South Africa itin - comments please!

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Apr 19th, 2005, 05:41 AM
  #1
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South Africa itin - comments please!

Hi

I have just used my air miles for a first class flight Lon-Johannesburg in November! Now the hard part is how to decide what to fit in for the 21 days...

We have 4 key things to fit in:
1. Safari in Madikwe (3 nights)
2. Cape Town (4-5 nights)
3. Garden Route (6-7 nights)
4. Victoria Falls (2 nights)

I know this means a lot of flying around, which is why I would welcome any advice on the best way to do this, bearing in mind we fly in and out of JNB.

My first thought is to do it as:
1. Arrive JNB and drive up to Madikwe, as it has been suggested this is an easy route and worth it for the views/wildlife, then spend 3 nights there in Etali Lodge (booked but dates flexible)
2. Drive back to JNB and fly down to either Cape Town OR Port Elizabeth for the Garden Route. Is it better to do CPT-PE or PE-CPT? Do hire car companies charge extra for dropping off at a different location or are they used to this. What can I expect to pay for 1 week's car hire? Like the idea of PE-CPT as then can spend a few relaxing days in CPT before flying back up to JNB, plus you are saving the egg yolk until last, as my wife would put it! What are JNB-PE flights like? Kulula seems to be the best bargain I've found. Also what are the must stop-offs along the way if we have 1 week? Hermanus for the whales, Knysna and Franschoek or Stellenbosch are on my list, any others and quaint, scenic places to stay?
4. Spend 5 nights in Cape Town somewhere near Camps Bay or if can get a good deal, at the 12 Apostles. Any recommendations (it's our belated honeymoon but still would like to get something that I don't have to remortgage for!)?
5. Fly back to Livingstone or Vic Falls via JNB (no direct flights that I could find). Stay 2 nights there - someone recommeded the Royal Livingstone - any previous guests around with opinions? We really only want to see the Falls, not the adrenaline stuff, but if anyone can recommend other scenic, relaxing activities, we could extend our stay (and shorten the other parts of the trip). What will the falls be like in Early Dec? Presume we will need to take malaria tablets...
6. Depending on flights back from Vic Falls to JNB, we may have 1 extra overnight stay in JNB - any recommendations on where to stay and what to do, bearing in mind by then we will probably just want to relax! Maybe shopping or a trip out to Soweto? What are the safe areas to stay in?

Apart from Etali, I have not booked any other flights or accommodation yet so am waiting to hear what you all have to say.
Thanks and am looking forward to the wisdom from the members of this site!
John
JSCChan is offline  
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Apr 19th, 2005, 10:20 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Hi John -

I believe others will have much more extensive feedback, but these are my comments:

1. In regards to Car Hire. Do a search on this board for a thread titled CPT/Garden Rte Car Rental. There is some discussion there about costs and companies to check. (Avis, Budget, Hertz, Tempest, etc.) Also look at www.europcar.co.za. You can go to their websites and price options from their sites.

2. There have been several posts about the Garden Route.... You might try searching on "Garden Route" here to find more information. Also, try this thread http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34537443. Judy has included a possible route with links to threads of Selwyn's and Kavey's.

3. Try watching Luxurylink.com for the Twelve Apostles. The packages they currently have for the Twelve Apostles are only good through Sept this year. I saw on another post that you're also interested in the Mount Nelson or Cape Grace. You're looking at the high season, so depending on what you consider a good deal, it could be difficult to find at those properties.

4. For JNB, try Sandton, Rosebank or Melville. There are a ton of hotels in that area. You might have a look at the Westcliffe, Michelangelo, The Grace in Rosebank. There are certainly other, less expensive options as well. As to what to do for a day, there have been other threads about a day in JNB - you might search for them... Soweto, Cradle of Humankind, or if you just want to relax, then shopping or spas.

Good luck.
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Apr 19th, 2005, 11:20 AM
  #3
 
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Look at kensington Place as a CPT hotel. Very small in beautiful settings with great service.
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Apr 20th, 2005, 12:47 AM
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Hi there

Reading through your itinerary I would suggest that you do it in the following order:
Arrive Johanensburg and travel up to Madikwe, it will take you about 4 hours and there are reputible transfer companies or a daily charter into Madikwe. Etali is a wonderful lodge and you cannot go wrong there. Next I would come back to Johannesburg, you would have to drive and fly to Victoria Falls and do two nights in Victoria Falls. The accommodation varies depending on what you are looking for and what type of feel you like, but River Club is awesome as is Tongabezi, but for classical and experiance The Victoria Falls Hotel is a once in a lifetime colonial experiance.


I would then fly back to Johanensburg and then connect to Cape Town or Port Elizabeth. The direction is not important, but what you may want to keep in mind is that if you come in late from Victoria Falls, accommodation in Cape Town is easier to get to. HOwever if you connect to Port Elizabeth I would really suggest that you spend a night at The Windermere in Port Elizabeth and then carry on the next day.

Every single car hire company is going to charge you a one way drop off fee weather you collect the car in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth.

lets say you start in Port Elizabeth, the next day you can set off for the Garden Route and travel along the garden route to Plettenebrg Bay or Knysna. If you stop in Plettenberg Bay (great beach) there is a gorgeous little guest house called Periwinkle Lodge that should not kill the budget, and then if you travel a little further Wilderness Manor is idyllic and also great on the budget.

I would do at least 5 days on the Garden Route it is a very speacial place. From here you can continue to Hermanus and here Auberge Burgundy is a wonderful little guest house, 2 nights here is great.

1 or 2 nights in Franschoek at Akademie Street Guest House or Residence Klein Oliphants Hoek is plenty and then into Cape Town.

