South Africa Itinery help!

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Mar 20th, 2004, 03:16 PM
  #1
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South Africa Itinery help!

Hello. We have booked a 13 day tour this dec. that starts on Port elizabeth and heads west ending in cape Town. My question is what to do during the 7 days before the tour starts. We will be flying into Jo'burg. We have a 12 and 13 yr. old with us and would prefer to drive, not fly, to a -maybe- nonmarial area. Also it would be nice for the kids to visit a tribal village. We are not interested in waking up at 5 a.m. for any game driving; preferring to stay somewhere where the animals are onsite. We are on a budget. Is it unsafe to drive from Jo'burg to anywhere? Any suggestions are very welcome!
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Mar 20th, 2004, 10:17 PM
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Hello Puma,

You could spend a day or two in Johannesburg, visiting Gold Reef City, Soweto, etc. Good areas to stay in Johannesburg are Sandton and Rosebank.

Then you could go to a game reserve such as Pilanesberg National Park, which is in South Africa's North-West Province. Pilanesberg is way smaller than Kruger National Park, but Pilanesberg does have the "Big 5," and it is malaria-free.

You don't have to go on an early morning drive if you don't want to. The reason that game reserves offer early morning and late afternoon drives is that wild life is more active at those times. Animals tend to rest during the midday heat. You can take a cue from the animals and have a nap after lunch if you've woken up early for a game drive.

But if you don't want to go on an early morning game drive, there still will be animals to be seen during the middle of the day. You may want to choose a game reserve in which you can drive yourself around. My understanding is that all of the national parks, of which Pilanesberg National Park is one, permit visitors to drive themselves on park roads.

You can visit so called tribal villages, such as Lesedi. I personally am sceptical about places like that, but to each his own.

All this should take no more than 5 days (2 days max for Johannesburg and 3 days max, including driving time, for the game reserve).

After this I would fly to Port Elizabeth if I were you. I assume you'll have to fly there anyway to meet your tour. I would fly there a couple of days earlier than necessary. Port Elizabeth is a nice city. You can spend the extra time seeing something of the city itself, a nearby game reserve, the sea, or all three.

Hope this helps.
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Mar 21st, 2004, 09:51 AM
  #3
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Judy-Thank You for the suggestions! Is it safe to rent a car at the Jo'burg airport and drive, or should be take a taxi/hire a driver everwhere?
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Mar 21st, 2004, 11:53 AM
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Puma, I would recommend taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel after you've landed in Johannesburg. If you want to see Gold Reef City and Soweto, I recommend you use guided tours for them.

There are a few reasons for these suggestions:

(1) If I understand you correctly, this is your first visit to Johannesburg, so you're unfamiliar with the general layout of the city.

(2) You'll be tired and jet lagged when you step off the plane.

(3) If you're a North American family, it will feel to you as if people are driving on the wrong side of the road.

(4) Some parts of Johannesburg do have high crime rates. It's good to be with a local person who knows where to go and where not to go.

Here are Fodors' tips on taxis in Johannesburg:

http://www.fodors.com/miniguides/mgr...ction=tra&pg=2

If you've spent a couple of days sight seeing in Johannesburg, are getting over your jet lag, and are starting to get used to traffic driving on the left hand side of the road, I imagine it would be okay for you to drive yourselves to a destination outside of Johannesburg, e.g., Pilanesberg. There again, tours are available if you want them, but I believe self-driving would be fine in that instance.
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