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South Africa and Botswana Itinerary, Zambezi Queen or Victoria Falls


May 23rd, 2014, 09:31 AM
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South Africa and Botswana Itinerary, Zambezi Queen or Victoria Falls

We (an adventurous, well traveled couple in our early 60s) are planning what is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South Africa and Botswana in May 2015. The agent we have been working with (in South Africa) has sketched out the following itinerary:

3 nights in Sabi Sands area (agent recommends Dulini, Savanna, or Sabi Sabi Selati)
1 night in Johannesburg (to avoid long day of transit and allow for relaxed last morning in Sabi Sands)
3 nights San Camp (Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana)
3 nights Xaranna (Okavango Delta, Botswana)
2 nights at either Victoria Falls River Lodge or aboard the Zambezi River Queen
3 nights Cape Town
2 nights Franschhoek (Winelands)

We will probably arrive in Johannesburg a day or two before heading to Sabi Sands to recover from jet lag and we feel good about the itinerary through the proposed stay at Xaranna. From there we are debating between adding a fourth camp in Botswana, cruising the Chobe River aboard the Zambezi River Queen or staying at Victoria Falls for a few nights. A friend recommended the river cruise to us. Our agent says that her druthers would be to visit the Victoria Falls area as the river cruise can be a bit confining and, perhaps, a bit snoozy, while a fourth camp might be pushing it a bit too much given the early mornings and full days of activities. We are also wondering whether we should extend our stay in the Cape Town area. Usually when we travel to bigger cities, we like to rent a small apartment and stay for at least a week. (Perhaps we could explore the wine country from a base camp in Cape Town). We’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. We’re completely open to any and all ideas. Thanks so much for your help.
brashalena is offline  
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May 23rd, 2014, 11:53 AM
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I will touch only on the Western Cape portion of the plan, with one comment on the Falls area.

You can certainly visit the Winelands from Capetown; I have done this only with a driver, as I did last October, and know nothing about public transport to the area, though. I spent three nights in Franschhoek on my first trip to SA, but I also had 7 nights in Cape Town.

With your shorter time frame, I would devote only one night to the Winelands, or even visit on a day trip. You absolutely should try to spend more time in CapeTown.

This is the report from my most recent trip to SA:


Here is the report from my first trip; but I never did complete the Botswana section. We stayed in two camps there:


For Vic Falls, I would probably choose the lodge rather than the boat; the lodge will likely offer river trips and you will be less confined.
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May 24th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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Is that the order of your trip? Arrive in SA then go to Botswana/Vic Falls then back to Cape Town?

Am I right the Zambezi Queen is the departure from near Kasane? The camps in Botswana might give you a similar river based experience (although my friend just spent two nights on it and loved it).
Elizabeth_S is offline  
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May 24th, 2014, 04:01 PM
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Thanks so much for your replies!

Ekscrunchy, your trip reports are absolutely AWESOME! We will definitely lengthen our stay in Cape Town. You've given us a host of ideas and even helped us figure out where to dine and what to pack.

Elizabeth, the answer to your question regarding the order of our trip is "yes." This is the itinerary being suggested by our agent. Does it seem OK to you? We're still debating between the Zambezi Queen and Victoria Falls River Lodge. Glad to hear that your friend loved the river cruise (ours did too) which does, indeed, depart near Kasane. I think we are leaning toward the Victoria Falls stay. Like you, we suspect that we can get a similar river experience at a Botswana camp and the VF River Lodge includes either an early morning or sundowner river cruise as part of its package.

Thanks again for helping us out.
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May 24th, 2014, 09:28 PM
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Will answer more tomorrow but if you're interested in an apartment in Cape Town my friend stayed in this one and loved it - what a view!

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May 24th, 2014, 10:05 PM
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Hi there,

I was in these areas Jan. Feb. you can find my trip report by clicking on my name. Also I did a review of Zambezi Queen in TA under Christo60.
You are in an enviable position of choices !
Let me say that we really enjoyed the ZQ and it combines well with Vic Falls, we did both. The ZQ does round out a safari experience nicely with a different perspective but having said that I think the experiences in good Botswana camps, Sabi Sands and Vic Falls are superior.

We had 3 days in Capetown and regret that we did not spend more time and I agree that the winelands is great as a day trip. Apartments are a good bet in Capetown - that's what I will do next time. I prefer Tamboerskloof neighbourhood.

I am not familiar with your camps in Botswana or Vic Falls but from a previous trip I loved our 2 nights at the River Club near the falls then 2 each at Duma Tau, Mombo and Jao. I think 2 nights per area is ideal and that you should visit the different ecological zones in the area. When staying at Vic Falls you have ample opportunity to sample river cruises similar to the ZQ. Same for many camps in Chobe and as a matter of fact 1 outing from ZQ is into Chobe.

In Sabi Sands we had a great experience at Elephant Plains,
( see my reviews also) and found 2 nights to be ideal. It compares favorably with Sabi Sabi and Singita where I have also stayed but at a much lower cost. May I suggest a road trip along the Panorama Route between Joberg and Sabi as a way to further round out the SA experience - it's a beautiful drive. Should you want to substitute a night from Sabi why not go to a nearby town like Nelspruit - here a highly recommend Utopia B&B.

Hope this helps and Bon Voyage
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