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SOS - south africa for 14 days - itinerary suggestions appreciated

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Jun 23rd, 2012, 07:34 PM
  #1
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SOS - south africa for 14 days - itinerary suggestions appreciated

hi!

hubby and i are planning a trip to south africa (cape town/kruger) from Aug 10 to Aug 24 for our first anniversary. its our first time to SA. we are from the philippines.

plan is 9 nights in cape town, 4-5 nights in the kruger area.

any suggestions as to activities/things to do in cape town?

we have booked accommodations for 7 nights at the mandela rhodes place in cape town. this is flexible - we can increase or decrease number of nights depending on the plan. we are thinking of renting a car and driving to the winelands area - stellenbosch and/or franschhoek for a night or two. also considering staying in night in the gansbaai area for shark diving. we'd also like to go to hermanus for whale watching.

apart from the above, we have heard that the following attractions are worth visiting:
table mountain
cape peninsula tour
garden route

is victoria falls an option or worth visiting considering the 9 night period we have?

we plan to leave cape town for joburg on 19 aug via SA link or kulala or mango. would it be better to go directly to the nelspruit airport? if so, whats the best airline to take from cape to nelspruit?

no accommodation yet for kruger area - we were advised that it would be more economical to stay in a lodge/hotel near the gates of kruger rather than staying in one of the camps/lodges inside as it is too expensive. below are the hotel suggestions given to us:
Gannet place
Casa do sol
Um ba ba

have we allotted too many days in south africa? should we be going to sun city as well?

we're open to suggestions and would appreciate input as to what to do in the cape town area and the best trip sequence.

thanks much in advance -- pardon the multitude of questions. not entirely sure how to go about this.
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Jun 23rd, 2012, 10:00 PM
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Congratulations on your first anniversary and your first trip to South Africa.

I'd suggest less time in Cape Town and more time in the Kruger area if you are keen to see a variety of animals.

Cape Town is a beautiful city athough the August weather can be changeable. I'd suggest that the main activities are a trip to Cape Point, Kirstenbosch Gardens, shopping at the V&A waterfront, the Cable Car (weather permitting), maybe a township tour, Robben Island and perhaps a trip to the vineyard country and to Hermanus on the coast where you may get lucky and see whales. If you enjoy wildlfowers a day trip to the West Coast National Park is also worth considering for an August trip.

Near Kruger the best value option I have heard of is Makutsi Springs http://www.makutsi.com/English/makutsi_experience.html as their packages offer a mix of wildlife viewing, Drakensberg scenery and cultural activities. There are a number of reasonably priced private lodges along the border of Kruger such as Umkumbe, Shindzela and Africa on Foot that offer great game viewing opportunities.

Enjoy South Africa,


Pol
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Jun 24th, 2012, 02:53 AM
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Hi Newbee3

Sorry I do not know enough about these areas to be of assistance!

Hope you get some help! Tom, what a lovely welcome to someone wanting info on this forum!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Jun 24th, 2012, 06:47 AM
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thank you, pol & kaye for your feedback and positive responses. do let me know if you ever plan to come to the philippines - i'll be more than happy to be of help.

i didn't realize that capitalization and correct punctuations are a prerequisite to getting some answers in this site. tom, i don't see you using the aforementioned grammar rules either.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 08:58 AM
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Unlike some other forums, on Fodor's it's greatly appreciated if posters use Caps and separate paragraphs.

That said, 9/days is a bit much in Cape Town.

Of course, you can consider Victoria Falls, but this will be an expensive extension, flights and hotel, along with Visas. And, unless you plan other activities - bungee, white water rafting, other - if only to visit the Falls which can be done in an hour or two... not much else to do here.

Sun City is much like Las Vegas and can be skipped.

As you seem to be on budget, spend wisely, but I wouldn't stay outside of Kruger and then arrange for game drives inside the park. Thee are accommodations at all prices within Kruger.

You need to do more research. Good luck!
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Jun 24th, 2012, 07:13 PM
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I agree 9 days in CT is a long time. You could do much more than just CT in that time. Victoria Falls is an expensive addition. I'd spend the money on safari instead. Don't miss the Cape of Good Hope and Boulders Beach.

Have you considered self drive in Kruger and possibly elsewhere near CT? The accommodations in Kruger are very nice for $100/nt (plus $25/night entry fee that you'd pay if you stay outside park, too) and you can drive yourself around to animal watch and/or go on game drives run by the park. It's a great value - nothing like it! And so fun. No camping or cooking required - real beds w/bathrooms and restaurants/take away.

Not knowing your budget, there are options in the private reserves near Kruger that may fit your budget. Umkumbe, Shindzela, Arathusa and Gomo Gomo may be options for you. Look into them, and contact directly for availability. I wouldn't stay outside the park - the best viewing is dawn and dusk and the gates aren't open early/late enough.