For Cape Town there is a huge selection and depending on where you want to be based I could make some suggestions, so if you are stuck let me know and I will be happy to make some suggestions!!


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Apr 20th, 2005, 11:41 AM
  #5
 
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This is pure preference, but I would end the trip with the safari and add a day or two to it. I recently traveled through SA (including Cape Town, the Garden Route, Drakensberg, Joburg and Madikwe) and I thought the "yoke" (assuming that it a good thing!) was the safari. I loved all the places, but the safari was really something special. If you'd like, check out my trip report. If you search under "Madikwe" it should come up within the first ten or so results.
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Apr 20th, 2005, 02:57 PM
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Thanks to all, esp. Debbie and mtea for their detailed advice! I too think the safari will be great so do you think it is worth combining the Vic Falls trip with a stay at a lodge like Matetsi so that we get an extra 2 days safari at the end of teh trip? We are flying into Victoria Falls rather than Livingstone so need to be somewhere on Zim side. Or doesn't it matter where you fly into?

Debbie, if we arrive in PE at 4.30pm but don't want to stay the night there, where is within reasonable distance we can stay that is romantic, scenic and atmospheric? Bearing in mind I will have already driven 4 hours in morning from Madikwe to JNB, then 1.5 hours flight to PE, don't want to have to go too far!
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Apr 21st, 2005, 01:09 PM
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JSCChan,

Firstly I do believe that direction of travel between PE and Cape Town DOES make a difference and in this regard I would suggest that you fly in to PE and travel on to Cape Town and NOT travel to Cape Town and then on to the Garden Route. My reason for suggesting this route is that one should always do the Garden Route ahead of Cape Town as the journey is a crescendo of events where Cape Town is the climax. If you travel making Cape Town your first port of call
then the Garden Route falls slightly flat. I am not being arrogant when I
say this and please trust me on this issue. I know that most tour books will
tell you differently but what these writers write about is what they hear
and see all else do; what I tell you is what I have experienced over and
over and if you want me too I will send you tons of names of people to contact who will tell you that what I am suggesting to you is correct in
that they have experienced this already after originally wanting to go the
Cape Town - PE way. In a nutshell when travelling on the Garden Route there is an expereince to enjoy every 15 - 30 minutes whereas when you are travelling in Cape Town there is an expereince every 2 minutes. If you become used to these rapid fire experiences in Cape Town then the GR falls flat afterwards whereas if you travel via the slow motion expereinces of the Garden Route first then Cape Town, with its rapid fire event after event, becomes a highlight of your journey as your destination after the GR.

In terms of where to stay if you fly into PE at 16h30 I fear to say that there are not to many romantic places to want to stay in the city or region. PE does not really have much to offer and I agree wholeheartedly with Debbi1970 that Periwinkle in Plett is a great guesthouse but I would not call it romantic. My suggestion to you would be to skip PE completely and fly into George. Travel to Knysna immediately after landing and stay in a guesthouse in the area for 2 to 3 days. There are many to choose from and I normally suggest Overmeer (http://www.knysna.com/overmeer/) but there seems to be a new kid on the block in the form of Knysna Elephant Hide (http://www.elephanthide.co.za/elepha...uest_lodge.htm) which I have not visited but has had a rave review on Fodors alreday and from the website looks like a wonderful venue. (I hope to see this guesthouse in 15 days time when I tour on the Garden Route and will report back accordingly on this board) Thereafter I suggest that you use Knysna as a base to explore the region stretching down to the Stormsriver in the east and Oudtshoorn in the northwest. After a 3 day stay at Knysna you can travel to Cape Town in one or maybe two days. You can elect to travel to Cape Town by the N2 or otherwise the R62 which will lead you to the N1. You might want to stay over in certain areas like Swellendam however if you are looking for a really extraordinary accommodation experience then may I suggest you go look at http://www.seacottage.cjb.net/ You just cant beat this wonderful place and if you want to know where it is write to me and I will let you in on the secret.

As Debbi1970 so correctly says in Cape Town in terms of acommodation there is so much to choose from that this actually should be covered by a seperate thread on this webpage.

Hope the above helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Apr 21st, 2005, 03:30 PM
  #8
 
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JSCChan,

By booking at Etali, you may have cost yourself an opportunity for 1 free night had you booked instead at Madikwe Safari Lodge (CCAfrica). By staying 3 nights at Madikwe Safari Lodge and 2 nights at Matetsi, you would have qualified for the free night.

I am curious about why you chose Madikwe over the Sabi Sand or Phinda. Had you not been considering Matetsi, I would have thought that it was because you wanted a non-malaria area, but now I can only guess it is because you have already been to the Sabi Sand.

I think Madikwe would be fine to complement other wildlife areas, but I do think that it lacks the overall landscapes that you would enjoy elsewhere.

Hey, I live in a great new gated community with nice big new homes, but whenever I get in an established area with towering trees, I long to have mature trees. Same principal applies here. Somebody correct me if I am wrong but I would think that Madikwe, by and large, is without termite mounds, Baobab Trees, Sausage Trees and other flora that may be found in true safari areas. Remember, Madikwe was a cow pasture just 10-15 years ago.

I do think Matetsi would be a nice alternative to staying at any of the other Victoria Falls accomodations, but other than elephant, giraffe and buffalo, you shouldn't expect too many other interesting species to be spotted.
However, Matetsi does afford you the opportunity to go canoeing in the Zambezi River where you will surely come across hippos and interesting birding.

I have no opinion on Cape Town or the Garden Route. Others are better able to guide you with those destinations.
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