South Africa - Jan 2013 - One Month

Nov 15th, 2011, 08:51 AM
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South Africa - Jan 2013 - One Month

Eight years after our first trip to Africa (Botswana) we'll finally be returning to the continent -- a retirement gift to ourselves. We're seriously thinking about a month in South Africa -- driving around the country and combining it with some short safari breaks.. May do the train as well. We'll be renting a car and are not averse to the idea of self-catering along the way.

Having been gone from the Africa Board for a while, I am wondering if there have been any reports on trips similar to the one we're contemplating that you can refer me to as I get started on the planning. I know Kavey did a trip like this a while back, but I don't think that report was ever completed; it's one of the ones I'll be looking up.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to any tips you want to share in addition to trip reports. We're planning on making the arrangements ourselves, but if you know of resources in South Africa that will help simplify things, we're all ears
eenusa is offline  
Nov 15th, 2011, 09:19 AM
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I have done this one myself and also booked several adventurous clients onto this plan over the years. Always a winner.

Day 1 Pick-up rental car/truck at Jo’burg/JNB. Drive to Mashatu Camp in Botswana (about 6.5 hours). Mashatu:
Day 2,3 Mashatu
Day 4 After the morning game drive, you will be dropped off at your car for the drive to Pafuri in the northern Kruger National Park (about 3.5 hours). Use a B&B rate for the first night so you don’t pay for the game drive this afternoon since you will miss it. Pafuri:
Day 5,6 Pafuri
Day 7 After breakfast, skip the morning game drive and drive to MalaMala Main Camp (about 6 hours). MalaMala:
Day 8,9 MalaMala
Day 10 After the morning game drive, you will drive somewhere else. Perhaps Swaziland and continue on to the coast?

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
Safari_Craig is offline  
Nov 15th, 2011, 11:53 AM
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Mashatu is a beautiful place. Highly recommended. To add to Craig's suggestion, you could stay in Kruger NP between Pafuri and Mala Mala (there are less expensive options in the Sabi Sand area. We chose Arathusa because it has a water hole at camp.). The Kruger accommodations are very nice and many rest camps have restaurants and take-away options. Between JNB and Mashatu you can add Entabeni to make the driving distances shorter. It was surprisingly good.

You could also drive theCape Town - Garden Route. I've not done it, so hopefully someone will chime in. It's a very popular drive.

We did a self drive for three weeks in June. It was "all" safari, but you could add time in Durban and Elephant Coast beaches and culture. Then fly Durban or Richards Bay to Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, rent a car and do the Garden Route. When we did the Mashatu, Pafuri, Arathusa trip, we had drivers between the camps. Driving would be better. If interested, you can find that trip report by clicking on my name. Here's the last one:

Enjoy your planning. Keep in mind it's hot in Jan. You might want A/C at most of your accommodations.
christabir is offline  
Nov 15th, 2011, 11:58 AM
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Forgot to add- you can do the arrangements on your own. Contact camps, B&B's, hotels directly. It's easy. Just take copies of your reservations with you. I made a binder with all the reservations, car rental, maps between locations. It was very organized and made the trip easier having it all together.
christabir is offline  
Nov 15th, 2011, 12:09 PM
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hi eenusa,

a few years ago we did the Cape town to Port Elizabeth section of the Garden Route and really loved it. we spent 4 nights in CT [we certainly wouldn't have wanted less] and then headed east, spending a week along the way, ending with 2 nights at Shamwari before flying to Jo'burg from PE. if you are spending a month in SA, you won't want to miss out on this section, in fact, you could afford to spend longer in this area.

as a minimum you need a day to go up Table Mountain and see the Kirstenbosch Gardens, a day to explore the centre of CT, and a day to go down to the Cape. to this you could add time seeing the vineyards of the area, and/or a few days near Stellenbosch or Franscoek. after that you can spend as short or long a time along the garden route as you like, but it would be a shame to hurry. So I reckon at least 10 days to do this area justice.
annhig is offline  
Nov 16th, 2011, 05:00 AM
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Thank you all for getting me started with the options you present.

Annhig, we'll definitely be focusing on the Garden Route and the coast, so your comments are appreciated.

Christabir -- like you, I'm a 'put-together-in-a-binder' planner, so good to hear that this is doable on my own. I'll check out your trip report.

Safari_Craig -- I think we'll be flying into CT, but if J'burg comes into play with our miles, your suggestions would be something to consider.