You could also try Wildside camp at Entabeni. It's north of Joburg, and a great value!! Very easy drive, and far exceeded our expectations for the money.

You are going soon - Kruger camps fill up early, but check SanParks.org for availability.
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Jun 25th, 2012, 12:28 AM
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I agree with others; Sun City s not worth it, and Vic falls isn't either (too much time & money loss to see it).

About Kruger; you can opt for a lodge outside the park, or inside the park, or in a private reserve. All have (dis)advantages.

- Outside Kruger; cheaper option compared to private reserves, and perfect to visit the Drakensbergen. But; it can be quite far to get to Kruger. And you are only allowed to drive in the national parks and not the private reserves, which means: no offroading when seeing the big 5.

- Inside Kruger; is actually the cheapest option but that's because you normally do your own shopping and cooking (at least; that is the most popular formula when staying in the accommodation provided by the park). This can be a waste of time, time better spent on game drives since your visit is short. Kruger NP is right at your doorstep, but Drakenbergen are further away now. Idem remark as above on offroading.

- Private reserves; the most expensive option, but it's "all in": room, all meals, a driver & tracker that take you around the reserve, offroading with big5 sightings, no crowds (limited beds), etc.

If I were you, I'd combine two of the above three. The reason is simple; it's useless to stay in Kruger (NP or private) when you are visiting the Drakensbergen.

So why not choose a nice place in the mountains, and another place in the park?

I don't know what your budget is, but don't dismiss the Kruger private reserves right away. Some private reserves are very know and therefor they can ask prices that are very high (like Sabi Sands, and to a lesser extent Timbavati). But there are also reserves that are not yet that known, like Klaserie and Balule.

Since Klaserie shares borders with Kruger NP, I think it's better than Balule, and the cheapest camp in there is Africa On Foot ("AOF"). I've been going there for three years now. It costs R1695 pppn, which is about 210$. Quite unbeatable, considering what you get. They are known for their foot safaris, which are the real thing and not a simple "stroll around the block". Last time we were there we saw rhino, elephants and lions on foot. See my trip report thread on this board ("a crash of rhinos").

Now, if you combine 3 nights at AOF, with a lodge in the mountains, then you've got quite an unbeatable itinerary imho. Byde River Canyon Lodge ("BRCL") comes to mind. R620 pppn; not bad. And the location is fantastic as well; one of the good places that is still near to Hoedspruit airport. I think you could do without a rental car and save some money that way; AOF comes and gets you from the airport. Perhaps BRCL does the same. And all typical trips are available from the lodge, so no need for a car for those either.

If I may offer one last tip; book with a local agent; they are cheaper than agents in EU or US. AOF is owned by Sun Destinations, a branch of Sun Safaris. So if you go for AOF, the cheapest local TA will be Sun Safaris for sure. Which is why I always use them now: the first year I thought I was smart by booking it all directly - big mistake! - but I learned

Ciao,

J.
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Jun 25th, 2012, 08:45 AM
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In the Balule reserve, consider Mohlabetsi reserve. I stayed there in October and combined that with Shindzela in Timbavati Reserve. We had some good sightings in Mohlabetsi. They've just upgraded their facilities, too.
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Jun 26th, 2012, 01:53 AM
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Thank you for all your valuable input! Can't tell you enough how helpful it's been.

J, read your 'A Crash of Rhinos' report. Very well-written and comprehensive. Your lodge-by-lodge review was immensely informative.

I've contacted Umkumbe, AOF, nThambo, Mohlabetsi for their availability as well as rates. Sadly, AOF is fully booked.

I realize now that we got to this a bit late, but fingers crossed, we'll be able to find accommodation soon.

As for our CT itinerary, I contacted Selwyn & Wayne Milne for day tour packages as well guidance on the route for smooth transition for all the places we want to go.

Based on your suggestions as well as further research, I've come up w the following places/attractions in CT that seem interesting:
· Table Mountain
· Garden Route
· Peninsula Tour
· Cape of Good Hope
· Stellenbosch
· Franschhoek
· Gansbaai (shark diving)
· Hermanus (whale watching)
· Boulders Beach

Do let me know if I'm missing any attraction of note.

Many thanks!
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Jun 27th, 2012, 06:23 PM
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I think you maybe a little confused, the Garden Route is not near Cape Town, it's approx 400 km away.

Chapman's Peak Drive is a must. You should see whales along the False Bay coastline from Muizenberg to Cape Point, but the best spots are Fish Hoek (at the Clovelly end of this town) and at Glencairn just before Simon's Town especially when the tide is in you can get really close. Kirstenbosch Gardens is popular. There are some lovely small towns Camps Bay is very popular, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, Simon's Town. In the city centre is a very good tourist information centre. Green Market Square is popular.

