South Africa - Honeymoon

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Feb 14th, 2005, 12:11 PM
  #1
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South Africa - Honeymoon

I need help with planning, or at least a kick in the right direction!

Background: My fiancé and I are stuck planning our wedding. While we know it will be fabulous, it is seriously time-consuming! And let's be honest, we would rather be focusing all our attention on dreaming up our honeymoon. Sadly, we could not even decide where to go: Alaska, Mexico, Australia, or Africa or how many miles it would take us to get there. So I rang United to see what our options were and ended up "buying" 2 business class tickets from SFO-JNB with our all of our miles. [Our Frankfurt to JNB is Economy b/c they ran out of seats in B class. Boo, but 3 out of 4 legs isn’t shabby. Frankfurt to CPT was completely booked.]

Our dates are as follows:
Oct 12 08:50 AM arrival JNB
Oct 25 07:20 PM depart JNB

These dates will be more than 1 month after our wedding, so we will be well rested.

We are a 28 year old couple that is a complicated/glorious blend of 1) no-frills: we camped for 2 months during our Canada drive and backpacked through Europe, and 2) luxury: we love those deluxe hotels. We love them both on their own, but our preference is to have a healthy mix of them.

We don’t have any “must-sees” on our list because we are just so friggin’ happy that we are going to Africa; neither of us has been before. We would like a trip that features a bit of safari, bit of CPT, but more importantly is something truly authentic that we won’t be able to experience anywhere else. We don’t anticipate being able to afford to go back to Africa anytime soon.

Usually, I would plan this trip out in detail all by myself and would love it, but I will not have the time. I have checked out some itineraries on websites suggested here: ccafrica, AK, go2africa, wildsafaris, but I have no idea which one is good.

Here comes my question: Have you found an itinerary that might be to our liking? Or more importantly, since I think you guys are a whole lot smarter, reliable and trustworthy than any agent, what would you recommend we see on our trip? Cape Town? Victoria Falls? Botswana? How would you break it up? What is a reasonable budget? $4000 per person? Too much? Too little?

Any direction is appreciated. Thanks for playing!

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Feb 14th, 2005, 11:27 PM
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Congratulations on getting award tickets out of United! (And on your wedding of course.)

First thing to keep in mind-- the weather. By October it will be getting HOT, possibly very very VERY hot in Botswana, Zim, Zambia and Namibia. If you are hoping for pleasant temperatures during your honeymoon, that leaves South AFrica, where the weather is typically glorious (it's spring) in October. So check out SA first, and see what activities are to your liking...
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Feb 15th, 2005, 09:10 AM
  #3
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Thanks for the weather tip, Tashak!
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Feb 16th, 2005, 09:56 AM
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My husband is from Capetown and he planned a wonderful honeymoon for us in SA a few years ago. We also flew to Jo'burg and then took a hopper flight to Kruger Nat'l Park. Rather than staying in one of the very pricey private gameparks, we stayed at the Protea Hotel Kruger Gate, just outside the park. It was simple and charming. You can drive yourself into the park, or you can sign up for a safari tour--we did both. If you're the adventurous type, you may also want to look into staying in the cabins (rest camps) in the park. Apparently they are very inexpensive and you'll get to see the most wildlife because you're right in the park. We saw some of them and they look like they are well-kept, though totally basic.

From there, we flew back to Jo'burg and caught a connecting flight to Port Elizabeth (it's cheap to fly within the country). Then we spent about a week driving the Garden Route along the coast to Capetown. It's absolutely beautiful and you can take sidetrips to the Cango Caves and other fun spots. The Arniston Hotel in Arniston is lovely. We spent our last 5 or 6 days in Capetown and the winelands and then flew back to Jo'burg to catch our flight home.
It's an amazing country, I'm sure you will enjoy it.
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Feb 16th, 2005, 12:55 PM
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Vcho22, Ms_T's itinerary sounds nice, but if my math is right, she had something approaching 3 weeks in South Africa, whereas you'll have 2 weeks.

You could do a compressed version of Ms_T's itinerary by doing 1 week in the Kruger National Park and 1 week in the SW Cape (Cape Town and the winelands).

If you must sacrifice something, I would give up the Garden Route (between Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay) if I were you.

You might be able to squeeze in the Garden Route if you did a shorter safari and then flew from the Mpumalanga game reserves to George instead of PE.

You could consider something like this:

Oct 12 - Arrive JNB. Transfer straight to a flight to the Mpumalanga game reserves.

Oct 13 - Safari

Oct 14 - Safari

Oct 15 - Fly to George. Drive to Knysna, and use it as a base.

