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Smartour 6 day Capetown and Kruger

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Jan 8th, 2016, 05:07 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2010
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Smartour 6 day Capetown and Kruger

There is a tour offering non stop flight JFK to Capetown, 4 nights in Cape Sun Hotel, 2 nights in Kruger National Park, and non stop return to JFK for $1500. Has anyone done this? I am thinking that it is too long a trip (19 hours) for 6 nights....so may consider a longer trip. BUT, before that, I would like any info on this Smartour trip.

It is an incredulous offer though....

Thank you.
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Jan 8th, 2016, 09:31 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Can you post a link?

My first thoughts without seeing the actual tour:

That's probably fine for Cape Town if it includes a Cape of Good Hope tour, Robben Island and Table Mountain. If they are all add ons, you need to add them all on.

Two nights "in" Kruger likely means two nights outside Kruger with day trips into the park. You can do better on your own. Two nights is not nearly enough.

I would to a trip on my own. No need for a tour in S Africa. To me, ten nights is enough to justify the long flights. Of course, more is better. Fly to Cape Town, stay somewhere close to the V&A waterfront. Use the HopOn HopOff bus to see most places in/around the city. Arrange a private or semi-private tour to the Cape of Good Hope. 4 nights is fine. If you want to do the winelands, that can be a day trip or an overnight easily arranged.

Fly from CPT to one of the airports near Kruger. Choose one of the many lodges in the private reserves around Kruger in all price ranges and arrange a transfer to the lodge. Here's a map of all of them:

http://assets.sunsafaris.com/Map-of-Kruger-Camps.pdf

Most show their rack rates online and can book directly. Stay for at least 3 nights per lodge - I'd do two in two different reserves. Fly home.

Contact the lodges for transfers - they do it all the time - or use a safari agent who will arrange the trip you want, in any budget at any lodges. Most U.S. based agents and many local ones, will push you to more expensive lodges (they get bigger commissions). Dump them if they do that and use one that will work in your budget. Stand firm. You can arrange a very affordable safari on your own, stay in beautiful accommodations and see amazing wildlife (the wildlife is free roaming and doesn't care how much you paid).

Just my two cents. Those cheap tours usually don't include much, lots of add ons and stay outside the great parks. Not good values, generally.
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Jan 9th, 2016, 02:54 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 200
Hello Sophia12 and Happy New Year!

Christabir has great ideas and I concur with her on her post above.

The problem with most tours as you have described is that they include accommodations outside the park so you may have a lot of extras. For example, you may pay per game drive. Additionally, Rangers in private reserves are better versed and trained and thus staying in a private reserve is a little of "get what you pay for" comparison. There are other advantages to staying in private reserves too such as all-inclusive with food and drink, night game drives included as well as driving off road to stay or track an animal which is great fun!

Another point to these "value" tours is that flights and transfers are not outlined specifically so you could be going on flights at less than ideal times and/or long transfers. Their goal is to keep the price attractive and you will pay the price, literally and figuratively. Perhaps it is unfair to assume here that the tour you are considering is less than desirable and if you send the link, we can look at but I'd agree with christabir based upon what you have described.

There are lodges to satisfy most price points in private reserves and I highly recommend that you first try to put together a trip together staying at a value-priced lodge in a private reserve before you consider other options. It's important to try to find discounts and get best rates and some lodges will offer discounts if you do a long stay. There are many options certainly to consider. A good agent will help with that.

You could do 3-4 nights in Cape Town. The HOHO bus is great. Lots of great things to do in Cape Town depending upon your interests. There is truly something for everyone. Perhaps I would extend to 4-5 nights if you wanted to include some daytrip(s) or an overnight in the winelands.

From Cape Town, I'd then do 4-6 nights on safari. I personally think that 6 nights is a great amount of time. If you were able to go to 6 nights, I would recommend two 3 night stays in 2 different lodges, ideally in 2 different reserves. There are many great options such as Elephant Plains Lodge, Arathusa, Simbavati, Senelala just to name a few here. Many options!

Any good safari agent will work with you and put together a trip for you with a specific budget in mind. As christabir says, if they don't then get rid of them. The price you see online for a lodge is what an agent will charge you so keep that in mind too. You don't pay more to use a safari agent which is something many travelers don't understand. In fact, I find that often lodges charge more money for transfers when they arrange them for those booking directly!

I have built many trips for a wide range of clients. I personally am impassioned by the bush and I thoroughly enjoy helping all my clients regardless of whether they choose to stay in 5* or 3* accommodations. My goal is to make a client's trip the most incredible experience ever.

Best
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
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Jan 9th, 2016, 10:49 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Thanks DebitNM. Terrible value tour, exactly as I thought. No.
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Jan 12th, 2016, 04:51 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
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Here is a link to my trip report from last year. Magical
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...rip-report.cfm
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