If you go to Hermanus take the R44 route, it's a stunning drive & there is another lesser known penguin colony called Stony Point at Betty's Bay.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 12:10 AM
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Hello Braaisseason, Thanks. I realized that Garden Route is not as near to CT as I thought it would be. We have decided against the above option as it may eat up quite a bit of time.

We'll be staying 2 nights in the Hermanus Area so we don't have to go back and forth to CT to get to Kleinbaai for cage diving the next day.

Is it worth going on one of the 'Hop On, Hop Off Red City Tour Buses'?

Thanks!
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Jul 1st, 2012, 06:10 AM
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What about something like Simbavati River Lodge in the Timbavati? It has the benefit of a private concession and isn't hitting the high end of the cost realm that something in the Sabi Sand might do. Just a thought.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 06:31 PM
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Thanks for your advice, andybiggs.

We are booked at nThambo Tree Camp at the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve.
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Jul 2nd, 2012, 04:33 PM
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"Is it worth going on one of the 'Hop On, Hop Off Red City Tour Buses'?"

Sorry I don't know I never used it but I've not read any bad reviews on forums about it.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 07:52 PM
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Thank you, Braaiseason. We have decided to take the HOHO Tour as well since we have quite a few days there.

Does anyone know of a car rental company to get from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit?

Lastly, we have booked a night or so at Protea Fire & Ice in Joburg. Any reviews or comments on it?

I'm doing a happy dance since the trip is taking shape and seeming to be an adventure-filled one. Yay!
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Jul 6th, 2012, 07:02 PM
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I can recommend Aroundabout Cars or Thrifty, local SA firms.
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Jul 6th, 2012, 08:15 PM
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"...car rental company to get from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit..."
I know Avis has office in JNB and HDS. And think Budget does now also.

Rental cars are much more expensive in SA than USA. It will take most of the day to drive to HDS, so guess you will have car for the day, guessing about $150. You have a "day" travel time to do this? Look up Avis on internet for SA, they have site and we have used site for reservations.

SAA also flies JNB to HDS twice daily, think I paid $125 last May (one person, myself). Flights leave JNB in morning, one hour flight. Again, internet is your friend.

August is sooooo close, you'll have a great time!!!

regards - tom
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Jul 6th, 2012, 09:54 PM
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Ashton's run a daily shuttle JNB-HDS, more information here, http://www.ashtonstours.com/cAt--ash...ruger_shuttles

This may be less complicated than car hire, depends if you are OK with the shared journey.

Have a great time in RSA,


Pol
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Jul 7th, 2012, 12:38 AM
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Thank you, Brai, Tom & Pol.

We might opt to take the Lodge's transfer as the rate is quite similar to what I saw online. Tom, you are right -- the internet and fodors has been a great friend.

I'm posting the itinerary for our SA trip. Kindly let me know if it needs improvement or any comments/feedback. Also, appreciate if anyone can advise me as to which days/attractions we should book a tour and which we can do on our own.

Day 1 & Day 2 - City Tour via HOHO bus; V&A Waterfront; Aquarium; Ferry (on our own)
Day 3 - Cape Peninsula Tour (guided)
Day 4 & 5 - Cape Winelands Tour - Stellenbosch, Franschhoek (guided)
Day 6 & 7 - Hermanus & Gansbaai for whale-watching & cage diving
Day 8 - EMPTY (suggestions pls)
Day 9 - Depart CT for Joburg
Day 10 - Drive from Joburg to nThambo at the Klaserie Private Game Reserve
Day 10 to 13 - Safari at nThambo
Day 13 - Drive to Joburg
Day 14 - Depart Joburg for Maldives

I've contacted two tour companies for cage diving: African Shark Eco Tours (ASEC) & Great White Shark Tours. Less inclined to go with ASEC as they depart from Simons Town. I heard that the Gansbaai area is much better for shark sightings.

Lastly, can anyone recommend whale watching tour companies or can we decide when we are already there?

Any and all feedback is much appreciated and welcomed.

Thank you all so very much!
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Jul 9th, 2012, 01:18 AM
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Just to clarify if you are staying in CT & go to Gansbaai that is about a 2hour drive with a 6am pick up, Simon's Town is 50 mins drive from the city.

You should be able to see whales on the Cape Peninsula tour, Hermanus is overrated, the best spots are at Clovelly the other end of Fish Hoek, there is a walkway & you could get wet from a blow ! Also at Glencairn just before Simon's Town when the tide is in you are just feet away from them. I would suggest on this day you get the guide to take you up Boyes Drive for stunning views across False Bay, stop in Kalk Bay lovely small town, The Brass Bell pub, sit out the back & watch whales, sharks or seals.

Day 8 you could go up the west coast, see the spring flowers. But if you are going to be at Gansbaai then perhaps a trip to Cape Agulhas or even Witsand, I found this to be the best hidden jewel of the Western Cape it's about 3hrs from Cape Town you could either go back to CT or onto George for a flight to Jo'burg.
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