Our one concern after briefly delving into all this last night ... our timing in January. As Christabir noted, it will be hot. I don't do well in the heat at all, and while the coast will probably be OK, I'm concerned about time in Kruger and the other game parks in that area. Even though this trip is not necessarily safari-focused, it would be a shame to not spend some quality time with the wildlife because of the temperature.

Any thoughts on the January weather? Even though we would have to delay to 2014, would it be better to postpone to a different time of the year? And if so, so what would be a good time in your experience(s) for good balance between CT, the coast, and the Kruger area. I know what the websites and guidebooks say about the weather trends, but personal thoughts would be appreciated. We went to Botswana (focus on the Delta) towards the end of June and found that weather to be perfect.
eenusa is offline  
Nov 16th, 2011, 10:04 AM
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Since you'll have your own car, you'll have A/C, most accommodations in Kruger have A/C and choose camps that have A/C. Usually, but not always, tented camps do not. I hate being hot, too. We have only been to SA in May, June and Sept. It can be cold but I prefer cold to hot. "Best" wildlife viewing is May -Sept, and it's dry.

Flying between JNB and CT is easy. Did you already book flights? We use BA and they fly into/out of CT and JNB and have flights between. If you use United, I think you can book SAA. A month around CT is a long time. I would combine the garden route with the Elephant Coast/Durban/ZuluLand or a Kruger/Limpopo/Waterberg trip. Either one "requires" a flight. But it's not a big deal - renting a car twice and picking one up in one location and dropping off in another is no big deal, either.
christabir is offline  
Nov 17th, 2011, 12:53 AM
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We have self-driven around South Africa several times, and our favourite route combines a safari in South Africa (after a few days in Cape Town) with the dunes of Namibia (not quite what you looking for, I realize). Here are the trip reports and photos from our two latest SA/Namibia adventures - 2011 and 2008. We added Addo Elephant Park and Storm's River Mouth to the 2011 trip (we drove there after returning to Cape Town from Namibia) but, having just returned from 6 weeks in Botswana and Zambia (we are in CT for another year), I have not quite finished the 2011 report.

In 2004-2005, we spent a year in South Africa and did much driving around the country. One of our favourite trips from Cape Town was as follows (beautiful scenery in the Drakensberg Mtns, lots of culture in the eastern part of the country, good game viewing in Hluhluwe) - we took 4 weeks for this trip:

Cape Town
Karoo NP
Golden Gate Highlands NP
Royal Natal NP - Thendele Camp
Cathedral Peak - Didima Camp
Giant's Castle
St Lucia
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park - several days on safari
Addo Elephant Park
Storm's River Mouth
back to CT

Happy reading! CR
canadian_robin is offline  
Nov 17th, 2011, 04:03 AM
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Since you intend to go a whole month, you should certainly include all highlights.
- In the west; Capetown & the mountain, the wine region, the garden route, Knysna, ... I'd rent a car and use B&B's. You can also include that Outeniqua steam train, and would certainly include Addo as well (or one of the private reserves nearby like Shamwari, Amakhela, Lalibela, Pumba, Kwandwe, ...)
- In the east; Pretoria, drakensbergen, Kruger, Swaziland, and the wetlands down south.

You can connect east and west with a local flight from Port Elizabeth to Jo'burg. We did a similar trip, which took us three weeks, some years ago. But in reverse order (east to west). I advise to go the opposite way as the safari days are certainly the top.

You may want to consider throwing in some less know attractions, but which are certainly becoming increasingly popular. For safaris, this is:
- Madikwe, Pilanesber, Waterberg etc... NW of Jo'burg.
- Mapungubwe, and on the opposite bank of the river; the Tuli block in Botswana (Mashatu).
- Timbavati and Klaserie: idem safari experience, or a bit more authentic/specialized (tented camps, walking safaris). But at a much cheaper price than Sabi Sands lodges. After all, retirement means less income so if you can easily save some money, why not do it?


pixelpower is offline  
Nov 17th, 2011, 04:23 AM
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Thank you all for the added information ... so much to consider as we continue delving into planning for our trip. Still debating the timing of the trip, even with A/C I'm concerned about the high temps ... and a small wrinkle that is rearing up its head in the form of extended family concerns.

Pixelpower, lesser known attractions would be attractive to us, so thanks for pointing those out.

Canadian_Robin - though we're still leaning towards staying in one country, Namibia did come up in out discussions last night, so I'll check out your links.
eenusa is offline  
Nov 18th, 2011, 03:50 AM
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Have a look at the 2011 trip report and photos - they are more up to date in terms of accommodation. It is a wonderful journey - our favourite! CR
canadian_robin is offline  

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