your South African journey by allowing you to learn about the rich history of the country, warts and all. This will help to shed light on its continuing transformation with a unique appreciation. There are some really wonderful and special boutique hotels in the city and lots of great foodie restaurants too. Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill just scratches the surface but are well worth the time.

Good luck with your planning. I am so jealous you have so much time!
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Jun 21st, 2016, 10:19 AM
  #6
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thank you all for the feedback, I was planning to shift things to see the wildflowers.

I will continue to study maps and refine the plans.
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Jun 22nd, 2016, 08:10 AM
  #7
 
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Hi there!

I second Gardyloo's comments above. With the amount of time you have, I would explore some more areas. While I LOVE safari, I think that your itinerary is a bit heavy and you could sacrifice a little of safari time with some other South African treasures..

Consider taking your time on the drive to Kruger via the Panorama Route. You can stay overnight in a lovely guest house. Your leisurely pace will enable you to see the incredible vistas: God's Window, Three Rondavels, Blyde River Canyon and more.

I would perhaps skim down your first 3 safari stops to 4 nights each rather than 6-7 nights then 4 then 3-4 nights in Sabi. Just a thought there. Four nights will give a taste of the area, the lodge and its atmosphere. With repeated safari experiences, my overall advice would be to mix up the style of lodging. Choose some tented camps with some lodges and different areas. This brings me to my next idea...

Have a look at Phinda as a substitute for Hluhluwe. With its 7 distinct ecosystems and one of the last remaining sand floor forests in the world, it truly is very different and a wonderful contrast to your other safari destinations. One of my personal favorites and also for my clients!

I also really like the idea of a St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal coastal stay. Three nights at Thonga Beach Lodge would be great. Another one that clients love is Lodge Afrique. The iSimangaliso wetlands are really worth exploring!

I also love the Drakensberg Mountains and West Coast National Park, outside of Cape Town. September would be divine with the flowers!

Travel is incredible and your time in SA will bring unforgettable memories!

Happy planning!
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
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Jun 24th, 2016, 04:43 PM
  #8
 
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For one of your safari destinations you might look at driving to Mashatu. It's in Botswana but it's very easy to get to. You park your car on the SA side, cross the border and get picked up on the other side by Mashatu staff. The landscape is different than any I've seen in South Africa with large herds of elephants. And the drive there - you see hundreds of baobab trees. It's pretty cool.
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Jun 24th, 2016, 04:44 PM
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And contrary to the others, 32-35 days of safari would not be too many for me.
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Jun 25th, 2016, 11:34 AM
  #10
 
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Sundowner Oh, I could do as many safari days as they were looking at, just not so much in the same general region. Mashatu does look good as an option for a future trip. One could do "Kruger" (vicinity where we stayed) or Sabi Sands, then Timbavati, then Mashatu, which would give some great variety. Then maybe a flight to Durban to do some coastal stuff, Tembe or Phinda (depending on budget, I guess) and Hluhluwe, then Zululand and that little Drakensberg area before flying home from Jberg. How many nights per place would be up to availability, I guess, but I wouldn't stay any less than 3 nights in one lodge. We've done as many as 4, and that was pretty cool. Not sure I'd want more than that one place, though.

Or I suppose one could go North to Botswana pretty much right away and then just head on South from there. It is a lot of nights to play with, so there's all kinds of options
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Jun 25th, 2016, 11:36 AM
  #11
 
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whoops. I forgot the part about doing Capetown at the end. As Emily Latella would say "Never Mind."
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