South Africa Escorted Tours

Old Dec 31st, 2009, 07:55 AM
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South Africa Escorted Tours

At the risk of asking things that have already been asked... Have read differing opinions on various tour companies. Would like to get some feedback on positive experiences, on two week long tours, that include Capetown, Joburg, Victoria Falls, Swaziland, Kruger, and other safari locales. Have looked at Smartours, but that appears not to have a stay in kruger, but on the outskirts. Not sure about my facts, as I have just begun this. Any suggestions/advice are gratefully accpeted. Thanks.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 08:35 AM
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shelleyk has started a wonderful trip report about her Smartours experience in SA.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Hello annieskes,

I think you might be a little ambitious in wanting to get all of that into a 2-week trip. Not that it's not do-able, but you'll spend a lot of time travelling and not a lot of time doing.

Cape to Vic Falls would normally take between 2 and 3 weeks (depending on routing), and Cape to Johannesburg (via Swaziland and Kruger) would normally take 3 weeks or so, to get some real value out of it. These are estimates for road travel (you can sometimes shave a bit by flying, but not always that much. Local airflights are expensive though).

The thread mentioned above is an exceptionally worthwhile one to read. It covers just about everything in vivid detail, and you really get to experience it as it is. However, to tack a trip to Vic Falls on to that would not, IMO, be worthwhile.

Smartours seems to be a good option, and I've seen good reports about OAT travel (Overseas Adventure Travel -, as well as Outdoor Travel Adventures ( I personally like Bundu Intrepid, and GAP Adventures runs some good product (to mention but a few).

There are a myriad of local operators in South Africa, and you could get some good value from them. You can try companies like Drifters, Jenman, African Eagle, Nomad, Truly Africa, Sunway, etc. Once again, a huge range ... (and I'd suggest asking for specific feedback on the forums before you settle on a specific operator - some are good, some are less consistent).

If you give a little more information about your style of travel and time frames, we could give more focussed help.

Remember that in general you'll get what you pay for, and it's usually best to stick in the mid-range price brackets for comparable tours. Too high, and you may end paying more than you should. Too low, and you may not get what you're expecting.

Just some suggestions. Whichever way, you should have a great trip! Enjoy!
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 12:29 PM
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I considered a Tauck tour a while back. They changed their S Africa tour for 2010 and it looks almost perfect now. It is a bit on the pricey side, but according to my mother, they do an excellent job and a lot of the extras not included in other tours are included. They also don't travel every day so you have some down time.

That is an ambitious itinerary -it's a long flight, but I'd take two weeks in South Africa rather than not go at all. If you have your heart set on Vic Falls (amazing) you could spend some time in Botswana, but it's very expensive, or go less traditional and go to a safari lodge in Zambia or Zimbabwe.

We had the same thought as you - first time in S Africa - definitely need a tour. So glad we chose to do a tailor made private tour. I don't think it was more expensive than a group tour and we were able to have a little more flexibility. We had drivers everywhere (we weren't comfortable driving on the left side of the road) and it went very smoothly (twice on two very different itineraries)

I am actually right now watching the video feed from Pete's pond in Mashatu. So beautiful and a great almost affordable safari location. A whole herd of ellies right now as we speak. Love that sound.
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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 07:21 AM
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I know some people who do only Tauk tours all over the world. The conclusion of "pricey, but excellent with extras" is what this 60-ish couple have come up with.

One thing I think you should decide up front Annie, is if you want primarily a safari experience (to which I am biased) or if a day or so of African animals would suffice.

What would you think of this strategy? Find a group trip that you like and then ask a local S. African agent/guide what it would cost to arrange it for just you +/- so it is completely customized.

Local agent guides that come to mind are Selwyn of I love Cape Town and Wayne (who I went with and had a super time) of Take 2 Tours. There are others that could be found with a search. Or would this cost lots more?
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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 07:32 AM
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Private guides Cape Town vicinity
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