SMARTOURS?

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Jan 24th, 2004, 03:59 PM
  #1
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SMARTOURS?

Is anyone traveled to South Africa with Smartours? They offer a 11 night tour of South Africa starting at Capetown, a bit of the garden route, Zululand, Swaziland, a couple of nights by Kruger National Park, international airfare from Atlanta, internal transportation and including flights for less than $3000. per person. I am interested in viewing wildlife but not for the entire trip. This sounds like a good combination but maybe a little light on the wildlife viewing. They offer an additional 2 nights in Victoria Falls for 799. per person including flights. I have never traveled to Southern Africa and I am a complete novice.. Does them sound like a good value? It includes 21 meals, superior class hotels with private baths, all admission fees etc. etc.
pooky is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2004, 04:48 PM
  #2
 
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I don't know, Pooky. This is a tough one for me to answer. By clicking on your name and viewing other messages you've posted at Fodors, I see you've been to South America. Did you go there on a guided tour? You sounded very positive about your South American trip, so whatever arrangements you made for it must have suited your tastes well.

The SmarTours itinerary you've outlined is too fast paced for my taste. If I had 11 days, I'd prefer to go to one South African city and one game reserve for wildlife viewing.

Provided it was a time of year in which Cape Town's weather was likely to be good, Cape Town would be my preferred city. If it was the wrong time of year for Cape Town (certainly June - August, perhaps even May - September), I would go to Durban instead.

Although there are a number of areas of South Africa that offer good wildlife viewing opportunities, if I had time for only one area it would be Mpumalanga, either the Kruger National Park or one of the nearby private game reserves, depending on the budget I had to work with.

I don't know where to find the SmarTours 11 day itinerary to which you referred. I found a 15 day itinerary (excluding the optional add-on for Victoria Falls) here:

http://www.smartours.net/sa2.htm

Even on this 15 day tour, the Cape Town portion is too short, IMO. It looks as if you have only 2 days in Cape Town. On the first day you go to the Cape Peninsula, which is great. Then on the second day you have a choice of seeing Cape Town on your own or going on an OPTIONAL (does this mean extra cost?) tour of the winelands. In my opinion, you need a MINIMUM of a full day in Cape Town AND a day to visit the winelands.

The KwaZulu-Natal - Swaziland portion of the trip is way too short as well. You have an orientation tour of Durban, and then you go out into the Zululand countryside to "experience the everyday life of the Zulu tribe." All in one day?

The next day you view game in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, and by that afternoon you are in the town of Piggs Peak in Swaziland! I'm sorry, I just cannot wrap my mind around that scenario.

As I said before, if it was my first trip and I had 11 days, I would see one city plus one game reserve in Mpumalanga.

Durban, the KwaZulu-Natal countryside and Swaziland are all very worthwhile places to see, but if you can't do them justice (and 2 days amongst the 3 of them is not doing them justice IMO), then save them for another time.

While I cannot say one way or the other if SmarTours' Victoria Falls add-on is worth the price they're charging, I do consider Victoria Falls to be a very worthwhile sight to see.
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Jan 24th, 2004, 04:54 PM
  #3
 
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I thought after reading your post I would go to their site and see what they offered. The first thing I noticed was that there were no updated travel dates for Egypt in the past two years. Then, on Google I found the following which you may want to check out - www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/smartours.html
Louise is offline  
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Jan 25th, 2004, 10:50 AM
  #4
sandi
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Pooky -

The SmarTours itinerary is too much in too short a time regardless the fact that the cost is only $3000.

You should in conjunction with a good guidebook, decide what areas you really wish to visit, time of year, level of accommodations, and budget - then contact a tour operator in the States, or in-country in South Africa and have them prepare an independent itinerary for you.

If Cape Town is of interest, you need at minimum 3-full days (4nts); and for Safari, you should spend at minimum 3-days at one camp/lodge or if 4-days can do two different camps/lodges.

You can also add-on the trip to Victoria Falls if you wish. Though I don't personally believe you need more than 1-full day here, you can do 2-nts if you choose.

There are a number of tour operators that have been posted on this board and a search should bring them up. Or you can do a search on your own on Google or other and many will show up.

Don't hesitate coming back here for comments re such tour operators and itineraries any of these companies offer.


 
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