South Africa escorted tour - your comments please!

Mar 17th, 2014, 07:21 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,708
For a first timer, would it not be best to concentrate on CapeTown and environs, and the Kruger area (assuming that one has an interest in animals)

I don't think one needs an organized tour to do this..just a good local travel agent who can set up an itinerary based on one's budget and individual interests.
ekscrunchy is online now  
Mar 17th, 2014, 09:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 104
Thanks for your responses again. I've been in touch with the Irish company we had done some escorted tours with before and we may be able to get the last 2 seats on their coach. I will know tomorrow if they are still available. It's over €500 cheaper than the last one I posted. This is their itinerary:
Day 1:
Depart for Cape Town:

Depart from Dublin for Cape Town. You will be met by our local representative in the arrivals area of the airport before being transferred by coach to your hotel to begin your fantastic South African adventure!

Day 2:
Arrive in Cape Town:

After meeting your guide you will be transfered to Table Mountain lower cable car station. Enjoy the spectacular views on a cable car ride from Table Bay to False Bay. There will also be a short tour of the Cape of Good Hope en-route to your hotel.

Day 3:
Wine Tour:

After breakfast at the hotel, you will enjoy a wine country exploration tour taking in local vineyards where you can sample some of South Africas favourite wines. Lunch is included.

Day 4:
Cape Peninsula Tour:

Today you will be treated to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Following breakfast, you will be transferred by coach to Hout Bay and the Cape of Good Hope. Don't forget to bring your camera! Lunch is included.

Day 5:
Garden Route:

Depart for the famous Garden Route, traveling past Betty's Bay and stunning Pringle Bay.

Day 6:
Garden Route & Route 62:

Travel along Route 62 to the small town of Montagu, including a short stop at the small town of Swellendam en-route.

Day 7:
Garden Route & Route 62:

Continue along beautiful Route 62, via the Outeniqua Mountain Pass to the coastal town of Knysna which lies on the Knysna lagoon, the mouth of which is guarded by two promontories known as The Heads.

Day 8:
Featherbed Nature Reserve:

Today you will visit the Featherbed Nature Reserve with a ferry transfer and lunch included. The reserve lies on the unspoilt Western head of Knysna.

Day 9:
Garden Rote to Port Elizabeth:

Travel to Tsitsikamma, where you will experience the dramatic coastal areas of the Garden Route where forest meets ocean. Visit the Tsitsikama National Park, comprising a glorious 10km stretch of wild and rocky coastline characterised by massive cliffs, narrow isolated beaches and shady indigenous forest along the river valleys.

Day 10:
Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg:

Transfer to Port Elizabeth for flight to Johannesburg. You will be met by your local on arrival in Johannesburg. Travel to Soweto for a traditional lunch at a local tavern, followed by a scenic drive including sights such as the house of Nelson Mandela.

Day 11:
Bourkes Luck Potholes:

Depart Eastward to Mpumalanga, also known as the Province of the Sun. Visit the Bourke’s Luck Potholes and spectacular waterfalls en-route.

Day 12:
Kruger National Park:

The Kruger National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the world and the oldest one in Africa. It is 350 km long from North to South, 60 km in width and covers a surface of 1 948 528 hectares. The park is a diverse ecosystem home to 147 mammal species and 507 bird species. The park is also home to the Big Five game animals. Today involves early morning and afternoon game viewing excursions using open top four wheel drive vehicles.

Day 13:
Kruger National Park:

There will be another early morning game viewing excursion today. You will have the afternoon free so you will have time to pick up some souvenirs for those back at home.

Day 14:
Return home:

It's time to say goodbye to beautiful South Africa. You will be transfered to Johannesburg airport for your flight back to Dublin.

Again I'd appreciate your comments. As I say we have travelled with this company before and found them to be excellent and I've looked at reviews from other clients who have taken this same trip and they were all very positive.

Thanks again!
martina is offline  
Mar 17th, 2014, 11:00 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,708
Martina, it sounds like you have already decided to go with this company. The very positive reviews are certainly reassuring.

This is not a trip I would recommend for a first, or second timer. Keeping in mind that I've taken only two trips to southern Africa, and am now planning a third, and have perhaps a slightly higher budget than your own, here are a few thoughts:

I would much prefer to concentrate on 2 general areas: The Western Cape, including CapeTown and the Winelands, and a destination nearest the Kruger area, selecting accommodation that fits your budget (many thread on this here).. I know this makes more work for you than just signing up for an already-arranged tour, but that is what I would do, no question.

Your new itinerary is still a bus tour, giving you cursory views of many different areas. I would prefer in-depth views of just a couple of areas.. but then, this is usually my own travel style. Rather than take a trip covering Italy in 15 days, I would take one of the same time frame featuring only Venice and the northern Lakes. I have taken many, many trips, and also advised many people on how to schedule vacations, and these are the guidelines I always return to.

You have 14 days with only 2 of these allotted for Kruger, which ranks up there as one of my own highlights in a life time of travels. Why not spend 5 days in and around CapeTown and 5 in and around Kruger/Sabi Sands?

You DO NOT NEED a fully planned bus tour...there is a plethora of local agents specializing in SA who can help you plan a more personalized trip for a similar price than your bus tour....why not contact a few of them and get some ideas..then make your decision.

What I say here is based on my opinion as a paying traveler who has taken but two visits (so far!) to SA, both of which I have paid for. Both were planned by an agent from CapeTown who came highly recommended to me. I believe the price was not much higher than I would have paid on a bus tour such as you describe, given the differences in lodgings and experiences, and I got so much personal information and hand-holding!! T

here are so many great-sounding agents that often post on this forum.....why not get a few options before you make your final decision..give them a budget and see what they can plan for you!!

Here is my latest report, the second of two on my trips to the country. It might be higher in price than you are looking for, but it can give you an idea of how geared to your own interests such a trip can be..for those of all budgets...

I will add that I am now planning my third trip to Southern Africa, which will includes a return to Botswana, in 2016, inshallah!!
ekscrunchy is online now  
Mar 18th, 2014, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,085
I was dreading being critical of a third itinerary, so I am grateful that ekscrunchy has jumped in for me. I agree with her entirely - this (again) is not a first-time-to-SA itinerary. Too much driving (in a bus!), too much time spent at places I would visit on a second or even third visit to South Africa (likely because it is cheaper to take you to those places rather than include a longer safari) and not enough time on safari. Have a look at the link that eskcrunchy has provided - her trip will give you a better understanding of what I have been suggesting all along - a Cape Town/safari combination. CR
canadian_robin is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 05:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,664
Each to his own, but this is just so much time driving around on the bus - some of these daily distances are enormous. I can't imagine going all the way to Kruger and then spending only 1 or 2 days there. We've been twice and are going back later this year. We always allocate at least 5 days and still leave wanting more - the park alone is the size of a small European country.
Gordon_R is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 11:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 104
Hi, sorry I haven't replied in last few days. It's just a very busy time for me at the moment. Well, I haven't booked anything yet. I've taken your thoughts into account and I really appreciate you all taking time to give me your advice. It looks like I have another few days before I have to make a decision on the travel department trip so I might get a chance to do a bit more homework over the weekend. Thanks again!
martina is offline  
Mar 26th, 2014, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 184
Why do you want an escorted tour & do you drive ?
braaiseason is offline  

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