Oct 16 - Drive the Swartberg Pass.

Oct 17 - Visit the Tsitsikama Forest and Storms River Bridge.

Oct 18 - Other Knysna stuff.

Oct 19 - Drive to Hermanus (long day).

Oct 20 - Relax in Hermanus.

Oct 21 - Drive to Cape Town.

Oct 22 - Day trip to winelands.

Oct 23 - Day trip to Cape Point.

Oct 24 - Robben Island, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, and downtown Cape Town.

Oct 25 - Spend morning seeing last minute things in Cape Town. Fly to JNB in the afternoon. Catch flight home in the evening.

Look at Gard and Nikki Karlsen's safari trip report for inspiration:

http://gardkarlsen.com/djuma_vuyatela_safari.htm
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Feb 16th, 2005, 01:16 PM
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Postscript. For internal flights in South Africa, have a look at Kulula ( www.kulula.com ).
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Feb 16th, 2005, 02:51 PM
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Ms_T: Thank you so much for your reply; your description and recommendations sounds wonderful. I am certain South Africa will blow our socks off!

Judy_in_Calgary: Thank you as well for your lovely and detailed reply. You are generous to have taken the time to outline our days for us! I was excited just reading it!
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Feb 18th, 2005, 12:58 AM
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Hi

My wife and I went on a wonderful safari in South Africa in December 2004. We have also been to Cape Town several times and it is a beautiful city. I have posted trip reports and pictures from our trips on my homepage http://gardkarlsen.com. Maybe you can find some useful information there

Regards
Gard
Stavanger, Norway
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Feb 24th, 2005, 09:01 AM
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After initially feeling overwhelmed, I have gotten into the swing of things and am now looking for safari accommodation for the beg. of our trip, and I was wondering if you could take a gander at two quotes I received.

Initially I had asked for a quote at Hamiliton’s Tent because I had read some good reviews, and staying in tents appealed to us.

Quote for the second week of October from Siyabona.com
3 night Hamilton's Fly in Package: R 10 860 per person
The above rates include:
Three nights accommodation
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
Choice of two game viewing activities per day (game drives/bush walks)
Teas and coffees
Return flights / road transfers between Johannesburg and Hamilton's
Kruger Park entrance fees

This rate seemed fair and I was excited, but then I was silly enough to ask the travel agent (who is super nice) if she thought Hamilton was a good option for honeymooners that were looking for nice, authentic lodging with excellent game viewing without the Singita price tag. And below is her response.

Hamilton's is a good option.although the game viewing is not really very
good in that area. Which is why I am going to suggest another tented lodge
in the Kruger Park close to Crocodile Bridge - they have the excellent rates
and also being in a prime game viewing area, you really cannot get better
value for money on a first time visit..it is also a very romantic camp,
private and quite luxurious, so ideal for honeymooners !

Quote for the second week of October from Siyabona.com
3 night Camp Shonga Package: R 6850 per person
Rate includes:
Three nights accommodation
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
Morning and afternoon/evening game drives
Optional bush walks
Teas and coffees
Kruger Park entrance fees
Return flights between Johannesburg and Kruger Park
Return road transfers between Kruger Park airport and Camp Shonga
As you can see everything is included, so you would only have to pay for
your beverages.

So my question is if anyone has stayed or heard of any of these camps? (I had not heard of Shonga) I am also curious why you think there is the R 4,000 price difference. Camp Shonga seems to lack Hamiliton’s “polish”, but is that it? Or am I missing something? Do you think the viewing is superior? Thank you so much for playing! - Vanessa
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Feb 24th, 2005, 09:39 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Just got back on Tuesday from SA and would have to make some strong suggestions. Definitely visit the winelands - they are fantastic. The rec here in many threads is right on for Plumwood Inni n Franschhoek. My wife and I are big wine fans, but not very knowledgeable and huge food fans - this place is like heaven for both - the town and surrounding that is. As for the Inn they just renovated the rooms in the back house and we were the 2nd couple to stay there - ironically the other couple was from NY as well. rooms were awesome and very nicely done and quite private. the atmosphere is superb and friendly - a truley great spot and won't break the bank. 2 days was perfect in Franshhoek and more would have been nice as the dining is excellent! I think the winelands, its towns, dining, vineyards and the people associated with each give a great representation of that lifestyle which is given more color as you drive from place to place seeing the communities within.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 01:06 PM
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beachbums -
Thank you so much for the wonderful description of Franshhoek. We promise not to miss it when we go!
- vanessa
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