South Africa planning a trip

Old Aug 24th, 2008, 09:02 AM
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South Africa planning a trip

Hi we have never been to Africa and intend going to South Africa next year but need some advice on the sensible itenary.

There will be 4 of us and we think the sensible trip would be Cape Town for a few days, Wine lands and the Garden Route followed by a safari.

We have three weeks available what do you think ?

Is it sensible to hire a car for the middle part of the trip, is it reasonably safe to just take off on our own, do we need to book hotels in advance ?

Where would we go on Safari any recomended companies ?
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Old Aug 24th, 2008, 09:04 AM
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Forgot to ask when is the most sensible time of the year ?
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Old Aug 24th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Hi John,

how lucky to have 3 weeks for this trip. we had only 12 days but if I'd had 21, this is what I'd have done.

Fly into CPT. stay a week. [there's loads to do in and around that area, and it gives you a chance to get your bearings, adjust to the SA way of doing things, etc.]

Drive to Winelands. stay 2-3 nights.

Drive on down the garden route. you could spend 2 nights at the western end at Knysna, and 3 at/near Plettenberg Bay, where i strongly recommend staying at the Hog Hollow lodge - simply the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in.

then fly from George or Port Elizabeth to Jo'burg, and either spend the whole of the rest of your time on safari in or near Kruger, or combine that with other activities in that area. [not sure what's available as in the time we had, we never got that far - we did an eastern coast safari instead, but I wish we'd gone to Kruger].

we hired a car for the whole trip, though you probably wouldn't need one on safari, unless you choose to do a self- guided safari in Kruger itself, rather than staying at somewhere like Mala mala here everything is laid on for you.

Despite many horror tales, car hire is very common in SA and we had no problems whatsoever, apart from with a burst tyre. it's cheap too, as is petrol.

you could go without booking hotels but I'm glad that we had everything booked in advance, even though we went in the low season -July. later/earlier in the year wil be warmer, more popular, and more expensive.

there are loads of agencies mentioned on this board which will book your accommodation or safari or both. or you can do it yourself via our old friend google and trip advisor. if you want to book accommodation in Kruger, you need www.sanparks.sa.

there is a superthread of safari trip reports which may help you.

have a great trip,

regards, ann
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Old Aug 24th, 2008, 12:05 PM
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hi john,

some sensible information would be needed in order to help with the most suitable suggestions in view to your vacation:

- time of travel (month)
- budget
- 4 adults or couple with kids
- major interests
- some MUST's and don'ts

div
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Old Aug 24th, 2008, 01:00 PM
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Dear John - Steve & I are leaving Sept 17 to do a very similar vacation but in 16 days - rather than 21. We are only spending 1 day in the winelands (but with a private guide). We are using the experience and planning skills of Kyle at Africa Adventure Company, a Florida based tour operator. For instance, we chose a private reserve adjoining Kruger for our 3-day safari. Kyle advised that mid September is the best time to do a safari in the Kruger area so we will begin our vacation with the safari. A plus for us is knowing they have many good contacts in Africa if we develop a problem during the course of the trip; for instance, if the car breaks down or we have airline problems.

We'll let you know in October how it all worked out! DW
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Old Aug 25th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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Thanks aanhig and SteveGC for the advice,

Divine54, we can go any time of the year, but preferably when it is not too hot.

We are two couples.

We want to see Cape town,scenery spend some time relaxing on beaches, and see the animals, nothing to strenerous as I have knee problems.
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Old Aug 26th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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John, I think Ann's suggestions are great!

It's safe and easy to rent a car and travel on your own; the infrastructure is very good and people are hospitable and helpful if you have problems (which is unlikely).

I think three weeks is long enough to see the country, but short enough to ensure you'll be back.

