Smartours South Africa Tour

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Mar 17th, 2012, 07:41 AM
  #1
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Smartours South Africa Tour

We are planning on taking the Smartours to South Africa tour in October. Any comments, recommendations, pros, cons, shopping, optional tours, etc...
Thanks for any help.
berliz is offline  
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Mar 17th, 2012, 08:53 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Go only on safaris, forget shopping, wine tours, scenic, beach, penguins, sharks, cultural stuff. South Africa is about wildlife, safari. To be more specific go to safari camp MalaMala. At least that is my opinion, there may be others.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
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Mar 17th, 2012, 09:28 AM
  #3
 
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How about a link to the itinerary so we can comment on it?

SA is easy to do on your own, but I understand why you would like a tour group. Without knowing about which tour you are considering, in general they spend too little time in an area to enjoy it, not the best safari camps and too many different hotels, so you always feel like you are packing up and moving. You can arrange for private drivers and easy flights/transfers for safari camps. It's not difficult or overly expensive, and you get a personalized and better experience, IMO.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 03:33 PM
  #4
 
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There was a recent thread at (sorry, Fodor's) Trip Advisor. See:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...th_Africa.html
sdb2 is offline  
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Mar 19th, 2012, 06:03 AM
  #5
 
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There was also a thread a few years ago about this same trip
(Smartours/South Africa)on Fodors. As I remember, it was a
positive review. Try to find it using the Search function.

Pat
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May 13th, 2012, 01:04 PM
  #6
 
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Hi Berliz
We went on this trip in July 2010. The itinerary is still the same. Tip 1-pack anything of value in your carry-on and leave your checked bags unlocked. We connected in Joburg and a lot of people had their luggage destroyed- it was cut open either by zipper pulls or elsewhere. From our conversations with the airport security at Joburg airport, it's a common problem. Tip 2-if you do lose something, you can easily take the bus from the hotel to the V&A waterfront which has a shopping mall with everything-clothes, restaurants, bank / ATM, bookstore, and camera shop. You pick up the bus down the street from the hotel,on the waterfront road. Pick up extra snacks for the rest of the trip at the grocery store across the street from the hotel- ATM is also there. Winelands-we were there in the wrong season so it was a very long day of driving with little reward. I wouldn't have gone but the guide insisted it would be great. Since he was the worst guide ever, I should have known better. You are going ar a different time so it may be worth it then. Safari's-do as many as they offer. You won't get tired of them. Every drive was something special. And no tour gude Ron to talk endlessly about his book. Make sure you sure you have as much cash as you think you will need before your safari hotels as you won't have an opportunity to use an ATM then- even if they have them, it seems like the connection for credit cards or ATM was always down. If you are a har person, it will fly off on the safari eides so wear one that ties under the chin. Bring you binoculars and extra memory cards. Do the Vic Falls extension and Chobe is worth every penny. My best pics are from Vic Falls and especially Chobe. If you get any type of illness after leaving Cape Town, there is a good pharmacy in Banos. Speaking of which, bring your swimsuit because the hotel there has hot springs right outside of your cabin-they are wonderful. Do see Soweto, the township. The mining town (forgot its name) is really a pit stop for restrooms and food but the stip at bourke's potholes is a nice walk with great views. Joburg is a pitstop but the hotel is attached to a mall so you can get pretty good food and use the ATM-and pick up that extra memory card you didn't think you would need (you will take a ton of pictures). Also, Sourh Africa us not cheap so bring more $ than you think you will need (or have it in your Debit Card account. And eat lots og Magnum ice cream, which is now available in the States, but never heard if it before South Africa. Enjoy!
Viatrick is offline  
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May 14th, 2012, 04:35 AM
  #7
 
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I wouldn't leave your checked bag unsecured. Use a cable tie, though, instead of a lock, so that it can be cut off if necessary. Leave a bit of a loop in it, rather than tightening it down, and take along fingernail clippers that you can use to snip it off at your destination. TSA locks are fine in the USA, but airport personnel overseas aren't supposed to have the keys to open them.
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May 14th, 2012, 04:44 AM
  #8
P_M
 
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This trip w/Smartours is high on my list of things to do, thanks for all of the great info.
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May 19th, 2012, 12:30 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: May 2012
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Hello Berliz
There are smaller operators out there in South Africa who could custom design the tour you want for around the same rate you would be paying for the Smartour tour, eveni if there are 2 people travelling in the group.
My advice would be to look around a bit more before booking.
If not, then Spetember/October is a good time to do the tour as its before the rains arrive at Kruger and the rest of the country is in Spring. The flowers just might be out in the Western Cape then and the fields would look fantastic.
Evertyime I go to Kruger, does not matter which time of the year I ALWAYS take malaria prophalactics (spelling?). Having had malaria once I can highly recommend it as something you would NOT want to experience.
If you have time I would take a drive out to Hermanus to see the Southern Right Whale that comes up from the South from June to November to give birth. Doing a boat based whale trip and getting close to the whales is one of my favourite trips of all time. Make sure the boat operator has a permit to get to 50m. The whale being curious will approach the boat in its own time if it wants to.
Forget the shopping from the tour. South Africa has so much more to offer than shopping.
Let me know if you need anymore info.
allan72 is offline  
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May 21st, 2012, 05:41 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Hi Berliz, I ams still deciding between South Africa and East Africa. How did you make the deciison on South Africa?
Can you pls post your itinerary? How many days? When are you going? I would like to see big 5s, baby animals after the winter there. VF is also an added attraction
sumplanner is offline  
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May 22nd, 2012, 03:26 AM
  #11
 
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Hey Sumplanner

If you are looking for a wildlife vacation, then i would definatly advise South Africa to be the place. The Kruger National Park is 1 of the main tourist attractions and the most popular National Park In South Africa. So if you are looking to experience a once in a life time wildlife vacation, Then South Africa is the number 1 place I would suggest.
shondre is offline  
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May 22nd, 2012, 04:30 AM
  #12
 
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Ok Thanks Shondre. what are the other countries to see in SA for best wildlife. what is the best time to see Big 5s and baby animals for sure shot? yes this would be once in a lifetime vacaion. I dont want to miss the big 5s. Thats my dream abt African safari!!
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May 22nd, 2012, 07:35 AM
  #13
 
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Well thats one the greatest things when being out in the wildlife, You see so many different varieties of wildlife and some of the things you may might get the chance of seeing are sites that rarely get seen. As i have said on the previous message, The Kruger National Park is the most popular place for a wildlife experience. The Kruger National Park is 2 million hectares large so their are so many places you could stay such as Satara, Skukuza, Orpen, Lower Sabie, Olifants and many more.
Abit of advise, October month is a busy month at the Kruger National Park as it is school holidays that time so i would suggest that you make your decisions and book now already as people do book months in advance.
If you have any questions or querries about the Kruger National Park or any other places in South Africa then i am more than welcome to accommodate you.
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May 26th, 2012, 07:21 PM
  #14
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to sumplanner
we chose this trip because we have had previous great experiences with smartours -
www.smartours.com
berliz is offline  
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