South Africa itinerary

Mar 12th, 2011, 05:58 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 16
South Africa itinerary

My wife and I are planning a trip to South Africa in the second half of April/early May, and - having done some preliminary research over recent days - would be very grateful for any assistance in helping us put together our itinerary. We've had some fantastic self-drive holidays in the past, and are attracted by the diversity which South Africa offers. My wife will be about 13 weeks pregnant when we travel, so we're also attracted by the idea of being able to do a safari (which would be our first) in a malarial free zone. We would have loved to go to the Kruger or Sabi Sabi but we just don't think it's worth taking the risk: we don't want to go anywhere where there is a malarial risk as my wife has been advised she can't use DEET or take anti malarial medication. We have up to three weeks in total though could go for less time to keep the costs down but don't want to be rushed, especially if my wife may be tired after the flight. In addition to Safari and the delights of Cape Town, we would really like to fit in some relaxing time, some walking, wildlife viewing and ideally some beach time although we're not sure if it will really be beach weather when we are planning to go? We had read that some of the Kwazulu Natal Indian ocean coast with a warmer climate and warmer sea, has malaria? I am a keen diver and my wife snorkels so if that would be possible to fit in too that would be a bonus! We know that booking all this at such short notice will be a challenge but want to fit it in before the baby comes along!

Ideally, we'd like to find time to visit: Cape Town; the wine region; the Garden Route; the Drakensberg Mountains and battlefields; and either one or two non-malarial safari reserve (possibly one near Garden Route/Eastern cape and then one near Johannesburg - we've been told Madikwe and Kwandwe are both good but welcome people's thoughts on this). So we'd wondered whether something like the following might work:
- Days 1-4 - Cape Town
- Days 5-6 - Wine region
- Days 7-10 - Drive the Garden route
- Days 11-13 Safari possibly Kwandwe
- Days 14 Fly from Port Elizabeth to Durban, drive to Drakensburg
- Days 15-16 Drakensburg and Battlefields
- Day 17-20 Fly from Durban to Jo'burg, drive to Madikwe, Safari at Madikwe
- Day 21 Ffly back to the UK from Johannesburg

We'd be really grateful for any thoughts on the itinerary as a whole, and also any suggestions on how to improve it. Have we got too much time for the Wine region and garden route and not enough on safari or later in the trip? We haven't quite worked out the logistics of the connections and haven't started thinking about accommodation so suggestions welcome!

Thanks to everyone in advance for their help!
Toby44 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2011, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 86
Hi Tobby44,

Your itinerary idea is spot on. As I was revewing your message, this is the exact itinerary I had in mind.

I suggested almost the same holiday to a family who traveled from the US with two young daughters. They did not want to go anywhere near the malaria zone and traveled last March during Easter school break:

3 nights at Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town (could be replaced by one of the hotels on V&A Waterfront, such as the Comodore, or for a more deluxe experience: Hotel Grace).
They rented a car and drove to the Winelands and spent 3 nights at La Petite Ferme in Franschoek with visits to different wine estates, as the gentlman is in wine importing business). For a much more deluxe experience, I would recommend Le Quartier Francais They continued on the Garden Route and stayed at Swartberg Country Manor in Oudtschoorn
One night at Laird's Lodge Country Estate in Knysna (I would absoltuely suggest two nights)
They drove to Port Elizabeth where they returned the car at the airport and where picked up by Kwandwe Staff and stayed at Kwandwe Ecca Lodge. They then flew to Johannesburg and finished their 14 day holiday.

Durban offers great beaches, so perhaps you can stay there for the water & beach fun. If so, Kwandwe staff will return you to Port Elizabeth Airport and you can fly to Durban. You can arrange for a 2,3 or 4 day tour of the Battlefields and the tour wil begin and end in Durban. From there you can fly to Johannesburg and drive for a few days at Madikwe.

There are some very upscale properties along the beaches that surround Cape Town, such as the very upscale, boutique Hotel Pod in Camps Bay or the famous Hotel 12 Apostles considered to be one of the "Best Places in the World to Stay" on Conde Nast Traveler Gold List 2011.

Possiblities are beautiful and endless......

Good luck planning your dream holiday!
mkulove is offline  
Mar 12th, 2011, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,286
You sure have done your homework! It looks like a very nice itinerary. Too bad you can't snorkel/dive in KwaZulu-Natal, but since you can't use bug spray, I would not take the chance in April (I might in August or Sept). High on my list on the Garden Route for next time is the Oceanettes at Storms River Mouth rest camp. They look outstanding, and inexpensive for the view! Addo Elephant park is an alternative or addition to Kwandwe. Mountain Zebra NP is nearby, too. I would shorten the Winelands to a day trip or 1 night - sounds like torture for a preggers, but I'm a safari girl and would prefer safari to wine. Plus it takes away beach time. There is so much to do in Capetown, plus the Cape of Good Hope.