Celia
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Old Aug 26th, 2008, 08:57 AM
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hi john,

i have to admit we are mad about safaris so my suggestion is a bit different:

rent a car for the following part(s)
- cape town for 3 nights
either at the mount nelson hotel or the cape crace
- winelands for 4 nights
either the grande roche/paarl or le quartier francais/franschhoek
- garden route 5 nights and stay
plettenberg and knysna (golfing, whale watching between june and oct)
end of car rental

leave the car in knysna or george and fly up to nelspruit. get fetched by a sabi sands lodge and stay there for the rest at one or max two lodges (whoch can also do the transfers in between them):
either
sabi sabi bush lodge or earth lodge
lion sands river lodge or high-high-end ivory lodge
or split between sabi sands and timbavati reserve close by and there at
motswiri or tanda tula tented camp.
if you opt for two different locations then yu need to be transferred which shouldn't be a problem or you rent a car at nelspruit airport. but the car is almost useless (except for transfers) as the lodges do the gamedrives.

if budget is tight then i would chose elephant plains lodge in sabi sands for the duration of stay but at their luxury suites and would ask them to fetch!

i would travel in october in order to see the whales and the weather should be fine at all destinations incl. cape town.

div

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Old Aug 28th, 2008, 04:07 AM
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Hi John

Driving around yourselves is a fantastic way to see the country.

I would definitely plan an itinerary in advance and book hotels so you aren't disappointed. If you are really against doing that, then May and June are the safest months to travel.

Actually, I like the beginning of May anyway because it is still nice weather - not too hot, not too cold. Same can be said for September.

I would do:
4 nights Cape Town
2 nights Winelands (Franschhoek)
2 nights in Hermanus if you travel in September so you can see the whales
4 nights Plettenberg bay or Knysna
Fly to Johannesburg and onwards to Nelspruit
2 nights in Mpumalanga so you can do the Panorama Route
3 nights in rest camps in the Kruger to keep the budget down
4 nights in a lodge in the Sabi Sands in luxury to end off the safari

Look forward to hearing more about your plans!

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Old Aug 28th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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Check out Thompsons, large agency based in South Africa - http://tinyurl.com/6mzayl

regards - tom
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Old Aug 28th, 2008, 11:19 PM
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Hi John

Regarding the timing of the trip, October is probably a good time or April. October is the beginning of summer, so it is not too hot in most places yet and the Kruger hasn't become unbearably humid either. April is also nice as it is autumna nd the temperatures have cooled. Not too much rain around the country either.

The beaches in Camps Bay (Cape Town) are beautiful but the water is FREEZING! So if you want to swim, the beaches further along the east coast (Jeffrey's Bay, Wilderness, Pletternberg Bay) are much nicer.

Depending on the where you would like to place the emphasis of your holiday, (eg: more time game viewing, wine tasting, on the beach, etc) I would say start in the Kruger area. I would spend five full days here. The park is enormous and there are also fabulous sights to be seen in the area surrounding the park. Blyde River Canyon, God's Window, Bourkes' Luck potholes, the three rondawels, etc. Unless you have a tour guide for the whole time you are there, I suggest you hire a car. (More on this further down.) There are comprehensive maps of the Kruger itself that you can follow around. The upside of going on a few guided tours is that most companies do have a lot of vehicles going in to the park and they let each other know by radio what animals they have spotted, so that others can see them too. The Mpumalanga Tourist Board's website is http://www.mpumalanga.com/ if you want more info on this area.

From Nelspruit, you can fly directly to Cape Town on SA Express and possibly on Interlink. These flights tend to get very booked up, so if you want to pick and choose your dates and times, book well in advance. (You can also fly via Joburg but obviously this means having to change flights etc, unless you decide to stay a couple of days there.)

I think spend 6 days in Cape Town. There is a lot to see and do and then spend three days in the Winelands.

From there you can meander along up the coast to Port Elizabeth. There are lots of lovely places to stop at along the way. Wilderness is really beautiful and the Tsitsikamma forest area too. If there is anyone in your party who is adventurous, I can really recommend the Tree Top Canopy tour in the Tsitsikamma. I wouldn't advise it for you with your knee problems though as you foofie slide from one tree to another and it can be quite a jarring stop at the far end if you are not careful!

I am not sure if it is running but the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe is also a fun day. It is a steam train that runs between Mossel Bay and George. (It used to run between George and Knysna, but severe storms in 2006 damaged the line.) You can see more here: http://www.onlinesources.co.za/chootjoe/index.html

Hiring cars is really easy and we often do it here in SA. We have never had a problem with any of the cars. If you shop around there are some really cheap deals available. Check out First Car Hire, Avis, Budget, Imperial, Tempest Sixt as the main players here in SA. There are lots of places that have small fleets of cars that hire them out very cheaply, but I am not sure how well these ones are maintained.

If you choose not to hire a car, bear in mind that you will then need to fly, be on a tour bus or take a coach. The option to fly means that you miss a lot of stunning scenery. The coaches are not reliable with regards to timing. They often run 2 to four hours late and sometimes even later than that. Having never gone with a tour group, I can't advise you on those.

Good luck! BB
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Old Aug 30th, 2008, 01:29 AM
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Thanks for all the advice, I have no idea of how much hotels cost in South Africa, can anybody give some advice on sensible cost of mid range 3* 4* hotels in Cape town, and elsewhere and how much should 4 nights on Safari with game drives.
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Old Aug 30th, 2008, 04:36 AM
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Hi John

The hotels in Cape Town can cost anything from R800 for a room per night. I would suggest looking at some of the really amazing bed and breakfasts that are on offer too. If you go to http://www.portfoliocollection.com/, there is a list on there to choose from. These ones have all been assessed and have to meet certain standards to be listed on this site. I always use it for our travels and have never been disappointed.
Not sure about the cost of the game drives.
BB
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Old Aug 30th, 2008, 07:47 AM
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john,
the propsals are endless in view to choices/rates etc.

you know best what you want to have and pay.
go to the following website. they have got all sorts of accommodation incl. description, prices etc.

here you can get a first idea of costs etc.:
http://www.portfoliocollection.com/

happy planning

div
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Old Aug 30th, 2008, 09:37 AM
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I paid about 800 Rand for a night at Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town last month. I thought it was lovely and a great location. It was probably 4 star, but not sure.

I paid about 400 Rand per night for a Simons Town 3-star hotel which was really a B&B with great breakfasts and also a superb location--Central Hotel. Simons Town is near Cape Town and home of the penguins of Boulders Bay, Baboon Matters with the baboon walks, and breaching shark trips to Seal Island.

Safaris can be most anything. Mala Mala, which you hear/read so much about and does have outstanding wildlife is one of many Sabi Sands options and comes in at about $575 pp/pn. I think it is about in the middle of options cost-wise and fanciness-wise for the Main Camp, but at the top for wildlife. It's the only Sabi Sands or Krueger spot I've visited. Elephant Plains in Sabi Sands gets good reviews and is supposed to cost less.

For pricing try

www.e-gnu.com
http://www.sanparks.org/
http://www.mtbeds.com/



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Old Sep 2nd, 2008, 01:19 AM
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Unless you are traveling in peak season (Christmas and New Year), you can get away with anything from R400 per person for a small guesthouse. Usually 4 star would start at around R600-700 per person in a guesthouse.

Safari lodges start at around R1200 per person sharing at Gomo Gomo in the Timbavati. For a safari lodge in the Sabi Sands you should budget a minimum of R2800 per person per night and more if you want to more upmarket popular lodges.

If budget is a consideration, then I would go cheap in Cape Town and the Garden Route and splurge on the safari. How much time do you actually spend in your room anyway?
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Old Sep 2nd, 2008, 04:16 AM
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Thanks for all the replies, we are now aiming at going October 2009 so plenty of time to put the trip together.

Probabky try and get a two bedroom apartment in Cape Town so any advice on reasonably priced ones would be appreciated.

Do we need a car in CapeTown ?

I imagine we coud cope with Taxis and Public transport. Then hire a car for the middle part of the trip, and finally flying to wherever we go on Safari, and letting then provide the transport.

I will probably continue to ask many questions thenks again.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2008, 04:53 AM
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For an apartment in Cape Town try African Elite. They have great apartments in the Waterfront and in De Waterkant. Great value for money.
http://www.africaneliteproperties.com/

For sightseeing you can do the Topless bus in Cape Town where you get on and off at your leisure. And for Cape Point and the penguins, you can do a scheduled day tour. So you don't really need a car. However having a car will probably be cheaper with there being 4 of you.
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