For two days in Drakensburg, you are adding a lot to your costs with car drop off fees and the flight to Durban. If you don't have your heart set on it, I would swap it out for some time in the national parks you will be closer to like Addo and Mt Zebra. But again, I'm a safari girl, not a hiker. And I think the flight from Port Eliz connects thru JNB. Just looks like a lot of travel for two days.

Your driving distances could cause some missed game drives, so I would double check if you can arrive at the safari camps before the afternoon drive.

Although an odd place, with golf and a condo community, we are going to Entabeni, north of Johannesburg in June. It's a non-malarial area, too. We are going for the golf and horseback riding in the "wilds", but they have a large wildlife reserve and they are doing some lion work. They also have a ranger training program. I'm thinking it might be an interesting place to go and might be another option for you. Madikwe gets mixed reviews, but also a place I'd love to visit. Again, next time (too many next times with S Africa!).

Any of these work out for you, you might save a little on the accommodations if you are looking at the high end:

But your plan looks like a good one to me. A few long connections and distances, especially the Drakensburg and Madikwe part, but good.

Have fun planning! for your flights and google maps for your drives are very helpful. I am using them both A LOT for our self-drive in June. Congrats on the baby.
christabir is offline  
Mar 12th, 2011, 05:26 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,286
Out of curiosity I checked on snorkeling at Storms River Mouth. I found this, so I guess they do.

Of course I know nothing about it, it's just a google search, but at least it's a possibility.
christabir is offline  
Mar 13th, 2011, 12:22 PM
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Christabir and mkulove - thanks for your really helpful replies. I'm glad you think the itinerary is in the right ballpark! We have been thinking about what christabir said about the durban/drakensburg section of the trip. On balance, we think you are probably right and that it will add on quite a lot of extra travelling, especially since it doesn't sound like the drakensburg are particularly accessible. Given the beauty of the area is the wilderness, and the hiking, and given that we definitely don't want to do multi-day hikes (staying in caves or huts!) and my wife may not even feel up to doing strenuous full day hikes, we thought we would get more out of our trip if we missed out this section and either shortened the trip slightly or just took it at a more relaxed pace. It is a shame because we would love to see the mountains and the battlefields but I wonder if we have enough time there to do it justice. Any views?

The next thing we have been thinking about is whether to go for two separate Safaris within the trip, and where to do them. Has anyone visited both Madikwe and the Eastern Cape Game reserves and is able to give us any insight into the differences, for example, in landscape, game viewing and so on? Do you think we would be better just concentrating in one area, especially since funds aren't limitless and this will no doubt be the most expensive part of the trip!

Similarly, does anyone have any views on Kwandwe vs. Shamwari vs. Addo or other game reserves in the eastern cape? We had been planning to go on safari in Tazania before we found out about the pregnancy but couldn't go ahead with that due to the malarial risk. We know that the south african safaris are likely to be quite different to safari in Tanazia but never having been on one before it is difficult to know what to expect. We would really like to see the big five, particularly lions, but we are obviously interested in other wildlife too.

Finally, we did wonder if we weren't going to the Drakensburg mountains and were only going to do Safari in one location whether this might give us enough time to tag on some time on the beach perhaps either in Mauritius or the Seychelles. I think Mauritius is probably easier given the flight arrangements but we have been before (and loved it for a really relaxing week's holiday) and would love to visit the Seychelles for the snorkelling and diving especially as we haven't been before, although I expect it's pretty expensive. Has anyone done a combination like this? Did they find it was quite tiring to add on especially given the time difference? I think perhaps we would be better off concentrating our time in South Africa as there is so much to see and do there.

Thanks again for all your help! It is really appreciated.
Toby44 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 10:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 184
I have stayed at Shamwari in Long Lee Manor absolutely loved it felt I was in the 'bush' although there are other accommodation options at this reserve & there is another private reserve that uses Shamwari for game drives but I don't know if they are the quite the same as I read somewhere that they only use the north section of Shamwari game reserve ? Addo I've stayed at on 4 occasions, not quite the same feeling as a private reserve although a great place, reasonable & adequate accommodation but of course lots of tourists, the night time game drive holds 26 people whereas at Shamwari the max was 6. I recall the landscape does differ slightly between Shamwari & Addo best to visit both of these as they are so close about 1 hr drive, you can day trip Addo in your car but do not take into the reserve oranges, apparently elephants can smell them miles away !

I have also been to Mauritius setting off in Cape Town transfer to Jo'burg & arrived around 6pm then 1 hours drive to the north coast, so you do lose a whole day either side of travel.

You could add on an extra 2 days on the Garden Route & 2 more in Cape Town or up the west coast even.
braaiseason is offline  
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